Behold, What Manner of Love

1 John 3:1  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Beautiful indeed it is to hear these words from one who had known that love so long and so well!
The Apostle had just said, “If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:2929If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. (1 John 2:29)). “Born of Him,” “born of God”! What a thought! It is this that causes the Apostle to exclaim, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons [children] of God” (1 John 3:11Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)). It gives us a character and relationship of which the world knows nothing. He who was the Son of God, the only begotten, and in whom, as Man, the character and relationship were displayed before the eyes of men, was not known. “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:10-1110He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (John 1:10‑11)). “Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not” (1 John 3:11Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)).
We have Christ’s relationship with the Father, and we have His place as unknown here on earth. We suffer with Him here; we shall be glorified with Him there. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:16-1716The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:16‑17)). While here it is suffering with Christ in a scene where sin has sway, and where everything has been alienated from God — man at enmity with God and under the dominion of sin, while the creation groans and waits for deliverance — being children of God, we wait for the children’s place, our predestined place in glory. Then we shall have the children’s portion when the inheritance is given to the First-born, and the creature, delivered from its groaning, shall be brought into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
As His coheirs we shall then possess the inheritance with Him, and reign with Him, having also been glorified with Him. We can well afford then to be unknown here in a world that knew Him not. It will not always be so. But we need confidence in God, and patience to wait till the Lord comes. “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:35-3735Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. (Hebrews 10:35‑37)). Blessed it is to look forward to His coming, but we must with patience wait for it; and while we wait we must be content to be as unknown in the world.
Now while we wait for Him, and to be in the condition in which He is in glory, we have a present and known relationship with the Father. “Beloved, now are we the sons [children] of God” (1 John 3:22Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)). We do not wait for this. We are born of God now, and we are children and heirs of God now. It is a present relationship which we know by the Word of God, and of which we have the consciousness by His Spirit in us. And what a relationship! How vastly more blessed than anything known to this poor world, with all its boasted wealth and intelligence! It is a great thing in this world to be the child of a king, and greater still to be heir apparent to the throne; but what is this compared to being children of God, heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, soon to reign as kings with the King of kings and Lord of lords? Yet this, dear reader, is the dignity and glory of the humblest and poorest believer in Christ. How this ought to lift the heart above all the empty glory of this world where Christ was a weary, homeless stranger, not having where to lay His head!
Nor is this all. In the relationship we have with the Father through Christ, we are the objects of His love — love immeasurable, boundless, eternal. He spared not His Son, but gave Him up for us all. And who can measure what was involved in that giving? Let the cross answer. Let its horror of darkness and the unfathomable sorrows of that hour when the Son of God was forsaken, utter their voice, and declare what it cost to redeem us and make us children of God. Oh, it was a wonderful price! But the price has been paid, and we are redeemed and now have the same place in the Father’s love as Christ Himself. The day of glory will manifest this even to the world, according to John 17:22-2322And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:22‑23): “And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” This is an ocean of love into which we are introduced — an eternal fullness into which we drink even now.
And what will it be when the fullness is known in glory? “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:22Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2). What a prospect! Now children of God; then not only children, but fashioned into the likeness of the glorified First-born! This “we know,” though it is not yet a matter of public manifestation. But we shall see Him as He is. It is a wonderful thought. It is not the glory in which He will be displayed as the coming Messiah. We shall see Him, and shall be with Him in His Messianic glory, as it is said, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)). His glory as Messiah and as Son of man will be publicly displayed before the world, and all shall see it; but this is not what is meant when it is said, “We shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:22Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)). We shall see Him as He is now in the glory of His Father’s presence. This is the expressed desire of the blessed Lord Himself: “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:2424Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)). Here is One loved before the foundation of the world, Object of the Father’s unchanging, ineffable delight, who moreover, having glorified God as Man here on earth, has been glorified of God as Man on high, with the glory He had with the Father before the world was. He is now in the highest glory, supreme in the affections of the Father, the light and joy and glory of courts above; and this is the One we shall see as He is. Oh, what a sight will that be! How it will thrill our souls! What rapturous praise our overflowing hearts will utter when we behold that once crucified, but now glorified, Savior.
But how could these mortal eyes behold Him as He is? It could not be. The glory is of too dazzling brightness. But we shall be like Him; we shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the last trump (1 Cor. 15), and mortality will be swallowed up of life (2 Cor. 5). Predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son (Rom. 8), “we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body” (Phil. 3:20-2120For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:20‑21)). This body, humbled by sin, will be changed into a body of glory, after the likeness of Christ’s body of glory. “We shall be like Him,” and this not merely in body, but in spirit as well, so that we shall in every way be suited to the glorious and holy sphere where He dwells. Blessed, glorious prospect!
And now, reader, what is the present effect of this upon those who have this hope in Him? What is its effect upon you and me? “Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” Have you believed on Him unto life everlasting? Have you, as a poor lost sinner, turned to Him in your helplessness, and found Him a Savior? And are you now waiting for His return from heaven (1 Thess. 1:1010And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10))? Do you expect to be like Him when you see Him as He is? And will this be worth while? Is it something worth looking for and waiting for? Do you now in faith look up and see that blessed One in all the brightness of the Father’s glory? And do you say, “I am going to be with Him, and like Him, in that glory, and then I shall be eternally satisfied in His presence?” Well, if it will be worth while to be like Him when He comes and takes us to Himself, it is worth while to be like Him now — like Him in purity of heart, like Him in spirit and in ways, giving forth the sweet fragrance of His life all along the path here.
The Lord grant to the reader and to the writer to have Himself as an all-satisfying Object, filling the soul so that the heart may be formed according to what He is, and thus we shall continue to purify ourselves as He is pure — having this measure and character of purity before us — till He comes and completes it in glory.
“Lord, we shall see Thee as Thou art,
In yonder mansions fair;
We shall behold Thee face to face,
Thy glorious image bear.
“With what delight, what wondering love,
Each thrilling heart shall swell,
When we, as sharers of Thy joy,
Are called in heaven to dwell!
“Oh hasten, hasten on that hour,
And call us to Thy seat;
Lord, Thou without us ne’er wilt count
Thy joy and work complete.”
SOME DAY
Some day I’ll quit this vale of tears,
And I no more as now shall sigh;
I’ll bid farewell to all my fears,
And with my Savior rest on high.
REFRAIN:
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story-saved by grace;
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story-saved by grace.
Some day my coming Lord will call,
I cannot tell how soon ‘t will be;
But this I know, my All in all
Has now a place in heaven for me.
Some day I’ll meet Him in the air,
It may be morn, or noon, or night;
And this I know, His voice I’ll hear,
And gaze upon His glory bright.
Some day, I know it will not be long;
He says, “Behold, I quickly come”;
Soon, soon I’ll join in heaven’s song,
And dwell with Him in His bright home.