Unknown & Unknowable

1 John 3:1-3

1Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

This message was preached January 27, 2002 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at toulonbaptist.com

 

Cary Grant once told how he was walking along a street and met a fellow whose eyes locked onto him with excitement. The man said, "Wait a minute, you're ... you're--I know who you are; don't tell me--uh, Rock Hud--No, you're ..." Grant thought he'd help him, so he finished the man's sentence: "Cary Grant." And the fellow said, "No, that's not it! You're ..." There was Cary Grant identifying himself with his own name, but the fellow had someone else in mind. -- Robert F. Simms, Boone, North Carolina. Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 4.

Almost nothing is more frustrating than to be misunderstood. It happens all the time. Our intentions are good but they are not understood. We feel baffled because people do not understand us. They misjudge our motives and accuse of things we could never even dream.

What is the problem? If you are a Christian, you need to understand some things. This verse says that those who are of the world do not know us, that is they cannot comprehend our actions or our plans.

The real aliens in the world are not extra-terrestrials but Christians. Having been born again, given a new nature of heavenly origin, Christians display a nature and lifestyle like their Savior and heavenly Father; a nature totally foreign (other worldly) to the unsaved (1 Cor. 2:15,16; 1 Pet. 4:3,4). No wonder Scripture describes Christians as "pilgrims," "sojourners," and "strangers" (Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 1:1; 2:11). The Lord Jesus was unearthly in origin, and so are those born again. John F. MacArthur, Jr. (1997). The MacArthur Study Bible.

  1. Therefore the world does not know us
    1. What does he mean by world?
      1. Although the word world in the Bible has a number of meaning, it is obvious that here it refers to the people of the world as a whole.
      2. Many times is this sense the word world has a somewhat negative meaning.
        1. John 8:23 And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. (NKJ)
        2. John 14:17 "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. (NKJ)
        3. John 14:19 "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. (NKJ)
        4. John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (NKJ)
        5. John 14:30 "I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. (NKJ)
        6. John 15:18-19 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (NKJ)
        7. John 16:8-11 "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 "of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 "of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 "of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (NKJ)
        8. John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (NKJ)
        9. John 17:9 "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. (NKJ)
        10. John 17:14 "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (NKJ)
        11. John 17:16 "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (NKJ)
        12. John 17:25 "O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. (NKJ)
        13. Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJ)
        14. 1 Cor 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (NKJ)
        15. 1 Cor 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (NKJ)
        16. 1 Cor 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness"; (NKJ)
        17. 1 Cor 7:31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. (NKJ)
        18. 1 Cor 11:32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (NKJ)
        19. 2 Cor 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (NKJ)
        20. Eph. 2:2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, (NKJ)
        21. Phil 2:15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (NKJ)
        22. Col 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (NKJ)
        23. Col 2:20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations- (NKJ)
        24. Heb 11:38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. (NKJ)
        25. James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (NKJ)
        26. James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (NKJ)
        27. 2 Pet 1:4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (NKJ)
        28. 2 Pet 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. (NKJ)
        29. I Jn 2:15-17 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-- is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (NKJ)
        30. I Jn 3:13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. (NKJ)
        31. I Jn 4:4-5 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. (NKJ)
        32. I Jn 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith. (NKJ)
        33. I Jn 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. (NKJ)
      3. Although many other times the word is used in a neutral position, it is never used in a morally good sense.
      4. The idea that we get from these passages is that the world by its very nature stands opposed to God.
      5. It was because of the worldly attitude that Jesus was rejected and we as God's children are not understood.
    2. What does he mean by know?
      1. the inhabitants of the world knew him not as their Creator: nor did they acknowledge the mercies they received from him; nor did they worship, serve, and obey him, or love and fear him; nor did they, the greater part of them, know him as the Messiah, Mediator, Saviour, and Redeemer. Gill
      2. As not recognized by the world. "For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not." If we share the same nature with God, why are our circumstances so unlike our origin? The reason given is that "the world knoweth us not," i.e., cannot detect the Divine image in us. Our thoughts, our delights, our motives and ways of acting, are all a riddle to men of the world. That this reason holds good is confirmed by the fact that, when God appeared in Christ, the world knew him not. Instead of detecting his Divinity, when it was abundantly evidenced, to its utter condemnation, it took him to be an impostor. Pulpit Commentary HOMILIES BY R. FINLAYSON
    3. Why does the world not know us.
      1. The people of earth are infected by a fatal disease, called sin.
        1. But they are unaware of it.
        2. It is only Christians that understand the depth of sin a depravity that mankind has stooped to.
        3. It is only a such a world that you can suck the brains of an infant from his skull and not consider it murder.
        4. It is only in such a world that a man in Kansas could sell baby parts and not be considered a monster or a law breaker.
        5. It is only in such a world that the educational system of California are more concerned about indoctrinating the children to support homosexuality than they are concerned that the children can read.
        6. It is only in such a world that even some so-called Christian denominations have removed the requirement of "Fidelity and chastity" for their clergy.
      2. Sin has affected every part of our society and presents a danger to the spiritual growth of Christians every day.
      3. This is of primary relevance to our children.
        1. We live in a world that cannot be trusted to instruct our children.
        2. We live in a world where evolution is taught as a fact for the express purpose to indoctrinate our children to not believe in God.
        3. A newspaper editor could be jailed for printing the lyrics to the songs our children listen to.
        4. Even the cartoons are not children centered but have adult themes with often inappropriate language and actions.
        5. And the real danger is that Christians think there is no danger.
        6. The moral fortitude of our children is tested every day, how are we helping them to sustain their Christian values.
      4. The philosophy of the world is contrary to the truth and they do not want to hear another opinion.
        1. The value of life.
        2. The nature of sin.
        3. The purpose of existence.
        4. Our thoughts, our delights, our motives and ways of acting, are all a riddle to men of the world.
  2. Because it did not know Him
    1. On John 1:10 "Knew him not" we might render, "did not come to know him", did not recognize him". More than intellectual knowledge is in mind. There is also the thought of failing to know intimately to know and love as a friend, to be in right relation. The tense is aorist, which perhaps indicates a single action. The world missed it great opportunity. It did not come to know the Word when the Word was in its very midst. The world did not know Him. The world never does. The world's characteristic reaction is that of indifference. NICOTNT Leon Morris
    2. What is the evidence that the world did not know Him?
      1. Jn 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
      2. John 17:25 "O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.
      3. 1 Cor 1:21 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
      4. 1 Cor 6:3-10 3We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. 4But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
      5. John 8: 43 43"Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.
      6. John 14:15-17 15"If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- 17"the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
      7. Rom 8:5-8 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
      8. 2 Cor 4:3-4 3But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
      9. 1 John 4:5-6 5They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. 6We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
    3. Why did the world not know Him?
  3. How should we handle this?
    1. John 15:18-21 18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 "But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. (NKJ)
    2. We should draw closer to Him and let loose of the world.
    3. We should abide in Him and in His word.

 

When he shall come as a Judge the world shall know him. (from Matthew Henry's Commentary)

Let the followers of Christ be content with hard fare here, since they are in a land of strangers, among those who little know them, and their Lord was so treated before them. (from Matthew Henry's Commentary)

Immediately the question arises: if men have that great honour when they become Christians, why are they so despised by the world? The answer is that they are experiencing only what Jesus Christ has already experienced. When he came into the world, he was not recognized as the Son of God; the world preferred its own ideas and rejected his. The same is bound to happen to any man who chooses to embark on the way of Jesus Christ. Barclay

Because the believers are the children of God, the author warns them that the world is unable to recognize them or relate to them. That should not surprise them because neither did the world recognize God. The failure of the world to know God is one of the basic themes of the Gospel of John (5:37; 7:28; 16:3). Those who belong to the world live in darkness. They cannot come to the light but must inevitably hate it. This "belonging to the world" becomes also a matter of their choice; i.e., they refuse to acknowledge God in their hearts. The Expositors Bible Commentary, New Testament

 

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com