We turn to I John 3:1-3 inclusive, omitting the last clause of verse 1. We read, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when it shall appear, we shall be like him.” “We shall be like Him” is the clause in this Scripture passage that first calls for attention. It is evident from the context that the pronoun him is indicative of God. The statement in question is certainly not to the effect that we, God’s children, shall be equal with God. Were this true, God’s people would become gods and cease to be men, and heaven would eventually be peopled with an innumerable company of deities in­stead of redeemed saints. Such a teaching, which is nothing short of blasphemy, is certainly nowhere to be found in all the Scriptures. A man child, that has just been born, is a frail creature. It is not, cer­tainly, the equal of its father, who begot the child. But the child is like its father; it resembles, looks like its father; and as the child advances in years, the resemblance may be that strong, that beholding the child, men say that it is the very picture, image of its father. It has its father’s eyes, profile, mannerisms and character. In a word, the child takes right after its father. It is like him.

In the light of this observation, we grasp the mean­ing of the statement from John’s pen, “We shall be like” God. The promise with which we here deal is precisely that when we, God’s people, shall have ap­peared with Christ in glory, we shall be like God, our Father, who begat us, and from whose will, not from whose being, we were born. And the resemblance will be perfect then. If God is righteous, so will we be righteous perfectly. If God is holy, so will we be holy perfectly. Every vestige of sin in us will then be wholly obliterated. We will love like God loves, desire like He desires, think and will like He thinks £nd wills, speak and act like He speaks and acts; which implies, to be sure, that we will love, desire, and will the thing that He loves, desires and delights in, which is His own blessed self, and His people, re­deemed in Christ, in whom He beholds a perfect crea- tural likeness of His blessed self. Thus, we, God’s people, will take right after God, so to speak. Behold­ing God’s people in heaven, the angels will see God in their eyes, in their visage, in everything they do and say, in their entire conversation in heaven. They will be the very creatural picture, image, likeness of God, their Father, showing forth perfectly the glories of God’s nature, as conformed according to the image of God’s Son.

By nature, apart from Christ, we, God’s people, were not like God at all but unlike Him spiritually. How could it be otherwise, if by nature we were children of darkness, of disobedience, yes of Satan. And we were that—children of Satan. For we committed sin and were unrighteousness, and, to quote the Scrip­tures at I John 3:18, “He that committeth sin and doeth unrighteousness is of the devil, and is not of God.” Thus we partook of Satan’s nature, and therefore believed his lie, and did his lusts and with him were pitted against God, and hated God as does he. Dead in trespasses and sin were we, using now the langu­age of Paul at Ephesians 2:1, 2, “walking according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”

But God called us, such men as we by nature are, His sons. He adopted us. Contemplating this doing of God, the Apostle John, at the first verse of this chapter exclaims in amazement and holy elation, “Be­hold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we, such men as we by nature are, should be called the sons of God.” If rightfully we belonged to Satan, in whose power we were, on ac­count of the guilt of our sins, we now belong to God and are rightfully His, through His adopting us and calling us sons.