Exploring 1 John Session 26: 1 John 4: 7-16a

 

Exploring 1 John Session 26:  1 John 4: 7-16a

John’s teaching on love.

In our exploration of 1 John we have been warned about those who partake of the spirit of the anti-Christ, warned about false teachers, about influencers of the Jesus denying world, all who will drag you away from walking in the light if you are not on guard against them.  John is writing to a shaken congregation.  Circumstances caused them to wonder if they were still walking in the light.  John writes to assure them that they are on salvation’s path. 

Salvation’s path is living in a right relationship with God.  It’s growing in your knowledge of God.  You enter onto the path through faith in the gospel message: “…the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 (NIV).  Sin always steals, kills, and destroys. Sin disrupts, brews up bitterness and hate.  Sin makes life miserable, cutting us off from God’s intent.  The gospel message—“There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:22-24 (NIV).  In Jesus’ humanity, all humanity is represented; in Jesus’ divinity, God is represented. With Jesus’ voluntary death, atonement has been made so that your sin can be forgiven so that you and God can be reconciled so that you can become God’s child so that you can live your life to the full.  Faith is belief in action, the action of faith is acknowledging the sins in your life and your estrangement from God, believing that Jesus can forgive you of those very sins and reconcile you with God, committing yourself to follow Jesus and asking God to redeem you.  The gospel message: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13 (NIV).  If you are not on salvation’s path, today, that can all be changed if you will call upon the name of the Lord by acknowledging, believing, committing, and asking God to put you on that path.  If that is your choice today, let me know. I want to help you walk in the light of your new existence.

Those to whom John is writing have done so, they have chosen to live out the truth of the gospel.  John is writing to assure them that they are still on that path.  I need that assurance.  The sign that this is true, that they are on the path, are the deeds of love.

1 John 4:7-16 (MSG)

7 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. 8 The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love. 9 This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. 10 This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God.

11 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 12 No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!

 13 This is how we know we're living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He's given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. 14 Also, we've seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. 15 Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God's Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. 16 We know it so well, we've embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

 In our exploration of 1 John we know that love for God is expressed by our obedience to His commands.  Not cherry-picking obedience, but rather a loyal obedience, a “not my will but your will” obedience.  We know that love for others is demonstrated first, by treating everyone with respect, for they too, regardless of their station in life, are created in the image of God.  Second, our love for others is demonstrated in meeting another’s need often at the cost of our sacrifice of time, treasure, or talent.  It is in our living out love that we are assured that we are walking in the light. 

 In this passage, John reveals even more about love to us.  John tells us that our ability to love others finds its origin in God’s love for us.  Loving is Divine and assures us we are on the path of salvation.  We are to continue to love each other. We love others because love comes from God.  When you love others, you become a channel of God’s love.  When you love others, you reveal God’s love, which makes God’s gracious invitation to salvation known.  As more people accept that invitation, the more love abounds.

 John tells us that God is love.  When we love we are like God, we are His ambassador to others. Doing love results in deepening knowledge of God.  It is in our loving actions that our knowledge, our relationship with God grows more intimate.  There is a self-perpetuating cycle here: by knowing God we learn to love and by loving others we learn to know God. “Love comes from God, love leads to God” (William Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT).

 Many years ago, Brittany Fox, was probably 5 or 6 years old, and on the way out of our meeting, she asked me how I knew God was real because she couldn’t see God.  The Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Have her look at the trees.”  The wind was blowing, the leaves of the tree were moving.  I said Brittany, what’s moving the leaves on the trees.  She said, “the wind.”  I said, “that’s right, but can you see the wind?” She said “no.”  To which I replied, “you can see the wind but you know the wind is there because you see the effects of the wind blowing.  It is the same with God, you may not be able to see God but you can see the effects of God and that’s why we can know that God is there.” She seemed very pleased with that answer.  Deeds of self-sacrificial love are possible because God dwells inside a person.  You can’t love like God loves unless you are indwelt by God.  If you are indwelt by God you can be sure that you are on salvation’s path.

 God’s love takes the form of self-sacrifice.  John reiterates the gospel: “God loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God” (1 John 4:10 (MSG).  Salvation comes to us by God’s sacrifice.  That’s why our definition of love comes with meeting needs at the cost of a personal sacrifice.  Love is costly. Please note also that God makes the first move. 

Romans 5:8 (MSG)

But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

 God’s love holds nothing back.  God’s love is undeserved.  God’s love is unconditional.  God’s love is freely given.  God’s love expects nothing back except our love in return.  It is with this kind of love we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. John tells us: “if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other” (1 John 4:11 (MSG).  Here’s God design for community: every member of the family never giving up on the other, caring more of the welfare of others than themselves, being patient with one another, being kind to one another, choosing not to be angry with one another, being civil and well-mannered with one another, forgiving one another, encouraging one another, being support for one another, and bearing one another’s burdens (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Galatians 6:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:11).  This way of living together is only possible when God’s love is made complete.  God’s love flowing through you to one another, which leads all closer to God, completes the circle of love. God makes this life of loving our destiny to live in if we but choose to live in it.

In love, there is life to the full.  God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, indwells us and empowers us to be lovers.  The witness of the Holy Spirit assures us that we are walking in the light.  That witness is twofold.  First, there is a subjective conviction that we do belong to God.  We feel it in our bones, we are convinced in our hearts that God is with us.  The second witness of the Spirit is our objective deeds of love confirming what we believe is true.  This witness is our assurance that we are living in God and God is living in us.

John reiterates his theme that Jesus is the Son of God, fully God, fully human to save you and me from the consequences of sin, to free us from being slaves to sin’s selfishness, and to empower us to be lovers.  As we walk in the light as Jesus is in the light we continually participate in God’s plan of salvation.  Our intimacy, our knowledge of God grows, and this growth expands our capacity to love. Expanding your capacity to love deepens intimacy and you discover even more about God which in turn empowers you to love more.

 It is our responsibility as members of the Kingdom to embrace this calling to be lovers.  To embrace is to take advantage of the opportunity placed before you, it is to walk through the open door.  Embrace means to continue, not a one-time hug, but continual cherishing of this way of life, Jesus’ way.  We must be the open channels for God to love the world through.  You are the chosen vessel God works through to change the world.  You shine brightest when you love others with the same love that God has lavished upon you.

 If you need assurance of your salvation; that God indwells you and that you are in God, the test is love.  When you love you are in the light.  When you love you are walking in the light.  When you love you shine with the light.  I want you in the light, I want you to shine.  If the Holy Spirit reveals to you areas that you are loveless, it is your invitation to partner with Him so that transformation can happen.  Later in his letter, John is going to tell us that this love is reserved for those in the family.  We’ll look at that later on.  For right now, the test question for assurance of your faith, is “Am I a Lover of God and Others?”  The answer is not in what you think, but in what others observe that you do. 

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