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1 John 1:1-4 New England Series
1 John 1:5-7 New England series
1 John 1:8-10 New England series
1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:3-6
1 John 2:7-11
1 John 2:12-17
1 John 2:18-27
1 John 3:1-9 1John 3: 10-23
1 John 3:24 to 4:6
1 John 4:7-16
1st John 4:17-21
1st John 5:4-13 1st John 5:14-15
  1 John 5:16-17   1 John 5:18-21  
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1st John 4:7-16

 

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.   He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  No man hath seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.  Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.  Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.  God is love: and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

 

“It’s good to see everybody today.  If you’re new here I’d just like to extend a welcome to you, if your visiting this week.  Pleasure to have you with us.  If you’d like we have little cards in the back of some of the seats where you can fill out information and just let us know a little bit about yourself, you’re welcome to do that.  We are in 1st John, we’re going to be picking up this week where we left off last week, 1st John chapter 4.  This week we’ll pick up with verse 7.  Right now we’re getting ready to do some painting in the sanctuary, so prayerfully not too long in the future this place will be painted and be more excellent, and then we can get toward installing the carpet and things like that.  If you have any time, you’re welcome to be part of that.  Speak to Mike Jacob, he’s back here in the left corner of the sanctuary.  And if you have free time during the day, you’re welcome, if you’ve got nothing going on, bring your paint brush, come on by, or don’t need to supply anything, we’ll give you what you need, so that you can be part of, as we just gradually work our way through.  So in the next coming weeks you should see parts of the walls being painted and eventually the whole sanctuary.  And I’m not exactly sure how we’re going to do the ceiling at this point.  But we’ll get to that too.  Also I’d like to ask you too, it’s a critical time to pray for the radio ministry.  A lot of you folks tune into WFGL, that’s why you’re here, you learned about the church through WFGL, and some of you have told me that it’s really been a life-source for you.  And if that is the case, I’d ask as you tune in days this week and the weeks ahead, that you’d just keep it in your mind to be praying for the radio ministry, it’s at a critical time.  [they’re now on radio in Gardner, Wellfleet (on the end of the Cape near Ptown), and in Scituate (antenna in Plymouth MA), three new radio stations.  The Cape stations are 90.5 and 90.1 FM on your dial.]  Either in the weeks ahead or months ahead we’re gonna see less Christian radio, that includes ours in the area, or we’re going to see a lot more, truly it’s one or the other right now.  The things are very much in flux, it’s an exciting time, and God hears your prayers.  And I think of, I believe it was Ezekiel where God said he looked for someone who would stand in the gap, look for somebody who would intercede, and he said he found none.  But I pray that God looks into this city and sees in this church and other churches people interceding for the community.  You know, this community so desperately needs to hear the Word of God.  And one of the ways the community is exposed to the Word of God is through Christian radio.  So may the Lord bless all the more.  So folks in the north county and even potentially beyond, there’s even that potential now even far beyond this area we could be broadcasting into further corners of Massachusetts.  It’s an interesting situation, and I’ll just leave it at that.  Ask that you’d keep it in prayer.

          Well let’s pray together.  We will begin with verse 7 of 1st John chapter 4.  ‘Lord we thank you that we can be together once again this morning and study your Word.  We need you, Lord, so much in this day that we live in.  As we were reminded last week as John exhorted us in truth, the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error, and certainly there’s a lot of spirit of error, things that are contrary to truth all around us, Lord.  But we so much need truth, but not only to understand truth, we need your love in our hearts.  So I thank you, these things you promised for us.  Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.  But even also as we are going to be reminded this morning, the Word tells us that God is love.  That’s an incredible truth, Lord.  I thank you for that, Lord.  And I ask very simply now as we go through your Word, Holy Spirit, that you’d be upon all of us, and upon myself now as we go through your Word.  In Jesus name, Amen.’  In reading the newspapers around our area over these last months gives you the sense that hatred and violence are on the increase.  There’s a pastor’s prayer meeting on Wednesday mornings, and this Wednesday morning we were speaking about that.  And one of the pastors who’s been in this community for decades made mention that he said, “You know, I think that it’s worse than it’s ever been.”  I’m not sure if that’s true, but his perspective anyway.  Well, we prayed about the situation and all the crimes going on, even homicides and things.  So we left our prayer meeting, and as I was walking out of Burbank Hospital, we meet in the chapel there in Burbank, and as I was walking out, there on the front page of the Sentinel and Enterprise was another story about some other violent act that was going on the day before in this North County.  But then you know, of course, looking to the national scene isn’t so encouraging either.  You think, well it’s Fitchburg, or it’s the North County, and then you tune onto your station, TV station, and you listen to what’s happening on the national scene [or online with http://www.cnn.com or http://www.foxnews.com always nasty news showing up on them, national and worldwide].  It’s clear, hatred, prejudice and violence are rampant throughout this country.  You might think of the words of the song that was sung in our country, still sung a lot today, popular tune, I guess it was written 30 or some years ago, I don’t remember exactly when.  But that song that has the words “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.”  And of course, I’d sing it for you, but I won’t.  But you know the song.  Right?  What the world needs now is love sweet love, and it goes on from there.  You know, America has been singing that song now for a few decades, two, three or four decades and it doesn’t appear to be helping too much.  Spousal abuse and teenage violence, and rapes, murders, all that still exists and continues to be at such high levels.  You know, you might start to think, is there any hope for this country?  Is there any hope for people respecting each other and caring for each other and loving one another?  I would say, if the nation continues on the course that it is, I would say there is no hope.  But yet, at the same time, I say there is hope if the nation turns its course, changes its direction.  Instead of seeking to legislate out God, manipulate God out of our culture and our society, if we instead would return to placing him at the center of our national life.  We have a motto “In God We Trust”, if we would go back to “Yes, as a nation In God We Trust”, I say things would be different.  I think the Bible says also we wouldn’t see such an increase in violence and hatred and prejudice in the country.  Of course I speak specifically of the God of the Bible.  I know there’s a lot of different so-called gods.  But I believe there’s One, and he manifests himself in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, we have the Trinity.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/TheHolySpirit.htm ]   I think a better song to sing right now is a song with the words “What the world needs now is God, sweet God.”  For as we will be reminded again by the apostle John, this apostle of love, when you have God you have love.  He’ll say that very clearly.  He’ll tell us that true love is of God.  That is, it originates in him.  But it is also personified in him, as he’ll actually say these words, he’ll say that “God is love.”  So what the world needs now is God, sweet God.  Because when you’ve got God you’ve got love.  That’s what John is going to tell us. 

 

Love starts with God

 

          Let’s look now at verse 7, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”  Now here the apostle of love, the apostle John uses the word “love” four times in this verse, at least a form of it.  The word “beloved”, then “love”, then “love” and “loves”.  Four times in one verse.  Gives you a sense of the emphasis of this text as we continue.  And that’s clear, the emphasis from this point on, as John picks up the subject of love again.  Now he’s not being repetitive, but as we’ve stated before, he goes back to certain subjects.  He lays out a framework so he can go deeper, and now he’s going to go a little deeper with us on this subject of love.  Last week in the beginning of chapter 4 he focused on the subject of truth, and now he goes back to this subject of love.  There’s three subjects that he just goes back and forth between, obedience, truth, and love.  And now we go back to love.  But he’s laid out a foundation, more of a foundation that he can build upon.  And so we focus now.  As he switches his subject to the subject of love he starts to address his audience again with the word “Beloved, beloved.”  Now this is the Greek form of the word agape’, and he uses it now for the fourth time.  That is in the New King James, or the fifth time if you have the American Standard version, but repeatedly he says “beloved”, and he says it again to his audience, “beloved”.  So to those he dearly loves, to those of course that are dearly loved by God he says “they ought to love one another”, of course he’s speaking to you and I as Christians, the Church.  He says we ought to love one another.  Now this is something so important he continues to say it repeatedly.  Right?  You’ve heard this before, he reminds us again and again.  And the Greek tense here as he says “love one another” is “let us continue to love”.  This isn’t just a now and then thing, this isn’t just something we do when it feels right and is convenient to us.  No, John is speaking of something far greater, and he says “Let us love, let’s continue in love, continually love.”  Now what is his reason?  What is his reason here for saying “let us love one another”, his first reason?  He says “for love is of God.”  His first reason is that love has it’s origin in God.  Love is of God.  The NIV renders it “For love comes from God.”  John is clearly stating here that “love starts with God.”  It originates with him.   If the world didn’t have God, the world wouldn’t have love, that is true love.  The source of love is God, it begins with him, and it flows from him.  Take away its source and you take away its flow.  He says love originates with God, it’s of him.  On the other hand, hatred, envy, wrath, malice, other such things, they find their source in something other than God, ultimately the Devil.  God doesn’t approve of those things, he doesn’t commend those, he despises those things, but here John says love is of God, it originates in him, it starts with him.  So, again, a world without God, a nation without God, a North County without God is a North County without love, for love is of God.  Now when he says “love”, what does he mean exactly by that word “love”?  It’s the word agape’.  The Greeks had three words for love, and each word referred to a different part of man, meaning the spirit, the body or the soul.  You had the three Greek words, the word eros, which was the body love, was the sensual love, the erotic love.  That word you won’t find anywhere in the New Testament.  The word eros, it is the self-satisfying, self-centered emotion and desire, and that is the love you typically see depicted by Hollywood.  So you have eros, the physical body love.  Then philio, they have this word which was a brotherly love, family love, it’s the soul-ish love.  But generally it’s a love that is reciprocated, meaning you love people that love you, you love your mom, you love your dad, you love your sisters, you love your friends, that friendship love.  But the word he uses here is the word agape’, it is the spiritual love, it is a divine love that is totally selfless, always giving even when it’s not reciprocated.  It is unconditional, it is always concerned for the welfare of others.  It is a supernatural love that God put in a human heart, it is only found in God.  No man can love with this love unless he has God in his life.  And that is the love that John is referring to here.  When John writes “love is of God” he includes in the Greek the definite article which implies in the Greek that this love is real love, as only God can implant it in a human heart.  So when he says “God is love”, he means he’s the only source for it in our life.  This is a divine love, this is agape’ love, that beautiful love that is written about in 1st Corinthians chapter 13 [verses 4-8].  So he says “Let us love one another, for God is love” and why should we love then?  Because it’s in him, it originates within him, he is the source of love.  ‘There is presently a mighty river flowing from the presence of God, and it is a river of love.’  So then, the question to you and I as we study this, have you and I been touched by the love of God?  Have I been touched by that river?  I mean, he is love, it originates in him.  Have we been indwelt with his love?  Are we overflowing with his love? 

 

Everyone who loves is born of God

 

Now another good reason that John gives for us to love, is as he says in the next statement, “Everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God” (verse 7b).  So it proves that we are born-again.  Good reasons to love, God is the originator of it, he is the source of it, but also it proves that I am really a Christian.  It proves that I am born-again.  Again, that’s a subject that John has picked up in the last verses of chapter 2 and into chapter 3, he’s also had this theme of ‘What does it mean to be born-again, what does it mean to be a child of God?’, and now he shows us to be a child of God, to be born-again is to be someone who has this love of God in their heart, something we’ve already noted.  Now when he says “Everyone who loves….” the Greek is in the tense ‘everyone who continuously loves is born of God, and continues to know God experientially, and to have fellowship with him.’  So it’s that continuous loving and the continuous fellowship with God.  That’s the tense of that statement.  That’s something John has been showing us for a number of verses.  I think of the story of this man Festo Kivengary, I believe that’s how you pronounce his name, he was known as Uganda’s apostle of love, he was an archbishop in Africa, at least for part of Uganda.  He tells us the story that when he was ten years old his father died of Tuberculosis.  His dad died from that.  His mother remarried to a man that proved to be cruel, so he had a step-dad after that who was very harsh, even beating Festo’s mom.  So Festo eventually had to help his mom move away from this man, he was so harsh, and help her live on her own.  But it wasn’t long after that, that they moved out, that his mother died, and he ended up having to give care to his siblings, his brothers and sisters and things.  But with that, as a young man, he had this great hatred in his heart for his step-dad, a real great hatred.  And maybe some of us are here, and we’ve had things happen to us, maybe it’s a step-mom or step-dad or a relative or a neighbor or friend somewhere in our past life where somebody’s been real cruel with us, and there is even now in our hearts this, this hatred.  Well Festo had that in his heart.  Well years later Festo came to the Lord and was born-again, and he was praying one day and God said to him ‘You need to go and forgive your step-dad.’  Well, initially he protested, he said ‘Man, I haven’t done anything wrong, this guy has been harsh.  Why do I need to forgive him?’  But then God reminded him and spoke to his heart and said ‘All broken relationships break my heart.  So Festo go and do whatever you can to mend this one.’  So coming to his step-father he said one day carefully, he said ‘Step-father, for years I have hated you.  But Jesus has taken the hatred away.’  Well the old man initially didn’t believe him, kind of squinted his eyes and struggled ‘Is he really meaning this?’  But finally this step-dad of Festo said ‘Yes, well I always knew you hated me.’  Festo replied ‘You knew only a little, I came to tell you the whole story, and say that it is over, please forgive me.’  Well the old man waved his step-son closer and they sat down and began to talk, and about an hour later his step-dad arose and just put his arms around him and said ‘Festo, I forgive you.’  Well Festo was overcome.  He never ever expected such a reaction.  But he was changed.  Why was he changed?  It wasn’t that he went to some philosophy class.  It wasn’t that the university told him ‘You need to go and forgive that really harsh step-dad.’  It wasn’t that the culture or government, but Jesus Christ had come into his life.  When Jesus Christ came into his life he was born-again, and the love of God entered him.  And God said ‘You need to now go forgive this man.  You haven’t done anything wrong, but he has.  You need to forgive him.  You need to love him.’  That’s what John is saying here.  So maybe you’re here today, things are in your life, there’s things happened to you, and you’re wrestling and struggling, and maybe there’s even somebody you could say ‘You know, I hate that person.’  But if you are a Christian, there’s a problem here.  Because to be born-again is to have the love of God in your heart.  And when he says “love” he isn’t talking about brotherly love, loving somebody that loves you, he’s talking about divine love, and is God’s love that is unreciprocated, it is undeserved, it’s unconditional, it’s the love of God.  So he says ‘Why should we love?  Well, it starts with God, but also it’s proof that we’re born-again.’  Festo came to Jesus Christ and he was transformed, and that great hatred in his heart was changed to a sincere love.  And that’s what John is saying here.  Now, John will say a little bit later, we’ll see it next week, end of this chapter, he will say ‘If we say we love, but hate another, hate a brother, hate a sister, then we demonstrate that we really are liars, that we don’t love God.’  And that’s the thought, too, he picks up in verse 8, he says “He who does not love”---that is divine love, he who does not exercise that kind of love---“does not know God: for God is love.”  Does not.  He is making his point real clear, as we have been seeing this, that a person who claims to know God, somebody who says they know him, is one with him and has Christ in their heart must be personally effected by that relationship, because it isn’t a philosophy, it isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship, it’ll have an effect upon you.  And it will mean that you have been touched by that river that flows from the Lord, that river of love.  You’ve been touched by it, you’ve been filled with it.  You’ll have in your heart this divine love.  But if you don’t, if you don’t have that kind of love in your heart, John says that you have never entered into a personal relationship [with Jesus Christ], you have never experientially known God.  You may say that you know him, but you don’t really know him.  Because if you really know him, it’ll effect you.  It’s impossible to know God and not love.  That’s what he’s saying, it’s impossible.  It’s impossible to know God and not love.  For as he says, “God is love, God is love.” If I know him, then indeed I should love.

 

God is love

 

Now what does he mean when he says “God is love”?  As you remember back in verse 5 of chapter 1, he said “God is light.”  Then as we studied the gospel of John earlier, he said in chapter 4, as he recorded Jesus’ words, he said “God is spirit.”  Now he says “God is love.”  The fact that he says God is spirit, that fact that he says God is light, would mean that you can’t reverse these words, love is God, because God is more than just love.  So it means more than that, it means you can’t reverse it.  In fact the word for God here, the word Theos is preceded by the definite article, and therefore very clearly refers to God the Father.  But the word agape’, the word love does not have the definite article in front of it, and that means in the Greek you can’t reverse it.  You can’t make it say “the love is the God”, you can’t reverse it.  All you have, the only choice is “God is love, God is love.”  That is indicating it is a quality of God, and you can’t go the other way around.  In our culture we almost try to say that love is God.  But that’s not what’s being said here.  “God is love.”  Now that’s a real good reason for me for me to love.  Right?  God is love.  God is love.  It’s a reality.  If he is love, certainly if I’m joined with him, certainly if I am in him, certainly if he is in me [via the Holy Spirit], if that is true, then if he is in me and he is love, then I must love.  Love has moved into me, that’s what it means, true love, divine love.  If his Spirit is in me, then the fruit of the Spirit will be seen.  And there’s no other possibility.  But if I really love God, if he’s really in me, then there must be this fruit, this evidence.  God is love personified.  That’s also meant in that word.  Of course he’s more than that.  But if love is personified in him, then of course if God is in me as a person, man, there’s no other way.  You’ll have to see, in time it’ll be evident.  This incredible, incredible love will be seen in me.  So, God is love.  But man, that’s a statement we could just go on, we could do a study next week and the week after, and the week after, God is love.  You could do a lot of great studies, there’s so much in there, there’s so much healing in there, there’s so much hope in that statement, God is love.  God is love.  Man, that’s wonderful to know that “God is love.”  The Bible doesn’t say that God is the God of the sword, or hatred.  Other religions would kind of indicate that.  The Bible doesn’t say that.  The Bible doesn’t say that God is a God that is indifferent, a God without emotion, a God that doesn’t care.  The Bible says that God is love.  God is love, one who loves incredibly, that’s a tremendous word, that word love.  His very nature is that of love.  Everything he does expresses all that he is.  So everything he does expresses that he is a God of love.  Even, the Bible says in the Old Testament, when he judges, it’s in mercy and in love, and in grace.  He’s righteous, but there’s a sense of mercy even in his judgment.  I was reading the Sentinel & Enterprise recently, maybe you saw this article in the July 12th issue, but it was on the Faith page, written by a lady named Sally Santana who was writing for Scripts Howard News Service.  She in this article writes how she learned from her friend she needs to be her own best friend.  Her friend said ‘you need to be your own best friend.’  And she said ‘Wow, that was really eye-opening to me, that I need to treat myself like I would treat my best friend.’  And of course when I read that, that’s very common psychology in our nation and our culture, but the Bible teaches otherwise.  The Bible says it’s even better not to even think about yourself.  That’s a lot better of a life, not to worry so much about yourself.  Acts chapter 20, verse 24, Paul said “nor do I count my life dear to my self,”  And then his very next words, “so that I may finish my race with joy.”  He said, the great life is a life where I don’t even think about myself.  I don’t even count myself even dear.  Well, she says that, but then she goes on in this writing.  She said she struggled to find how womanhood could be reflected in a masculine Deity that she had been trained to believe in, you know, God, this stern masculine God.  She said, ‘How could I see womanhood in that?’  Well, she says her eyes were opened one day when she was reading a cartoon of a preacher who was complaining to God about women in his church, and then in this cartoon was this bolt of lightning and caption, the words, God saying to this man ‘Just call me Big Mama.’  And she says in the Newspaper article, man that just opened my eyes, changed the view of my Creator, made God’s love accessible to me in a way that I never would experience it before.’  Now, I would sense that this lady probably had a really harsh dad growing up, and because of that struggle with ‘How can God the Father, how can that be very loving?’  So ‘Big Mama, that’s what I need.’  Although, I would say if she stays with that understanding she’ll probably have some few surprises when she stands before God and sees that he’s not a big Mama, that the Bible says he’s God the Father.  He is God the Father, but you know, I don’t look down on her, I know there’s people maybe here this morning struggling, all because of ‘the dad I had, you know, God the Father, love, I just can’t connect it to.’  But the Bible is absolutely clear, God, he is love.  God is love.  He’s not stern, he’s not hard-hearted, he’s not unemotional, not as our heavenly Father.  Man there’s incredible love that you can’t even fully see in any human.  No human, your mom, your dad, brother, sister that you have ever experienced love through can’t even come close, close to the extent of the love of God for you.  So God is love.  That’s incredible love.  Good reason, too, then, as John is writing, for you and I to love as Christians. It’s a love we can be confident in too as he goes on.

 

How did God show us his love?---What’s the proof of God’s love?

 

Verses 9-11, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into to the world that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  Now we’re told that not only does God love us, the Bible doesn’t just declare that, the Bible says there’s also a place where you can look.  There’s a place that you can consider.  There’s something that you can go and meditate upon, it isn’t just a statement that I have to accept.  There’s a reality in history here that demonstrates to me, it proves, it doesn’t just profess the love of God.  It then proves the love of God for me.  And that is at the cross.  He says “that in this the love of God was manifested, in this the love of God was shown me, in that he sent his Son in the Greek there it says “his only unique Son, his only Son”, set aside his glory, came down to this earth to show me love in him, but also that he went to the cross, and he died on the cross for my sins.  It is interesting, the Bible never tries to seek to prove the love of God for you and I in any other way apart from the cross, it always says God loves you, look at the cross.  God loves you, look at the cross.  God loves you, check it out.  Meditate on that, look at the cross.  That’s how the Bible says that God loves me and wants to show that God loves me.  There’s nothing else that compares.  In Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London there’s a life size marble statue of Christ writhing in anguish on the cross.  His statue is subscribed “This is how God loved the world.”  So this powerful statue, and the statement “This is how God loved the world.”  This is how God loves you.  The Bible says God is love, and then he goes on to say it’s not just a declaration, it’s proof, take a look, God loves you.  God loves you so much.  I just meditate on the cross.  I allow God to open my eyes all the more to the wonder of what is there.  I will find I do not need to question the love of God for me.  The cross proves it.  Paul tells the church in Rome, he says, chapter 8, verse 32, “He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things.”  He says nothing else compares.  He’s done that.  Then he says a few verses later, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (verses 38-39).  He says, in this is the love of God.  In this was the love of God manifested toward us, Jesus came, God the Son, he walked on this planet, he died on the cross.  The Bible says you don’t have to even wonder or question, take a look at that.  God loves you so much, that’s how far he went.  Then he says “that we might live through him”.  Ephesians 2:1 says that I was dead in the spirit, but Christ came that I would be alive now, so that I would live through him.  And Paul says in Philippians “I can do all things through Christ”, all things through Christ “who strengthens me.”  So we live through him, and through him I can do anything.  I can love anybody, anytime, to any degree.  Verse 10, he says “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.”  You know, it’s not that we deserved it in any way.  It’s not that we extended ourselves toward God, we were nice to God, we said ‘Awh yah, I’m going to respond to that.’  In fact, the Bible says otherwise, the Bible says in fact, Paul said in Titus, this is what he says.  Titus chapter 3, verses 3-7, “For we ourselves were also foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy….”  He says “we”, this is the Church [before they were called and born of God, of course] “….hateful and hating one another.  But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour appeared toward man, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by his grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  He says, “in this”, John says “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.”  He loved us first, he’ll go on and say that explicitly later.  In Romans chapter 5, verse 8 Paul said “God demonstrated his love toward us, in that while we were still sinners….”, later he says, even enemies of God, set against God, God loved us, “God sent his Son to die on the cross for us”, he proved his love for us.  “In this is love, not that we loved God….”  You know, I can’t help but think of the book of Hosea, what a beautiful book.  If you’ve never read it or studied it, do a Bible study on the book of Hosea.  If you question God’s love for you, do a Bible study on Hosea.  God is showing in the book of Hosea his love for his people, the nation of Israel.  And in a tremendous way, he does.  If you’ve never studied it, the basic way that God does it, he tells the prophet Hosea to go and marry this lady, Gomer, and God understands of course, that this woman is not going to be a faithful wife.  She’s an adulteress, she’s a harlot….he says “I love you, I love you.”  And in beautiful ways he describes trying to hedge in the nation of Israel so that they couldn’t chase after lovers, so that they’d realize that it’s better off with my first “husband” [i.e. Yahweh, God], you know, God.  And then he even speaks of God being in the wilderness in the sense of trying to woo his girl back, call, draw---‘Look, look, I love you.  Why won’t you come with me?’  If you question the love of God read the book of Hosea.  Man, God loves us.  He loves us.  In the New Testament it says the same thing towards the Church.  It’s not that we first loved him, no way.  He says “I love you so much, I’m going to send my Son Jesus Christ who’s going to die on the cross, and I want to know you, and I want to walk with you, I want to have fellowship with you, I want to bless your life.”  He says he first loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins, meaning he came and he died, and he paid the penalty.  God loves us.  At the same time, he’s perfectly just.  His love doesn’t for a moment make his justice, righteousness stop.  In order to be perfect and righteous, and yet love us, he had to deal with the issue of our sin, and our sin had to be dealt with in the right way.  And the wages of sin is death.  So he said, alright, I’m going to come and send my Son and he’ll die for your sin.  I’ll still be just, but I’ll still love you.  My Son will pay the price for your sin, if you’ll except that sacrifice.  How can God forgive sinners and still be holy?   Well, the answer again is the cross.  Jesus bore the punishment of our sin, and he meets the holy demands of the law.  That word propitiation is that picture of the Mercy seat with the nation of Israel there, you know, the Mercy seat where God would meet with the nation of Israel, and the blood would be sprinkled on it.  But inside that ark was the Word of God, and the blood would cover [on the outside of the ark], meaning the people of Israel had violated the Word of God, but the blood of the sacrifice was what covered that, the temporary covering.  And Jesus Christ is my propitiation, meaning he died, he’s paid the price.  I’ve done the violation, I’ve done wrong, but God says “I love you so much, I’m going to pay the penalty for you, I’m going to be punished for you.”  God first loved us, God so loved us.  That’s what he says in verse 11.  “Beloved….” that’s the 5th time he says that, or 6th time if you have the American Standard.  “Beloved, beloved, beloved, beloved, beloved, beloved.”  This letter is encouraging.  Gets me squirming at times.  But it’s encouraging, “beloved, beloved, beloved”

 

If God so loved us`

 

  “If God so loved us, so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  So, again, another reason, he says, God so loved you, he so loved you, he loved you that much, it’s only reasonable….If God, the way that’s stated, there is no if’s, it’s absolutely certain that God has loved you that much, there’s no question.  I think of this illustration, love in 3D, John 3:16, love in 3D, the breadth, the breadth, “God so loved the world,” the length, “that he gave his only begotten Son,” the depth, “that whosoever believes in him shall not perish,” the height, “but shall have everlasting life.”  The breadth, the length, the depth, the height.  God loves us, man.  God so loved the world.  So, he says, “We ought also to love one another”, the Greek there indicates that’s a lifetime ‘Yes, Jesus, I love you, you’re in my heart, I’m going to love people for the rest of my life, with all that I am, I’m going to love people.’  So, God so loves us.  That’s a great reason.  Charles Spurgeon put it this way, “The master motive for benevolence is the love of God.  It is an argument which will never lose its force.”  It just keeps you speechless.  ‘Yeah!  Wow!  You love me that much.’  ‘I got this issue with my sister here, or my cousin, but you love me.  All right, I’ll love, I’ll love.  I’ll love others.  Give the same kind of love you’ve given me.’

 

No one has seen God at any time

 

          And the last verses we’ll look at this morning, verses 12 to 16, “No one has seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God abides in us, and his love has been perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  And we have known and believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”  He says, ‘No one has seen God at any time.’  You read that and think, ‘Now wait a minute, Moses did.  Right?  Passed by him, saw him, in a sense.  And Peter and John, you know, they’re seeing Jesus’ glory [in the transfiguration], what do you mean, no one has seen God at any time?’  Well, that is what the Bible says, in fact the New Testament makes it clear that God dwells in inapproachable light, light, he’s immortal, and we would not do well in our imperfect bodies to look upon God in inapproachable light.  So, no one has seen God at any time, but the Greek also has that sense that in it, that’s in his totality.  God is an infinite God, certainly no finite man, it’s physically impossible to see God, an infinite God in his totality.  [It also may mean no one has seen God the Father at any time, who has always dwelt in infinite light, glory and power.  The full glory, Hebrew, kevod, weight, of God is what the pastor’s getting at.]  But furthermore, in the Greek there, there’s this sense of admiration and awe, that the Greek word for “seen”, the Greek word theaomai [Strongs #2300], it means that nobody’s ever stood and admired God in his totality, so he says “Nobody has seen God at any time.”  But, if we love one another, God abides in us.  And his love has been perfected in us.  [King James, “is perfected in us”, which could mean, “is in the process of being perfected in us, a continuing process, which of course it is.]  He says nobody’s ever seen God, but then his reasoning, as he goes on, is ‘You’re the Church, God is in you, now in the Church people of the world see God in us, God, in the sense of seeing his love.  That’s what it says there.  “No one has seen God”, but they should see him in us, meaning love, his heart, his person, they should see it in us as Christians, and say ‘Wow, man, God loves me, look at those Christians.  Man, look at how they love, look at the love of God.’  So John here gives us another reason to love.  The reason, he says, so the world can see God in us.  So the world can see Jesus in me.  Because that’s who Jesus is.  If I’m not living that way, then they’re not seeing Jesus in me.  I might be arguing theology with people, and saying to the world, ‘This is wrong, and this is wrong, and you’re out of line here,’ but if they’re not seeing love in me, they’re not seeing Jesus.  That’s where John is taking us here.  Men cannot see God, but they can see us.  If we abide in Christ we will love one another, and our love for one another will reveal God’s love to a needy world.  The life of a Christian who abides in love is a potent witness for God in this world.  So, when people look at the Church, they should see the love of God in that.  They can’t see God, but they should say ‘Man, God is real, check that out.’  You know, this Festo, man, this man from Africa.  You know he had that incident with his step-dad, finally forgave him.  And then years later, you know, referring back to that incident, he wrote, he said “Love is a language anyone can understand.”  It just says a whole lot.  When we love, man, it says so much to the world, it says ‘Yes, there’s a God, he’s real, and he loves them very much.’  “No one has seen God at any time, but if we love one another, he abides in us, and his love has been perfected in us.”  That means literally it’s reached its goal in us.  God’s desire is, for sure, that’s the goal, that we would then love, that there’s a statement of maturity there.  And then he says in verse 13, something he’s already told us, “By this I know that I abide in him, and him in me, because he has given me of his Spirit” and the fruit of the Spirit is love.  I have his Spirit bearing witness to my spirit [Romans 8:16], I know the love of God, and therefore I know that I am a Christian.  We saw that earlier.  Then in verse 14 he said, “We have seen and testify” of course the apostle John saw Jesus, physically, “We have seen and testify the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world.”  But there’s also the sense as Christians, as we’re loving, we’re also testifying, proclaiming indeed the gospel message, that God has sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to come and save the lost.  Now the Greek there indicates, declares “that we have seen and testify”, that means that I’m absolutely, positively sure of it, there’s something that’s happened to me, so I testify, meaning, this has been my experience.  This is something that has happened in my life, this isn’t a fanciful imagination or something like that.  I testify to this, this has happened, so I can declare to the world God sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world, he’s my personal Lord and Saviour.

 

Confessing Jesus

 

          This last Friday Doug McDonald and I, we went out for a couple hours, we’ve talked about this for months and haven’t gotten to it.  We decided somehow in our Friday mornings, now and then, we’re going to go out and just do street evangelism in the city.  You know, the radio gets out, and we all get out into the community, but there’s a neat place for street evangelism.  So we went out Friday morning, just to see if we could find some folks, just to share Jesus Christ with.  We prayed here for a little while, went out and talked to different people.  But one man we met was a man named Michael, and he wanted to talk awhile, it was a great conversation.  We had a couple neat conversations with people, just telling them about Jesus Christ and giving out flyers and little tracts and things.  But as we were talking, you know, I was talking to Michael, and clearly he had the reasoning of so many in the world, you know, that hey it’s good for you, and you know, I’ve got my way, and that’s important that you believe what you believe, but there isn’t just one way, and all these things.  And we were sharing Scriptures and just trying to encourage him to consider things.  And then I asked him, I said, “Are you confident when you die, you’re going to be with God in heaven?”  And he said “That’s good that you believe that” and wasn’t really answering my question, he clearly wasn’t truly confident, and tried to rationalize and share things a different way, and I said to him “I know that when I die I am going to go to be with God in heaven.  I just know it.  I believe that God’s done a work in my life, I’m saved, I don’t say this because I’ve been persuaded, because I’ve been in all these studies and people have forced it into my mind and now I can think.  It’s just real, God loves me, man, he’s saved me, he’s changed my life, and I know I’m going to heaven.  I just trust in that love.  And do you have that?  You can have that right now.  You can have that right where you are, Michael.”  [The Bible teaches that those who die in the Lord await the resurrection to immortality (1 Corinthians 15:49-54).  It also teaches that “the spirit in man” that God gives to every human born into this world, when that person dies, that human spirit within that persons goes to God in heaven (Ecclesiastes).  Some Scriptures say that this “spirit in man”, our human spirits, are unconscious upon death and going to God, awaiting the resurrection to immortality when these spirits are re-united with our just-resurrected glorified bodies.  Other passages appear to indicate that these human spirits remain conscious.  This is where this concept of going to heaven appears to gain Biblical authenticity.  But since it is apparently a gray area in Scripture whether or not our “human spirits” remain awake or are unconscious, the whole subject of “going to heaven” is somewhat a very gray area of belief itself,  especially since Jesus Christ comes back to earth, along with the saints who have just been resurrected to immortality, and then finally at the very end of God’s plan, in Revelation 21, God the Father comes down from the third heaven to reside on Earth in the New Jerusalem.]    And that’s what he’s saying here, we have seen and testify, meaning that we know it’s true, it’s happened to us, that Jesus came to this world to be the Saviour of the world, that God the Father sent him.  In verse 15 he says “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God.”  Whoever confesses and declares that Jesus is the Son of God, God the Son, God-man, he’s man, he’s God, he’s God-man, God the Son, whoever confesses that, that is the same word that Paul uses in Romans chapter 10, verse 9, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart God has raised him from the dead, you’ll be saved.”  That’s a profession of faith.  “I do believe Jesus that you are the Son of God, I believe it.  I put my faith in you know, and ask you to be my Saviour”, that’s what’s stated there.  “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God”---initial acceptance.  But that word “confess”, earlier in the chapter he said, verse 2, “by this you know the Spirit of God, every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ”….and then in verse 3, “every spirit that does not confess Jesus Christ”….that word “confession” is that initial saving, but it’s also just confessing Jesus for who he is.  We studied last week, you know, God the Son, his incarnation, his Deity, yet his humanness also, all those things we talked about last week, and the importance that as he’s saying here, of loving the world [not loving the world as it is, but loving the people in the world] and being a witness, confessing Christ to this world.  You know, I was with my son, and as we get near the end of our time, well my son and daughter Friday night we were going through this book, the book is called “Hero Tales” and it’s about Christians, mainly Christian martyrs.  And I was reading to my kids the story of Dietrich Bonnhofer, tremendous man of God, died for the Gospel, you know, as a young man.  But as we were going through the story, my son was really intrigued, you know, he’s six, this story is a bit beyond him, I had to stop and explain.  He even asked me, “Don’t read too far, explain the big things so I can understand it.”  He was really intrigued with Dietrich Bonnhofer.  Cana, on the other hand, she was, “Can we go do something else?”  You know, she’s four, she wasn’t quite there yet, you know.  But this story is in 1933 in Germany, Hitler was rising to prominence, and what started to happen is the church joined the Nazi bandwagon [I suspect the Lutheran Church and maybe also the Catholic Church], just got right behind Hitler.  But there were some Christians, Dietrich Bonnhofer, this pastor, there was a group of them that said “This isn’t right.  This guy’s saying some things that aren’t right.  And we only follow Jesus Christ.  I mean, this man, what he wants, the loyalty he wants is beyond honoring the king, man, this guy wants to be essentially worshipped.  There’s something wrong here.”  So he started to speak out, and at this national convention for his denomination of churches in Germany, he gave a very strong sermon for those who were attending, he said “Church, remain a Church.”  He pleaded, he said, “Confess, confess, confess.”  And what did he mean by that?  He meant that people should tell people that only Jesus is Lord and as Christians we’re followers of only Jesus Christ, not Hitler, not anybody else.  He said “Confess, confess, confess.”  John says “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God”, you know sadly in that time the counsel of his denomination decided to elect a bishop who was very sympathetic towards Hitler and the Nazi’s.  Two months later they had a another counsel, and many of the pastors came dressed in Nazi uniforms and kind of did the Heil Hitler thing as they came in.  So Dietrich Bonnhofer decided to stand for the truth, and it was getting dangerous with the government, but he, and he gathered six thousand other pastors in Germany, and together they formed a confessing Church, a confessing Church, and they adopted the Barman Confession of Faith, which said “We reject the false teaching that there are areas of our life in which we belong not to Jesus Christ, but to other lords”, meaning to Hitler.  Man, there’s no other lord in our life, but one, Jesus Christ.  “We confess Jesus as the Son of God, that is it, and that’s the only one we’re following as our Lord.”  As I said this to my son, and we went on and talked about how Dietrich ended up being hanged for that, I said “He was really into that.  You know, we’re coming into a time, you know, as a pastor,” I said, “I’ll tell you right now, Noah, that no matter what, I’m going to teach the truth.”  We need to do the same, we need to confess Jesus Christ, regardless of laws.  We’re to love, man.  This Book is about love, we’re to love the world, and show them love [not in the sense where either Peter or John, can’t remember which, said “Love not the world, nor the things of the world”—that’s talking about this world’s societies and all the societies and government’s of Satan’s world—but we’re to love the poor lost people caught up in that world.]  But we are to confess the truth.  And I tell you right now, there’s things happening in the Supreme Court that are really strange in our country and our state, and our local Supreme Court.  There may be a time not even long from now that I’ll be breaking the law at times, but I will confess the truth.  I will confess Jesus Christ.  And I know there’s tens of thousands of pastors in this country too, and tens and hundreds of thousands of Christians who will also say “Jesus is the Son of God, and this is who he is, and this is his Word.”  Man, we love him, you need Jesus Christ in your life, you need to be born-again.  But we are not going to compromise the truth, and there’s things that the Bible says are wrong!  And they are wrong!  That’s what the Bible declares.  So confess, man, we need to confess, that’s what’s lacking in America.  A loving church also confesses the truth.  Man, where is the Church right now?  You know?  We need to confess the truth!  Confess.  You know, I could go on.  But we have love man.  Some of the things rattle your cage, you hear ‘What are they going to do?  That’s a flood-gate, you open that up, man, and it’s just going to bring darkness into our culture.’  But I can’t get angry at people, have to love them, and say “Jesus loves you so much, man.  It doesn’t matter what lifestyle you’re in or what you’re struggling with, Jesus loves you, man.  He loves you and wants to save you and give you eternal life.”  But God is righteous, and there’s truth, there’s truth.”  He says “whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God”, that’s initial saving confession, but there’s a life of confession, man.  “God abides in him, and he abides in God.  And we have known and believe that love that God has for us.  God is love.  And he who abides in love abides in God and God in him” (verse 16).  When he says that “we have known and believe,” that word in the Greek is pisteo which is to be persuaded.  We are persuaded.  I believe, and because I believe, I become persuaded about Jesus and who he is, I’ve known and am just persuaded, he’s in me, he’s love, God is love, and I know that, and I walk with him.  So, more reasons to love.  He says love has it’s origin in God, it proves that we are born-again.  Another reason to love is God is love.  Also God so loves us, and he says we should love because the world can see God in us as we love.….”  [transcript of a sermon given in New England] 

 

How the early Christians loved

 

When John first wrote this letter, it was received by all the early Judeo-Christians in Asia Minor (some historians estimate maybe even 3 million of them existed from the 100s to 300AD).  These early Judeo-Christians, who made up much of the early Christian Church, had a very unique opportunity to apply what John commanded here, and clearly demonstrate the love of God in and through their actions, actions which risked their very lives, and in many cases took their lives.  As a result of their actions of love, many more Gentiles entered the Church than ever did through the evangelism of Paul.  There are genuine international Christian ministries that do similar things nowadays, but these folks went a bit further than reaching into their wallets to support such a ministry, the way we can do now. This love is an essential part of Christianity.  And yes, while opportunities to love this way can occur for us in individual ways, sometimes they can occur for the whole Church, as it did for these early Judeo-Christians in Asia Minor and the Gentile Christians in North Africa. The article at the end of this link shows how we are to love our brethren, neighbors, and yes, even our enemies.  This is their story, long buried in history.  So check it out at:  http://www.unityinchrist.com/LegacyOfLove.htm.

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