The Distinctiveness of Christian Love

 
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God’s people love one another. It is a truism. It isn’t an aspiration or something that we hope is true. Rather, when someone encounters the life-transforming power of God in the Gospel they are given a new identity and brought into the family of God, and they are compelled to have a love for the brethren.

In fact, this is one of the ways that you know you are saved. One marker of your assurance of salvation is a supernatural love for God’s people. John makes that clear throughout this little letter.

By way of implication then, when you encounter someone who says, “I love Jesus, I just don’t love his people or the church.” That person has no biblical grounds for assurance that they in fact know Jesus in a saving way. I’m not making a personal judgment when I say that, I’m just applying the words of John to a practical situation:

1 John 4:20–21—20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

The test of your words, “I love God” are manifested in your practice toward God’s people. It’s as simple as that. The person who keeps God’s people at a distance has no grounds for confidence that they belong to God. They could be struggling in a weakness, but they surely wouldn’t be able to assure their hearts before the Lord as being truly saved.

As we come to this passage today, I feel like the apostle Paul. Don’t worry I’m not getting a big head. I feel like Paul because of you, not me.

1 Thessalonians 4:9–10— 9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,

By God’s grace love is an area of strength in this body. You care for one another in the Lord and meet needs and sacrifice for each other. Today I approach this then as a shepherd encouraging you to excel still more. I want to stir you up by way of reminder.

And we are going to do it by taking John’s approach to this.

John connects your love for one another to your understanding of and experience in the love of God. When you grasp God’s love for you in Christ, you will love God’s people. Said negatively, if you are unloving as a believer your problem is not the difficult people around you, but your failure to apply the Gospel in your relationships.

You have a vertical problem that is manifesting itself horizontally. Human-love relational problems always indicate a vertical-love source.

One of the greatest topics of our consideration. Christian love is a jewel. It’s a precious gem that displays and radiates the character of God. It adorns the Gospel, it gives our message credibility and makes it compelling. And it infuses our ministry with effectiveness. Christian love is a supreme attribute of maturity.

Love is a familiar theme in John’s first epistle. In fact, this is the third time that he addresses the subject at length. The first time he deals with love is in chapter 2:7-11.

There he juxtaposes love with hatred for the brethren and he establishes the heart attitude toward other believers as a moral testing point for whether or not we are walking in the light or whether we are still walking in the darkness.

John establishes love as one of the criterion of determining whether or not you have assurance that you are in the faith.

The second time John deals with the topic of love comes in 3:10-24. Again, John brings love to the table as a test of whether or not someone has passed out of death and into life. He makes it clear, if you have in fact been given new life it will be demonstrated in your actions.

You will emulate Jesus Christ who led the way in sacrificing his life for you. In following his example, you will take even material goods and forgo your own benefit for the sake of meeting another’s need.

But John, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, isn’t done yet.

He isn’t ready satisfied to leave the subject of love yet, so he now circles back to address his point once again. This next section on love is a big chunk beginning in 4:7 and extending down into 5:5.

With each iteration concerning love, John amplifies his point, he expands the concepts, and he provides further insight as to why this love test is so crucial.

There is a progressive nature to his treatment of love. This third section is the most extensive and complete of his previous treatments of the topic.

John Provides 4 God-Centered Encouragements for Self-Sacrificing Love

  1. Your Mandate (7a, 11) God commands love
  2. Your Motivation (7b-8) God causes love
  3. Your Model (9-10) God characterizes love
  4. Your Mark (12) God completes love

These are going to frame up self-sacrificing love for us and as a result, form the framework to evaluate whether our love is genuine, and to fuel it as the same time. The passage is short, let’s read through it before we begin.

1 John 4:7–12—7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

The first distinctive of God-centered, self-sacrificing love is Your Mandate, which comes in verse 7a:

(7) Beloved, let us love one another,

John kickstarts this section with the term “beloved” or literally “loved ones”. He has used the address previously, and it serves two purposes here.

First, it is a reminder that John has a limited audience (just believers)

and second, it is reminder that these believers are identified by the fact they are loved by God.

See, the term “beloved” is a functions kind of like a verb and kind of like a noun. In English for example, we use the term “plumber” to describe “one who plumbs things” so those who are “beloved” describes “those who are loved.” It is a very specific identification. You are loved of God and it is a way of identifying who you are.

Based upon this address, John gives an immediate command to this limited audience, the children of God. He isn’t barking an order with the force of a strong imperative here, but rather he includes himself in a volitional command. John as an apostle has the complete authority to tell the church what to do and how to do it by way of instruction, but here he brings himself into the equation. He doesn’t just say, “you guys love, but let us love.”

This demonstrates that Christian love has a reciprocal dimension, which John places himself under both here and again in verse 11 when he urges his readers to love saying “we ought to love”. So here is John’s Mandate: if you identify yourself as one beloved of God, then love the other beloved ones.

I’m sure that you have probably heard more word studies on αγαποω then you can even remember, and I’m not going to chase this word all around the NT on a massive lexical study, but we need to clearly discuss this word as it relates to our understanding of this mandate so that it is crystallized in our minds and we can clearly establish what we are being called to before we move on in the passage.

Quite simply, αγαπη is the love of “self-sacrificing service”. This love is radically others-centered. John MacArthur says,

unlike emotional, physical, or friendship love, agape [love] is the love granted someone who needs to be loved, not necessarily to someone who is attractive or lovable.”

It is crucial that we have this concept burned into the forefront of our minds at the outset of this study, because you and I are inundated daily, we are barraged by the toxic influence of the world.

Our culture today, like every worldly culture before it, has radically redefined and miss defined love. But this outside pressure from the world simply exacerbates the fact that we are already naturally disposed in our flesh to do quite the opposite of self-sacrificial love.

As a result of all of this we need the clear call of God’s truth to renew our minds and re-calibrate our thinking.

Love defined by the world is described as a strong positive emotion, an object of warm affection, an object of devotion, a liking for, an endearment, something that pleasure is gained from, a deep desire.

None of these are wrong definitions, but they don’t capture the biblical essence of love. Even consider the confusion introduced in how we use the word love to describe everything from our devotion to our God, to our affection for our spouses, to our affection for our house, to our affinity for chocolate cake.

By contrast, this distinct love that John is calling us to here is a love of the will; a love based upon conviction and not feeling; a love that chooses to love; it doesn’t fall in love or fall out of love. It is narrow compared to all of the vast concepts and usages we just spoke of.

All me to give you a working definition love to use this morning: it ambitiously determines to seek the good of others before itself. It ambitiously determines to seek the good of others before itself.

  • ambitiously (it’s eager, not coerced)
  • determines (it is cognitive and it involves the will)
  • to seek (it actively pursues, not simply reacts)
  • the good of others before itself (it is radically others centered)

Philippians 2:3-5 exemplifies this when Paul says, with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not look out for your personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Or in 1 Corinthians 13:4 where we see that, love does not seek its own.

This love is a concerned with the welfare of others and undergoes personal loss for the sake of another’s benefit. The priority isn’t myself and my advantage, but others and their advantage. This is so challenging to us, because by nature we love ourselves… so much.

Paul just assumes it’s obvious in Ephesians 5:20 when he says that, “no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.” This is the threat…

Even a depressed person or someone who is full of self-pity and doesn’t like themselves… that person loves himself or herself. They don’t actually hate themselves, just the way they feel about themselves.

Often, we evaluate our love in what we’ve are doing. We sit and hear a sermon and list out some tasks we need to do. That’s not altogether wrong. Love does act. But perhaps a better question is related to, “where do I deny myself for the well-being of others? Where do I give up myself to see someone else benefit, without any expected payoff?”

We want to examine the attitudes and inclinations of the heart.

  • God-like love bears up with the weaknesses of others. Love doesn’t place personal expectations on others in terms of how fast you think they need to grow or where they need to be, but meets people where they are at and gently leads them to a place of maturity.
  • God-like love waits to assign motives to others without having the full story. Not suspicious or negative or nitpicky. It believes the best and hopes the best, rather than assuming the worst. Careful to guard one another’s reputations.
  • God-like love covers sin. What does that mean? It minimizes the impact. It doesn’t gossip, it doesn’t speak loosely or carelessly or openly. Love seeks to bring about repentance and restoration rather than fanning flames.
  • God-like love results in close relationships within the body of Christ. You should have people in the body of Christ who know your weaknesses and pray for you.
  • God-like love easily gives up personal preferences and doesn’t insist on getting your own way. Not talking about compromising the truth, but considering the good of others and being willing to let go of personal desires to that end.
  • God-like takes it upon oneself to initiate and to be the one to wear the discomfort, to wear the weight of a problem. It also initiates and pursues in the face of rejection or being sinned against. God-like love pursues without waiting for the other one to initiate.
  • God-like love is not easily offended or easily angered. If you are defensive you are lacking this type of love.

And so we begin to see how this is supernatural love. It is love that doesn’t originate with us, and it is a protection to the church.

This is the command. Love one another. You already love yourself, now be willing to care for others, the way you care about yourself.

If you see areas of your life not characterized by the radical manifested of selfless love, then chances are you don’t have a clear view of why we ought to love. And this brings us to our Second Distinctive of God-Centered, Self-Sacrificing Love: Your Motivation.

  1. Your Mandate (7a, 11)
  2. Your Motivation (7b-8) God causes love

Thankfully, John doesn’t just give us a command and say, “love because I said so.” God graciously has given us reasons for obedience. And so John gives the reason for this love in the second half of verse 7 when he says: for love is from God;

Those who are loved by God should love because God is the source of love. Love originates with God. This establishes a primary motivation for love: love originates in God’s eternal nature.

Love then isn’t found deep down inside of all of us. Contrary to modern thought it isn’t the highest of all human ideals. It isn’t the natural response of education or the proper opportunity or pedigree. Love has a single source and it originates from the character of God alone.

The following clause in verse 7 is so predictable in light of John’s overall theme of testing:

and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

If love originates from the nature of God, then it is natural that his children would love. Stated positively, if someone loves, they have been born (past completed action) and they are now (present ongoing action), continually knowing God. So, they have been born of God and are presently knowing God.

This should be obvious to us because God-glorifying, Christ exalting, self-sacrificial, others-centered biblical love is supernatural, it can’t be accomplished by those who have not been born above.

Stated negatively, Johns says, if you or I or anyone else isn’t presently loving, then we haven’t ever known God. It is impossible.

But don’t people in the world love each other. Well yes, and no. Jesus says in John 15:19 that the world loves its own. So, there is a sense in which those in the world care for one another; they do have a unity around their sinful desires. In God’s common grace the world isn’t constantly as full of hate as it can be.

But at the motivational level there is a fundamental problem in the heart of the natural man. An unbeliever cannot truly love because only love that finds its origin in the nature of God can produce genuinely others centered love.

So, God has commanded through John that believers love one another because God is the source of love, and then the resulting fruit of love demonstrates whether or not one’s profession of faith is genuine. As we have said love is one of John’s moral test of true conversion.

One pastor put it like this:

Everyone God has saved in the past continues to give evidence of that fact in the present.

This love must be an ongoing reality.

John’s distinction could not be clearer, but so many people ignore this clarity that the one who loves if born of God and one who does not love is not. Do you love God’s people?

  • Yes: you are born-again and know God.
  • No: you are not born-again and you do not know God.

A couple of weeks ago I was visiting a retail shop we do business with in Margate. I got into a conversation with the wife of the store owner regarding some severe illness that she has been undergoing. She was visibly terrified at the prospect of pain and death. When I started asking about her view of God or faith she quipped back rather shortly that she was a Christian.

So I dove right in and started to ask her about her church. She said she didn’t have one she had given up on church a long time ago. So I asked her about what Christian fellowship looked like in her life right now. How is she being built up in the faith and building others up? She told me that she prefers to keep her distance from other Christians.

Sadly, as I continued to press, this woman told me that she didn’t want to talk to me anymore and stopped the conversation before I could take it any further. Her problem is that she has constructed and un-biblical, false dichotomy between loving God and loving his people. She has a category that allows her to hold on to unrepentant bitterness and resentment while still claiming the name of Christ. She has compartmentalized her aloofness to the body.

And while she blames the hurtfulness, the sin, and the rejection of those in the body, the truth of the matter is found in1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “love does not take into account a wrong suffered… it endures all things.” The real problem is her deep love for herself that trumps the biblical command to love others.

What is especially revealing about her words is that she has a special distaste for Christians, yet John’s exhortation specifically concerns Christians. It isn’t as though John is saying only love Christians and no one else when he says “beloved, love one another”, but Christian love is what is on his mind in this context.

Now I have little information about this woman’s inner life, but I can tell you that if she took John’s love test today she wouldn’t pass this aspect of the love test. She wouldn’t come out with the score of one who has been born of God and is knowing Him… because love for other believers is as natural as breathing for the believer.

The reason why love is a test of true belief is because God is love. This needs a bit of unpacking so we are going to work our way through it together.

for God is love

John makes this statement in parallel with other statements he has said about God. He records Jesus’ words in his Gospel when Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that, God is spirit (John 4:24). In 1 John 1:5, John remarks that, God is Light. Notice, however, that none of these qualities exhausts the nature of God.

It is important to understand that when we read God is love, it doesn't mean that love is one of God’s many activities, but rather, as Dodd states:

All his activity is loving activity. If He creates, He creates in love; if He rules, He rules in love; if He judges, He judges in love.

And this brings the important qualification that we don’t define God based on love, but rather God defines love. This is important because as you know there are many who refuse to worship God based upon his own terms.

They want to see a God who meets their own terms of love. If God is loving, then how come… fill in the blank (child abuse, rape, war, etc.). We fail to realize that God’s love is manifested in the sending of Jesus Christ to die for sinners.

God’s love is clearly defined and displayed when he pours it out upon his elect, and that is the love that John is referring to here.

Ephesians 2:4–5—4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

God’s electing love is incomprehensible. It loved us when we didn’t deserve to be loved, in spite of our rebellion and hatred to God. And this brings us right into John’s very next point.

  1. Your Mandate
  2. Your Motivation
  3. Your Model (9-10) God characterizes love

So far, we have seen Your Mandate to love one another; followed by Your Motivation that love is grounded in the personhood and character of God. God is love so we must love and this tests whether or not we even know God.

Now in our third point, Your Model we are going to see that this love of God is supremely manifest in his historic gift of Christ on our behalf.

Look at verse 9 with me:

(9) By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

I love John’s additional information here. He has just told us love originates from God and God is love, and as we sit here trying to wrap our puny minds around what he means by what he says, he gives us additional clarification here.

He says simply, God’s love was manifest in this way… this word for manifest, φανεροω is one of John’s favorites. The verb means to make known, to fully reveal, to disclose, to make plain, or to bring into the light.

The idea is take something which is unknown or unseen and expose it. John is saying that the love of God was known either by the means of the Father sending the Son, or else the love of God was embodied in the Father’s sending of the Son.

The preposition could go either way grammatically, and in the end, the main point is this: God’s love, although it was seen through creation, and although it was seen when he set his electing love upon Israel, and although it has been seen continuously throughout history, the supreme manifestation of the love of God is displayed in one reality: the sending of his only begotten Son.

This is the example par excellence of the love of God. This is as good as it gets.

Now the word for “begotten” in the original is μονογενη. The translation begotten dates back to Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translation of the Scriptures around 400 A.D. and though it accurate, it isn’t the most helpful term here.

See we typically think of begotten as only meaning the only child. Usually when we hear of begetting we think King James version of the Old Testament with a list of people who begot other people. So and So beget So and So and on and on. But this word doesn’t mean that Jesus was begotten as in he had a beginning.

Rather, μονογενη is a compound word, the first part μονος means “only, single” the second part γενος means “kind” so literally the word means “one of kind, unique, like no other”.

As such, Christ was the only one qualified to reveal the Father. He was the unique Son of God. Jesus himself said in John 14:9 that, he who has seen Me has seen the Father. But the uniqueness of the Sonship of Christ speaks not only to his ability to reveal the Father’s love, but also his ability to accomplish redemption on behalf of sinners.

This is evident from the little so that in verse 9, which serves as the purpose clause. John lays it out here for us. here is the purpose for which God sent Christ: it was that we might have life through him. Jesus says this same thing about his purpose in coming recorded in John 10:10 – I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

In our immediate context one chapter back in 1 John 3:14 John describes passing out of death into life… clearly he isn’t speaking of physical resurrection from the dead, but the spiritual deadness referred to in Ephesian 2:1 – the pre-conversion status of each one of us.

God, then, as a supreme manifestation of his love, sent Christ to bring life to those who were spiritually dead and give spiritual life. John 3:17 re-iterates this point, “For God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

This narrows the focus of God’s love in this passage to a redemptive purpose. John is not dealing with God’s love as it manifested generally throughout the world. See most often when God’s love is questioned by the world it surrounds issues like poverty, famine, pestilence, violence and war. People want answers about how a loving God can continue to sit around and not deal with these issues.

They reason that God is either not loving, or he is loving and impotent. If he is powerful enough to stop evil then he certainly isn’t loving, and if he is actually loving he certainly doesn’t have the power to stop any of the world’s evils. Quite the opposite is true – God’s love is chiefly manifest in his willingness to offer up his eternal Son to the world he created to rescue them from spiritual bondage and death.

Many people even call into question God’s justice in only saving some. They believe that it is an injustice to humanity that the Gospel isn’t given to all men. But this is from an elevated view of mankind, and a low view of God’s holiness. We should be in awe that God would send Christ to save even one sinful person, let alone you and I and millions of others.

So, in verse 9 we have seen that Christ is the mediating agent through whom we have received life, first now, and forever continuing into eternity. He was sent as a love gift from the Father to the world.

Now in verse 10 John continues specifying how we see God’s love practically manifested. He first states his point negatively, then contrasts it positively. He says, In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. If you love God it is because he initiated the relationship.

Paul is clear in Romans 3 – there are no seekers who left to their natural inclination try to find and worship the true God. God’s love wasn’t responsive, he didn’t simply mirror our favorable attitude toward him; he didn’t react.

No, in fact he set his love upon not just people who didn’t deserve his kindness, but upon those who were ill-deserving of his love. This is something that is often on our lips, but is it really on our hearts?

I was telling my wife recently that I have said for a long time that I am the worst sinner that I know because I believe that is true and should be true, second only to her of course. But as I continue to see how deceptive my own heart is and the depth of my sin I am beginning to say that I am the worst sinner I know from an experiential standpoint. And this does nothing but magnify God’s love in my estimation.

Remember when Israel was accused of spiritual harlotry by selling herself out to any other god that would take her? Hosea was told to go and wed himself to a prostitute, who would be unfaithful in the marriage relationship. God didn’t ask Hosea to go marry a wife who was one or two notches lower on the scale of faithfulness. Gomer wasn’t the award-winning most eligible bachelorette in the potential prophet’s wife category.

Quite the opposite. In fact, God told Hosea to do the incomprehensible and marry someone who placed no value on marriage, who had no category for the purity of the marriage bed, who had no concern for maintaining a marriage covenant, who had no love for anyone other than herself.

This would have been absolutely scandalous to any who witnessed it, and yet this is the scandal of God’s initiating His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.

When God initiated his love toward sinners it was scandalous. It came not to those that simply didn’t deserve the love of God, but to those who were ill-deserving of his affection. God love his enemies. God love rebels. He loved you and I who were not just unlovely, but who were treacherous against him.

And this love serves as Your Model, it is our pattern for love. What this means practically is that we don’t show love only to those who have earned our affection.

Positively, our love has others in mind and actively purposes to benefit others. God sending Christ didn’t happen as a last-minute corrective effort when the right opportunity arose at the right time. It was intentioned when God sent Christ. It was purposed before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1.

Now we have seen that God’s sending of Christ was to accomplish a specific goal, in verse 9 it was to bring life, now in verse 10 we read what took place in order to bring us life: Jesus Christ had to become our propitiation.

In his propitiatory work Jesus Christ took our sin and we were freed from the consequence. We inherited his favor with God the Father.

Listen to D. Edmond Hiebert as he elucidates the propitiatory work of Christ in the following statement:

He [speaking of Jesus Christ] is both the propitiator and the propitiation for human sin. Christ’s self-sacrifice for sin made full atonement for all sins, enabling God to pardon the sins of those who believe in Him and to restore them to acceptance and fellowship with Himself.

Romans 5:6-7—Christ died for the ungodly while we were still helpless… and one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.

It is conceivable, barely that someone would just give up his own life for another… but if this did happen, it is only conceivable if the man were so valuable and so righteous that it would actually be worth it. The point is, there was nothing good in us that made us worth dying for – it was simply the fact that this was in the Divine plan of God to bestow his love upon a people.

Now we are starting to get the picture… God’s love for us compels to love others. Now John re-iterates his point with all of the force of what has just come above. In light of all that God is and all that he has done John says in verse 11:

(11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

John re-addresses his limited group here – the Beloved. The object of their love is still limited – one another, or other believers. But there is a conditional statement now. John is saying if everything I have just said about what God has done for you in Christ is true, then we are obligated to love one another.

This word for “ought” in the original carries with it the concept of indebtedness. It was a term used in the marketplace of being under financial obligation to make a payment. Someone would come under obligation as the result of receiving something of value on terms or condition—it could be translated ‘to owe, to be in debt.’ We would use it of someone who has a mortgage obligation and owes the bank the amount of money they borrowed.

In Matthew 18:28, for example, this word is used to describe the wicked slave who was forgiven the unpayable debt. That slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Here the slave was under obligation because he had received capital on loan.

However, our obligation to love is slightly different than this concept. One commentator said, “the moral obligation is stressed… This obligation does not flow from the law, but from the nature of the realities involved.” His point is that our obligation is that because we have received the love of God in Christ and it has changed our nature, it must continue its work and manifest itself in our love.

As this love is manifest in us, it brings us to our final Distinctive of Self-Sacrificing Love: Your Mark. After seeing Your Mandate, Your Motivation, and Your Model, John leaves us with this final fulfillment or completion of God’s love effectuated in our hearts. This is Your Mark of Love.

  1. Your Mandate (7a, 11)
  2. Your Motivation (7b-8)
  3. Your Model (9-10)
  4. Your Mark (12) God completes love

(12) No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us

The concept of an invisible God is not a new concept to us. Paul gives praise to the King eternal, immortal, and invisible in 1 Timothy 1:17. John 1:18 corroborates this and tells us that the only begotten Son of the Father is the only one who has seen God.

The next clause, “if we love one another” has an adversative force so in order to bring this out we could re-state the first part of the verse like this: “Even though no one has seen God at any time; yet if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”

What John is doing, is implying that when believers love one another it confirms the reality that God is abiding or remaining in them. Even though God isn’t visibly being beheld within his church, his presence is among the body is confirmed by our love.

In other words, whenever you see the fruit of supernatural love, it should be a comfort and an encouragement to you that the love of God is in this place and he is abiding here with us.

But what does it mean that God’s love is perfected in us? Is John saying that God’s love was imperfect without our cooperation or before we expressed love? No, rather, as D. Edmond Hiebert says of this passage: “the perfect passive verb, “is perfected” does not imply any previous imperfection in God’s love but rather presents God’s love as having been brought to its goal objectively in that life.”

This shows us that God has determined in His wisdom to accomplish the goal of making us little replicas… little God-like lovers. Who love without placing our own conditions on our love. That we would seek the redemptive good of those around us, seeking to build up rather than simply be built up, to serve rather than simply be served, to sacrifice rather than to be sacrificed for.

Well I hope that this morning was an encouragement to you—both in seeing the evidence of supernatural love and the continual application of it in our lives. As Paul said, “you already love… now excel still more.”

Love is the chief attribute of a people who have matured. It is the practical evidence of the love of Jesus Christ working among us. It represents a great testimony as we encounter people in the community around us, that our church would be known for our love.

If you see specific areas of your character where you lack Christian love, the answer to your problem is located right in the heart of this passage. You need to set your mind upon the awesome display of love revealed in God’s sending of Christ and his ensuing sacrifice.

And if you see the evidence of love for the people of God, what great assurance that you belong to the Lord. Don’t take it for granted as though that isn’t an example of God’s salvation in your life.

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