God’s Love Revealed
For the third time we are considering the subject of love. This does not mean that John has run out of ideas and has to repeat himself. It means that the Holy Spirit, who inspired John, presents the subject once more from a deeper point of view.
First, love of the brethren has been shown as proof of fellowship with God.
I John 2:7-11
7Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 8Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
The following Scriptures present proof of sonship.
I John 3:10-14
10In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 11For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. 13Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
In the earlier passage, love for the brethren is a matter of experiencing “light” or “darkness” in one’s daily life. In the second set of Scripture verses, it is a matter of “life” or “death.” In 1 John 4:7-16 and following we get down to the very foundation of the matter.
I John 4:7-16
7Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9In 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. 10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God. 16And 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.
These verses discover why love is such an important part of the life that is real, that is genuine. Love is a valid fact of our “fellowship” and our “sonship” because God is love! Love is part of the very being and nature of God. If we are united to God through faith in Christ, we share His nature and since His nature is love, love is the test of the reality of our spiritual life. This love will not be a forced response. It will be a natural response for God is love; God is light and God is spirit. God is not limited by time and space the way His creatures are.
All that God “does” expresses all that God “is”. Even His judgments are measured out in love and mercy.
Lamentations 3:22, 23
22It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
God’s love was revealed in the way He dealt with the nation of Israel.
Deuteronomy 7:7, 8
7The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
“Little children” and “beloved” were John’s favorite ways of addressing his readers for John was about to write at length about love. Before doing so, he wanted his readers to know that he loved them with the same agape love that he was going to urge them to have in loving others.
God is the source of this unique self-giving love and when we display it, we are identifying ourselves with Him. It is sobering to realize that our love for one another is the only example of God’s love the world will ever have an opportunity to see.
Let’s pay close attention to Verse 9. John used this to speak of Jesus’ uniqueness.
I John 4:9
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.
Sinners may become sons of God by asking for forgiveness of sin. Faith is activated by sincere prayer to Almighty God.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Jesus is the eternal, unique Son. The emphasis of John’s letter is that God did not give just any son of His; He gave the unique Son who shares His nature eternally.
Who can measure such great love? Christ came into the world “that we might live through Him.”
Jesus gave redeemed men and women and boys and girls a kind of life they otherwise could not possess. When God sent Jesus Christ to die for us, Jesus did not respond to a human “search” but reached out to creatures alienated from Him.
1And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Agape love takes the initiative and reaches out to unworthy objects. It gives the most valuable possession one has and stoops to the lowest depths to rescue those in need.
Now that Christ is no longer on the earth because He is in Heaven interceding for us, the responsibility for revealing God has fallen on the Christian. Through us He continues to extend to the world the love He initiated in Christ.
The unsaved cannot see God, but they can see God’s influence in a Christian’s lifestyle, if we are living the truth of God’s Word consistently. Love and the Holy Spirit are closely connected, for only through the Spirit’s power can we manifest God’s love.
If we fail to manifest God’s love to others, we are guilty of hoarding a treasure God intended for all mankind to share.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Fear and love both are powerful motivators but they are incompatible. Fear does not exist where love is accepted and understood and love is not apparent where fear is.
Fear can be an overpowering emotion. It arrives uninvited and often humbles one. Public health officials occasionally feel powerless when people are frightened by an outbreak of some disease.
Fear then, is not only sin for the Christian, but evidence that we need greater maturity. As a believer grows spiritually, his love will blossom more fully while the fear of entering God’s presence diminishes.
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Scripture teaches us to come boldly to the throne of grace. That means to pray confidently. God hears us when we pray. That is His invitation: to speak in prayer to our Heavenly Father and to Jesus.
Is God your Father? If not, He can be. When He is your Father, He hears every prayer you pray. Jesus hears, too.
The forgiving love of God has removed all reasons for us to fear His judgment. The believer, having been forgiven of sin, can boldly approach God in prayer and praise and thanksgiving and feel the warmth of His fellowship.
Fear brings dread, torment and agony in the present, but love brings peace, trust and confidence for the present and for the future.
I John 4:20, 21
20If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
The reasoning is simple. Fellow believers are the visible representatives of the invisible God. We observe them, see their needs and have occasion to extend love to them. As we walk in His strength, we can bear His fruit, the fruit of the Spirit, and enjoy the confidence His indwelling love instills.