1 John 4:17-21 - The Benefits Of Our Union With The LORD And A Perfected Love

I would like to read from Philippians 1. Paul writes to these believers about many of the same things that we will find in our text this morning. Let’s begin in Philippians 1:6 where Paul says, “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Paul says that he is sure of one thing. He is sure that God will began this work and complete it at the day of Jesus Christ. The plan of salvation that has been started in a believer always looks to the finish line, the end game, the day of Jesus Christ. This understanding concerning the day of Jesus Christ is placed into God’s people by the Spirit of God.

Let me give you an example of how the LORD begins to make men and women aware of the day of judgment that is coming. Howell Harris, a good friend of George Whitfield, was a passionate evangelist who played a part in the revivals of the Great Awakening. Before his conversion Howell was prideful, arrogant, angry, loved the approval of others, he was a lover of sin in all of its varieties. However, one day he sat in a church where the minister got up and said a few words that the Holy Spirit would use to begin an eternal work in Howell’s heart. The minister stood before the congregation and said, “If you are not fit to come to the Lord’s table, you are not fit to live, and you are not fit to die!” These words shocked Harris. God used those jarring words to begin a process that would bring Harris to saving faith in Christ.

After Harris had come to Christ he writes in his journal about some of the things that God was doing deep in his heart at this time. Notice how God made him aware of eternal matters like the day of Jesus Christ that was approaching. He wrote, “All thoughts of human applause were quite vanished from my sight; the spiritual world and eternity began to appear; now I began to have other views and motives; I felt some insatiable desires after the salvation of poor sinners; my heart longed for their being convince of their sin and misery. I also found myself a stranger here; all my heart was drawn from the world and visible things, and was in pursuit of more valuable riches.

This same work that we see in Howell is also seen in the lives of other believers throughout the scriptures. In Philippians 1:7, Paul speaks of his ministry and how the Philippians joined with him in it. He writes, “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.” In their own way the Philippians supported missions because of the grace of God that was working in their hearts.

In Philippians 1:8-11 Paul says, “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory of and praise of God.

Let’s take a moment to notice a couple things. First, don’t neglect to appreciate what Paul is saying when he says, “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” Paul says that God will testify that Paul loves them not of himself, but with the same affection that Christ Jesus has for them. Wow! What a display of supernatural love. May we grow in this grace too.

Paul prays for them. He has to pray for them to have this love more and more because it is from God. The love that Paul speaks of here is the same word that has showed up over and over again in the epistle of 1 John. Both John and Paul are speaking of the ‘agape’ love of God. This is a supernatural love. It is a love that only believers can possess because God is love and only those who are saved have been given this love as a result of their union with the LORD.

Paul prays that this love would abound more and more and that they would also abound in knowledge and all discernment. These words probably seem strange to us. Our culture often rejects the need to apply knowledge and to be discerning when applying love. As a result, we are often misapplying and misunderstanding these things.

The knowledge and this ability to discern that Paul prays for will result in the Philippians approving of what is ‘excellent’. The word ‘excellent ’that Paul uses means that as a believer grows in the love of God and in their abil