Seven Reasons To Love One Another Part 2
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have 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 also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.(1 John 4:7-12)
This is the second of two sermons on this text. Last week we discussed the charge that is given, ‘Beloved, let us love one another’. Today we will be looking at the reasons for giving the charge. John says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for…” Or we could say, “Beloved, let us love one another, because…”.
We are to love because love is from God (4:7b – ‘Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God’)
We are to love because love is evidence that one is born of God (4:7c – ‘...whoever loves has been born of God’)
We are to love because love is evidence that one knows God (4:7d - ‘whoever loves has been born of God and knows God’)
We are to love because not loving is evidence that one does not know God (4:8 – ‘Anyone who does not love does not know God’)
We are to love because God is love (4:8b – ‘Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love’)
We are to love because God demonstrated His love to us (4:9-11 – ‘In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so love us, we also ought to love one another.’)
We are to love because we are to demonstrate God’s love to others (4:12 – ‘No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.’)
John gives seven reasons why believers are now able to love from the heart and not simply by way of external conformity. If John did not give these reasons we might soon begin to despair because of this charge.
There was a time in my life when I did not have much assurance of my salvation. My understanding of salvation was so small that I believed any sin that I committed would make God cast me out of his hand. Daily I would pray to be saved all over again out of fear that I had thought or done something that had caused me to fall from grace.
One day we were studying the ‘ordo-salutis’ which is a Latin term that refers to the ‘Order of Salvation’. This refers to nine different parts of salvation that are given in Scripture that are promised to happen to those who are saved. These things include: Election, The Gospel Call, Regeneration, Conversion, Justification, Sanctification, Perseverance, Glorification.
As I learned about these things I began to realize that God had designed a comprehensive and exhaustive way to save the worst of sinners. As a result, I grew in confidence and in my assurance of what God had done for me.
I share this simply to say that John’s seven reasons for loving one another are designed to do something similar in the life of a believer. When they are properly understood...
a believer will not resist the call to love; rather they will remember what has been done so that we can love in any and all situations.
a believer will not make excuses for not obeying the charge; rather they will rely on the Spirit who enables us to love.
#1 Love is from God
Proverbs 29:26 says, ‘Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.’ Similarly, even though the LORD is the only source of love we often are found to be seeking to be loved in other ways. Dr. Michael Reeves says, “Blindly and foolishly we have all turned to love and enjoy other things – things that in reality are completely unable to satisfy.”
For example, recently I watched a documentary about one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history. He commented that all of the love that he had received because of his success on the football field ended the very day that he retired from the game. It did not slowly fade over the next few years; rather it was gone in a day!
This things remind us to consider two things.
First, we must come to God for the love that we so desperately need.
Secondly, having come to God and this love we can reflect this same love to others.
If we seek to receive love from this world then we will reflect nothing more than the football player experienced from the fans. If we crave the love of this world we will find ourselves living the life of the prodigal son…
who woke up one day and all his friends were gone
we will be just like his friends who abandoned him to look for another opportunity
Instead, we ought to be like King David who looked to God alone for love. He said, “To you (alone), O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you (alone) I trust; let me not be put to shame...Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!” (Psalm 25:1, 6-7)
David lifted up his soul to the LORD so that he could receive mercy, goodness and steadfast love. Then David prays for others at the end of the psalm, “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.” (25) Those who seek mercy, goodness, and steadfast love from God will be more attentive to the needs of others!
The phrase, ‘for love is from God’ (7), consists of only five words but they are very important. These words reveal that God alone is the source of this type of love. In the Greek there are two articles that do not show up in English. There is an article before the word ‘love’ and before the word ‘God’. It would look like this, ‘...for (ἡ) love is from (τοῦ) God’. If we added these articles into the translation they would help to particularize the specific love that comes from the God of the Bible. It would read, “...for the love is from the God”.
There is no other source of this type of love than the God of the Bible. Everything else is counterfeit. This is why Jeremiah can write, “Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold not water.” (Jeremiah 2:12-13) Only God can provide steadfast love so this is why in Psalm 25 David lifts his soul to God and says that he will wait for God.
Psalm 25:3 – Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame
Psalm 25:5 – Lead me in you truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Psalm 25:21 - May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
Next consider the preposition ‘from’ in the phrase, ‘love is from God’. This speaks of the fact that this love is born out of God. This love is part of God’s nature. God gives to us of His own nature by His Spirit so that we can experience and share this love with others.
This brings us to the next three points that John makes.
First, love is evidence that one has been born again.
Secondly, the one who loves gives evidence that they know God.
Thirdly, anyone who does not love does not know God.
We read in 1 John 4:7-8, “...whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God…”.
False teachers had come into these churches and told these believers that they possessed a special knowledge. They claimed to have discovered some hidden knowledge that these believers did not have. This unsettled the believers and it had shaken their assurance and confidence. John reminds them that a true believer will have a love for others and they will know God. These are things that are true of all true believers; but these things are not true of unbelievers.
Jesus speaks of this in Luke 6:32-36, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
Believers can, by the Spirit of God, love their enemies. They can do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Jonathan Edwards wrote, “The divine principle in the saints is of the nature of the Spirit: for as the nature of the Spirit of God is divine love, so divine love is the nature and essence of the holy principle in the hearts of the saints.”
Those who don’t have the Spirit of God cannot love God or His people. They speak of love but they cannot display a love that is any different then what Jesus says in Luke 6. They love those who love them and their lifestyle; but they don’t love those who speak the truth of God’s Word. They love those who can do them good but they don’t love those who cannot give them something back.
The key to being a believer who can love according to the charge given by Jesus and John is to consider the love and mercy of God.
Jesus says, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful”.
John says, “...God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have 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 to love one another.” (8-11)
In verses 8-11 John gives two more reasons for believers to obey the charge to love one another.
First, God is love.
Secondly, we are to consider that God demonstrated his love by sending His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Having been forgiven so much we are to love much. (Luke 7:47)
Twice in this chapter John says that God is love (8,16). You often hear unbelievers say that God is love. However, when they talk about what this means you realize that they do not understand the love of God.
God is love but this does not mean that everyone will go to heaven.
God is love but this does not mean that God tolerates sin.
God is love but this does not mean that God has created many options to eternal life.
God is love but this does not mean that he will not judge sin and send people to hell.
In scripture we are told of four different things that God is.
God is Spirit (John 4:24)
God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29)
God is light (1 John 1:5)
God is love (1 John 4:8, 16) Note: there is no article before the word ‘love’. John is not saying that love is God. Here John is emphasizing the worthiness, purity and the greatness of God’s character (Dr. John Hannah, p.161-162)
Dr. Ian Hamilton says, “God is, at the same time, all of these (and much more beside). Because He is love, all He does is love. Because He is a consuming fire and light, all He does is pure and just and holy. His love is not, and cannot be, blind and indulgent, just as His justice and holiness are not, and cannot be, cold and arbitrary.”
If I were to say, “The love of God alone does not save anyone” would you agree?”
It is the love of God that provides a way for salvation. It is the love of God that made the promise to redeem people. It is the love of God that sent Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away sins.
Unbelievers do not understand this type of love. Sadly some in the church who do not understand it either. One popular Christian author has written, “God is a good God, a loving Father, a strong tower of protection, a guide to green pastures and still waters. What kind of good parent would purposefully bring hardship on their children to grow character? In the physical world, we call this abuse. So why do we rationalize it in the spiritual world and attribute it to God as a good thing?”
I wonder if this author has spent much time reflecting upon this text in which John says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (Isaiah 53)
Listen to how Dr. Michael Reeves describes the special relationship that the Father has with the Son. He says, “Actually, ‘relationship’ is putting it mildly: the Father loves His Son with a unique and quite dazzling intensity. He did so from before the foundation of the world (John 17:24), and now he rejoices to let all the world hear ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17). For the Son is ‘the One He loves’ (Ephesians 1:6), ‘my chosen one in whom I delight’ (Isaiah 42:1), the one He yearns to glorify. As such, the Son is the one for whom He does everything, His Alpha and Omega: all things would be created for Him, the heir (Colossians 1:16).”
The Father shares such a unique relationship with the Son; yet, the Father sent Jesus to die upon the cross so that those who believe upon Him might be reconciled to God and receive eternal life. Hebrews 2:10-11a says, “For it was fitting that He, for and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.”
Thomas Goodwin, when laying upon his deathbed, reflected upon the love of God and said, “I could not have imagined I should ever have had such a measure of faith in this hour.” Then he spoke about not having his own righteousness, but having the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ, who loved him and gave himself for him. Then he said on that bed of suffering, “Christ cannot love me better than He does. I think I cannot love Christ better than I do. I am swallowed up in God...Now I shall be ever with the LORD.” (Mathes and Beeke, pg. 62) This is the benefit of contemplating the love of God which sent His Son to be our propitiation (atonement).
Having contemplated the Father’s love in sending His Son we are now told to demonstrate this love to others in verse 12, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”
No one sees God but they are to see God’s people loving others. When people see how we care for each other, how we apply biblical truths in our relationships, how we forgive, how we confront sinful behaviors, how we honor and respect one another; God is glorified and the love of God is made known.
John Eliot was a missionary to the native Americans who is best known for translating a bible into the Algonquin language. There were many evangelists who ministered to the Indians but they appreciated a godly man like Eliot. When asked why they loved Eliot so much they said it was because he loved them and he genuinely cared about the welfare of their souls. It was this Christlike love that led to the conversion of countless Indians through his ministry.
If we are honest, the charge to love one another is a daunting task. John knew that if we were to succeed at this charge we would need to appreciate these seven reasons…
We are to love because love is from God (4:7b)
We are to love because love is evidence that one is born of God (4:7c)
We are to love because love is evidence that one knows God (4:7d)
We are to love because not loving is evidence that one does not know God (4:8)
We are to love because God is love (4:8b)
We are to love because God demonstrated His love to us (4:9-11)
We are to love because God’s love is perfected, made complete, in us; and we are to demonstrate God’s love to others (4:12)
Let’s close with a warning. Not everyone who sees the love of Christ turns to him. The rich young ruler in Mark 10 saw the love of Christ and turned and walked away. We read, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him…” Having witnessed the love of God today, what will your response be?