Message Title: ‘The God kind of love’ Text: 1 John 4:7-21
Introduction: Jackie DeShannon had a hit song titled ‘What the World Needs Now Is Love.’
It came out in the 60’s during the Vietnam War and was certainly on point for that time…. and I believe for today as well.
Love… real love, in the world around us, is illusive at best and rarely lasts very long. More often than not, it’s conditioned upon some requirement we place on others.
- As a society, the idea of love has been lost to the new requirement… agreement.
- You must agree with my beliefs and opinion or you cannot be my friend… you will lose my love. It’s very, very sad.
One of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs is love. Love is essential to ‘self-actualization.’ or to put it in layman’s terms, love is necessary for a healthy life. When love is absent, we’re… lost.
- We want to KNOW we are loved.
- We want to EXPERIENCE a love that has no restrictions, no conditions.
- We want a love that makes us feel… ALIVE.
Theologian, Carl Barth, was once asked in a Q & A session of a conference to sum up his theological perspective, what was the basis of all that he believed and taught. He answered: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
- Is there anything more simple that that one statement? Is there anything more profound that that one statement?
We’ve reached the 4th chapter of 1 John and if you’ve been following along, you know that love is the main topic of John’s letter. He uses it 46 times in 135 verses.
Now, in English there’s just one world for love… it’s, you know… love. But in Greek, there’s 4 words that express a different kind of love. The Greek word for love that John uses exclusively in this letter is Agape.
- It’s the God kind of love, that’s much more of a choice, than a feeling.
- It’s a selfless, sacrificing, forgiving, doing, kind of love, that only comes when God gives us a new kind of life, through faith in Jesus.
John had that agape kind of love, he experienced that, God kind of love, when he placed his faith in Jesus.
- From what we read in Johns letters in the NT He was overwhelmed with the thought that God loved him so deeply and proved His love by sending Jesus to pay the price for his sin.
John wants followers of Jesus, to know what he knows, to experience what he experienced…
- The overwhelming, never ending, relentless love of God.
And he wants that, God kind of love,
- To be what drives our lives.
- To be what directs our interactions with those around us.
- To be what marks us, what distinguishes us, from the world around us.
However he knows that’s not what we’re taught or experience from others in the world.
Transition: John begins in our text today, by reminding us of the priority of God’s kind of love.
- 1 John 4:7-8, 20-21 The priority of love
- 1 Jn. 4:7-8 God is love
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.
John’s saying that if we’re children of God, and God is love, then we ought to be like our Father, and show that, God kind of love, to others.
While John has repeatedly said that love comes from God, here he’s telling us something of the very nature of God… God… is love.
- And John uses agape, the God kind of love.
The Apostle Paul writing to the Christians at the church in Corinth also wanted to distinguish, the God kind of love, from the love the world offers. He said I want to show you a more excellent way and proceeded in 1 Corinthians 13 to describe agape love.
- 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.
John tells us that this, God kind of love, is not found in those who are not children of God. It’s only found in those who’ve been born of God through faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin.
- This is a very special kind of love known only to those who are children of God.
- 1 Jn. 4:20-21 Love one another
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he 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: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
If we’re being honest, aren’t we all thinking, since I’m a child of God through faith in Jesus, why can’t I love like God loves?
- Well, earlier in his letter, John talked about the necessity of walking in fellowship with God.
- And he described it with the term abiding… It’s making God and His Word, your home.
- He’ll remind us that loving with God’s kind of love and abiding in God are one and the same in verses 13-16.
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. Let’s make this practical: Who is his brother referring to in this text?
In the strictest sense, it’s referring to a Christian, a brother or sister in Christ. Examples include but are not limited to:
- A Christian in your church fellowship.
- A Christian in another church fellowship.
- A Christian in another country.
But, it’s also
- A Christian in your church or another who has hurt, betrayed, or offended you in some way.
- A Christian who lives next door to you who has hurt, betrayed, or offended you in some way.
- A Christian in your home who has hurt, betrayed, offended you in some way.
In its widest sense… anyone and everyone.
- Those unsaved in the world who are evil people.
- Those unsaved in the world who persecute Christians.
- Those unsaved in the world whose political views are in opposition to yours.
Loving like God loves, loving who God loves… it’s hard,
- It grates against our very nature.
- It’s against everything the world around us would tell us.
- And… it goes against everything we might be feeling.
Which is why in verse 21 John tells us that God commands it. That makes loving with, God’s kind of love, a choice we have to make every day, often multiple times every day.
- To not love our brothers/sisters in Christ, to not ove the lost around us…
- Is no longer an option for those born of God through faith in Jesus.
We are commanded by God… to love one another, regardless of who or what they have done to us.
This true story appeared in Our Daily Bread
During the Korean War, a young Communist officer ordered the execution of a Christian civilian. When he learned that his prisoner was in charge of an orphanage and was doing much good in caring for small children, he decided to spare his life, but kill his son instead. The 19-year-old boy was shot in the presence of his father.
Later, when the tide of events changed, this same officer was captured, tried, and condemned to death for war crimes. But before the sentence could be carried out, the Christian father pleaded for the life of this Communist who had killed his son.
He admitted that if justice were followed, this man should be executed. But since he was so young and blindly idealistic, he probably thought that his actions were right.
“Give him to me,” he said, “and I’ll teach him about the Savior.” They granted the request. That father took the murderer of his son into his own home.
As a result of his self-sacrificing love, that Communist became a Christian pastor (from Steve Cole and Our Daily Bread)
We are commanded by God… to love one another.
Transition: Next John will show how God demonstrated His love to us…even though we were unlovable.
- 1 John 4:9-12, 19 Love demonstrated
- 1 Jn. 4:9-10, 19 By God
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. We love because He first loved us.
John is reminding us that God Himself set the example for how we are to love with God’s kind of love.
- It was not the ‘do as I say and not as I do’ kind of love we see from the world around us.
God has certainly set the standard of love
- when He sent Jesus to die on the cross, to take on Himself, the just punishment for the sins of those who would believe in Jesus.
Not only has God set the example of agape love, He took the initiative to love us first. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us… We love because He first loved us.
Our desire and ability to love with, God’s kind of love, is solely an act of God’s grace, extended to those who don’t deserve anything from a holy and righteous God.
- As sinful human beings, we deserve Gods wrath, judgment and condemnation.
BUT, by God’s amazing and extravagant grace, He showed love to us instead. How? By sending Jesus to be the propitiation for our sins. Big word we don’t hear in our world today. Propitiation means
- God, in an act of great, agape love, sent Jesus to die on the cross.
- To take upon Himself the fullness of God’s wrath, the just punishment, and judgment for our sins
- to satisfy the requirements of our holy and righteous God.
- Turning us, from enemies of God, to friends, to forever children of Almighty God.
Look, John’s saying that no matter how hard it might be to love someone in your life, remember
- Jesus loved you when you were unlovable. When you had no standing, whatsoever, before God. When there was no good in you, at all.
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.
- Apart from God’s first work of love in sending Jesus to die for our sin, we would have remained dead to God. With no real life in you.
The Apostle Paul put it this way: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world (Ephesians 2:1-2a)
But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
- The greatest example of love, is the cross on which Jesus died… for you!
At its heart,
- Christianity is not choosing to stop doing bad things and start doing good things.
- Christianity is God, giving new life, a new kind of life through faith in Jesus, to those who are dead in their sins.
And when that happens, you’ll have the capacity to love with God’s kind of love.
- 1 Jn. 4:11-12 By His children
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.
If, better translated, since, since God so loved us. So being the key word here. It not only reveals the scope of God’s love but the means of God’s love and in this case, it’s a sacrificial love, as we saw in Jesus, our example.
Bill Hybels, in his book, Who You are When No One’s Looking writes: True personal fulfillment never comes through self-gratification. True personal fulfillment comes in sacrificial service to others. (Don Anderson)
To put it another way, we mature as followers of Jesus Christ, when we serve others as an act of love.
- Remember the Apostle John has already connected love and serving in in chapter 3 verses 16-18.
Sacrificially loving those who love us… is not always easy, but it is manageable. But, what about those who don’t love us back? That’s the kind of world we live isn’t it? It may even be the kind of home we live in.
The Apostle Paul wrote this to a young pastor named Timothy:
- But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1–4)
Friends, while I’m certain that described Timothy’s life in the 1st century, I am absolutely certain it reflects life today. Especially these last 4 years in the US.
- The unsaved world around us, does not love God.
- The unsaved world around us, to some extent loves others, but they put so many conditions on that love that people fail to experience any love in their lives.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. Ought gives the idea of being second nature,
- as natural as fish swimming in the ocean,
- as natural as birds flying in the sky,
- as natural as the Giants losing to the Eagles…
In other words, as God took the initiative to love us, so we must take the initiate to love others.
- Love… is what we … do!
if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. Of course John is not saying that the Christian can love perfectly. The Greek word for perfect can also be translated fills. So this can read:
- if we love one another, God abides in us and His love fills us.
God doesn’t just want us to have the capacity to love with a, God kind of love,… He wants His agape love… to fill us.
Listen, when the unsaved, even the saved see the God kind of love flowing from you, they’ll know God’s near, because they’ll see His character reflected in you.
Christian, God has chosen… wow, God has chosen to reveal His love to others in this world… through YOU!
- 1 John 4:13-18 By this we know…
- 1 Jn. 4:13-16 Abiding and love
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 His Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in Him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
John uses the phrase By this we know and we have come to know to bring a high level of assurance to those who may be doubting their place before God.
- In verse 13-16 he sums us what he has previously said by connecting abiding and love as assurances of God’s presence in your life.
- So I’m not going to address here what we’ve already looked at.
Here’s what I want you to see. For a second time in our text, the wonderful truth that God is love is announced. In this case it’s announced so that children of God who love God and reflect God’s love to others, will know that there’s saving power in God’s kind of love.
He’s encouraging us to share the good news of the God kind of love that’s available to all those who place their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin… just as we have. That’s what John means when he uses the world testify.
Then John adds for the unsaved to become a child of God they must confess… confess means to acknowledge, to believe something is true and make it part of your worldview. For the unsaved to become a child of God they must confess, believe:
- that Jesus is the Son of God
- that Jesus is the Savior of the world (their Savior)
When they do, God will abide, take up residence in them and the God kind of love will take up residence, abide in them as well.
- God’s love bring assurance to those who doubt.
- God’s love brings salvation to the lost.
- 1 Jn. 4:17-18 Love and fear
By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Anxiety, worry… fear is running rampant today.
- Some fear what COVID will do to our health.
- Some fear what the COVID restrictions placed on us by our government will do to our jobs, our finances, our mental health even.
And yes, some fear how our churches will hold up under the tight COVID restrictions.
- With cold weather knocking on our door, can we go inside and ‘do church’ in a limited capacity with less people?
- Can we social distance, wear masks, and close the windows to put heat on in the building and still keep everyone safe?
Practical questions that have real fear associated with them.
John repeats the assurance we have when the God kind of love, fills our lives, particularly when we stand before God on the day of judgment.
- Our confidence is not in what we have done but in what Jesus has done for us.
- Our assurance that we are part of God’s family through faith in Jesus is that we can see examples of God’s kind of love being display in our lives.
- Our assurance is as He (Jesus) is, so also are we, in this world. Loved by God the Father and abiding in Him and He is us, through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Yet, it seems many of John’s readers, and many today, still fear the idea of standing in God’s presence at the judgment.
- They fear they were not good enough, not loving enough, not loving the right kind of people, didn’t serve enough or give enough money.
But remember, when God came to dwell in us by the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus, He, also poured out His love into our hearts.
- Not only giving us the capacity to love like God loves,
- but to have it fill our lives so that others will see it,
- so that it will mark us and God’s children.
Verses 17-18 are wonderful words of assurance for the follower of Jesus…
- fear has no place, fear has no power, where love, God’s kind of love… dwells.
Look, while we have the capacity to love with God’s kind of love, it still is a progressive thing. We still have to wake up each morning and choose to love others.
As we mature in our love for God and in our ability to show love to others, fear will find less and less to hold on to, in our lives. LISTEN!
- Fear… will never be our master
- when we surrender… to God’s love.
Conclusion: Love… I’m reminded of that great theologian Percy Sledge when he sang
- When a man loves a woman can’t keep his mind on nothin’ else
- He’d trade the world for a good thing he’s found.
- If she is bad, he can’t see it she can do no wrong
- turn his back on his best friend if he puts her down
- When a man loves a woman spend his very last dime trying to hold on to what he needs
- He’d give up all his comforts and sleep out in the rain If she said that’s the way it ought to be
That classic song speaks volumes of the great lengths we’ll go, to find and hold on, to the imperfection of human love.
If you have not given your life to God thorough faith in Jesus…that’s all you have to look forward to in this life. But…
- God wants you to know love in a deeper more profound way… God’s kind of love.
- The kind of love that left heaven to show just how much He loves you.
There is security and peace, a wholeness, in God’s love that you won’t find anywhere else.
- Will you receive His love today? Let’s pray.