Bible Passage: 1 John 4:7-11
We all want to be loved and we know we should love, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself what love actually is? Today Austin begins his new series he named, “Seriously, What Is Love?” #Love #1John #DareToVenture
Venture’s Online Worship Gathering
Seriously, What is Love?
1 John 4:7-11
There is no debate that the greatest command in the Bible is that we love God, and the 2nd greatest command is that we Love each other! Pretty much everybody who calls themselves a Christian would agree with the fact that God made us to love Him and to enjoy being loved by Him. To bask in it and be totally identified by it! God even made us to love and be loved by one another and to bask in it! However, our culture seems to have lost its understanding of what Love actually is. We have redefined and even all together replaced it with counterfeits that have neither the substance nor enjoyment of what the Bible actually calls love.
Hollywood is famous for painting love as an emotion that suddenly appears during that magic moment when your eyes met that special somebody. It’s described as a feeling that surges through your body. An emotion that keeps you awake at night and will even drive you crazy. The problem is that for every human on earth that emotion eventually goes away! Perhaps that’s why so many marriages end in divorce. You can’t maintain the feeling that society claims as love, and so you feel like you need to move on. Perhaps it’s also why so many describe their spirituality as spurts. A rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows, where they feel loved by God then they don’t. Perhaps it’s even why some feel like God once was so faithful to them and now is not!
So many spend their lives chasing after this thing called love. Going from one relationship to the next trying to find it. One career and hobby to the next trying to find it.
So, for the next 5 weeks we are going to study 1 John 4:7-5:3 and in it we are going to get 5 different lessons on what love actually is. Each one written by the Apostle John to help the church understand the this thing that we all long for but all too often feel we can’t find or truly experience.
“This is the third time in the Epistle that he takes up and applies the supreme test of love. Each time the test is more searching. In this third treatment the author is concerned to relate the love which should be in us not to the true light which is already shining (2:8, 10), nor to the eternal life of which it is the evidence (3:14, 15), but to God’s very nature of love and with His loving activity in Christ and in us” (John Stott)
Today we begin with 1 John 4:7-11.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 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. 10 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. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (4:7-11)
1st John 4:7-11 gives us 3 foundational truths concerning the biblical context of love. What love actually is.
The 1st foundational truth concerning the biblical context of love is that,
Love originates in God. (4:7-8)
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
So love originates from God. It is not the invention of man, but God. And as such, being that love originates from God, if God is in us, then what originates from God will now be coming from us as well!
This does not mean that anyone who shows love is a child of God. Irrespective of what they may or may not believe about Jesus. This doesn’t do away with having to surrender to Jesus to be saved. Let me explain.
First love doesn’t cause you to be born again, but love is a result of being born again. John is using the same terminology here (has been born of God) as he does in John 3:16 where he tells Nicodemus he must be born again. He is speaking of the spiritual rebirth where we were brought from the curse of sin. Thus removed from a relationship from God, and brought into a relationship with God! Verse 7 is not saying if you love you’ll be born again but rather if you are born again you will love.
But what about those that love that don’t have God?
“There is love outside the Christian church, and sometimes non-Christians seem to love one another better than Christians do. How is the existence of such love to be explained, and what does its presence indicate regarding the status before God of those who show it?” (211–12) Marshall’s question may be answered by considering several factors: the doctrine of the imago Dei (“image of God”), the doctrine of Common Grace (both negative [restraint] and positive [the inspiration of good]), & the general influence of the gospel. Yet ultimately, Marshall continues, “it is belief in Jesus Christ and love for God which matters. Human love, however noble and however highly motivated, falls short if it refuses to include the Father and Son as the supreme objects of its affection. It falls short of the divine pattern, and by itself cannot save a man; it cannot be put into the balance to compensate for the sin of rejecting God. Love alone, therefore, is not a sign of being born of God” (212).
John has consistently pointed to this throughout his letter that it requires a belief in the actual Jesus and as such a surrender to him. It also requires that we love him and others. If we do not it is evidence that we actually have not surrendered to him. This is best explained in these verses because again if Love originates from God and God is in us then Love should be originating from us as well! If it is not, then it is impossible that God is in us because love originates from God! If you are born of God, regenerated, and now of Him, instead of the world, then what is of Him, will be of you – Love!
“For the loveless Christian to profess to know God and to have been born of God is like claiming to have been born of parents whom we do not in any way resemble. It is to fail to manifest the nature of Him whom we claim as our Father (‘born of God’) and our Friend (‘knoweth God’). Love is as much a sign of the new birth as is righteousness” (Stott, 161).
The 2nd foundational truth concerning the biblical context of love is that,
Love resonates from God. (4:9-10)
Note: The word resonates means what is seen or heard outwardly from an origin. It implies energy in action. That is love originates in God, but it is not stationary. It resonates out! Remember, John has already showed us that love by nature is an action. So much so, that without action, it cannot be called love. So what we see in verse 9 and 10 are the testimonies of that love that resonates. The action that can be seen and heard coming from where love originates!
Specifically verses 9 and 10 show two ways God’s love resonates to us so that it can be seen and heard and known. The first way is, Love resonates from God through the sending of The Son. (4:9)
9 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.
There is a nuance in here that I need to explain.
Some translations read the only begotten son just as we see John 3:16. But that is often understood that the Son did not exist until the father created Him. That very concept would be what many gnostics were teaching in the first century, and what John is blasting right here in his letter. John’s Gospel goes overboard to make sure we understand that Jesus claimed to be the eternal God! This is very clearly seen in every New Testament writing as well as the prophecies of the Messiah in the Old Testament. So what does it mean to be the only begotten son?
Storms notes, “The stress in each instance is on the uniqueness of Jesus as God’s one and only son (the word “begotten” is a poor rendering).”
Kruse writes, “The emphasis is not that Jesus was ‘begotten’ of God, but that God had only one Son, and this ‘one and only’ Son he sent into the world so that ‘we might live through him’. “
So the fact that God does not leave us here. That He came to be Emmanuel, God with us, is a demonstration of His love for us! You do not hide yourself from people you love, you give yourself to them! You do not make yourself and your feelings unknown to those you love, but you share it with them and say it to them. So, God becoming man to be with us is a demonstration of God’s love for us. You don’t want to be with those you don’t love! You don’t sacrifice the glories of heaven and take upon flesh and make yourself, as the writer of Hebrews said, a little lower than the angels, in order to be with someone if you don’t love them!
Now, that explanation of the resonation of God’s love is not of itself enough for us to know God’s love! Again, Kruse writes, “However, the possibility that people ‘might live through him’ by ‘knowing’ or ‘having’ Jesus Christ depended on much more than a revelation of God’s love in sending his Son into the world. A far greater demonstration of his love was needed, as the next verse (4:10) makes clear.”
The second way God’s love resonates to us so that it can be seen and heard and known is,
Love resonates from God through the death of The Son! (4:10)
10 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.
So, the origination of love is not in our love for him, but God’s love for us. The context of the statement being that we are the enemies of God. We are the ones who rebel against him. It is absolutely illogical for one who is having war waged against him by an enemy to in turn make the sacrifice to pay for the wrong that is being done to them by the one making him their enemy!
So John takes us back to what he has said in verse seven that love originates in God. And it resonates from him to us even though it has not resonated from us to him! And this is how love resonated, that is, this is how it was not a feeling contained within God but an action originating from where Love comes from – God, not us! so what was that action?
The specific Greek word is translated propitiation in 1st John (it’s in 2:2). A similar word is also used in Romans 3:25 –
“whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sin” (Romans 3:25)
It means to appease anger! Nothing could resonate God’s love for us more than the son who is innocent taking upon himself the full wrath and anger of God. That is the full consequence of our sin, upon himself! God took the responsibility of satisfying the judicial requirement and the relational consequence of our rebellion! Jesus suffered the entire consequence of the wrath of God for us. That is the eternal second person of the Trinity paid the price. Meaning God himself paid the price that we inflicted on Him! If that’s not love resonating, I don’t know what it is!
The 3rd foundational truth concerning the biblical context of love is that,
God’s love obligates us to do the same! (4:11)
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (4:11)
The author is not giving a lesson about the love of God for its own sake, but to show that God’s love for us must cause us to love one another. Accordingly, he writes: Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. Since God so loved ‘us’, there is an obligation resting upon ‘us’ to love one another.
If we have any concept whatsoever of the gospel, that is the love and grace of God and what he has done to save us. What he has saved us to, then there is no way we can logically conclude that there is anything but an obligation for us to love others. If God can love me, who eternally falls short of his standard, who corrupts everything God has given me, and who chooses to love and honor himself more than the God who died for me, the one who deserves all glory and honor! If God can love me in the incredibly amazing way that He loves me then how in the world can I justify not loving someone else!
Challenge: Do you truly believe God is love and that He actually loves you?
The primary temptation to Job was that God was unjust and that as such God didn’t love him. Life does that to us. Living in a sin sick, cursed world temps us to start believing that the consequences of living in it, and all that we have to endure in it, means God doesn’t love us! It leads us to overlook the fact that Jesus actually dwelt among us. That he lived in this mess as well and then died to set us free from it! That He has forgiven us of every vile and despicable thing we have done. That He has given us eternal life with Him forever! That He has given us an eternal gift that gives us hope beyond this sin sick it world. Yet, the first bad thing that happens we start buying the lie that God doesn’t love us!
This Week’s Songs
We the Kingdom
© 2019 Andrew Bergthold Designee, Capitol CMG Genesis, Capitol CMG Paragon, We The Kingdom ASCAP Designee, We The Kingdom Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing). CCLI Song No. 7136448.
Words and music by Ed Cash/Scott Cash/Franni Cash/Andrew Bergthold/Martin Cash
God Of Revival
© 2019 Phil Wickham Music, Simply Global Songs, Sing My Songs (Admin by Essential Music Publishing) Bethel Music Publishing. CCLI Song No. 7133285.
Words and music by Phil Wickham/Brian Johnson
Goodness of God
Bethel Music/Jenn Johnson
© 2018 Fellow Ships Music, So Essential Tunes (Admin by Essential Music Publishing) SHOUT! Music Publishing (Admin by Capitol CMG Publishing) Alletrop Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) Bethel Music Publishing. CCLI Song No. 7117726. Words and music by Ed Cash/Ben Fielding/Jason Ingram/Brian Johnson/Jenn Johnson.
CCLI License Information
CCLI License Number: 632958
Streaming License: 20213335
All songs used by permission.