Peninsula Community Church
July 29, 2012
Displaying the Life of Christ – What Do We Do with God’s Love?
Last week, we looked at love from the standpoint of what God has accomplished for us and in us. This week, we will look at how we can personalize that love so that God’s love for us is not some ethereal truth that never becomes a reality in our lives but that His love becomes a present reality in our lives. As we study 1 John, we are given the opportunity to understand God’s love in greater ways so that we can comprehend God’s love for us but we can understand that God’s love should be personalized as well. Let us look at what John says about this in our text today.
1 John 4:13-21 – 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. 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. We love because he first loved us. 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.
One of the first truths that shine through this passage is that we can know God’s love. John says that “we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.” Notice that we not only can know God’s love but we can also believe and trust God’s love. “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). The fact is we can have information about certain things but not believe.
How can we know and believe in God’s love? I suggest to you that the first way is through His Word. On more than one occasion the Bible speaks of God’s love for us and what He did by sending His son to the cross. His action of sending His son demonstrates to us the magnitude and the depth of His love for us. As John states, “We love because He first loved us.” We can understand this love only by accepting His word. These words are more than just words on a page but they define the character of God and the work of God in our lives. What an awesome moment when Christ forgives our sin and we realize in an instant that His love has come to forgive us of all our sin and has set us free from the bondage of past evil.
Secondly, we know God’s love by experience. As we accept Christ and we join with the family of God, we come to the place where we experience love in all of its magnitude. Experiencing the love of God, not just thinking about it, is something we should desire with all our hearts. Is this experience of the love of God the same for all believers? No; not at all nor in the same degree. If all believers had the same experience of the love of God, Paul would not have prayed for the Ephesians that they “be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19). He prayed this because some were deficient in their experience of this love of God in Christ.
Thirdly, through sharing the Word and our testimonies we are reminded how awesome and real God’s love is to us. As we share our testimonies we are able to express God’s love to others and at the same time we are reminded of God’s love for us.
The second thing to be noted in this passage is that we can be secure in God’s love because perfect love casts out fear. The problem with so many earthly relationships is that they are based in fear. There is a fear of rejection, a fear of abuse, and a fear of the future. But God’s perfect love transcends all of these things because His perfect love casts all fear. The scripture tells us that He will keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (Isaiah 26:3).
The fact is, human love will disappoint us and let us down. Human love will be motivated by self, pride, fear, anger and other negative emotions. How many relationships have you known that were founded in fear? Too many of us have leaved through rejection from those we thought loved us. But God will never reject us. He receives us just as we are and encourages us to grow in Him.
God’s love is not founded on the fear of abuse either. You see I grew up with the idea that if I did not toe the line that God would pull out his holy baseball bat of discipline and beat me into submission. But God does not abuse his children. He disciplines them yes, but he does not abuse us.
When we experience the love of God we do not need to fear the future. Fear of the future depresses us and causes us to either act in ways that are not pleasing to God or we hide in order to escape the consequences of the future. But when God’s love is evident in our lives, we do not have to fear judgment day because when we love God we will deal with the issues of our life. We will repent of sin immediately and we will make restitution as soon as is necessary.
The third thing that is to be noted in this passage is that we must share this love with others as a testimony of God’s love working in us. How do we do that? I believe that Paul enlightens our hearts on this subject in 1 Corinthians 13. This passage has become known as the great love chapter. As I read this passage listen to how Paul determines that we should life out this love and to show love to others:
What if I could speak all languages of humans and of angels? If I did not love others, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. What if I could prophesy and understand all secrets and all knowledge? And what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing, unless I loved others. What if I gave away all that I owned and let myself be burned alive? I would gain nothing, unless I loved others. Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love never fails! Everyone who prophesies will stop, and unknown languages will no longer be spoken. All that we know will be forgotten. We don’t know everything, and our prophecies are not complete. But what is perfect will someday appear, and what isn’t perfect will then disappear. When we were children, we thought and reasoned as children do. But when we grew up, we quit our childish ways. Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don’t know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us. For now there are faith, hope, and love. But of these three, the greatest is love (I Corinthians 13 CEV).