Peninsula Community Church
April 7, 2019
1 John 4:15-18 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.
Last week we looked at trust being an antidote for fear and this week we will look at the power of love to cast out all fear. One of the great authors of the New Testament is John. He had an understanding of love that surpassed most of the other disciples of his day. Perhaps that is why He was known as the beloved disciple. As you read his words, you see that he comprehended the meaning and power of love. Not a romantic love but a love that is stronger than romance. This was the love of a Father who would send His only son to take on mankind’s sin. John knew God’s love and he had a grasp of what that meant for him and for us.
As you read through Scripture we find that it was John that penned some of the most quotable and well known verses in the Bible. Listen to a couple of these passages. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35). See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are (1 John 3:1) 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 (1 John 4:7-11). We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). This is just a splattering of the Scriptures that relate to God’s love but it gives us a sense of John’s heart and the power of God’s love that has been freely given to us.
We also have the passage before us today. In this passage there are a couple of truths to consider. First of all, just as John knew God’s love we also get to know and believe in His love. Listen to these words. 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. Did you get that? We have come to know and to believe. While knowing God requires an intellectual understanding of His love it is so much more than that. We do not just know about God, we experience God! How is this possible? It is possible because He gave Himself for us. It is possible because He has forgiven us our sin. It is possible because He not only forgives us, but He also takes the power of sin away. It is possible because His love extends beyond time into all of eternity. This is possible because He came to live in us. We can know and believe His love because it is a gift freely given.
In this passage John makes an astounding proclamation. He states that God is love. You see, God does not just love, He is love. He is the embodiment of love and in Him is the power of love. Because of this statement we have come to understand that to define love we look to God. In 1 John 4:8-10 we find that 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. How is His love manifested through us? The amazing thing about love is that it was expressed long before we knew we needed it. He became the propitiation for our sins because of His love. He covers our sin but He does not just cover our sin, He hides them. In essence, our past sin disappears. His love is manifested in that He loved us before the foundation of the world. He loved us before we knew Him. He loved us before we loved Him. His love is worked out in us through Him who is love.
That leads us to a second point. We find there is a direct correlation between abiding in Christ and loving well. His love is best experienced as we abide in Him. This idea of abiding is another theme that runs through John’s writings. In verse 12-13 John states No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. In verse 16 John reaffirms this declaration. He states 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.
Our ability to understand His love is directly connected to our abiding in Him and vice versa. We must abide in Him. We must get to know Him. We must study His word. We must pray. We must engage with others who have a passion for God. Together, we learn the love of God. As we abide in Him His love becomes more real and more powerful than you would ever think. Our sustenance, our hope, and our passion is driven by a deepened relationship with Him. In this abiding, we learn to trust and His love is perfected in us.
It is in this regard that we are reminded of John’s words in John 15:1-10 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
Do you get that? There is a direct correlation between abiding in Christ and understanding His love. We abide in Him and His love is revealed in us and through us. Without abiding in Him, we lose focus and we begin to trust in those things that fail us. One of those issues is fear. Fear is a fruitless emotion as it relates to our growth in Christ.
The third lesson here is that perfect love casts out fear. The word used here means to jettison. Remember in the old westerns when there was almost always a saloon scene and someone being thrown out of the salon. They would be thrown through the swinging doors or they would crash through the window. They were thrown out or in this case they were cast out of the saloon. God’s perfect love does just that, it jettisons fear. God’s love and fear do not go together.
The word perfect means to bring into completeness or wholeness. This means that God’s love is perfect and does not need anything added to it. As noted God is love. His love is not contingent upon any outside source to satisfy the quality or power of His love. The love here is Agape love which is dependent on the benefactor. You see Agape love is conditioned on the one giving the love and not the one receiving love. His love has been and always is a free gift.
Finally, the purpose of all of this is that perfect love counters our fear of judgment. We all deal with questions that cause fear in our heart. I am sure that you know what I mean. We deal with the question “Am I good enough?” “Do I have what it takes?” “Will God forgive me?” “Will I escape the final judgement?” “Have I been forgiven?” Paul in Romans 8:15 wrote For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Paul also reminds Timothy that God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7).
If there is a correlation between God’s perfect love and fear, when fear arises we can turn to Romans 8:31-39 where we have an incredible promise of hope. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If perfect love casts out all fear and there is nothing that can take God’s love away from us, we do not have to walk in fear. If there is nothing that can separate us from His love, what is it that we have to fear? We are more than conquerors in Christ. We can deal with our fear and it is God’s perfect love that drives that fear away. Cast it off, reject it, jettison it and never return to that fear again.
Let us pray!
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.
Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom