Advent of Love-- 1 John 4:8-11
I just wanted to take a moment to really call attention to and thank our cbcKids ministriy coordinators and volunteers. Ya’ll, we had 124 kids here last Sunday. That’s amazing. Not because it’s a ton of kids, but because of the opportunity it provides. I say it all the time, but we are all aware of the moral decay and decline in our society. And all the time I hear about the darkness surrounding the next generation. But let’s not let CBC RH be a complainer and wallower, and instead of us complaining about the darkness I’d prefer us light a candle.
And every sunday a candle is being lit on this property as our kids here build relationships with their teachers, learn the Bible, hear God’s love for them which transforms their little hearts just as it does ours here in the big room!
So thank you for serving. And if you aren’t serving, but looking for a way to get into the fight and push back the darkness a little sign up for cbcKids.
If you have a Bible, and I hope that you do please go ahead and turn with me to 1 John 4.
My love for Christmas Music by this time is well documented, and just a quick shoutout our team has been crushing it and leading us in worship with these lyrically deep songs about the Advent of Jesus!
But to my knowledge, up to this point, I haven’t shared with you my love for Christmas Movies.
And I’m not talking about the cheezy Hallmark movies, where you sit with your cocoa and quilts, with the same ole plot, just different character names.
I’m talking the classics.
Miracle on 34th; It’s a Wonderful Life; As a 90s kid The Santa Clause with Tim Allen is an annual favorite. The Muppets Christmas Carol. Home Alone 1… 2,3, and 4 are garbage… don’t @ me.
But in 2003 a new Christmas Movie entered the scene and has become an instant classic. In fact, it may be the most quoteable Christmas Movie of all time… any guesses?
ELF… The story of a human, raised at the North Pole by Papa Elf, but journey’s back to the human world to reconnec with his birth father, who just happens to be on the naughty list. But to get there he has to
venture through the 7 levels of the candy cane forest
through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops.
and eventually walk through the Lincoln Tunnel.
But by far my favorite scene of Elf was when Santa comes to the Mall to visit.
The store manager announces the time Santa is coming, and Buddy screams!,
“SANTA, I KNOW HIM, I KNOW HIM.”
After working all night to make the welcome perfect, Santa comes but it isn’t the real Santa, its just some old mall santa and buddy approcahces the chair and...
immediately deems him a fake. He doesn’t look, or sound like the real santa so Buddy puts him through a series of tests and concludes he’s an imposter.
Tells him “You sit on a throne of lies” and then proceeds to tell the young boy not to tell this fake santa what he wants.”
And then the climax of the scene comes when Buddy rips off the santa’s fake beard exposing what he knew all along and declaring to the kids, who are traumatized at this point:
“He’s a fake!”
The Scene begins with Buddy declaring His Knowledge of the real Santa… “I KNOW HIM, I KNOW HIM”, and then scene concludes with him proving His Knowledge in revealing the fake Santa.
Now… let me be clear in what I’m about to say.
Although I have used this Christmas Movie with SANTA as an introduction, and I’m about to tie it into our text I want to make sure you know
that I am by no means trying to equate Santa with God.
I think our culture does a good enough job of that as it is. In fact: My wife recently told me that she remembers praying to Santa just as she prayed to Jesus as a child… OH MY.
Time fails me to totally debunk that heresy and blasphemy… so I need to focus here.
But They ain’t the same yall. Totally different categories.
But our culture does unfortunately present Santa in a similar way as Jesus so that our kids buy into this false gospel that just like santa, jesus
“Sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows.when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake...”
So our kids run around believing that if they can be good enough they’ll get presents!
That’s a sermon for another day… Focus Andrew!
And I know there are kids in the room, so I’ll stop talking, but I want you to know… THEY AIN’T THE SAME Ya’ll.
But… here’s the connection I want us to see
Just as Buddy the Elf confidently declared “I KNOW HIM, I KNOW HIM,”
Because of the Christmas Story, because of the advent of Jesus, We too can confidently say of God! “I KNOW HIM, I KNOW HIM”
In the Apostle John’s rendition of the Christmas Story we read the famous poetic lines
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
The Word which was with God, and that is God has taken on flesh. Has been born in Bethlehem, in a manger, to a teenager and a carpenter… why!?
To Make the Father Known!
And when we get a good look at the Advent of Jesus, and understand the significance of it… we will KNOW the Father… and for today’s passage we will know that HE IS LOVE.
Let’r read our primary passage for today:
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.
GOD IS LOVE and JESUS came so that we MAY KNOW this God who IS LOVE.
So let’s see how he did it. How is Love Displayed?
1 John 4:9 “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.”
Go ahead and circle “manifest” and underline “among us”.
simply means to “make visible” “to put on display”. In the sending of His Son, the love of God was made visible.
This is not saying that God as Love didn’t exist until Jesus came. It is only a visible display of the God who is Love.
GOD IS LOVE. Which means that before Jesus was sent He was Love. Before creation He was Love. Love is the full essence of all that God Is.
Love is at the essence of the Trinity. Long before the act of Creation, Love existed in the pre-existing relationships of the godhead.
C.S. Lewis wrote this, “ Much the most important thing to know is that it is a relationship of love. The Father delights in the Son; the Son looks up to His Father....What the Christians mean by the statement "God is love" (1John 4:8) ... is that the living, dynamic activity of love has been going on in God forever and has created everything else”
Love is the essence of the Triune God, he just visibly displayed His Love in the Sending of the Son.
Because God is Love and all love comes from God (vs 7), any love you receive or any love you have given is actually a result of God.
In asmuch as anyone has the smallest capacity to love… this comes from God.
It’s the doctrine of “Common Grace” that due to His Sovereign Love, God has bestowed grace, loving favor, on all creation regardless of their election and salvation.
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Paul and Barnabas later say, “shows his kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their season. He provides you with plenty, and fills your heart with joy.
Rather you see HIS Love Discplayed, or not… you experience love in in your life because HE is Love.
But as 1 John 4:9 says… HE has displayed His Love. He wants you to SEE HIS LOVE, why!?
THAT YOU MIGHT LIVE
What we know from Scripture, and what many of you know from experience is that there is a massive difference between being fully alive in Christ and simply existing!
This is not to say that those who are not submitted to Christ don’t experience love and life, or have a good time. They do.
You don’t have to be a Christian to experience and enjoy love in marriage, sex, food, entertainment, or any other pleasures that God has created out of His essence of Love.
BUT— outside of Christ there is a limit on that love, a ceiling on that love, that keeps you from experiencing the fullness of love and pleasure, and enjoyment bc that fullness only belongs to those in Christ!
Why!? Because the thing that makes you feel loved, or pleased, or satisfied was never designed to be the fullness of life in and of itself.
That thing is a gift, from a GIVER and if you don’t know the Giver than you are stuck just enjoying the thing itself.
In essence, you can enjoy the gift and never know the Giver which is the fullest of life.
In essence, you have Santa. The gifts that make you happy and feel loved for a nano second, but never fully satisfy so you need more gifts. And your existence is spent accumulating the gifts but void of the lasting relationship with the Giver that is Love for all of eternity.
So you can eat good food, and enjoy good drink without Christ.
But the Christian, can eat good food and enjoy good drink and sit back and be caurhg up in the Worship of a God that would make something so good. The fullness of Life.
You can have sex, and enjoy marriage without Christ.
But the Christian, can have those while basking in the reality that we have a God so good and Loving that he has gifted us with these things. The fullness of Life.
This is LIFE. Jesus has come to make visible God’s Love so that you might know the fullness of Life.
So John shares Love Displayed, but he continues in verse 10 with Love Defined.
1 John 4:10 “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.”
Go ahead and circle or underline… “not & we”
John begins defining the Love of God by effectually saying… It doesn’t begin with you.
Love Defined… not by us.
We always want it to begin with us don’t we. We hear God is Love, and immediately rejoice inside because we superimpose our definitions of Love onto God.
Or… half of us (men to be sure) don’t even feel like we can connect with God because we do the same thing. We assume its just like the aforementioned Hall Mark movies.
That God’s love is like some Rom-Com that stirs a feeling of pleasure and leads to love at first sight.
Like Buddy the Elf… you go on a first date and come home star struck saying, “I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it.”
And while we’re on the subject of fairytales… because anybody m arried knows that that kind of love is false. We assume God as Love is like Cupid that shoots us with some divine arrow and overwhelms our feelings with elation and happiness.
We superimpose love as a feeling onto God.
Or… what is way more common in today’s society is a definiton of love that goes something like this:
If God is Love than I can do whatever I want. Allowing me to be me is the greatest expression of Love.
So if you love me, you’ll accept me for who I want to be and what I want to do.
And we take it a step further... if you love me than you will not just tolerate who I want to be or what I want but actually approve of what I want.
And we take it a step further... if you love me than you will not just approve of who I want to be or what I want but actually celebrate what I want.
Because if you disagree with me or what I want, then you don’t love. We see this everywhere don’t we!?
This logic and definition of love is what leaves many to bash Christians for being so loving!
We believe that True Love is approving of and celebrating all that I want and lay that definition on top of God and totally divorce the idea of God’s Love from His Holiness.
You’re saying that for God to be Love he has to approve of what I want… in effect saying that God is indifferent to sin.
Church listen… God is Love. But he is also Holy.
Lev 19:2 ““Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”
Holy = morally pure. God is absolutely PURE, and God is absolutely LOVE. His LOVE is absolutely PURE.
So. because He is LOVE and his Love is Pure he cannot… he cannot. approve of, tolerate, or celebrate the things you want when they are contrary to the things HE WANTS.
So our definition of Love cannot begin with us...
Love Defined… by His wrath!
This is where we see His Love defined even deeper. It cannot begin with us, and as we’ve seen His Love is absolutely PURE. That means that His Love is actually seen and understood in HIS WRATH.
Listen to this quote from Pastor Matt Chandler out in Texas, “The more you love something purely the more capacity for wrath you possess!”x2
Like, any husbands in the room want to back me up here?
Do you love your wife? What would you do if somebody tried hurt her? Are you capable of wrath?
Any parents in the room want to back me up here?
Do you love your kids? What would you do if somebody tried to hurt them? Tell me you’re not capable of wrath!
Ok… let me give you an example I’ll know you understand and relate to!
Do you love your sports team!? What do you do when the refs blow that call!?
WRATH. Seeting anger!
To say that God is not wrathful would be to admit that God is indifferent to the to the corruption of His creation which HE LOVES.
It is LOVE that makes wrath possible.
Ok… you tracking with me? Here is where it gets really offensive! Here’s where we have to let the Word of God rip the beard off the imposter God we’ve created…
We believe love begins with us. God is Love so he should just approve of what I want. Because he’s like this… He would never be angry.
And then we come up with plithy cliches that try to almost apologize for the God of the Bible who is actually Wrathful because His Love is so Holy.
Have you heard this before… “God hates the sin… but he loves the sinner.”
But the Bible actually teaches that He loves you so much and that His love is so pure that he hates, not just the corruption of a sinful activity, but the corruption of what you have become.
Psalm 5:4-5 “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.”
Psalm 11:5 “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”
And if you’re honest there is a little offense that springs up in your heart right now… because that’s offensive. We don’t want that type of God. We don’t want to think about wrath. We just want a jolly, gift giving, merry God who gives us what we want
We want Santa. Not the God of the Bible.
But as a reminder… God is LOVE, God is not Wrath. God has wrath, but God is Love.
His PURE LOVE means he has wrath, but because HE IS Love He has made a way to appease His wrath and display His love for you!
Love defined… in the advent of Jesus
1 John 4:10 “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.”
God’s Love is defined in this one word that you may see on the SAT… probably not one you use in daily conversation.
The word “Propitiation”.
It simply means— an appeasing of Wrath.
God’s Wrath… wrought by HIS MASSIVE pure love was appeased for it was poured out on JESUS.
Jesus, His only Son.
The Word that became Flesh and dwelt where? Among Us.
The baby born to die, to be the propitiation, the appeasement of God’s wrath on our behalf.
Let me read how Jesus became the propitiation for our sins.
Matthew 26:39 “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.””
This cup… what is this metaphorical cup that Jesus is having to drink as he approaches the Cross?
Psalm 75:8 “For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.”
Jeremiah 25:15-17 “Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.” So I took the cup from the Lord’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the Lord sent me drink it:”
Isaiah 51:22 “Thus says your Lord, the Lord, your God who pleads the cause of his people: “Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering; the bowl of my wrath you shall drink no more;”
The CUP is the cup of God’s Wrath.
Held in His Hand to be drank by all nations. By all who fall short of His Glory.
But in the sending of the Son, JESUS, The Word who became Flesh, the God who was born a baby, in Bethlehem to a teenage mother and a carpenter … said, “NO FATHER, LET ME DRINK IT ON THEIR BEHALF.
John 3:16-17 ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
It is the Christmas Story that makes God known. The Advent of Jesus shows that GOD is Love. It displays His Love, and Defines His Love.
And we, like Buddy the Elf, in Christ can confidently decalre “I know Him, I know Him”