Faithlife Sermons

5-20-2018 Unseen Love 1 John

1 John Series  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:41
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There are plenty of resources for leaders of churches in America today. Quite a bit of these resources are about church growth. The sad truth is a lot of these books and article on Church growth suggest ideals for a church to obtain that are not found from scripture. Pragmatically speaking, these strategies may yield higher numbers, but only for a season. I like the way one pastor put it years ago when he became overwhelmed with all the "ideals" he was collecting from church growth seminars and books. He said, "Quite frankly, I'm sick to death of all these ideals. I have so many ideals and I've been so frustrated by them, I really don't care for any more. What I'm really looking for is a savior -- not someone who will just tell me what I ought to do or be, but someone who will forgive me for what I am, and then with his very love will enable me to be more than I ever believed I could be."
That's exactly what Jesus does for us when we acknowledge our sin before Him. His love enables us to be more than we ever believed we could be to His honor and glory! A church with this kind of love is attractive enough to be a Biblical ideal for Church growth which lasts for eternity. But it takes love.
The “Apostle of Love” can help us out with this! John admonishes us again and again throughout his whole epistle to love one another. Our passage this morning is no exception to this continual challenge:
Scripture Reading:
1 John 4:12–16 ESV
12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 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.
In this and the next few verses John is going to describe the relationship between love for fellow believers and the abiding relationship one has with God, what it means with Him abiding in us and we in Him. After discussing tests of one’s salvation in chapter three, John warned his readers to test the false teachers in 4:1–3. That test was doctrinal. What do they say about Jesus? He then discussed love as it relates to God and said that God’s love produces action. In the remainder of this chapter he will address the subject of godly love. Now I would agree the subject of love is easy preaching, but it is often hard practicing and is why John, along with the Holy Spirit finds this topic worthy of repetition.
There is only two aspects of this love I want to focus on this morning: First the unseen Source with the seen proof

I. The Unseen Source (vv.12-13)

1 John 4:12 ESV
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
No one has ever seen God! Why has no one ever seen God? why mention this now?
Well first, this reiterates what John wrote in the start to his Gospel (John 1:18)
John 1:18 ESV
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Which you might remember is what YHWH said to Moses in Exodus 33:20.
Exodus 33:20 ESV
20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”
Moses wanted to see God’s glory, but he was not allowed to because, as YHWH explained, no human can see YHWH and live.
We cannot describe the Father expect for the picture of Him we discover as we read the pages of Scripture. However God's love allows humanity to "see" Him through the actions of His people. Our knowledge of God is not limited to physical sight, but revealed greatly through the love He has shown us. If no one has ever seen YHWH, then how can people ever really know Him personally?
1 John 4:12 ESV
12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
“God abides in us” He is describing a relationship with God that involves God’s influence in the life of the believer.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, the Holy Spirit could enter believers’ lives. Through the Holy Spirit, God lives in Christians. God can be “seen” through believers as they love each other. With the Holy Spirit within each believer’s life, Christians can genuinely love one another. Their love reveals that God himself is present and that they are partaking of the divine nature (see 2 Peter 1:3–8).
2 Peter 1:3–8 ESV
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Believers’ love for God grows stronger when they see its results in their loving actions toward each other. As their love develops, Christ’s love is brought to a full practice through his people.
Just yesterday, I was talking with one of the gentleman at the men’s prayer breakfast about how amazing it is that wherever he goes, if he finds another Christian there, he can just somehow “sense” that they are truly a born again Christian. And how on a couple occasions a couple other people just seemingly out-of-the-blue asked him if he was a Christian. No doubt the way he “sensed” them or the other people sensed that he was a Christian was an outpouring of agape love.
When believers love one another, our invisible God reveals himself to others through them, and His love is perfected:
1 John 4:12 ESV
12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
His love is perfected in us” Loving other Christians is one of several evidences of the abiding, perfect love of God in us.
Seeing that God is invisible, His abiding in us is proven by His essential characteristic being manifested in us and through us— all by our showing self-sacrificing love. Our love towards YHWH is matured/ τελος brought to completion by showing His love towards our brothers & sisters in the faith. John now explains verse 12, how God abides in us in verse 13:
1 John 4:13 ESV
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
After Jesus’ resurrection, believers could live in him, that is, in God, because God has given us his Spirit. According to the Gospel of John 14:16–20, Jesus is sharing the Glory of receiving His Spirit
John 14:16–19 ESV
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
What Love! These disciples would begin to experience what it meant to “abide” in God and have God live in them once Christ sent them the Holy Spirit. From that point on, they would know that the Son is in the Father, they are in the Son, and the Son is in them
John 14:20 ESV
20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
When people first become Christians, they receive the Holy Spirit as a new creation—total transformation. This is amazing and radical if you stop and think about it. Conversion is more than most people think or even want.
Tim Hansel in his book "When I Relax I feel Guilty," writes some insights of what most people want from God.
"I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please."
If we would be totally honest, the idea of transformation really scares us. That is because we know that such a radical change would be inconvenient and uncomfortable. We realize that with transformation comes a major change of our life’s plans and priorities.
God’s presence in their hearts and the fruit of the Spirit in their lives is proof that they really belong to Him. Again we find encouragement and confidence regarding our relationship with the Lord. It is possible to have assurance of salvation. We can know that God dwells in us through His Spirit.
One of the most wonderful ways that I am assured that the Spirit lives in me and also in my wife is that all the neighborhood kids are oddly attracted to us. We’ve had Braylon, Adam and Kevin, Kaitlyn, Danika, Zoey and Shyla, and now even a boy named Jacob that have came over either in the past and/or come over now to our new house on a regular basis simply to hang out with us and, not only to play with our kids, but to taste the godly, agape, love that we have for one another in our family. And from time to time, we get several opportunities to share with these kids about this Unseen Source of our love.
And with these opportunities that you may have to share this unseen source with others, it leads naturally into the second aspect of this kind of love:

II. The Seen Proof (vv.14-15)

1 John 4:14 ESV
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
John affirms the truth by reminding his readers that he is an eye-witness of Jesus, who is eternal life incarnate.
In addition to the gift of the Holy Spirit to believers, another way believers can trust in this relationship with YHWH is that their message comes from those who have also seen with their own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. The “We” here in verse 14 refers to the apostles and other eyewitnesses of Christ’s life on earth. They were appointed by Christ to testify to others about their firsthand, eyewitness experiences (1:3)
1 John 1:3 ESV
3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
We have this same witness before the lost today! We might not be eyewitnesses in the same exact way as the apostles were, however we are eyewitnesses to the change in our own lives.
Therefore, Christians have two proofs of God’s love for them:
the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit; and
the eyewitness testimonies of those who already knew Jesus.
Our own witness might vary slightly from the testimony of others around us, but the same message will emerge and be consistent. Another thing that is true for converts is that it is impossible for the born again Christian to continually refrain from sharing his/her faith. At some point, the love we have from our Creator and for our Savior will compel us to share what Christ has done for us and what He can do for many more. Conversely, those “Christians” who are always too shy to share their faith might not really have agape love nor truly abide in Christ. That’s why we do and must profess/testify Jesus—to prove our love and to show His love! John agrees here:
1 John 4:15 ESV
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
It is quite interesting that one of John’s tests of a true Christian is doctrinal! — theological truth concerning the person and work of Jesus.
Some Christians, usually in the name of ecumenicism, claim that doctrine, in general, is really not that important to discuss or debate. These “Christians” desire unity among believers--which sounds honorable, except they so desire unity that they will attempt achieving unity at the expense of Truth. However, Jesus and the Apostle John disagree and this verse here (with others elsewhere) is proof. Unity is certainly important, but so too is right doctrine.
Christianity is a Person, a lifestyle, and a body of truth/doctrine—belief involves the heart as well as the mind--you cannot separate doctrine from the faith!
Eastern Orthodoxy is modern Christian Mysticism and drastically downplays the importance of doctrine. Generally speaking, in those churches, it doesn’t matter what you believe (or don't believe) about Christ—as long as you say certain chants, light enough candles, and pray to the statues and venerate the relics, you are then okay in their church.
When people proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God, they are declaring their logical belief that Jesus is YHWH’s one and only Son who came to earth as a human being, died on a cross, rose again, and returned to heaven. They also believe that his death on the cross won forgiveness for sin. Jesus Christ is not a mere human being, nor is he one among many deities. People who believe this about Jesus have God living in them, and they live in God. This mutual indwelling, experienced by the Father and Son, John makes clear here and in the Gospel is a special privilege for believers only.

So What? (v.16)

Much of this epistle is about believers having assurance, and certainly this morning’s passage is not an exception—just read verse 16:
1 John 4:16 ESV
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.
This time, the “we” now refers to John and his readers, rather than just the apostles in verse 14.
What you believe and what you know is indeed eternally important!
Believers’ confident assurance of God’s love in Christ in knowledge is the basis of our relationship with Him--not our existential circumstances; yet believers do know (by experience) how much God loves them, and they have put their trust in him.
This is the mixing of our knowledge with our faith. We who believe know that God loves us—He shows His love in many ways through our life experiences.
And as we trust in this love and live in it day to day, we understand that God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. It is one thing to know and believe in God’s love; it is quite another to actually appropriate God’s love into a person’s life so that the person is spurred on to live in love.
Because God is love, we ought to be experiencing His transcendent, yet imminent and glorious love on a daily basis because he “lives/abides” in Christians.
Many struggle with assurance regarding their own salvation. As long as we question our salvation we can never have real peace and enjoy victory. Sensing the presence of YHWH and the leading of the Spirit within you is proof of salvation. If there is never any guidance or conviction in your heart, it is likely the Spirit is not there. If you experience and enjoy the leadership of the Spirit, you can know with certainty that you dwell in the Lord. I am not advocating that God has ordained all that people claim to be led of Him to do, but it is possible to know if the Spirit abides within!
Warren W. Wiersbe said:
People cannot see God, but they can see God’s children revealing Him in their love for one another and for those in need. This love is not something that we work up; it is the work of the Spirit within […] God’s love flows from us as we yield to the Spirit. Christians do not love each other because of their good qualities, but in spite of their bad qualities. As we abide in His love, we have no difficulty loving other Christians.
One cannot know God apart from experiencing His great love! The deeper our love relationship grows with Him, the more we learn of Him. This love is so attractive that even unbelievers take notice. So the question is: do you manifest God’s love to the extent that it attracts the lost? Do you reach out to the unloved with the hope that they are they are loved by the greatest Being?
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