Love—The Ethical Test of Divine Sonship
1 John 4:7–12
I. The Exhortation (v. 7a)—“Beloved, let us love one another.”
II. The Demonstration (vv. 7b, 8).
A. The presence of love in one’s life demonstrates that he knows God (v. 7b).
B. The failure of a person to exhibit love in his life demonstrates that he “knoweth not God” (v. 8).
III. The Motivation—God’s Love (vv. 9, 10).
A. The visibleness of God’s love (v. 9).
B. The greatness of God’s love (v. 10). The greatness of the divine love is indicated in at least four ways:
1. It is seen in the greatness of the gift which love prompted God to bestow on us: “his only begotten Son” (v. 9).
2. The greatness of the divine love is seen in the purpose of the Son’s mission: “that we might live through him” (v. 9).
3. The greatness of God’s love is brought out by a consideration of the recipients of His love: “he loved us” (v. 10a).
4. The greatness of God’s love is seen in the propitiatory of Christ’s death. God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (v. 10b).
IV. Love Fulfills Two Functions (v. 12):
A. It is the visible evidence that God dwells in us (v. 12a; cf. John 13:34, 35).
B. When we practice love, His (God’s) love is “perfected in us” (v. 12b).
V. The Obligation (v. 11)
A. The character of the obligation (v. 11).
B. The claim of the obligation (v. 11).
Love and Its Perfection
1 John 4:17–21
I. Love’s Perfection in Relation to Self (vv. 17, 18).
A. It causes us to have boldness in the day of judgment (v. 17).
B. It casts out fear (v. 18).
II. Love’s Perfection in Relation to Others (vv. 19–21).
A. The principle of love (v. 19).
B. The profession of love (v. 20).
C. The proof of love (v. 21).
The Reason and the Evidence for Brotherly Love
1 John 5:1–3
Our text is vitally related to the last two verses of the preceding chapter. To our mind it presents two important aspects of love among Christian brethren:
I. The Reason for the Obligation of Brotherly Love (v. 1). The duty to love our Christian brethren is here based on our common relation to God. The order of the apostle’s thought seems to be this:
A. The Christian brother is a true believer in Jesus the Christ. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ” is included by John among the Christian fraternity.
B. Every true believer in Jesus the Christ is a child of God. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God” (ASV).
C. Every child of God should be loved by God’s children—“loveth him also that is begotten of him.”
II. The Evidence for the Genuineness of Brotherly Love. “By this we know that we love the children of God” (vv. 2, 3). Two remarks, we think, will help us to understand John’s meaning:
A. Our love to the brethren is genuine when we love God.
B. Our love to God is genuine when we cheerfully keep His commandments.
Love Is the Greatest
1 Corinthians 13:1–13
A. The church at Corinth was lacking in love.
1. It had “gifts” and it was a busy church.
2. It is often easier to be busy than to extend love.
B. “God is love” (1 John 4:16). Jesus wants His followers to demonstrate love (John 13:35).
I. The Setting of the Love Chapter (1 Corinthians 13)
A. This chapter may be the greatest thing Paul wrote. It is one of the greatest of writings found anywhere.
B. This great passage is central in a discussion of “spiritual gifts.”
1. The possession of “gifts” did not always make them spiritual.
2. Paul has already informed them that they were “worldly” (1 Corinthians 3:1).
C. Many were promoting themselves because of lack of love.
II. The Source of Christian Love
A. The love of God is called “agape.”
1. The word was seldom used in the Greek writings but is used often in the New Testament.
2. This word does not refer to sexual love, romantic love, friendship or sentiment.
B. This chapter gives us a definition of “agape” love.
1. “Agape” is a sacrificial love for others even when they are unworthy. “Agape” is more concerned with giving than receiving.
2. Consider these Scriptures: John 15:9; Colossians 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; Hebrews 10:24.
C. The real basis of “agape” love is commitment.
III. The Strength of Christian Love (v. 13)
A. Love is the greatest because it is the very nature of God (1 John 4:7–11; John 3:16).
1. Faith and hope are important.
2. When we love, we show the nature of God.
B. Love is the greatest because it leads others to the Savior (1 John 4:10).
A. Love is a command, but it is also a work of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). We must express our love for it to be the real thing.
B. Faith will be replaced by sight when we get to Heaven. Hope will become a reality, but the love of God will always remain.
I am always several years behind on my filing system. Years ago I found a note that I had neglected to file. The date on the note was over 20 years in the past. The note was a reminder of a time I walked through the kitchen of our home, hugged my wife on impulse, and said, “Pat, I love you. I don’t know why, but I do.” As I went out the back door, my wife said, “Well, love is like that. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be love. It would just be generosity.” I think that’s good! I’m going to file it someday.
The Breadth of God’s Love
The Depth of God’s Love
The Length of God’s Love
The Height of God’s Love
Close / Pray
“God Is Love”
Romans 15:1–5; 1 John 4:8
1. Misconceptions of God are common
a. After WWI man portrayed God as an angry, vengeful God
b. Many think of God as a tyrant trying to yoke mankind
2. 1 John 4:8 is a comforting description of God
3. Shakespeare: “They have not loved who do not show their love.”
I. God Shows Love by Providing for Our Salvation
A. Humans do not deserve salvation
B. In spite of this, God loves us
1. So much that He sent His Son—John 3:16
2. So much that He established the church as a guiding light
3. So much that He is willing to forgive the vilest of sinners
II. God Shows Love by Providing for Our Sustenance
A. In hours of temptation and affliction
1. God released Paul and Silas from jail—Acts 16:16–40
2. Paul learned to be content—Phil. 4:11
B. In hours of sorrow and sadness
1. In the “valley of the shadow of death”—Ps. 23
2. In Israel’s affliction God was afflicted—Isa. 63:9
3. It is hard to believe, but God understands our feelings
a. An artist was teaching a boy to draw. The boy became discouraged at his lack of progress. The artist encouraged him by saying, “You draw as good as I did when I was your age.”
b. The Word became flesh, suffered and died
C. A man tried to wipe frost from a window in order to see out
1. A friend said, “Let me light a fire and it will melt.”
2. God says, “Let my love come in and the frost will melt away.”
“Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most?” (Luke 7:42).
I. We Must First Be Saved in the Same Manner as Others.
The road to eminence in love is just the plain way of salvation, which all who are in Christ must travel.
1. All are in debt; we must heartily own this to be our own case.
2. The loving Lord forgives in each case: personally we have exceeding great need of such remission. We must feel this.
3. In each case He forgives frankly, or without any consideration or compensation; it must be so with us. We must accept free grace and undeserved favor.
II. We Must Aim at a Deep Sense of Sin.
1. It was the consciousness of great indebtedness which created the great love in the penitent woman. Not her sin, but the consciousness of it was the basis of her loving character.
2. It is to be cultivated. The more we bewail sin the better, and we must aim at great tenderness of heart in reference to it. In order to cultivate it we must seek to get—
A clearer view of the law’s requirements (Luke 10:26, 27).
A deeper consciousness of the love of God to us (1 John 3:1, 2).
A keener valuation of the cost of the redemption (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
A surer persuasion of the perfection of our pardon will also help to show the baseness of our sin (Ezek. 16:62, 63).
III. This Will Lead to a Highly Loving Conduct Toward Our Lord.
1. We shall desire to be near Him, even at His feet.
2. We shall show deep humility, delighting even to wash His feet.
3. We shall exhibit thorough contrition, beholding Him with tears.
4. We shall render earnest service; doing all that lies in our power for Jesus, even as this woman did.
A spiritual experience which is thoroughly flavored with a deep and bitter sense of sin is of great value to him who has had it. It is terrible in the drinking, but it is wholesome in the bowels, and in the whole of the after-life. Possibly much of the flimsy piety of the day arises from the ease with which men reach to peace and joy in these evangelistic days.
We would not judge modern converts, but we certainly prefer that form of spiritual exercise which leads the soul by the way of the Weeping-cross, and makes it see its blackness before it assures it that it is “clean every whit.” Too many think lightly of sin and, therefore, lightly of a Savior.
He who has stood before His God, convicted, and condemned, with the rope about his neck, is the man to weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been forgiven him, and to live to the honor of the Redeemer by Whose Blood he has been cleansed.
Bold blasphemers ought to be enthusiasts for the honor of their Lord when they are washed from their iniquities. As they say, reclaimed poachers make the best game-keepers, so should the greatest sinners be the raw material out of which the Lord’s transforming grace shall create great saints.
• I have heard say the depth of a Scotch lake corresponds with the height of the surrounding mountains. So deep thy sense of obligation for pardoned sin, so high thy love to Him Who has forgiven thee.
• Love to the Savior rises in the heart of a saved man in proportion to the sense which he entertains of his own sinfulness on the one hand, and of the mercy of God on the other. Thus the height of a saint’s love to the Lord is as the depths of his own humility: as this root strikes down unseen into the ground, the blossoming branch rises higher in the sky.
What’s Happened to Love?
About 200 years ago a well-known encyclopedia discussed the word “atom” with the use of only four lines. But five pages were devoted to a discussion of “love.”
In a recent edition of the same encyclopedia five pages were given to the word “atom”; “love” was omitted.
GOD’S GREAT LOVE
See God’s great love here as compared with John 3:16. His love is beyond measure and reasoning.
I. THE BREADTH OF GOD’S LOVE
“For God so loved the world.”
1. Powerful love—Jeremiah 31:3. Everlasting love seen.
2. Patient love—Romans 5:8. While still in sin, God loved us, and Christ died for us.
3. Pardoning love—Ephesians 2:4–5. Quickened while in sin.
4. Perfecting love—1 John 3:1. Made sons of God.
II. THE LENGTH OF GOD’S LOVE
“That he gave his only begotten Son.”
1. Praying Son—Luke 22:39–46. Prayer of dedication.
2. Peaceful Son—John 14:27. He always brings peace.
3. Perfecting Son—Matthew 8:6. He healed all the sick.
4. Poor Son—2 Corinthians 8:9. Though rich, became poor.
5. Popular Son—Matthew 21:1–15. Jesus made king.
6. Purging Son—Hebrews 9:22. His blood cleanses us.
7. Powerful Son—Matthew 28:1–18. He overcomes death.
III. THE DEPTH OF GOD’S LOVE
“That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish.”
1. Requirement—Romans 10:13. Something for us to do.
2. Reception—John 6:37. Christ turns none away.
3. Repentance—2 Peter 3:9. God wants all saved.
IV. THE HEIGHT OF GOD’S LOVE
“But have everlasting life.”
1. Provision for this life—Isaiah 53:5. Christ’s death.
2. Pleasure of this life—John 10:10. Enjoyable life.
3. Promise of this life—John 11:25, 26. Though dead, yet we have eternal life in Christ. Eternal life begins the moment we accept Christ.
32. How to Measure God’s Love
“Being rooted and grounded in love … may [you] be able to comprehend … what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” (Eph. 3:17–18).
I. God’s Love Reaches Up
His great love made us “sit together in heavenly places” (Eph. 2:4–6).
A. God’s love reaches higher than the tallest mountain, the highest star. When we love, heaven is brought near. God is close because He is love.
B. Love reaches those who climb the social ladder, kings and presidents. Saturated with God’s love, all believers become one in Christ Jesus (1 John 5:2).
II. God’s Love Reaches Down
“Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption” (Isa. 38:17).
A. God’s love reaches down into the slums, the ghetto, skid row, the lowest of the low. It reaches down to the drunkard, gambler, prostitute, thief, liar.
B. His love penetrates deeper than the stain of sin. All who repent and believe may be lifted out of the miry clay of sin.
III. God’s Love Reaches In
“His love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12).
A. God’s love reaches into the heart and soul to mellow, freshen, enrich, purify, and heal. It breaks down evil, casts out fear, and perfects the spirit (1 John 4:18).
B. God is love—within us. He brings strength, courage, kindness, patience, compassion, and forgiveness.
IV. God’s Love Reaches Out
“God so loved the world … that whosoever believeth … should not perish” (John 3:16).
A. God’s love reaches out to the far comers of the earth. There is no limit to His reach. It solves problems, lifts burdens, and forgives sins on the mission fields.
B. God’s love reaches out through our prayers to our loved ones far and near and to His people around the world.
V. God’s Love Reaches Through
Nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Rom. 8:39).
A. There is no defense against God’s love. It can penetrate any situation. It reaches through prison walls, walls of resentment and strife—to victory.
B. Love reaches through darkness, trial, suffering, sorrow, bereavement, and death, to bring eternal life.