Passing the Test 2. 1 John. 11'9'08
Passing the Test, Part 2
How do I love? 1 John 4:7-21
Sunday November 9, 2008
Get out your Bible and your wallet! (not a trick, no offering!)
New bill? Our government has spent millions of $$ to make sure that our money is not counterfeited. Bigger pictures, colors, watermarks -- I’m not printing counterfeit money in my garage! If I have some they will take it from me – I don’t want that! They check them now at marketplace, etc. If your money passes the test, you can use it! If your life passes the test, you can have confidence and assurance before God!
Is a test negative or positive?
- Passing a test shows us how far we have come!
- Passing a test qualifies us to take the next step!
- Passing a test gives us confidence and assurance! That is a good thing! <Dezi’s GED?>
Who wrote this letter? John:
- An eyewitness of Jesus. 1:1-4
- An elder A pastor
Over time, he has seen his share of “fakes”. As a pastor, his goal for us is to move on to maturity, confidence and assurance.
SPIRAL communication by John 2:9-11 & 3:11-24
The test; “How do I live?” Old me vs. my new nature. The 2nd one: How do I love? Listen for the word “love”! You can’t miss it!
“7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 We know that we live 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 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 4:7-21
1. God is love!
2 times in this passage; :8 and :16. “God is love”.
But, God is best defined by the word “love”! All that he does is loving, motivated by love! Amazing! Love is the glove that covers the hand of God; all that he does is covered with love. Not the same as “love is god”. You can say “peanut butter is brown; but brown is not peanut butter.” Not all who “love” are god.
There are times when love must be tough; when the most loving thing you can do for someone you love is to be tough with them; not let them “walk all over you”. Even when God disciplines us, he does it with love. Like a parent who has to discipline his child – it is done in love. Love is the glove that covers the hand of God. All that he does, he does in love.
God is love. It is amazing how many doors that single statement unlocks and how many questions it answers.
Ah! That explains it!
1. God’s love explains creation! Think of how messed up this world is. Why did he even create it? Why bother? Sometimes we are bound to wonder why God created this world. The disobedience, and the sin is a continual grief to him. Think of how you feel when you are sinned against. Multiply that by 6,857,269,842 (as of Tuesday afternoon!) Why should he create a world which was to bring him nothing but trouble? The answer is that creation was essential to his very nature. If God is love, he cannot exist in lonely isolation. Love must have someone to love and someone to love it.
2. God’s love explains my free will.
Unless love is a free response it is not love. Had God been only law he could have created a world in which men moved like robots, having no more choice than a machine. Love is of necessity the free response of the heart; and, therefore, God, chose to give men a free will.
3. God’s love explains salvation.
If God had been only law and justice, he would simply have left men to the consequences of their sin. The moral law would operate; the soul that sinned would die; and eternal justice would hand out its punishments. But the very fact that God is love meant that he had to seek and save that which was lost. He had to find a remedy for sin.
4. God’s love explains Heaven!
If God were simply creator, men might live their brief span and die for ever. The life which we live would soon be forgotten! Those who die too early in life, who are murdered, who are aborted in the womb – it wouldn’t be fair! But the Love of God makes a way for eternal life! A life that makes all the wrongs of earth right again!
What does God’s love look like? Jesus Christ (verse 9). “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” When we look at Jesus we see two things about the love of God. (a) It is a love which holds nothing back. God was prepared to give his only Son and make a sacrifice beyond which no sacrifice can possibly go in his love for men. (b) It is a totally undeserved love. It would be no wonder if we loved God, when we remember all the gifts he has given to us, the wonder is that he loves poor and disobedient creatures like us.
A navy man walked into a photography studio with a picture of his girlfriend… He was going on deployment, and he wanted the picture duplicated… The owner of the store noticed the inscription on the back of the picture, it said, “My dearest Tom, I love you with all my heart… I love you more & more each day… I will love you forever & ever… I am yours for all eternity…” It was signed “Diane,” and it contained a P.S.: “If we ever break up, I want this picture back…”
Why does God love you? Because he has chosen to. God does not love us because we are valuable. We are valuable because God loves us.
We struggle sometimes to try to earn what is already ours! Those who know that God has chosen to love them, know that they don’t need to DO anything to earn that love, and they can relax in that love. Like a baby, relaxing in the arms of a parent. We have to make that 18” journey from our head to our heart!
We struggle, strain, try to catch God’s attention, not remembering that we already have his attention and love.
At a pool or playground. <kids / grandkids!> “lookit me! Watch this!” We don’t have to yell that to God – he is already “lookin’ at you!
2. Our love makes an invisible God visible!
We cannot see the wind, but we can see what it can do. We cannot see electricity, but we can see the effect it produces.
History: “see how they love each other”. Look around the room; different backgrounds, tastes in life, hobbies, interests, personalities – but when we love each other, God shows up!
Loving the people God has placed in your life is not optional. Some have said “I’m just not a people person” as if that excuses a lack of love. We’ll come back to this again and again – but love is not optional! It is not an added bonus, not a good thing “if” it happens – it is required!
Love is not an emotion, but an action.
You cannot command an emotion, but you can an action.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (Jesus words in John’s Gospel)
A young couple, very much in love, were getting married in church. However, Sue the wife was very nervous about the big occasion and so the pastor chose one verse that he felt would be a great encouragement to them. The verse was 1 Jn 4:18 which says: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” Rather unwisely, the pastor asked the best man to read it out and to say that the pastor had felt that this was a very apt verse for Sue and that he would be preaching on it later in the service. However the best man was not a regular churchgoer. And so he did not know the difference between John’s Gospel and the first letter of John. So he introduced his reading by saying that the pastor felt was a very fitting verse for Sue. But he read John 4:18, which says SLIDE “You have five husbands and the one that you now have is not your husband.”
3. The Love test: I don’t love God if I don’t love you!
:20-21 “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
In fact, again John says that I am a “liar” if I say that I love a God that I haven’t seen if I don’t love you whom I have seen! I am lying to myself; I am fooling myself.
False “proofs” to knowing God – we can set up different “tests” that we can pass – but those aren’t what God is looking at!
Bible knowledge; years in church; giving; “influence”. All are artificial, not what God looks at. He says “Do you do what I ask? (Last week) Do you love others? (This week)
But John says – those things don’t matter nearly as much as “Do you love your brothers? Those whom God has placed in your life?”
That is where the rubber meets the road. It is easy to say that “I love God” most would say that – but God doesn’t let us off that easily. IF we say that we love him, the way to show it is to love our brothers. “Talk is cheap”
Follow the logic: If God is love (known for that) then his children ought to be known as loving as well.
How can I love like this? Some people are easy for me to love – others aren’t! (don’t look at your spouse now!) Great question, and this is really where the rubber meets the road. Loving others isn’t meant to be just a “good idea” where we say “Well, I tried to love this person, but it didn’t work out, so I am off the hook. God will understand; in fact, God himself probably doesn’t love this person!”
If you miss this, you will be frustrated. God never meant for you to love people with your own love, on your own power – gritting your teeth and saying “I am going to love you if it kills me!”
The key: God’s love, not mine! Mine is weak, will not last! I cannot love the unlovely on my own; only when I allow God’s love to flow through me. That is why knowing that I am loved (last week) is such a key.
To be so secure in God’s love for me, that I am free to love you, without strings attached! It is when we are looking for others to provide significance and security for us – 2 things that only GOD, our loving Heavenly Father, can give us – then we will be disappointed and unable to freely love. Instead, we will be looking for people to give us what only God was meant to provide for us.
I am already loved. Follow the logic: If God knows everything about me, and still he loves me – in fact, loves me more than anyone else – I can “risk” loving you, because I am already perfectly known and loved! I am not relying on you to love me perfectly (it won’t happen anyway!) The more of God’s love you give away – by faith – the more you can receive from him!
ª Practice acting in unselfish, loving ways.
How many of you were expert drivers the first time you sat behind a wheel? None of you. The past few years, I have seen my 2 oldest kids learn to drive; they are great. In fact the first time you got in a car to drive, it felt quite awkward. You didn’t know how much to push on the accelerator. You didn’t know how much to push on the brake. You didn’t even know how to adjust your seat probably, adjust the mirrors. I thought that the car automatically changed lanes when the turn signal was on. So you began to practice driving. The more you practiced, the better you got at it. Now it’s second nature. You don’t even think about it. You drive and talk on the cell phone or answer e-mail or put on your makeup or eat breakfast – not good. It’s second nature. You don’t even think about it any more.
When you want to become a great lover, a truly loving person, you have to intentionally do some things that seem awkward at first. They don’t fit. They don’t seem natural. But if you’ll practice, the more you practice, the more it becomes second nature and you become a genuinely loving person.
Not about knowing more about love, but loving more, better. That 18” journey we talked about last week.
Scoring the test:
Do you love people in your life? Not just those that you “click” with – the unlovely, the difficult?
Does God’s love flow through you to others in such a way that you know that it isn’t your own weak, flimsy love, but God’s powerful, strong love?