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Sunday, February 24, 2013

[Matt's Messages] "God Is Love (Part Two)"


“God Is Love (Part Two)”
Essential Christianity: 1 John
February 24, 2013
1 John 4:13-21

Our sermon series is called “Essential Christianity,” because we are getting to the bottom of what we must be and believe to truly be followers of Christ.

And this is the second sermon with the same title, “God Is Love.”

We’ve learned that this is essential to Christianity: God is love.

God is light! And God is love.  

Not that God is somehow made of love, like we are made of flesh and blood or like toys are made of plastic and houses of bricks and lumber. God is not made of love.

God is love. Which means that God is all about love. Love is essential to His character. Love is central to His heart.

We saw last week that God showed us His love, not because we deserved it [we sure didn’t!], but He loved us anyway and sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.

God is love!

Now, last week, we only got through verses 7 through 12. 

But John didn’t write the little tiny letters in your Bible. Just like you and I don’t write little verse numbers when we write letters, John didn’t divide his letter up into little verses. He didn’t stop when he wrote at verse 12. 

We needed to stop last week, but that’s not because John was finished. We were!

But we’re back now and need to jump right into the flow with John in verse 13.

God is love.

I said last week that it’s almost impossible to know how to preach that.

I mean, what do you say?

It’s so profound and sublime all by itself: God is love.

Believe that! Know that! And all will be well.

In many ways, I think that’s the point of this passage.

Believe and know and trust that God is love, and all will be well.

But there are a lot of details here, and I think it would be helpful if I at least tried to guide through John’s thoughts.

As usual, he gives us a wily chase, with a lot of twists and turns!

But I’ve boiled it down to three points this morning that are all implications from the truth that God is love.

If God is love then what?  So what?

Here’s the first of the three.

#1.WE LIVE IN HIM, AND HE LIVES IN US.

Because God is Love, we live in Him, and He lives in us.

In verse 12, John has already said something like that. V.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.”

That’s pretty amazing, but in verse 13 he goes even further.

“We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”

“We live in him and he in us.”

That’s a pretty deep idea and hard to wrap your mind around. 

But it’s glorious!

We live, we dwell, we remain, we abide, we live in him AND he lives in us.

How do we know?  The Spirit says so.

What Spirit is that?  The Holy Spirit.

“We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”

How we do know that we have the Spirit?  One way is that we love. Because the fruit of the Spirit is love, and if we love, where does that come from?

Sometimes it seems like John argues in a circle, but that’s because all truth is connected and all feeds into itself.

And in the power of that Spirit, John and the other apostles have given us the Gospel. V.14

“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.”

Notice the Trinity in these two verses. Verse 13, the Spirit. Verse 14, the Father and the Son.

John says in verse 14 that the apostles have seen and testify that the Father done John 3:16!  “The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.”

And that’s the height of love, isn’t it?

That’s what we saw last week.  That’s as loving as you can get.

For the God the Father to send God the Son to be the Savior.

That’s love.

John Forcey, Cody Crumrine, Curtis and Stephanie Quick and I all went to our district theology conference, Stay Sharp, this week.

And one of the key doctrines we learned about was The Atonement, the Work of Christ on the Cross.

Why was Jesus hanging there? What did He accomplish?  What did He do? And why did He do it?

Jesus died for our sins. He was crucified to satisfy the wrath of God against our sin.

And that was love.

Love doesn’t just say, “Oh, it’s okay.”  Love makes it okay.

Love sacrifices. And there has been no greater sacrifice since the dawning of the world or will be any greater sacrifice in all of eternity than verse 14.

“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” v.15

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.”

KJV “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”

If you believe in Jesus, and put your faith in Jesus as the Son of God sent by the Father, then God comes and lives in you, and you live in God.

That is just so mind-blowing!

We live in Him, and He lives in us. V.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.”

So which is it?

Is it faith or is it love?  That triggers this mutual indwelling?

Is it that if we believe the right thing about Jesus–and confess and acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God then, God lives in us and we live in Him.

Or is if we love others, especially other Christians, then we live in God and He lives in us?

Which is it? Faith or love?

It’s both, isn’t it?

Verse 15 is clear that it’s faith in Jesus.
But verse 16 makes it clear that it’s living in love.

It’s both.

And that’s because God is love.

V.16 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. [He sent His son!]  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

God is love.

And that means, at the end of the day, that we live in God, and God lives in us.

I think that for application, we should just marvel, just wonder, just revel, just celebrate, and be thankful for this truth.

Because it makes all of the difference.

See what a difference it makes in point #2.

Because God is love:

#2. WE ARE NO LONGER AFRAID OF HIS JUDGMENT.  V.17

“In this way [this mutual loving indwelling of God and His people], 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. 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.”

Here’s what I think John is saying.

When we come to understand and to believe that God is love, and that God’s love has reached us and is changing us, it blows away our cringing fear of God’s judgment.

V.17 again, “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.”

Are you confident about the day of judgment?

Notice that John doesn’t say that because God is love there will be no day of judgement.

He doesn’t say that. He says that God is love, but there is still day of reckoning to come.

But believers in Christ who are being transformed by His love, have no fear for the coming day of judgment.

They know that God is making them more loving, more like Christ. “In this world we are like him.”

We walk in love. Not perfectly! Only Jesus walked in perfect love. But truly.

We walk in love because we are loved and God is living in us.

And we know that we are loved and so we are not afraid. V.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.”

Now, this is not saying that Christians do not fear God.

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

But it is saying that we do not fear God’s judgment to fall on us.

We do not fear God’s punishment.

We do not have a cringing, hiding, cowering fear of God any more.

Because God is love, and we know it.

Perfect love drives out fear.

Are you scared to death of God?

If you do not know Jesus as your Savior, then you should be scared to death of God.

Because our God is a consuming fire, and He is justifiably angry at our sins.

The world says that we’re not so bad and God’s not so mad.

But that ain’t true.

We have been bad, and it has rightly made God mad.

But God is love.

“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.”

Put your faith in Him, and then you can sing with Dawn Boyd, “Whom Shall I Fear?”

Perfect love drives out fear, and Jesus is perfect love.

If you are outside of Christ, then be afraid. Be very afraid.

But if you are in Christ, then you have nothing to fear. There is no fear in love.

And God is love.

But John doesn’t stop there. He has been driving at the same overarching point for several paragraphs now.

And it is point #3.

Because God is love:

#3. WE LOVE OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST.

V.19

“We love because he first loved us.”

We didn’t love Him first. And we didn’t learn to love other Christians first.

First, we were loved by the God Who is love.  And NOW we love, too. V.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. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Love your brother.

That’s the bottom line here.

You can’t say that you love God who is invisible, but hate your brother or sister in Christ who is right here in front of you.  That’s ridiculous!

This is essential. In fact, it’s God’s command. The God who is love has given us the command to love. “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Of course, that’s easy to say, but not always easy to do.

But it makes a big difference that God first loved us, doesn’t it?

If God loved me, who was His enemy, I could probably love...fill in the blank.

I was talking this week with a pastor friend who church has gone from 1300 people to just over 300 people in the last several years.

And the problem has been a lack of love.

What Paul called “biting and devouring” each other.

Not trusting the leadership, not believing the best of each other.

Leaders, at times, not listening to concerns, not being as humble as possible.

People not loving each other.

Claiming to love God who it’s easy to say you love because you can’t see him.

But that guy?

You want me to love him?

Yes, or you are lying.

Love your brother.

My pastor friend recently preached a message where he put two boxes on the sermon outline on the back of the bulletin and asked the church family to put names into those boxes of people whom they have a chance to love or hate in the next week.

Somebody they could seek the best for or to seek their worst (even by ignoring them).

And he said that this would be a practical application of his message.

Whose name would you put in those boxes?

“We love because [God] first loved us.”

Perfect love, not only drives out fear, it also drives out hate!

“And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Who is that for you this week?

And how are you going to do it?

Because God is love.

***

Messages about Essential Christianity

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