Thursday, August 27, 2009

1 John 4:7-16

V7-16 – 7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His One and Only Son [or, Only Begotten Son] into the world that we might live through Him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for [Or, as the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away] our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. 13We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And 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.

John has said that the command of God is “to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 3:23). He has defended the doctrine of Jesus’ humanity and shown us how to be spiritually discerning. But that’s not the whole of 1 John 3:23. In fullness, it says that the command of God is “to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another.” John ties the doctrinal test to the relational test; you cannot love without believing the truth, and to believe the truth is for the sake of love, John might say. So 1 John 4:1-16 is his elaborating of 1 John 3:23. One preacher said, “People will say, ‘Oh, we need to stop talking about all this doctrine and love one another.’ As far as John is concerned, you cannot love like God calls you to love if you do not embrace the doctrine of God’s word, and the doctrine of God’s word has not wrought its purpose in your heart until you have a love for God and a love for your brethren and a love for your neighbor like He Himself has in His own heart and has expressed in the gift of His Son and has called us to live in His holy word, the Scripture. For John, you see, the truth and love go hand in glove. They go together, and they cannot be separated without damage to one or the other.” As John says in v7, “Let us love one another, for love comes from God.”


Right doctrine leads to right practice. Paul said to Timothy, “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work – which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:3-5). God’s plan for evangelism is really simple: “Preach the word; love one another.” Orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy; if it doesn’t, then something is wrong with the doctrine, or at least with the person taking in the doctrine. Oftentimes, people of our day desire love in unity, and that’s a right desire. But we can’t have that without truth. The truth is for love; and John says that the one who loves (right practice) knows the truth, knows God and comes from God (right doctrine). The one who does not love (wrong practice) does not know God (wrong doctrine).


We tread lightly here, because there are many professing Christians who struggle with putting right doctrine into practice; and there are many professing Christians who struggle with right doctrine, even though they practice righteousness. But the doctrine that John is talking about is in regard to the Person of Jesus Christ. We can’t get that wrong and still love rightly, because “God is love” (v8). In other words, it is not that God’s essence is love, but rather that believers perceive God’s love as a chief, along with holiness, justice, and righteousness, of His characteristics. V9 mimics John 3:16, “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His One and Only (or unique and eternal) Son into the world that we might (Greek hina clause declaring certainty, literally, “in order that we would certainly”) live through Him.” But that’s not all. John says in v10, akin to Paul in Romans 5:8, that love is God sending His Son to be propitiation, an atoning sacrifice for our sins. So God shows His love by sending His Son. But what is His love? It is not our love for Him; rather, it is Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. And in light of that kind of love, we ought to love one another (v11).


Throughout this letter, John has given reasons to love. One preacher says that he has argued, “We ought to love one another because it’s God’s command and Jesus has shown us how to keep that commandment (1 John 2:8-10), and we ought to love one another because it is the evidence that God has done a work of grace in us (1 John 3:14-16); but we also ought to love one another because God Himself is love and because He has loved us in the giving of His own Son (1 John 4:7-12).” V12 actually gives another reason to love: Our love for one another serves as a witness to the world of God’s love for us. God is unseen, but we are seen. And when we love rightly, in the truth, the world sees us; and in that, the world sees evidence for God and of His love. We mimic Jesus, who evidenced God’s love in the same way that we are called to do, by loving people selflessly in a practice commitment to self-giving. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). John is saying that we can effectively say the same thing by our love for one another. “Anyone who sees our love sees God’s love.”


Finally, in v13-16, John is saying, as one preacher put it, “‘All those who profess that Jesus is the Son of God sent into the world to save sinners are manifesting the fact that God the Holy Spirit has done a work in their hearts and He dwells in them.’ And he’s saying, ‘That is why that doctrinal truth, that affirmation that Jesus is the sinless Son of God come into this world into our human flesh to save sinners’ – that is why that truth is so important. It’s absolutely essential for salvation.” But John ties that doctrinal truth to love as well. The preacher goes on: “John is saying, ‘The reason that truth – the fact that God sent His Son into the world to save sinners – is so important is that is the supreme picture of love, and you can’t love unless you know that God has sent His Son into the world to save you.’ You can’t love like God calls you to love unless you embrace that truth.” And for the second time in this passage – first in v8 and now in v16 – John says that “God is love.” His love is shown in His covenant faithfulness and relentless pursuit of sinners in spite of their rebellion or indifference (Exodus 34:5-7). We love, because God loves. It’s profound, but it’s as simple as that.

2 comments:

Anders Branderud said...

1TrueDisciple wrote
You wrote: “God sent His Son into the world to save sinners – is so important is that is the supreme picture of love, and you can’t love unless you know that God has sent His Son into the world to save you.’”

I want to comment about salvation and atonement.

(le-havdil)
How to live in order to enable the Creator in His loving kindness to provide His kipur –atonement- is outlined in Tan’’kh ; and was also taught by Ribi Yehoshua. The first century Ribi Yehoshua from Nazareth (the Mashiakh; the Messiah) taught in accordance with Tan’’kh the only way to get connection with the Creator, This way is found both in Torah and in Ribi Yehoshuas teachings found in our website – http://www.netzarim.co.il

Anders Branderud

Chip Crush said...

I'm afraid we have some disagreement. You imply that I must live a certain way "in order to enable the Creator in His loving kindness to provide His atonement." That's not what the gospel declares. The gospel is that the Creator, in His loving kindness, has provided atonement in the perfect life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for all who trust Him for the forgiveness of their sins. This trust is faith, which God grants to His elect. As Jesus taught Nicodemus, "You must be born again, or born from above." Regeneration comes by God's Holy Spirit, and faith is the connection we have to Jesus, by which we receive not only forgiveness, but also His imputed righteousness. So that God is both just and the One who justifies, He poured out the cup of His wrath on Jesus, which He drank at Calvary. Once regenerated and granted faith - justified before God - Christians are sanctified. Sanctification is a progression toward Christ-likeness. I think that's what you're talking about in your post. But notice that transformation begins after atonement is applied, not before in order to enable atonement. That's why the gospel is such good news!