We Rely On The Love Of God
1 John 4:7-16a
Key Verse 7
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”
The evangelist Jakov once met a villager named Cimmerman, and shared the gospel with him. But Cimmerman being a skeptic objected that church leaders had plundered, exploited and killed many innocent people. “You Christians wear those elaborate coats and caps,” he said, “but the lives you live cannot be ignored.” He meant that the Christians he knew lived a double life. So the evangelist said, “Sir, suppose you lend me your coat and I go to town and steal something, then come back and return your coat. But the police recognize the coat and arrest you. What would you say?” Cimmerman answered that he would deny the charge. “‘But we saw your coat,” they would say”. This illustration angered Cimmerman. But Jakov did not give up and kept encouraging and sharing the love of Christ with him. Finally one day Cimmerman asked him, “How can I know this Jesus, and become a Christian?” But the evangelist wanted to know what changed his heart. Cimmerman said, “You wear His coat very well.” The coat that Cimmerman was referring to was the genuine love of God. When the evangelist put on and displayed God’s love, it melted the skeptic’s heart, turning him to Jesus. So let me ask you: “How well do you wear His coat?”
Let’s read our key verse, 7 together. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” In this cold world, darkness reigns and people are cruel. We’re taught at a young age that the weak are crushed and only the strong survive. Right from the womb, people must somehow learn to survive on their own or face destruction. This was the only world that Cimmerman and others like him know, since the local church in his own village was corrupted by worldly ways— under the pretense of religion. So when the gospel teaches about the love of God, and that we must love one another, how strange it must sound to someone like Cimmerman. Why then, should we love one another? John give us the answer in verse 7, we must love one another because love comes from God. In other words, the origin of love is not in us or from us human beings— as our stories, or books or human dramas on TV or the love songs suggest. The true origin of love and its source is God himself. In other words, we can only love one another when we’ve very personally received the love of God. This is what John is referring to when he writes, “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”
But what does it mean to be “born of God?” In John 3:3 our Lord Jesus teaches the religious man Nicodemus about this; he tells him: “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Being born of God means that we must be born again, by the Spirit of God. Everyone is born at least once, into this world. We receive our parents’ genes and character, until not only do we appear like them, but we also eventually begin to act like them, whether we like it or not. When we are born again, we are born of the Spirit of God. We receive totally new genes, our heavenly father’s spiritual genes and character. Meaning, not only do we start to look like our heavenly father, but we also eventually start to act like him, whether we like it or not— though I’m sure we discover that we long to have God’s character within us. So when we have God’s character and nature of love, we are able to love one another. Therefore, whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
But now, a new question arises: What does God’s love look like? Let’s read verse 9 together, “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.” God’s love is life giving. God loved us so much that he sent us his own son so we may have life through him. This is truly extraordinary! God worked it out so that we can trade the death that our lives in this world brings for the righteous life of his Son. Listen to these words Jesus spoke in John 5:24-27 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.”
I’ve met the monster that once lived in this body. That monster was always selfish and self-centered, thinking of no one except himself, and very destructive. He would get angry very easily if he didn’t have his own way or if people did not treat him the way he wanted them to treat him. This monster knew nothing about love and this monster was slowly killing me on the inside. The monster I’m referring to was the sinful nature in me. I praise God for His love, which saved me from this monster. Now, in the new life I have in Christ, I don’t have to worry about that old monster in me anymore, because he’s is dead. Praise God! This new man is renewed every day in the love of God. In fact this new man is so filled with love, that he absolutely cannot help but to love others. There is no more room for self-centered ways in this new man. If God’s love has the power to raise this sinner from the dead, then certainly he can do the same for you too. All you have to do is put your trust in Jesus. We also have to believe this for the Triton students we pray for that we might reach them with the love of God until they too believe in Jesus.
Now, listen to how love is defined in the world:“This is love: when you meet that person who makes you smile when they smile, who makes your heart skip a beat when you hear their voice, and who gives you butterflies in the stomach whenever you see them.” This is what the world teaches young people about love. Listen to these profound words by a famous baseball player, “Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.” I don’t think it gets any more American than that. In this country, baseball comes second only to love. It goes: love, baseball, and food. And you can get all three in a stadium. But let’s compare worldly love to how Scripture defines love, let’s read verse 10 together. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” John defines love as: God giving his only, beloved son for us, as a sacrifice for our sins, even though we neither loved him, nor wanted him; in fact, we hated him. See, this is the true meaning of love: Godly love— a love that is incredibly humble, sacrificial, and quite frankly downright irrational. God’s love is not dependent on a reciprocal: Meaning that he did not love us, expecting to be loved back. Neither did he wait until we started loving him before he decided to love us. Love is God giving up everything to make himself a servant on our behalf (Phil. 2:5-11). Love is God brutally sacrificing his precious and only Son, for the sake of people who hated him. (Rom. 5:8). Love is God who made his enemies sons and daughters (1 Jn. 3:1).
The world teaches a very twisted and perverted version of love. We are taught to love only those who loves back; love so that you can be loved; and love only when you are being loved. I thank God that he gave us the gospel which teaches us the meaning of true love. God’s people can be the light of God’s love to each other and to the world. We shouldn’t marvel when we hear stories of people like Scottish missionary Mary Slessor, who went to Nigeria to teach the gospel and brought freedom to a people who worshipped evil spirits and were under Satan’s bondage. There’s also an 18-year old American missionary Katie Davis, who gave up the prestige of being the senior prom queen and gave up her youthful freedom and ultimately everything in the United States to go to Uganda to preach the gospel. There is also the South Korean pastor Sohn-Yang-Won who faithfully cared for God’s flock when the Japanese were forcing all Christians to worship idols and even when his only two sons were murdered for preaching the gospel. He took care of his sons’ murderers while they served time in prison and was granted permission to bring one of them into his family as an adopted son. Today that son is also a shepherd for the gospel.
There are many more examples of God’s people who wear God’s coat of love well. They take care of the rejected, abandoned and orphaned flock of God. They shower people with God’s love, even though many of those they care for are literally unable to love them back. I’ve witnessed many of them here in our own ministry, firsthand. We must be very careful not to fall into the world’s lie about the meaning of what true love is. It’s nothing like God’s love.
So if this is what God’s love looks like, how are we to respond to this love? Verse 11-12, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” So we go right back to our original point. In view of God’s love, the proper response for us is to love one another. He adds that even though we cannot physically see God, our love for one another is the manifestation of God’s presence amongst us. Let us also remember what our Lord Jesus taught us when he said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) So really, our love for one another is not only for our sake but it also serves as a testimony to the world, about God. What does it mean that “his love is made complete in us?” In the NLT version, it says “…his love is brought to full expression in us.” It means that even after we accept the love of God in our hearts, his love is still ever growing in us. Only when He lives in us, and we live in him, that we are able to love one another and are able to love the way he loved us. So, you see, if we are not a part of a Christian fellowship, it is not possible to spiritually mature.
Let’s read verses 13-14 together, “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” John has talked about God living in us, but how can we know that He is in us, and we in Him? Simply, he says that God gave us his Spirit to be with us, all the time. The Holy Spirit is the evidence of God’s presence in our lives. The Holy Spirit is also evidence that we belong to him and that he lives in us, and we live in him. What a beautiful picture of unbroken fellowship this is. Take a look at verse 14 once more. We have full assurance that God lives in us because of what Jesus did for us. So we know that God didn’t love us because of anything we did, but only because of Jesus. The Holy Spirit lives in us, not because of anything we did, but only because of Jesus. And he’ll continue to live in us forever, because of Jesus. We are truly witnesses to God’s grace, and our lives testify that Jesus is the Son of God, savior of the world. Verse 15-16a says, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” Our security is in the love of God and his gospel of life.
This is the time now, dear family, for us all to take a moment to examine our own hearts, let’s examine our lives. If the concept of God’s love is foreign to you; if you don’t know or you’re struggling to know the love of God in your own life, now is the time to come to God in prayer. Talk to God; tell him plainly, “I want to know this love.” We all at one time were like Cimmerman, hardened and skeptical about everything. We are much like the orphaned children, abandoned and in need of love. We are like the murderers, in need of forgiveness and a place to call home. Jesus is the Son of God. God sent him to give us life by dying on a cross. Those who believe in him will not only be forgiven of their sinful life, but also, become a part of his family. If only we accept Jesus and believe in his salvation work on the cross, we can have full assurance that God lives in us and we live in him. Believe me when I say, we can trust in the love of God, and we must continue to trust in the love of God.
God is calling us to live our lives by faith, in Jesus, the Son of God; and we are called to love each other. We are also called to share this love with others, bringing them into God’s family. This is something that we cannot do on our own strength. So for us to live our lives of faith, we must rely on the love God has for us. In order to love one another, and experience his love brought to the fullest expression in us, we must rely on the love God has for us. Triton College has 20k students; many of them have no concept about what true love is. So we must rely on the love God has for us to reach out and share God’s love with them. We began our lives in Christ relying on God’s love; so then let us continue to rely on His endless love. May the Spirit of God cause us to grow in love, to love one another just as God loved us, and may our love in this ministry be a witness to the world of the grace of God in Jesus’ name. Let’s read our key verse one more time, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”