060618 - 1 John 4.16-21

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Sermon Title: God is Love

Sermon Text: 1 John 4:16-21

            Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

            Let us hear the Word of God, as we find it written in the first letter of John, the 4th chapter, 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Let us pray: and now let the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

Today is the 1st Sunday after Trinity. It is the Sunday that begins the non-festival half of the Church year. Today is also Father’s Day as it is the third Sunday in June.

Speaking to us from the Word of God is John, the beloved disciple, the disciple whom Jesus loved. He writes: God is love. What does that mean? Let’s bring this phrase down to where you and I live to make it simple. What John means to say is this: the very heart of God is love; the core of His essence is love. In your life and mine, regardless of what our attitude may be towards Him; regardless of how we treat Him; He still cares for us. We can treat him as the very dust under our feet. We can be hostile towards the will of God. You and I may turn in rebellion against God, but God ever yearns and longs for our eternal salvation; never for our eternal damnation. The one thing that God hopes will never happen to you or me is that you and I would lose our soul. That is what it means when the Word says God is love.

Somehow or other you and I may say to ourselves, “That sounds just a little bit too good to be true. We can trample God under foot?  We can ridicule him and laugh at him and that God from the depths of His soul; He still desires our eternal good and never our eternal harm? It makes no difference how we react to him; it makes no difference how we treat him. He still longs and wants us saved?”  “God can't be like that!” you and I may say, because you see you and I feel that we can't be like that and how in the world could God be a God like that.

But on this Fathers' Day as we examine what the Word of God says, it says He is love. Not only is God that kind of a God, who continually aims for our eternal welfare and never of our eternal damnation regardless of how we treat him; but He has demonstrated that kind of love to us and he has proved it.

Let us look to the Word of God to see just how God has demonstrated this kind of love. God out of love and out of the omnipotence that was His brought this universe into being. Not only to show the glory of His very being, but also that He might demonstrate His love. He created man in his own image, and he put man, Adam and Eve, on this earth so that God might love them and that they might in turn love Him.  He created our first parents in holiness and in righteousness that they might serve him in love. You will recall what happened, for Adam and Eve, our first parents, chose not to love God, and they disobeyed and they did that which they knew was wrong. They ate of the tree that God had told them not to eat. We are told in third chapter of Genesis of the fall of man, of his willingness, of his eagerness not to obey and love God, but to disobey him. There, at the beginning of mankind, Adam and Eve decided to treat their Creator as the very dust under their feet. Our first parents turned from the holiness and righteousness in which God had created them and chose to turn in rebellion against their Father. The Word of God tells us that after they had eaten the fruit of which God had commanded them not to eat, that their eyes were opened, and they knew that they were naked, so they sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness. God called to Adam and said “Where are you?”  Here we find the love of God when He spoke to our first parents, Adam and Eve, who had turned in rebellion from God. He called to them out of love. For God knew that they had tasted the forbidden fruit. God knew they had broken the only commandment He had given them. God hates sin, and yet calls to them out of love. When God spoke to Satan and to Adam and Eve that day, He promised, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen. 3:15). God promised a Savior to us when we were His enemies. He promised that from Eve, from the seed of woman would come a Savior who again would bring life and salvation. God is a God of love and he demonstrated that love in the Garden of Eden the very day when sin came into the world.

Not only did God demonstrate His love and promise a Savior, but God fulfilled that promise. He sent the Savior in spite of the way His children, treated him. On this Father’s Day let us remember the love our heavenly Father has for his creation.

Adam and Eve had sons, Cain and Abel; and when God had regard for the offerings Abel brought before Him, but no regard for the offerings Cain brought, Cain became jealous and rose up and killed Abel. God provided that His promise of a Savior would be fulfilled and He blessed Adam and Eve with another son, Seth.

As we move forward in the Old Testament, we come to the account of Noah. Mankind had grown so wicked and rebellious that God brought down destruction upon the whole world. Because of the wickedness of man, God cleansed the Earth with water, but even then, His love did not decrease. God still loved man, and desired their salvation rather than their loss, but it was an unrequited love, an unresponsive love and as such, there came the great Flood. But the love of God saved Noah and his wife and their threes sons and their wives. God would keep his promise of a Savior.

            From Noah we come to Abraham. God’s people were forgetting him and so God chose Abraham and brought him from the land of Ur into the land of Canaan. God told Abraham that he and his wife Sarah would have a son and from that son would come the Promised One, the Savior. But Abraham and Sarah couldn’t wait for God to provide them with a son, and so there was the incident with Hagar, and Ishmael was born. Even still, God fulfilled his promise, and gave Abraham and Sarah a son because God loved them. He loved them even though they had gone against His will, and thought they knew what was best. God turned their rebellion around and from it His plan of salvation stayed in motion.

Isaac was born to his father Abraham, and you remember that from him and his wife Esau and Jacob were born. But Jacob couldn’t wait for the birthright; he had to trick his father and brother into giving it to him. So Jacob had to flee for his life, but the love of God was there and finally Jacob came back to the land God had promised to his grandfather, Abraham.

Joseph was born to Jacob. You will recall that his brothers became jealous of him and sold him into slavery. Joseph was brought into Egypt. But when famine was upon the land, Joseph was able to save his family from death, and by the divine providence of God, brought his father and his brothers into the land of Egypt where they would be spared from death by famine. There God’s chosen people remained in Egypt for over three hundred years, and when God heard the cries of his people, who had become the slaves of the Egyptians, He sent Moses to lead them back into the land of Canaan; the land where eventually David would rule as king. But mankind would once again turn against God, so God sent Nebuchadnezzar in the year 586 B.C. and destroyed the Southern Kingdom and carried the Jews away into Babylonian captivity for 70 years. Yet always the love of God remained for his people. By God’s will, there came a man by the name of Cyrus. It was Cyrus the Persian who arose and by the providence of God, enabled the Jews to go back to their own land.

Then there was around four hundred years of silence and then finally God broke the silence and fulfilled the promise He had made. The Savior that God promised in Eden came into the world. Talk about the love of God, look in the history of the Word of God and you will find that love is there and it was demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt.

God sent His Son to atone for the sins of the world. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in [Christ Jesus] (2 Cor. 5:21) Take a moment, and stand at the cross of Calvary, and look and say, “For whom did Christ die? For whom did Jesus, the Son of God, bear on the cross the guilt and the punishment of the world’s sin? Was it just for those who were going to be friendly to God, or did He die for His enemies as well?”

At one point in time or another we are all an enemy of God. It is our sinful nature to reject and despise His will. So every time we commit a sin, we are an enemy of our heavenly Father. Yet even still, God sent his only Son into the world. Jesus Christ died for the guilt and the punishment of the world’s sin which includes your sin and mine, and all people everywhere throughout time.

You and I may say, “This just seems too good to be true. God won’t always love and yearn for everyone’s salvation and will want someone to be damned. There are a multitude of evil people out in the world today, not to mention the ones who have already died and the ones who have yet to be born. The world is an evil place, Good people get in to heaven and the bad people get sent to hell.” Listen, at Calvary He demonstrated His boundless love, for Jesus gave His life as a ransom for all.  For in Christ Jesus, and in His shed blood, there might be provided for the world forgiveness, life and salvation.

God’s love decrees that anyone that believes in Christ and is baptized shall be saved. Anyone. Do you understand that? Whosoever believes in Him, that when a man trusts in Jesus Christ, God says, that man who stands in sorrow of his sin; who knows that he stands condemned; but who puts his trust and his confidence in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, God says “That’s the man that I will save,” and, “That’s the man I will welcome in paradise.” There was no distinction made on the color of a man’s skin, or his nationality, or how well he lived his life, just the simple promise of grace that any man that trusts Jesus and is baptized shall be saved. This is the joy that resounds in heaven, of the sinner repenting. Jesus put it this way, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Lk. 15:7). God says as we find it in the book of Ezekiel, “‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezk. 33:11). It would be as if God were saying, “I am willing to wipe out of my mind forever the guilt of all men’s sins; that I will remember them no more.” I will never even think about them and I will deliver any man from death. I will save any man for heaven; because my Son on the cross made those blessings available.” That is the love of God.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). Yet Jesus died for his enemies. Could you Christian fathers give your child over to death for your enemy? Could you sacrifice your own flesh and blood for someone who despises you, who hates your guts? Could you offer the life you brought into this world over to the Taliban or another agency of evil as a freewill offering? It may be easier to look at giving yourself over as a sacrifice for the sake of others, but what about giving freely your own child? Our Father in heaven did. More so, His Son, offered himself freely to be the sacrifice for His enemies. That is the love of God.

Today is Father’s day, and John the beloved disciple, the brother of James, the son of Zebedee, writes to you and I today that God is love. John says the very heart of God is love; His very being is love. No matter what we might do or say against Him, God still longs for our eternal salvation, never for our eternal damnation; and God has proved his demonstration of that love with the ultimate price.

On this day in which we pay special honor to our fathers, be they living or fathers of memory, we should ask ourselves what does our Father in heaven expect of us. What God expects is this: that you and I be love.

Jesus was once asked by a member of the Pharisees “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:36-40). God expects us to love not only our neighbors, but also our enemies. To treat them the same way that He treats us. God would have us yearn and long for the eternal welfare of our neighbor and never for his destruction and condemnation. Love your enemies, for as John tells us, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar” (1 Jn. 4:20).God asks you and me to love one another as He has loved us. So consider, do you love your brother, your neighbor, your enemy? Or do you dishonor them, those who may be in authority over you; you parents, your boss, your government officials. Right now are you angry with anyone? Or do you harbor hard feelings? Have you had unclean thoughts? Perhaps you have stolen from your neighbor, or have contemplated stealing from him. Have you ever lied to your neighbor? Or, perhaps you have spoken unkindly of someone; spreading gossip? Are you jealous of your neighbor’s belongings? Do you covet what is pleasing to the eye, be it of the material or flesh?

Repent! Turn from your wicked ways, and walk as your heavenly Father would have you walk, in perfection and in love. Christian fathers, love your wives, the mother of your children. Love your children, and do not provoke them to wrath. Christian mothers, submit to your husbands. Both of you love one another and long for your spouses’ eternal salvation, as God does. Christian children, honor and obey your parents. Each and every one of you, repent and love one another.

This is what God would ask of you on this, Father’s Day, and everyday. As the beloved disciple puts it in his first letter, “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 Jn. 4:11). You may be saying “It is too much to ask!” Dear Christian friends, understand that you are not alone in this task. The Holy Spirit has been sent to enlighten you with His gifts, sanctify you, and keep you in the true faith. The Holy Spirit directs you to the Word of God, he points you to Christ. Dear Christian friends, the world needs to see demonstrated in your life and mine the kind of love that God has demonstrated for you and me. God is love. So let us love one another.

Praise and glory be to our Triune God; our heavenly Father, who created and sustains us, loves and cares for us; Jesus our redeemer who loved us so much that he took our sins upon himself and died that we may live; and the Holy Spirit who guides and comforts us. Yes, praise and glory be to the God who loves us, the God who is Love. Amen.

And now the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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