That Your Joy May Be Complete #08
1 John 4:7-21
The Final Word On Love
There are three words for love that are used in the New Testament, which was written in the common language of the day, Greek.
The first word is eros which refers to a sensual love between two people. It was a common word but not used about people toward God or God toward people
The second word is phileo from which words like Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, come from. It is a word of affection toward a friend or family member. It is a relational word even used about the love between God the Father and God the Son.
However, that word is never used about the Love that people have toward God, except in John 21 where Peter, doubting himself uses that word of his love for Jesus, though Jesus seems to be calling him upward to a higher love by using another word when asking “do you love me”.
Both of these words were very common in Greek culture and literature. However, the third word, only rarely used in Greek, outside of scripture, is the word agapao or agape.
While the other two words are self-centered, conditional, and imperfect, agapao is the outward, unconditional, and perfect love of God. And it is this word that Jesus uses when John records Jesus saying
“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another.” John 13:34
We have talked already in our study about God’s love being lavished on us.
We have talked of the fact that our attitudes and actions regarding love are evidence of our intimacy with or estrangement from our fellowship with God.
But as we have talked before, we have so changed the definition of what love is that we don’t know what it is.
Sometimes we start doing things wrong, and do so for so long, that it seems right. The scripture says Proverbs 14:12 there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
Our way of love is self-serving, conditional, and reactionary
We see love as a choice, a decision, even an option …
But none of that matches what dear Pastor John, the Aged Apostle, is teaching us
John takes us to God the Father … How Great is the Love … Lavished on us
John takes us to Jesus, the Son – This is love … defined by a life of Sacrifice
John takes us to the Spirit – whose love is selfless, an inner compulsion and points to Jesus
So, what does John go on to say? As we read, realize that
There is a worldly view on love
And There is a heavenly view on love
Since we already know the worldly view and know what it gets us …
Jealousy and so on and so on
So, how about if we see what GOD SAYS … and then … a NOVEL IDEA … let’s DO IT
READ 1 John 4:7-21
Well … there it is …
Let’s break it down … Three things about Love … God’s Style … God’s way …
Because God IS the Final Word on Love
1. Love Is A Command
What did John say?
A. Let Us Love
Agapao = divine love … just one word but translated “let us love”
It is a verb in the Present, Active, Subjunctive, 1st Person, Plural tense
Did you get that … well I had to look up what that means.
Present means, NOW with no expectation of completion, always now
Active means to take action, actually do it
Subjunctive is action that is intentional
1st Person Plural is the “let us” all of us who are part of the US that is the Family of God
So, Let us, the family of God, always now, take actual action to DO divine love intentionally loving in a divine way according to the divine model for love
LOVE LIKE THAT …
Because John said so, as inspired by the Holy Spirit …
Want more of a reason?
1. “love comes from God”
Love is not a foreign concept. Love is not something we have only heard of. Love COMES, Has Come, Continues to come, FROM God.
Every true expression of Love is FROM God
He is the giver, the instigator of all love, the empowering force, Not because God works it up in himself … it is NOT a characteristic … No, God exhibits it because it is His Nature
2. God Is Love – it is his nature … and you cannot separate LOVE from God
He is omnipotent meaning he is all powerful
He is omniscient meaning he knows all
He is omnipresent meaning he is all places
He is transcendent that he is above his creation
He is immanent in that he has come to us
And among other parts of his nature …
God Is Love (Agape)
Divine, Perfect, Unconditional, Never Ending, LOVE
So, we are commanded to love divinely always intentionally, actively
For the express reason that God’s Nature caused him to love and love is NOT love unless
C. Love is Shown
If you do not love … you do not know God …
But if you DO know God, then you WILL love LIKE God …
And what is love if not something that is DONE … is SHOWN
V10 says this is love … that God loved us and sent his son as an atoning or providing sacrifice for our sin …
Our sin separates us from God’s love. It is not that he does NOT love … because he loved us in the very act of sending Jesus while we were still sinners …
But our SIN separates us from the goodness and benefit of his love
As humans, sin took us from fellowship with God in the Garden of Eden to there being a Huge Gap between us and God. it is a gap that we cannot bridge
Ephesians 2:4-5 But God who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!
SO … if Love is SHOWN and is Divine … God Loves us FIRST
- 1. Divine love always makes the first move …
Is YOUR love worldly or divine?
God saw something in us … not just sinners, but potential heirs to righteousness …
- 2. Love sees the possibilities
God knew that we wouldn’t get there so he SENT Jesus to Bridge the Gap
- 3. Love creates the Opportunity
Love is SHOWN … so then … do you love as the world or is your love Divine
If we know Jesus, we are Commanded to Love …
But more than that …
2. Love Is An Honor
Why do I say that love is an honor? John says
A. Since God So Loved Us
If we need a REASON to love … the reason should be the love that has already been acted out on us.
We do not love because of what we hope someone will do for us?
We do not even love to the measure of what they HAVE done for us in the past?
The NIV begins v7 and v11 “Dear Friends” …
Other translations say “Beloved”. In this case, I like the word “Beloved”=agapetos=beloved, dearly loved, divinely loved …
You and I have been divinely loved … John 3:16 is shadowed here as John says
“Divinely loved ones, since God SO Loved”
“Divinely loved ones, because God loved you so extravagantly, you have no choice but to love divinely”
God didn’t just LOVE … He SO loved!
He SENT his own Son … not another prophet or preacher or king. He didn’t send another letter or sermon
God SO LOVED that he sent his son, his essence, the first and last word on God, the first and last word on love, Jesus Christ to us.
Jesus so loved that He came a long way …
We were far off because WE left … but Jesus Came
Love goes the distance because God went the distance for us. God so loved that he met our greatest need
He made a sacrifice for us.
He bled that we might be healed …
He hurt that we might be whole
He was humbled that we might be exalted
- Love makes provision for and creates a reason for expressing love
We were not lovely or worthy of love, but Jesus made us lovely and worthy by washing us with his blood and reconciling us to God …
He brought us near and so …
Since we are HONORED by HIS love for us …
B. We OUGHT to Love
Yes, he said “we ought” …
the word is opheilo = to owe a debt which is due, a binding obligation
The tense of this word describes something in the present that is active, actual and real not theoretical. In Matthew 18 - Jesus compares our debt 10,000 Talents which is a minimum of millions of dollars, could be billions in today’s money, but it was something that couldn’t be paid back in a hundred lifetimes
When God LOVED us, he SO loved us; so much so, that we could never ever, in 100s of lifetimes, repay his act of love toward us.
So … Lest we be required to repay … in lieu that payment and because we can’t do it …
We must love someone else … not for them but for Jesus who loved me First and Best
Love for the sake of the One who sacrificed himself for us …
I have had the privilege a couple of times to purchase lunch for soldiers that I came across. It was a great honor to do something small for them though I could never pay them back for what they sacrificed for me.
I cannot repay but I do this small thing as an HONOR.
In like manner, we love divinely because we are divinely loved
Love is a Command
Love is an Honor and so then
When we Obey the Command, showing honor … then
3. Love Is A Testimony
Often, when something happens, people are afraid to speak up for fear of being dragged into the situation … for fear of being hurt by being involved … for fear of misunderstanding or fear of greater responsibilities if we get involved …
In Like Manner …
We also fail to love because of fear …
If I love … what if they don’t love me back?
What if I get hurt by my choosing to love them first?
If I love, what if it costs me more, requires greater responsibility, than I intended
What if they misunderstand my intentions
But John says “There is no fear in love” as a matter of fact, when love is divine, fear has to flee
Fear deals with the thought of hurt / punishment
But, we have already been completely Loved sacrificially loved
V19 … we love because He first loved us
And so, we love in order to “Testify” v14
Testify = martyero = bear witness, affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced or knows by divine revelation
When we love, we testify
A. That God is IN us
You might not feel like loving … but out of obligation and BECAUSE he is IN us … we LOVE … it is the most BASIC reason that we love. It is level one … we love as a testimony he is in us … and then we testify that
B. We Are In Him
We love not just because He is in us … but also because we are on the TEAM … in his family, of his tribe
Love is evidence that we have bought in, that we have taken ownership
When we love, we testify that we are his and he is ours …
And so when we love we
C. Put Him On Display
What happens when we love is that we reveal God to a world that has never seen or experienced him
V12 says “no one has seen God”
This word for “seen” … is theaomai = to behold, look upon, view attentively, contemplate”
It is the word where we get the word “Theater” from …
No one in the natural world has seen God acted out, displayed, or glorified. Because no one has seen God take center stage …
So, we have an amazing opportunity … Yes it is true … no one has seen God … BUT
1. … God does not leave the world in want of revelation …
Romans 1:20 says that God has revealed Himself in power and nature through creation
John 14:9 – Jesus says anyone who has seen me has seen the Father
And so revealed by Creation, Revealed By Christ …
2. And WE also … those of us who have been DIVINELY LOVED … we also enter the process of the Revelation of God
God continues to reveal himself to a world yet not seeing that they see God in us as we Love One Another
3. We … divinely loved, love divinely, and so reveal God
Then a watching world looks at a place like New Life Baptist Church and they scratch their heads and say
“why would they care for one another?”
“why would Cathy love Davina?”
“Why would Bridget Love Miss Carol?”
“why would Mike love Kevin?”
“Why would they love each other?”
THAT IS GOD!
And they say “Oh … THAT’S God, I wondered what God looked like? I always wondered”
If we love one another … THEN, and ONLY then … do we find the work of love completed
Love isn’t finished until it turns us OUTWARD
Love is meant to be finished, a full circle
God loves us … in response then,
we love him and then
we love others
Jesus said “you will be my witnesses In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the ends of the earth.”
But if we give a verbal testimony about Jesus … but do not love in action, then our witness is but empty words
If we love, but do not give a verbal witness, then our love is action without explanation
But when we love one another, because he First loved us… Then a World who has never seen God asks us “WHY?” and then we can respond with the Greatest Story of love ever told
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life John 3:16
We say to them “you see, I’m a sinner. I can’t help it. I was born that way. And because of that I was separated from God and under the condemnation of God. I deserved hell. BUT GOD … he loved me so greatly that he wasn’t going to leave me as I was. So the Father sent the Son, Jesus. He left heaven and laid aside his privilege and he loved me in action. Jesus lived a perfect life and offered his life as a sacrifice for me because God’s justice said that only innocent blood could satisfy God’s justice.
“Then he offered his love and relationship to me.
“You know what? I have received it and not only did God forgive my debt but he also included me in his family and gave me heaven as my inheritance.
“His love was so great toward me that I HAVE to love others, not because of them or for me, but it is a gift of gratitude and worship to God.
“And one more thing, I love, hoping that someone, like you, would notice and ask what it is. And when they do, I can turn them away from me and tell them … Tell YOU … that it’s NOT ME … It’s God, It’s God, It’s God!”
That’s what we tell them
When we love … we are actors in God’s theater telling God’s Story … and Telling them It can be Just as True For You …
Remember the story I told you about the artist painting Jesus that said “if I loved him more, I would paint him better”?
Well that certainly is true … but I think sometimes we don’t realize how much he loves us and that is why we don’t love him better
We think he loves us because we are good … or can do something for him
We are fearful that he will love us less if we don’t do right … or do enough
One man was concerned because he didn’t love God enough.
A friend responded by saying … “when I go home, I will take my six month old baby on my knee, look into her eyes, listen to her babbling, even though I’m tired, I want to be with her. I love her so much. But she has very little love for me. I could have a broken heart and it wouldn’t stop her from sleeping. I could be in pain, she would keep playing. I could leave and she would forget me in a few days.
She’s never given me a penny but she costs me so much. Yet there isn’t enough money in the world to buy her from me.
/Why is that? Does she love ME, or do I Love her?
Do I hold my love back until she loves me better?
Do I wait until she does something worthy? /
Then the friend realized … “it isn’t MY love for God … but God’s love for me … I love him now more than ever before”
When you realize how much you are in the center of his love and how good his love is you will want to give him your all and will want to love others that they might know his love too