Tuesday, September 21, 2021

2021.09.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 John 4:7–19

Read 1 John 4:7–19

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call them (1 John 4:7a)? What does he say to do? From where would this love come? How does it come from Him? What is true of someone who doesn’t love (1 John 4:8)? Why? How did God show His love (1 John 4:9)? From where does love not originate (1 John 4:10)? From where does it originate, and in what did it result? What does that display of love call for from us (1 John 4:11)? What has no one seen (1 John 4:12)? But in whom does God abide, and in whom does His love fully display itself? What can loving make us know (1 John 4:13)? Why—what can we know He has given us, if we love? What else is evidence of this indwelling of the Spirit and abiding in God (1 John 4:14-15)? And what are confessing/knowing/believing when we confess this about Christ (1 John 4:16)? What is love? For what day does our current love give us boldness (1 John 4:17)? What likeness/resemblance fosters this boldness? What isn’t there in love (1 John 4:18)? What does perfected love do? What does it show if we fear? Whom do we love, and why, in 1 John 4:19?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration all come from 1 John 4:7–18, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with My Jesus, I Love Thee

The apostle urges us to love one another, because this is the currently visible display of something that goes back into God Himself. 1 John 4:12 clues us in to the fact that this is where he is taking us, because he uses language from the prologue of his gospel (cf. John 1:18). 

There, he had begun at the beginning—where the Word was already God and with God. This, of course, is how it can be true that God is love (1 John 4:8b). Because God is Triune—three Persons but one substance, one God—He is able to have love within Himself, by the mutual adoration of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. 

In John 1, no one had seen God at any time, but the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, fully declared (exegeted) Him. Now, in 1 John 4, though we do not “exegete” God to the world as Christ does, yet as His adopted children, “God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” That is to say that it was His plan that when He takes sinners such as we were; and makes us lovers of Him and of one another, such as we are; He would display in us a reflection or refraction of His own glorious love.

This is the only source of genuinely True love (capital T!). “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” Jesus’s love for us is the greatest display of God’s love in His only-begotten Son (cf. John 1:17). Now our love for one another is the greatest display of our “born of God” new birth, and our “knowing God” as Father, Son, and Spirit in our adoption.

Love is all in the family. If you don’t love, you don’t know God. Simple as that. The only way to know God is in His Son, and those who know the Son know Him as the propitiation (full atonement) for our sins. That’s how we know love, and our right response and imitation is to love one another (1 John 4:11). But if you have this birth from God and the Spirit of God (1 John 4:13), then by the Spirit you see and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior.

These great truths can make your mind spin, or swim, as you consider them. But, they can also bring clarity and freedom to thinking about other things. One of these we have already seen: our brothers and sisters in the church. God loved me in Jesus; God loved them in Jesus; I must love them in God and Jesus. Another area that becomes crystal clear when thinking about God and His love is the day of judgment. God loved me in Jesus, atoning for me by Him and saving me by Him, so I can think about the day of judgment with boldness instead of fear (1 John 4:17-18).

We love Him because He made Himself ours. We love Him because He atoned for us. We love Him in life; we’ll love Him in death; we’ll love Him at the judgment; we’ll love Him forever. We love Him because He first loved us.

How does meditating upon Christ’s atonement and how it was planned/executed help you know what love is? How does this help you love others? What would someone think about God’s love for us, if they thought your love for the brethren was a reflection of it? How does meditating upon Christ’s atonement and the day of judgment help you love Him?

Sample prayer: O God, You are love in Yourself. We enter into Your own eternal and infinite joy when we love You. And You have brought us into that love by the gift of Your Son to atone for our sins, and by the gift of new birth from Your Spirit. Forgive us for when our love for You is dull or cold, and when we fail to love one another. Just as You have given us fearlessness in the judgment by the atonement of Christ, so also give us forgiveness and cleansing, and conform us to Christ. Make us love Him and one another, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23B “Thank the Lord, for He Is Good” or TPH496 “My Jesus, I Love Thee”

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