Thursday, May 09, 2024

2024.05.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 John 3:16–23

Read 1 John 3:16–23

Questions from the Scripture text: What do we know (1 John 3:16)? By Christ’s doing what? Who else ought to do this for whom? What does the person in 1 John 3:17 have? And what does he see? But what does he do with his heart? What is the rhetorical question, and what is its implied answer? How does he address them in 1 John 3:18? To what must our love not be limited? In what must our love be expressed? For it to have what quality? Of what will this assure us about ourselves (1 John 3:19a)? Even before Whom (verse 19b)? But what might happen with our internal assurance (1 John 3:20a)? But what hope do we still have (verse 20b)? What does He know (verse 20c)? But if we have assurance from loving this way, what does it give us (1 John 3:21)? And what does someone with this assurance do about his needs (1 John 3:22a)? And what happens when he asks? What greater need is supplied already (verse 22b)? What two commanded, pleasing things does 1 John 3:23 especially highlight?

How important is sacrificial love? 1 John 3:16–23 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these eight verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that sacrificial love in our hearts is used by God to assure us, even before Him.

Love as preferring others to ourselves, 1 John 3:16. It has suddenly become urgent to know what love is, because this is the great distinguisher between the children of God and the children of the devil (1 John 3:10-15). The definition of love is obvious: Christ laying down His life for us. Thank God that this is not only standard but power. Knowing that love is laying down our lives for one another compels us to depend only on Christ’s life in us to produce Christ’s love in us.

Love as compassion of the heart, 1 John 3:17. There are several important things to note in verse 17. Frist, it addresses the one who has this world’s goods (not the one who wishes to legislate for others!). Second, the particular situation is one in which he sees the particular need. His responsibility is not to alleviate all everywhere, but those assigned to him by providence. Third, the person in question is a brother; this means that there are deacons through whom he can give to him, who will help discern whether and what sort of gift would be most helpful. Fourth, what is denounced isn’t the failure to donate but the shutting up of the heart. Action may be called for in many situations, but the first thing for us to see to is that our heart goes out to our brother rather than being shut up against him. There is much more here than an external rule; it is an examination of whether the heart has been conditioned by God’s love. O, dear reader, open your heart to your brothers in Christ! Lay down your life for those for whom Christ has laid down His life! 

Love as a help to assurance, 1 John 3:18-21. If the true condition of love in our heart is expressed by deeds (and not just words, 1 John 3:18), this is a powerful affirmation to us that we have become children of God (1 John 3:19a, cf. 1 John 3:10-15). And since it is He alone Who produces such love, we are even assured before Him Himself (1 John 3:19b)! Of course, not all have assurance, so we hold onto what God knows, not what we know (1 John 3:20). But producing such love in us is one way that the Lord gives us confidence toward Himself (1 John 3:21).

Loving others as an earnest of all blessing, 1 John 3:22-23. Since it is God Who gives us to keep His commandments and do what pleases Him (1 John 3:22b), and His commandment is to believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and to love one another (1 John 3:23), then if God has given this to us, surely He will give us all other (good) things that we ask of Him (1 John 3:22). The logic is similar to Romans 8:32. If God has not kept back His Son from us, surely He will give us all things together with His Son, Who has merited it all for us. And if God has not kept back from us to be made like His Son in loving others, surely He will give us all other things together with this work, which is making us fit to enter and enjoy glory!

Do you see, dear reader, what a gift it is to you, if the Lord God has made you loving? Seek this gift from Him, and seek to exercise it by His grace!

Whom have you seen in need? How has your heart been opened to them? What opportunity did you take to provide for them? Who produces such love in us? How can you look to Him for more of it? Of what does it assure you?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for loving us and laying down Your life for us. Forgive us for not laying down our lives for the brethren. Forgive us for how much our hearts have been shut up from our brethren. Forgive us for having loved much more in word and tongue than in deed and truth. Grant that even if our hearts condemn us, we would have hope in You, Who are greater than our heart, and know all things, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP118A “Because He’s Good, O Thank the LORD” or TPH461 “Blessed Are the Sons of God”

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