Thursday, May 30, 2024

2024.05.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 John 4:12–20

Read 1 John 4:12–20

Questions from the Scripture text: What has no one done (1 John 4:12)? But of what connection to God can we be sure, in what way? What achieves its end (NKJ: is perfected) in believers’ loving one another? In Whom do believers who love one another abide (1 John 4:13)? Who abides in them? What gift has produced both the love and the mutual abiding? What had the apostles seen (1 John 4:14)? What did they do with what they saw? Who sent Whom as what? What else does the Spirit produce—what do those who have been given of His Spirit confess (1 John 4:15)? Even though we have not seen God (v12), what have we known and believed (1 John 4:16)? How does this relate to Who God is? Why has love achieved its end in believers (1 John 4:17)? In whose conduct, where, is the character of God reflected? Of what is there none in love (1 John 4:18)? What does love that has achieved its end cast out? What does fear involve? What hasn’t happened in the one who is tormented with fear? But if love has achieved its end in us, what do we do (1 John 4:19)? How has this come about? What might someone say (1 John 4:20)? But what if he hates his brother? What is the logic of this verse?

What can we see, that will give us boldness for the judgment? 1 John 4:12–20 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that we can see one another, and the perfecting of God’s own love in our loving one another, which is the work of His Spirit, Whom He has given with His Son.

The idea of “seeing” ties this passage together from 1 John 4:12 to 1 John 4:20

What we haven’t seen1 John 4:12-13. Love is of God (1 John 4:7), so even though we haven’t seen God (1 John 4:12, cf. John 1:18), we have seen that which can come only from God. This is why loving one another in a biblical way assures of this amazing reality: God Himself abides in us. He has given us of His Spirit (1 John 4:13), by Whom God’s own love has achieved its end (“been perfected,” NKJ) in us. Loving one another is a window into a glorious, unseen reality!

What the apostles had seen1 John 4:14-16. The “we” in 1 John 4:14 is the apostles (cf. 1 John 1:1–3; John 1:14). They had seen God the Son in human form. They testified to Him Who is the great display of the love in which God sent Him to be the Savior of the world. The same Spirit Who makes us to love one another (1 John 4:13) makes us to confess that Jesus is the Son of God. 

Having the Spirit, confessing the divinity of Christ, loving one another, and a mutual abiding in God… all four of these go together. Either you have all of them, or you have none of them. There’s no in between. Thanks be to God, we have both the testimony of the Holy Spirit in our heart, and a reliable, eye-witness account in our hands and in our hearing.

What we have seen1 John 4:17-20. We have seen our brother (1 John 4:20)! This gives us something tangible to embolden us, as we look forward to the day of judgment (1 John 4:17). The God before Whom we will stand is the God Who is love. So, if in this world, with our brother whom we can see, we are loving, then we have boldness. His love makes us to love Him (1 John 4:19), which makes us to love our brother. Someone who is participating in this wonderful cycle of love does not fear the judgment.

Do you fear the judgment, dear reader? Then you must continue to grow in knowing God’s love for you, which will in turn foster your love for Him and your love for your brothers. But if you hate your brother, then you can be sure that what you have “seen” is that you don’t actually love God, no matter what you say (1 John 4:20). 

How is it evident to you that you love the brethren? When you think about your love for the brethren, what does it show (or not show—be honest) about you? If you lack love, from where can it come? How do you feel about the day of judgment? Why? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for how much our love lacks! We thank You for sending Your Son and giving Your Spirit. Grant to us the continued ministry of Your Spirit, so that Your love will achieve its goal in us. Grant that this love would cast out all of our fear, so that we will have boldness in the day of judgment, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” 

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