Devotional Commentary for May 28-June 3
Having been close to Jesus during the Lord's life and ministry on earth, John had developed a profound understanding of God's Love. We learn from the text before us that he made several allusions to God's Love, not so much for clarity as it is to underscore the seriousness of God's Love. Our meditation below will follow the same pattern in an effort to remain faithful to the text.
7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
Taking his cue from Jesus Christ his Lord, Savior, and Teacher, John reiterates that Love is the requisite attribute of the Christian once redemptive transformation is given and received; that is, given by God and received by the sinner. John specifically identifies Christian love as a distinctly divine affection flowing from God toward men, the crown of God's creation. This is the Love of God. It should not be confused with the sense of fondness common to all men.
John says: "let us love one another". Why? Because Love is of God and we belong to God. That is, the Love that Christians experience and share is the Love of God which flows from God into our redeemed hearts. It is not the fruit of our natural passion. The source is God. God gives it, and God executes it. That means, the Love of God is an integral aspect of God's redemptive Grace and a constitutive, intrinsic property of our transformation. To believe in God is to receive His Love. To receive God's Love is to live as one loved by God.
Those who do not love, would not have received the Love of God. They would not know God. They live in darkness and bondage devoid of the Love of God. They could not genuinely love because they did not taste the Love of God. God is Love. Those who know Him through a personal experience of His salvation would know to love as God loved them. If anyone who had experienced the Love of god fails to love another, the same would be resisting the Love of God and would, therefore, be in rebellion toward God.
9In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
One might wonder what the Love of God is and what it might look like. The Love of God is not merely abstract divine fondness. It is meaningful, significant, and tangible. The Love of God is revealed in His Son Jesus Christ. For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.
Because of Love divine:
- God judged the Righteous instead of the wicked;
- God penalized the guiltless for the guilty;
- God subjected the sinless to His wrath in place of the sinful;
- God did not spare His Son from death on the Cross because He loved the sinner.
God provided the Way to salvation in Jesus Christ by sacrificing Him because He is the perfect, unblemished substitute Who could satisfy the Law. God answered His own Law by offering His Son as propitiation for sin. God's Love is manifested on the Cross in open display subjecting His Holy and Righteous Son to public shame. Christ the Son of God died on our behalf so that we might live in Him; and being alive in Him we might enjoy the abundance of His Love.
True Love comes only from God. It originates in Him, therefore, He loved us first. He loved us in spite of ourselves and provided the Way for our salvation through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ and His finished work. He sent His Son as Propitiator, reconciling us to Himself. He purposed, accomplished, and imparted His sovereign favor toward us. He simply loved us. That is the mystery of sovereign Grace.
4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
In view of this amazing Love of God which led His Son to die for us, we should love one another and impart God's Love toward others. We have been brought back from the ranks of the rebellious to a new life in Christ. We have been shown the horror of our own sin. We have been convicted. We have acknowledged our futile defiance of our Creator. All of this is washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Now, being filled with the Spirit of the loving Christ, the reality of God's Love must be the overwhelming attribute of all of us. In other words, we must be loving because we are loved, since the Power of God's Love is transformative.
Knowing the depth of our own sin and the exceeding abundance of God’s Grace, Forgiveness, and Love, we must do nothing less than loving one another in the Grace of God. Since we are loved, we must also be loving.
12No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
13By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
So far, John has been telling us how God's Love works in us and that we should heed its indelible effect on our life as we experience steady transformation. Here, John confesses that no one has ever laid eyes upon God physically, except when the Word became flesh and dwelt among men in the Person of Jesus Christ Who is the visible image of the invisible God. But John affirms to us that God's Love itself is the testimony of our own personal encounter with God. In other words: we have seen God in His Love toward us; We have seen God in Jesus Christ; We have seen God in the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Since God's Love is not natural to us, we struggle to accept others in a godly and selfless love. Therefore, loving one another in the Love of God affirms that God has come into our life in His Love. He abides in us in the Person of the Holy Spirit in order to accomplish that. The Spirit Himself generates in our hearts the sense of belonging to God causing us to call God Abba Father. We know God and have experienced Him because He has given us of Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit at the moment of our individual conversion.
God has revealed Himself to the world through Jesus Christ. But the indwelling Holy Spirit makes God personally known to each individual believer at the time of regeneration. So we know Him and have seen Him in His Love. We experience His presence in us through His Love. When God abides in us through His Love, we also abide in Him through obedience and embrace others with His Love.
14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
16And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
Having been one of the disciples of Jesus Christ, John affirms that Jesus Christ was sent to the world by God as Savior. He had seen the Son of god in person and had direct knowledge how He laid down His life to save the lost. John openly testifies that he is a personal witness of the revelation of god's redemption and His Love through Jesus Christ; in His Birth, Life, Crucifixion, Death, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension. So whoever acknowledges that Jesus Christ is the Son of God Who came to seek and save the lost, has not only received the Love of God unto salvation, but also is in union with God through Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
As salvation is received by faith in the heart and confession is made by the mouth unto righteousness, so is the Love of God received by the redeemed from God's sovereign Grace. The heart which believes and the mouth which confesses abide in God as God also abides by the Spirit in the believer. Salvation is accomplished in Love. Our Redeemer, Who is also our Example, expressed His Love by laying down His Life for the redemption of the lost. He loved His Father and obeyed Him to death on the Cross for our sake.
The believer's life is often caught in the tension between confession and action. Confession is the understanding and pronouncement of revealed Truth and doctrine as outlined in the Scriptures. When these precepts are rightly divided by inspired servants of the Gospel, the Truth itself becomes the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path toward action and responsive obedience. So godly action is responsive obedience inspired by godly understanding and wisdom. Christian action accomplishes the purposes of God as inspired by the revealed Truth.
John's inspired words teach us that faith and love are not two different commandments. They are versatile essences of the multifaceted action of our sovereign God. God Who redeemed us by Grace through faith also loves us in Jesus Christ by Whom He saved us. So to be saved is also to be loved. That is, to believe is also to Love.
That means, the confession of faith and doctrine must be expressed in actions inspired by Love. The redeemed life of a Christian is acknowledged through confession but verified through action. The testimony of the church of Jesus Christ rises or falls on the faithful confession of its doctrines as expressed in the loving actions of its members.
However, the life of the Christian is not often as simple as: If faith, then love, or, if love, then faith. We often fall out of balance when confession and conduct fall into disharmony. We become either legalistic, focusing on lifeless declarations of doctrine, or, drown in unfounded emotions at the expense of God's revealed Truth.
But John teaches us with profound conviction that the new life we have in Christ is also a new way to live for Christ. We are not just rescued from condemnation, we are also given the Way to live as the Ambassadors of God's Love. It is God's Love. It is amazing Love. The unlovable is now loved. The unloving has been made loving. It is the Love of God. It is the very presence of God in the temple He built for Himself in the heart which was once rebellious. There, God executed His Love, displacing the ungodly attitudes of self-love, self-righteousness, and wicked condescension. It is amazing Love. It is the Love of God.