1 John 4:7-12 January 29, 2017
Sermon Series on I John Sermon # 17 Today’s Sermon: “Perfect Love”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice (a propitiation) for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
Do you see the one commandment in this passage of Scripture? There is one commandment that is repeated three times in these verses; it is the exhortation to “love one another.” (vv. 7, 11, 12)
All of us admit that to really love other people, and other Christians, is really hard. It’s hard in our marriages; it’s hard in our families; it’s hard with other believers!
Now we know that the love God talks about is not a feeling. It’s not liking someone who is like us. We’re not talking about enjoying people who easy to get along with. No. We’re talking about a deep covenantal love, where we commit ourselves to other people and we die to ourselves, for the sake of others. We’re talking about sacrifice and long-term patience and growing in the fruit of the Spirit because we don’t have this love in ourselves! And yet God keeps telling us over and over: “Love one another!”
How can we do that? How can you and I have the desire and the energy to love like that?
There are three great truths in this passage of Scripture which will help us and challenge us:
First: God’s Essential Nature is Perfect Love (vv. 7-8)
God tells us we must start with Him, because He is love (v. 8). Such love comes from God (v. 7). So love both originates in God, and love is God’s eternal nature. Love is who God is in His inmost being. In fact, we can say that love is a necessary part of our triune God’s nature. Because God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is something about God’s nature that makes love a necessary part of it. Love was a necessary part of God’s nature from all eternity, even before there were any people or angels to love, because of the loving relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
This means that all of our love, all of our love songs and poems, all of our loving actions, even our self-sacrificing for others, is but a mere reflection of and a response to God’s perfect love. Think about that. Romeo and Juliet. Valentine’s Day. Romantic dates. Big weddings. Costly sacrifices. All of those are but faint reflections of God’s nature as love. As the moon gives light at night only because it reflects the light of the sun, so you and I can show love only because we reflect the love of God.
What does this imply? It implies that if you and I are going to love others, we have to know God. We have to be born of God (v. 7) and have His love flowing in us. And so when we demonstrate such love, we know that it is the fruit of being born of God and knowing God.
Second: God Perfectly Demonstrates His Perfect Love in Christ. (vv. 9-10)
Not only is God love, but God has perfectly demonstrated His perfect love to us, by (a) sending His one and only Son into the world, (vv. 9-10), so that we might live through Him. Furthermore, (b) God took the initiative with us; He did it all for us. See notes on 2:2
And finally, (c) God demonstrated His love by sending His Son to be God’s propitiation, God’s wrath-bearer, for the eternal wrath and anger which we deserved. (v. 10). God gave what was most precious to Him, for the sake of us, His enemies – to show His love and His glory.
Note how the incarnation and atonement of Christ was a concrete, historical revelation of God’s love. Real love always included self-sacrifice, the seeking of another’s good at one’s own cost, and a greater self-giving that God’s gift of His Son there has never been, nor could be. Nothing anyone could ever do today or in the future will come close to matching this demonstration of love.
God sent “His one and only.” This was a unique demonstration of love.
The Father sent His Son to die for us: the atonement is the pinnacle of His love.
God gave His Son for undeserving rebels/ sinners.
“The greatness of His love is seen in the costliness of His self-sacrifice for the wholly undeserving.”
Therefore John’s reasoning is clear and simple: Since God so loved us (in this tremendously costly sacrifice), then we also ought to love one another. (v. 11)
Third: God’s Perfect Love is Perfected in Our Love for One Another (vv. 11-12)
And if that weren’t enough, John adds a staggering thought in v. 12. Although none of us have seen the invisible God, if we love one another, God lives is us and His love is perfected/ made complete/ reaches the finish line) in us (12). Think about that: God’s love is perfected in the love that we are to have for one another!
Let me call your attention to what John writes in v. 12 “No one has ever seen God.” Do you remember that John used the same words in his prologue to his gospel in John 1:18? There, it was God’s Son who revealed the invisible God to us; here in 1 John 4:12, it is our mutual and reciprocal love in the church that reveals God to the world. Stott: “The unseen God, who once revealed Himself in His Son, now reveals Himself in His people – if and when they love one another. God’s love is seen in our love because our love is His love imparted to us by His Spirit (v. 13).” Our love for one another is evidence of God’s indwelling presence (see 3:17)
This is staggering! God’s love, which originates in Himself (vv. 7-8) and was manifested in His Son (9-10), is now made complete in His people.” (12) “God’s love for us is perfected only when it is reproduced in us or among us in Christian fellowship.”
John Piper asks the question: “When the world looks at the church, do they see a love that can only be explained by the supernatural work of God?” And that is THE KEY QUESTION for our life together. There must be such a love if this text is to make any sense. But there are things we call love which people do who are not born of God (since they don’t believe, and believing is a sign of being born of God too, 5:1). There are loves that are born of sexual desire and natural affections and philanthropic aspirations. But these don’t point to the supernatural work of God. They are no sign of being born of God. What matters is a love that can only be explained by the supernatural work of God. That’s the love that assures us that we are born of God, and that’s the love that will cause some in the world to see and give glory to our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16)
Examples of such love: The Christians in Charleston, SC, forgiving Dylan Roof, after he killed nine of their members. Christian couples adopting special needs children. Someone donating one of their kidneys. A husband or wife dedicating their lives to helping their spouse with dementia.
Do you long to love like that? Do you desire for our church to love like that? There is nothing more thrilling than experiencing the love of God so deeply that it spills over into our relationships. And that’s what this letter of 1 John is all about: being so deeply transformed by the love of God within that we live the supernatural love of God without.
May the Lord’s perfect love, once seen in God’s giving of His Son, now be seen in the love we have one for another!