1 John 4:13-21 Feb. 5, 2017
Sermon Series on I John Sermon # 18
Today’s Sermon: “The Roots and Fruit of God’s Love”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
13 “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
Love. Everybody wants to be loved. More songs are written about love than any other subject (50-60% of all songs in last 60 years). The word “Love” is used to describe feelings, hunger, desires, sex, as well as sacrificial commitments. But few people really know what love is. I. So allow me to give you an early Valentine’s Day gift, by opening up this passage of Scripture on what love really looks like.
I. The Tree of God’s Love
A. Three Root Truths about God’s Love:
First root of love: God’s essential nature is love: “God is love.” (v. 16). We saw this last Sunday in v. 8. The true and living God, the God of the Bible, is the standard and the source of all love. The three persons of the Triune Godhead – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – have enjoyed a perfect loving relationship with each other from all eternity. God is love.
Second root of love: God takes the initiative in loving us: “We love because he first loved us.” (v. 19) or as we saw last Sunday in 4:10, love is demonstrated not by our devotion to God, but by God reaching out to us when we were sinners and rebels. And how has God taken the initiative in loving us? Two main ways:
He sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (vv. 10 and 14).
He has given us His Holy Spirit (vv. 4 and 13).
In other words, God demonstrates His love for us by sharing with us this wonderful loving relationship that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have enjoyed forever.
Third root of love: God’s love lives in us, as He lives in us and we live in Him (vv. 13,15, 16)
This is the doctrine of union with Christ, as illustrated in scripture by the pictures of the vine and the branches, the head and the body, the cornerstone and the temple, etc.
Consider what this union with Christ means:
God living in us is the engine which empowers us to love God and to love others;
You and I living in God is the anchor which gives us confidence and takes away fear.
God’s indwelling is mentioned three times in vv. 13-16, and each time it is reciprocal. Each time it is mentioned, John gives us some evidence of it: v. 13 “Because He has given us His Spirit.” v. 15 “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God.” v. 16 “Whoever lives in love.”
These are the three root truths of God’s love for us, in Christ.
B. Three Kinds of Fruit which Grow out of the Roots of God’s Love:
If the roots of a fruit tree are healthy, we can expect to see fruit in season on its branches. Likewise, if you are rooted in God’s love in Christ for you, you should expect that your life will be bearing the fruit of love. There are at least three kinds of fruit:
The First Fruit is that we will confess and trust that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (v. 15a)
“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God”
The Second Fruit is that we will be empowered by the love God has for us, to love God and others, so that God’s love is made complete. (vv. 16a, 17. 19, 21)
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” “17 In this way, love is made complete among us.” “19 We love because he first loved us.” “And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
The Third Fruit is that we should have no fear of God’s punishment; rather, we will have complete confidence in Christ (vv. 17b-18).
“So that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Here is the certainty and peace we should have when Christ returns to judge the world. That day will be one of shame and terror for the wicked/ the unbeliever, but a day of joy and praise for the righteous/ the believer. Our confidence – as we face that day – is a sign that His love in us is made complete, just as our obedience to His Word is another sign (2:5).
II. An Analogy to God’s Love
To help make the truths we just looked at come alive, I want us to imagine a very wonderful love story between a man and a woman.
A. The Roots of a Man’s Love
A young man has surrendered his life and his heart to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit has been transforming him into a man after God’s own heart. He loves the Lord and the Lord’s love is evident in everything about him. He helps the elderly and weak. He is kind and patient with even the most unlovely people. He goes out of his way to listen to you and encourage you, and he gladly shares all that he has with those in need. When you think of love on a human level, you might very well picture this man.
One day he meets a lovely young Christian woman, and after much prayer and observing her, he is convinced that he should pursue her in a courtship, seeking her hand in marriage, if it is God’s will. So He takes the initiative with her, to get to know her, to listen to her, to come alongside her and to love her. She puts him off at first, thinking that he is too good to be true, that when he finds out her faults and problems that he’ll pull away from her… but no, he keeps pursuing her in love, until she finally surrenders to his love and says, yes, she will be his wife!
The two of them get married and they become one: one in spirit and one in the flesh. They enjoy that special bond and unity of marriage, as they live their lives as one. He becomes her anchor and he is the one who energizes her to be the complete woman that God intended her to be, as a daughter of the king, as a loving wife, a devoted mother to their children, and as a joyful Proverbs 31 woman in the church and the community.
B. The Fruit of a Man’s Love
And if you were to interview this woman after she had been married to this man for 30 or 40 years, she would tell you at least three things:
First, she tells you that her husband is the best thing that ever happened to her, after her own relationship with Jesus Christ. She has trusted in him and relied upon his judgement for decades, and he has always been loving, faithful, and godly.
Second, she tells you that the reason she has been able to love her children and the people at church and even the hard to love relatives and neighbors is because of her husband’s love for her. His love for her has provided the foundation and the wellspring of her love for others.
Third, she tells you that she has never once feared what her husband might do to her or say to her, in private or in public. Rather, she has had complete confidence in him, that He is for her, that He loves her unconditionally, and that his plans and actions toward her are always for her good and her growth in Christ!
Does that sound like a fairy tale? Well, actually it is an analogy to how God loves us in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
One more thing: note the gospel here is v. 14, in an encapsulated form: “…the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” Here is the essence of the gospel: God the Father so loved the sinful world that He sent His one and only Son to earth to be our Savior.
Is He you Savior?
Is His love living in you?