An Abiding Love (1 John 4:12-21)

2016-week-49One of the markers of genuine Christianity is love. As we have seen throughout John’s letter, love is the primary way of life God has called them to live. In 1 John 4:7–11 we saw the love of God was made manifest in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The love of God was seen clearly in the person of Jesus Christ. Since Christ has returned to the right hand of God the Father, His physical presence is no longer on the earth with us. How can we be sure He calls us His children? The simple answer is trusting in Him by what His Word says. More specifically, John tells us, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (4:12). We can know God abides in us by our loving one another. Our loving one another achieves the goal of God’s love because we have extended such love to each other. The way in which God abides in us as we abide in Him is through the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit. As Christians, we have received the Holy Spirit who is a guarantee of our eternal inheritance in Christ (see Ephesians 1:13–14). How do we know we have received the Holy Spirit? The Apostle John explains, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (4:14–15). To state it succinctly, those who confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world, evidenced by repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ, are Christians. If we know the love God has for us and believe in the God who is love, then we can be assured we abide in God and God abides in us (4:16). There is no reason to fear on the day of judgment (4:18). Because we are saved by the righteousness of Christ, we can have confidence before God as we abide in Christ (4:17). Our standing before God on the day of judgment will not be based on your good works but on whether you trusted in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Did you believe Jesus was truly God in the flesh and that He took your sin upon Himself on the cross to reconcile you with the Father? Did you respond to His holy-love by repenting of your sin and placing your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior? If you are one who abides in God, your answer to those two questions should be a resounding “Yes!” Still, the evidence you abide in God centers on love. This abiding love finds its source and foundation in God. “We love because he first loved us” (4:19). We can only know love because God has loved us. We know love when the love God has given to us we extend to others. To not extend love is to prove ourselves as liars and our salvation as false. The last couple of verses of 1 John 4 put it this way, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (4:20–21). One who has been saved by the love of God is one who extends the love of God to others. To live any other way is to live a lie. Christians are commanded to love one another as they are motivated by the love of God in the gospel and are moved along by the power of the Holy Spirit. To love God in heaven whom you cannot see now is evidenced by your love for people around you whom you can see. When you display such love, you will know God abides in you and you abide in Him.

Reflection Questions:

  • How is the love of God significant in our love for one another?
  • What are practical ways we find in Scripture where we are called to love one another? How can you apply that in your life this week?
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