Love Letters: God is Love III
Pastor Terry Inman
1 John 5 (NIV)
A couple weeks ago Dick Foth called from somewhere in Nevada. He and Mary’s sister Ruth were on the road from Colorado to join the family for our little Nora’s burial in Modesto. He wasn’t speaking or on his way somewhere else. He and Ruth just wanted to be with us.
Ruth hasn’t even been out of the cardiac unit that long after her miraculous recovery from heart failure. After the burial, Dick had to fly back for a leadership gathering he was hosting with a notable author and friend. Then he turned right around and came back here for last Sunday. He also needed to give Ruth a ride back home because she doesn’t fly.
I just quoted Dick a few weeks ago, He says, “Love is the accurate estimate and adequate supply of another’s need.” When you are in crisis it is very comforting for close family and friends to just be present.
Bob Goff, the author Dick was hosting in Colorado wrote the New York Times best seller “Love Does”. He says, “I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them”.
As a college student he spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of canned meat. As a father he took his kids on a world tour to eat ice cream with heads of state. He made friends in Uganda, and they liked him so much he became the Ugandan consul.
He is now heads of a Wash DC law firm. He is the founder of Restore International an organization rescuing children and bringing justice in Africa and India. Everyday of his life he just shows up with the love of Jesus when and where it’s needed.
Here are some lines from his best seller “Love Does”. “Love is never stationary. You don't need a plan; you just need to be present. But the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It's a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright.”
This really captures the heart of what John, the so-called “Apostle of Love” is communicating to his family and friends in his three short letters.
Today we will finish his first letter with a look at Chapter 5. We have followed his three themes, “God is Light”, “God is Right” and today we are on part four of his primary focus, “God is Love”. His notions here in chapter 5 can be sorted into three portions.
There is no way to love the Father without loving His Son. (vers.1-5)
There is irrefutable evidence that Jesus Christ is God’s Son. (vers.6-12)
There are six undisputable affirmations of our faith in Christ. (vers.13-21)
So let’s get started in the text with this first proposition. “If you really love the Father you will love His Son”
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 1 John 5:1(NIV)
When we choose to put our trust in Christ as God’s Son and our savior. Something more than belief happens…we experience new spiritual life. We are born of God. We become His spiritual offspring. We are family. Only then can we love our father and our brother Jesus His first born son.
The new birth is not a religious belief or mental exercise it is a transformational experience. We love our Father, we love His Son and we love His whole family because we have been rebirthed into it.
If we really love the Father we will love His Son and all the rest of our brothers and sisters. Not because we have a natural affection but a spiritual relationship. We are all in the same spiritual family.
“This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” 1John 5:2-3 (NIV)
This almost sounds backwards. You would think John would say “this is how we know that we love God, by loving each other in the family”.
No this time he purposefully turns it around. We can’t love people born of God unless we love God. He adds, loving God is obedience to his commands.
The connection between love for God and obedience is meant as a protection against thinking of love for God as “emotional feelings” about God. True love (agape) requires action. Like Bob Goff says, “LOVE DOES”!
My wife loves to hear me say, “I love you” but it wouldn’t mean much if I didn’t demonstrate it in ways she perceives love. John adds some qualification to obedience here, “His commands are not burdensome.”
To those not yet born of God, the Christ-centered life may seem dutiful and difficult. That may be true of religion. But relationship with Jesus is loving and light.
Jesus was alluding to the burdens of religious legalism when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt.11:28-30 (NIV)
The Message translation is even stronger. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matt. 11.28-30 (Message)
Love expressed in obedience is a winning combination. John says, “His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:4,5 (NIV)
It is not that we somehow strive to overcome the world but because we have been born of God this natural sinful world is already conquered. The way this reads in the original language is informative. “The victory that is victorious over the world is our faith.” John says our faith is simple belief that Jesus is the Son of God!
Belief, love, and obedience are all trademarks of the people born of God! We don’t live under an oppressive religious system we were born for celebration. Life can be challenging but we all always conquering!
So if you really love the Father you will love His Son! Next John gives us irrefutable evidence that Jesus Christ is God’s Son. (vers. 6-12)
He specifically mentions three exhibits that give testimony to the authenticity of Christ. He identifies the water, the blood and the Spirit.
This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 1 John 5:6-8 (NIV)
Now this may sound a little mysterious but it’s really very simple. The water is a reference to Jesus’ baptism. He was audibly affirmed by His Heavenly Father as, “my Son with whom I am well pleased”.
The blood is a reference to Christ purpose for coming as a man to die for our sins and restore us to the Father. In the first chapter of this “Love Letter” John said, “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 (NIV)
John also says the Spirit confirms the other two testimonies. Again the Spirit came on Jesus when he was baptized in water. Jesus also promised before his departure into heaven that the Holy Spirit would come to live in each of us and confirm that we are God’s children. In the previous chapter John said, “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” 1 John 4:13 (NIV)
Then John adds two more significant testimonies, that of the Father and our own personal testimony of eternal life. We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 1 John 5:9,10 (NIV)
Belief is clearly not just a head thing it’s a heart thing. That’s why the bible says, “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Rom. 10:9 (NIV)
John clearly conveys the nature of our personal testimony.
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:11-12 (NIV)
Now John concludes with six undisputable affirmations of our faith in Christ. (vs. 13-21) First he states the reason for these letters.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13 (NIV)
We never have to guess we can know for certain that we belong to him.
Then he specifically mentions six things “we know”: things that we can be confident of because of our belief in the Son of God.
We know he hears us. We also know that we have what we asked of him. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV)
We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin. We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. 1 John 5:18
We are not taking about perfection here because earlier, John said, If we confessour sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9 (NIV) He is saying we are not living in sin, we are not under its control. Because…
“We know that we are children of God. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” (v.19)
We know also that the Son of God has come and we know him who is true
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20 (NIV)