The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz.
Click here: 1 John 4:13-21, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: 1 John 4:13-21. for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.
1 John 4:13-21, The Assurance of God’s Love, pt2:
- This morning we continue with part two! Now last time we saw that actions are often determined by our identity. John showed us that God is the source of love and how God gave us an example of love through Christ. We also looked at how we have the capacity to love, and the responsibility to love, because that’s how we prove we belong to God.
- Now allow me to quickly summarize those 3 points. 1) Love is from God, v7-8. God’s nature is love, and in salvation that nature becomes part of who you are. Love has its very origin and source in God, and it is evidence that we have been born of God.
- 2) Love is Revealed in Jesus, v9-10. God’s love became supremely visible in Jesus Christ “that we might live through Him.” “…but God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” So God sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
- 3) Love is the Christian Duty, v11-12. If we love one another, God is on display. In John 13:34-35, Jesus said “By this shall men know that you’re My disciples if you have love for one another.” So when we love one another, (1) it is proof that God abides continually in us, and (2) His love for us is perfected.
- So today we’ll look at how God’s love in us gives us the assurance of His presence, it gives us the confidence as we await judgment, and the power to reflect His character in the world, starting with how…
1. Love is Embodied through the Spirit:
- Text – 1 John 4:13-16
- Explanation – Loving others as we have been loved by God is not an easy thing to do. What’s worse, it can seem nearly impossible to love and pray for your enemies as Jesus taught in Matthew 5:43-48. Even loving our brothers and sisters in Christ can be a real challenge at times. We need some supernatural assistance.
- And so addressing these verses, we see how the Triune God is at the core of divine love as the Spirit is on display in verse 13. The Son takes center stage in verses 14-15 and the Father is highlighted in verses 14-16.
- Illustration – Friends, this shows us that love is certified proof that God now resides in us, through His personal presence. Verse 13 begins with the phrase “This is how we know.” John uses this phrase at least 10 times in this letter.
- If you want someone to be assured of something, you repeat it! John wants us to know we abide in God and God abides in us through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the triune God. Now, how do we know that this mutual abiding in the Spirit is real? Verse 12, because “we love one another … and His love is perfected in us.”
- Application – Let’s jump the gun here. Go verses 15–16. So if we put it all together, we know we abide in God and God abides in us because (1) He gave us His Spirit as a grace gift at salvation, (2) we confess Jesus is the Son of God, and (3) we abide in God’s love and His love abides in us.
- See, God gave us His Spirit, and He will never take Him from us. He is ours now and forever. There are no take-backs, we experience this mutual indwelling between us and the Holy Spirit for an eternity. No having established this reality! Let me say that loving others will not spring forth out of guilt, but out of gospel gladness and gratitude.
- We are moved to love because of our connection to Christ, who has so lavishly loved us. Look at verses 14-15. Let me ask, ‘How do you know you’ve been given the Holy Spirit?’ It isn’t evident through speaking gibberish, or having prophetic dreams, or experiencing strange tingling feelings.
- Here is how you know that you’ve been given the Spirit. “Because you believe the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world and you confess Jesus is the Son of God.” In other words, it is your belief in the gospel that is evidence of the ministry and presence of the Holy Spirit.
- Conclusion – Without the presence of the Holy Spirit, no capacity to confess and believe this. It’s not according to the will of man or the will of the flesh. So how do you know that you have the Spirit? Because you believe the gospel. And God has taken up residence, abiding in you and you in Him. That’s the evidence of the Holy Spirit.
- And that’s not all. Now he comes to the point in verse 16. How do I know I’m a Christian? Because God gave me His Spirit. And He only gives His Spirit to those that are His. Then we come to understand the eternal love of God for us.
- Bridge – So, we know and believe as a settled reality in our souls that the God who is love indeed loves us. Furthermore, as we abide in the love of God, the God of love abides in us! Thus we see faith and love and knowledge working together to assure our hearts that this God of love is our God and Father. Warren Wiersbe says,
- The more we love God, the more we understand the love of God. And the more we understand His love, the easier it is to trust Him. After all, when you know someone intimately and love him sincerely, you have no problem putting your confidence in him. Therefore, we’re to love one another with this kind love because love is the assurance of our salvation. But in the love, we can have great confidence in something that is overwhelmingly terrifying,
2. Love Gives Confidence for Judgement Day:
- Text – 1 John 4:17-18
- Explanation – Judgment day is something every person should consider. It is real, and it is coming. No one spoke more often of judgment than Jesus. The very purpose of His coming was to help people be prepared for that day. John says we can not only be ready, but we can be confident.
- Why? Because on that day “we are as He is in this world.” What does John mean by this? It means that we are in Christ—abiding in Him and He abiding in us—therefore, we stand in relation to God and the world the same way Christ does.
- Illustration – Think of it in this way, the Father treats the saints the same way He does His Son Jesus Christ. God clothes believers with the righteousness of Christ. Therefore, believers will stand before God’s throne as confidently as our Lord and Savior does. But if we fear the Day of Judgment, it is evidence that we have not loved others as God intends.
- Application – However, when God’s love has reached its intended goal and accomplished its perfect work, fear before God is driven out and the dread of punishment is vanquished. In contrast, those who do live in fear of future punishment give evidence that something is wrong, that God’s perfecting work of love has not done its work in their lives.
- The ongoing obedience of loving others, will experience the fear of punishment evaporate. Love never fears judgment or punishment. So if you love in this perfect love, there’s no fear. You don’t fear judgment. You don’t fear the return of Christ. You long for it.
- Conclusion – We have no fear of standing before the throne of God. We can go there with the same confidence Jesus has there in the presence of God because we are covered with His righteousness. And when we get there, we’re going to be received as the children of God.
- Bridge – So perfect love dismisses fear. See, fear involves punishment. Fear connects with punishment. And if you’re afraid of that day, then you are not perfected in love. So we are to love because love is our confidence, our boldness when we look to the future. And true Christians have no fear of the coming of the Lord, as it is the Christian’s great joy and hope. This brings us to the final assurance of God’s love…
3. Love is Commanded:
- Text – 1 John 4:19-21
- Explanation – Here’s the reality of God’s love, He initiated it! We love because He first loved us. That’s the key word, eternal, sovereign love was granted to us. So if you don’t love your neighbour, you’re a liar and it gives evidence that you actually don’t love God either.
- Illustration – You can’t claim to love the invisible Christ and not love Christ in His people. If you don’t love your visible brother, then you can’t be loving the invisible God. It’s easy to deceive ourselves into thinking that we love God, when in fact we do not. The love that gives us confidence in the Day of Judgment is validated by our love for one another.
- Application – John’s argument is that we cannot separate the two great commandments. It is easier to say, “I love God,” because God is invisible and love for Him may be difficult to observe. But Jesus said (John 14:15), “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
- His main commandment is that we love one another. So John is saying that genuine love for God necessarily will show itself in observable love for others. If you don’t practice sacrificial, committed love for others, you are revealing that you do not really love God.
- Conclusion – So our love is commanded, it is not a suggestion or recommendation. It was not just a good idea we might consider. If we truly love God, then we must truly love our brother as well. More so, it is not occasional. It is continual!
- In Luke 7:47 Jesus says that those who have been forgiven much will love much. We have been forgiven much. We have been forgiven everything we have ever done wrong or ever will do wrong. So the end of this matter is this: loving God and loving others is a package deal. You can’t have one without the other.
- Bridge – Listen, “You love Jesus only as much as you love the person you love the least.” If we loved Jesus only as much as we loved the people we criticize, then we loved Jesus very little. So let me go back to verse 10. The key to knowing love isn’t found in our love for God, but rather in His love for us. He showed the depth of His love in Jesus’ sacrificial death for our sins. That’s our example.
- “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Now when I fail to love others, I must seek God’s forgiveness and pray that He will help me to truly love. As our love for Jesus and love for others always go together.