As I studied the passages of Scripture below the more enamored I became by the relationship that I have with the LORD. John affirms in these passages several declarations of the efficacy of the work of Christ Jesus in my life. The more I read the more convicted I become of my role in the equation of my faith. I recognize that my part is merely a parenthesis as I am only empowered with what the LORD empowers me to do, but I am consisitently feeling the conviction in my spirit to be more loving to all whom I encounter.
As you join me in this Bible study, I hope that the LORD would show you some of the things that He has revealed to me. Even better, I hope that He will show you the things that He wants you to see. Â These are my ramblings as a student of the Word of God. What I feel the LORD reveals to me through His Word is a part of my relationship with the Him but if it blesses you as well, praise the LORD.
[1Jo 4:12 NKJV]
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
I heard a funny story from a Calvary Chapel pastor once, perhaps it was Gayle Erwin, who said, “No one has seen God at any time, but Moses got mooned by God!” He went on to explain how Moses asked if he could catch a glimpse of God and how God placed him in the cleft of a rock and as He passed by He protected Moses from seeing Him in His full glory, but had allowed Moses to see His back side. Now while that is a humorous account as it was portrayed by Erwin, you would have to know Pastor Gayle to realize it was by no means a blasphemous rendition of the biblical account. Pastor Gayle took the liberty of adding some humor to his message which he is known to do, but the emphasis was on the fact that no one can see God and lived (John 1:18). Yet we see God through His works and in the manifestation of Jesus Christ. We also see God in His creation (Romans 1:20). We see God in our own lives when we surrender to Him and are saved. Our lives are testimonies of God’s grace and are visible to all who know us.
But what John is pointing out here in this verse is that the proof of God is made manifest by His love having been perfected in us as He abides in us. As we discussed in earlier passages, and as we will develop more in this study, perfect love casts out all fear. God not only dwells amongst us but He abides in us. Many believe that God is a distant God, that He set the world into motion and now stands back and simply watches without interfering in the lives of men. My old professor, the late Dr. Walter Lumpkin from Houston Baptist University described it like this: “Some believe creation is like a spinning top, a childs toy, and God is a distant being that spins the top and watches the world go round for His enjoyment. But He dare not interfere with the spinning of the top, lest he upset its performance.” Dr. Lumpkin went on to add that this was not the case with God, that God is a benevolent creator that is personally engaged in the lives of men.
We know that God is a part of His creation and that He is engaged in the daily affairs of men. He indwells believers with His Spirit and is actively engaged in perfecting the believer and coforming us into His image. Because bad things happen in this world opponents of the God will say that He does not exist to assuage their conscious need to have control over their lives. It is possible for bad things to happen to good people (although that is a loaded statement- since we know that there are none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10)). Our righteousness is imputed (Philippians 3:9) to us by the work of Jesus Christ, and while we cannot see God we know that He is working in us from the cross as He abides in us and perfects us.
[1Jo 4:13 NKJV]
By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
We talked about the mutual relationship we have with God in length in the earlier verses of 1 John, but it is important to add that the LORD is present in us and we in Him by virtue of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. When a believer gives his or her life to the LORD, immediately that person is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The evidence of a life surrendered to the Holy Spirit is one that produces the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
[1Jo 4:14 NKJV]
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son [as] Savior of the world.
One of the identifying factors of the believer in Jesus is that we cannot help but testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Now whether we testify with words, or whether we testify with lives lived out, our testimonies are irrifutable. No one can deny the fact that we have experienced a changed life by Jesus Christ. Now, they may believe we are decieving ourselves, but they cannot deny our experience with the rising LORD. It amazes me that in the scientific community and in academia as a whole that they place so much emphasis on the scientific method and yet still deny the shear volume of testimonials from people that have encountered the risen LORD. When you add to it the fact that not only do these people, myself included, claim to have experienced a life changing exchange with Jesus, but are willing to die for their belief, it is astounding that more people aren’t taking the faith seriously. I am not sure that many, if any, scientists would stake their lives defending evolution, or genome studies. How many scientists do you know that would lay down their lives for evidence presented by a lab rat? And yet the believer is willing to lay down his or her life to uphold that Jesus was sent by the Father to be the Savior of the world.
[1Jo 4:15 NKJV]
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
It is our confession that seals the deal between God and man. Again this is not just a verbal utterance. Anyone can say, “I confess the Son of God to be my LORD and Savior,” and still not believe unto salvation. And a person can believe that Jesus is the Son of God that died for them and still not attain such a sweet gift as salvation. It is not just the belief that saves you, it is the faith in Him and the surrender to Him that insures our salvation. A confession in the truest sense of the world is being in absolute agreement with a statement to your very core. The confession of Jesus as your Savior is evidenced again by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in you which manifests itself in the fruits of the Spirit. I like what someone once said about being a Christian, “If you were to be placed on trial in a court of law for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
We know from Romans 10:9-14 that confession is part of our salvation. But confession alone is not what saves us. We must believe by faith that the work that God has done for us is sufficient for our salvation and then we must embrace the life He has for us and the relationship that He offers us. It is in surrender that we are of any use to the LORD.
[1Jo 4:16 NKJV]
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
We have already seen that God is love and that no real love can exist apart from a relationship with God. And so John drives the point home by tying love and God together. He points out that our belief in the love that God has for us is consummated in our relationship with Him and now we abide in Him and He in us.
[1Jo 4:17 NKJV]
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
John brings up an interesting point here in this passage. We know that God is in us and by His Holy Spirit He is conforming us to His image. We see from this verse that the Love of God is being perfected among us to give us great confidence in the day of judgement. The word here that John uses is boldness and it comes from the Greek word “parrÄ“sia” which is the picture of authority. We can speak freely and without reservation, we can frankly and openly approach the throne of grace without ambiguity or doubt because the love that is in us is real. And when we stand before the judgement throne of God we will have nothing to fear because our righteousness is not our own. When we stand before the Judge on that day we have the confidence that our defense attorney is the Jesus and His Father is the Judge. And when Christ presents our cases to the Judge the Father will look at the receipts of our lives and He will see that they are stamped “Paid In Full” and will dismiss the charges that devil has placed against us.
His love has been perfected in us. Listen, that means perfect! Just as Christ is perfect, His love has been perfected in us. Now apart from this old skin suit the we are wearing (which will be exchanged in glory) we do have a lot going for us. We have the love of God perfected in us; we have the Holy Spirit residing in us; we have faith in our salvation through the blood of Christ covering us; and we have the days of this life numbered before us to do the work that He has called us to do. And I love what John says in the balance of this verse because it points to our sole purpose in this world. Notice John says, “because as He is, so are we in this world.” In light of the fact the we share in who He is, our goal in life should be to emulate Him in this world. If God sent His Son into the world because He loved the world, then we too must be willing, as His sons and daughters to go into the world and sacrifice ourselves in love for those who are perishing apart from God.
I have have heard it put this way, “If you had the cure for cancer and everyone you loved needed this cure, would you share it with the ones you love?” Listen, you have the cure for sin and the way to salvation in your hands. Why then would you not share Jesus with everyone that you love? And if God has called us to love everyone that means that we should be sharing the truth of the Gospel message with everyone.
[1Jo 4:18 NKJV]
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
In light of the verse 17 we know that we can have the confidence of our salvation. It is by the love that God gives us that we do not have to fear the judgements of God. We see here that perfect love casts out fear and that there is no love in fear. If we have the love of God in us, then we do not have fear in us. John notes that fear involves torment. The word that John uses here for “torment” is the Greek word, “kolasis” which means correction, punishment, or penalty. Now, we know that our sin debt has been paid in full by the work of Jesus. And so, when we stand before the LORD in judgement we will not be judged for our sin in a punitive manner. The books will be opened and our sins will be revealed, but instead of being condemned for our sins we will be rewarded for our righteousness in Christ Jesus! But John also warns that if we have fear that we have not been made perfect in love.
It is so important for us to be resolved and unwaivering in our faith towards God regarding our salvation. We must accept the gift without doubting. When we doubt or lack faith in the wisdom that God gives us, especially the wisdom He gives us regarding our salvation, we are likened to one who is tossed to and fro by the waves (James 1:5-7). Now this does not mean that if you doubt your salvation that you are not saved. What it does mean is that you lack the understanding and do not sufficiently believe in what has been accomplished for you on behalf of Jesus Christ. When you trust in the LORD regarding your salvation, your fears will melt away. The fact is that we don’t depend on our faithfulness for our salvation, and praise the LORD for that. Jesus fulfilled the requirements for our salvation by being completely sinless (1 Peter 2:22). When he hung on the cross He took our sins upon Himself (1 Peter 2:24). In fact, Jesus did everything that we could not do. Our salvation is credited to us by faith in the LORD, Jesus Christ, and there is nothing that we can do apart from Him (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our faithfulness has no real bearing on our salvation, God’s faithfulness is what matters. Even when we fail to be faithful, the faithfulness of LORD does not waiver (2 Timothy 2:13). Because of this there is truly no reason for us to have fear regarding our salvation since God always keeps His promises. And God has promised to give us eteranal life in John 3:16 and in John 10:27-28.
Why should we fear when we know that God is a loving Father that wants the very best for us? In Luke 11:10-13 we see that God is faithful to supply all of our needs and when we ask He gives us precious gifts. The most precious of all gifts is the gift of salvation. If we ever waiver in our faith we should test ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) knowing that it is not a sin to have feelings of doubt. We are told that we should hold every thought captive to the will of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). Sin comes in to play when we act upon our thoughts by word and deed. It is upon the examination of the facts that we can stand confident in the knowledge of our salvation and can have boldness in love on the day of judgement.
[1Jo 4:19 NKJV]
We love Him because He first loved us.
Apart from the love of God in us, we are incapable of loving with agape love. The only reason that we can love God is because He sent His Son to die for us. When we accept that as fact and believe on the LORD to salvation, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Love lovingly loves by invading our hearts and minds. Only then, when love has set up residence in us are we able to love with the same everlasting love that the Father loves us with. It is only because God initiated this process that we can experience the realtionship with the Father and know the love that loves perfectly and purely.
[1Jo 4:20 NKJV]
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
We read in the Book of John we read the account of Jesus in the upper room where the Apostles had taken refuge after Jesus was crucified. Jesus appears to the disciples and Thomas who had doubted was amongst them. As we read John 20:26-29 we see that Jesus says, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet still believe.” In this passage John is saying a person can not hate his brother and still love God. In fact, he says that those who profess to love God and harbor hate towards their brother are liars when they claim to love the LORD. Â He supports this statement by asking the question, “for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” Great question, it is easy for us to have faith in something that we can see, to love something that is tangible, that we can hold in our hands because that is not faith at all it is sight. It is more difficult for us to have faith in someone we can’t see; that is faith by definition (Hebrews 11:1).
[1Jo 4:21 NKJV]
And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God [must] love his brother also.
Again, John reiterates the commandment for every believer; that we love God and our neighbor. This is an imperative commandment, one that is essential to our walks with the LORD. And so in this chapter of the Bible we have seen many of the foundational doctrines that ground our faith in the LORD. We understand from a reading of this passage the position of the believer in the love of Christ. Â We are to be in this world to love with the same love that Jesus has loved us with. It is exciting to know our calling is such a noble one. That we get to share in the work of the LORD is almost to much to contain.
And so my application as I am being discipled by the LORD through the study of His word is to recognize the boldness and the confidence that I can have knowing that my salvation is secure. To know that the love of Christ abides in me and therefore I should share that love with all who I encounter. This is not very easy for me since I tend to be a very independent person, but I can still be independent without being autonomous to the exclusion of sharing this good news with others. For me this is quite liberating, and I feel like the LORD is moving me out of my comfort zone through this study. The LORD gave me a verse 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 some time ago, and I see now that His Word continues to impress upon me the priority that I have as a believer to be motivated to love others. In the verse the LORD gave me we read in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23Â that the motivation behind Paul’s statement is that we might be fellow partakers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And so if we love in the manner that the LORD would have us to love we will naturally share His Gospel and thereby fulfill the verse in 1 Corinthians! How awesome is that!