The Love of God
1 John 4:7-11
June 16, 2019
- Our understanding of the love of God must be informed by scripture, because we live in a prevailing culture that does not think biblically at all about God.
- We must let the Word inform our understanding of God’s love.
“If people believe in God at all today, the overwhelming majority hold that this God – however he, she or it may be understood – is a loving being…this widely disseminated belief in the love of God is set with increasing frequency in some matrix other than biblical theology. The result is that when informed Christians talk about the love of God, they mean something very different from what is meant in the surrounding culture. To put this another way, we live in a culture in which many other and complementary truths about God are widely disbelieved. I do not think that what the Bible says about the love of God can survive at the forefront of our thinking if it is abstracted from the sovereignty of God, the holiness of God, the wrath of God, the providence of God, or the personhood of God – to mention only a few non-negotiable elements of basic Christianity. The result, of course, is that the love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable. The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimentalized.” — DA Carson
I. God Is Love (verse 8)
- Love isn’t something that God does, love is what God IS. He is the essence, the very definition of love. Love is at core of His being
- The nature of God is seen clearly in the love that exists in the Godhead from eternity past. Father, Son and Spirit loved one another from before the foundation of the world.
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world (John 17:24).”
“I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father (John 14:31).”
- To deny that God is love is to deny the very essence of His nature; its to spurn His character.
- Love is not what God does, love is what God is. Love is fundamental to His being.
- Since God is love, our definitions of what love looks like by necessity must be drawn from what we understand God to be like.
- Since God is eternal, and since love is inherent to the very character and being of God, love has existed for all time. God’s love is therefore eternal.
II. God’s Love is Self-Revealing (verse 9)
- God chose to reveal Himself most fully through sending His Son to the earth.
- God is and always has been fully independent and happy. The members of the Godhead are fully satisfied within their own fellowship. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not lacking in anything. God doesn’t need us to fulfill anything that’s missing.
- While God doesn’t need us, He does love us and nonetheless has chosen to reveal Himself to us.
- God sent Jesus to reveal Himself. Jesus perfectly revealed what the Father is like. “If you have seen me you have seen the Father (John 14:9).”
- The most clear expression of God’s revelation came to us in God’s Son, who was perfectly obedient to the Father and therefore perfectly revealed God.
III. God’s Love is Self-Giving (verse 10)
- God has given us more than life and breath itself which is a great gift. He has given Himself to us.
- Fundamental to God’s nature is love, and that love is perfectly expressed through self-giving! “For God so loved the world that He GAVE… (John 3:16).”
- In God’s economy, love equals giving. God the Father gave God the Son to be our substitute so that we don’t have to absorb the punishment that our sins deserve.
- God in Christ humbled Himself, became a servant, and gave Himself for us.
“It is staggering that God should love sinners; yet it is true. God loves creatures who have become unlovely and (one would have thought) unlovable. There was nothing whatever in the objects of His love to call it forth; nothing in us could attract or prompt it. Love among persons is awakened by something in the beloved, but the love of God is free, spontaneous, unevoked, uncaused. God loves people because He has chosen to love them…and no reason for His love can be given except His own sovereign good pleasure (J.I. Packer).”
- God’s love wasn’t awakened in us by our loveliness — we were unlovely. We were rebels.
- God wasn’t obligated to give Himself for us. But He did – and this provokes wonder, amazement and joy.
- God so loved the world that He wanted us to no longer live in death, in slavery to sin, but to set us free from the bondage of sin. He wanted to give us freedom from the tyranny of serving ourselves.
God’s Love Will Flow From God’s People
- In order to give God’s love to others, first we have to receive God’s love ourselves.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a Mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love (Zephaniah 3:17).”
“It should cause us great joy to know that it is the purpose of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to give of themselves to us to bring us true joy and happiness.” — Wayne Grudem
- God’s love for you doesn’t change. Since God is “from everlasting to everlasting” and God is love, then it’s also true that “from everlasting to everlasting” God loves His people.
- When we’ve received God’s love, we mirror that love to others. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (verse 11).”
- The love that we have received from God should flow to our neighbor. If we’ve received it, it will flow.
- Jesus said it this way: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you (John 15:19).”
- We aren’t talking about legalistic obedience. One plus one does equal two. If God has so loved us, then we ought to love one another.
God’s Love Is Self-Giving
- If God’s love is a self-giving love, we cannot expect to give of ourselves in love to others without it costing something.
- In your relationships, when you are not willing to yield yourself, when you demand your own way, recognize you are no longer loving your neighbor, you’re loving yourself.
- Husbands and wives – when you demand your own way, you are no longer loving as Christ loves, you are no longer self-giving, you are self-demanding. This is not the love of Christ.
- This is the way God has loved – He gave it all. This is the way God has enabled us, now, to love.
- Self-giving is the call to die to self, but also a call to vibrant life in Christ–“For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
- However pleasantly you may ask, demanding that what you want to see happen, happens, is evidence of self-taking.
- Withholding love from those who don’t agree with you or with whom you are disagreeing is self-taking.
- Let us abandon all forms of self-taking and be filled with the self-giving love of Jesus Christ.
- God is love. It is His nature. It flows from the core and essence of who He is.
- Having received His love, let us turn in love towards one another, willing to walk the extra mile, willing to give of ourselves, willing to share in the cost of sacrificial love, because we have One who gave all for us
“No tongue can fully express the infinitude of God’s love, or any mind comprehend it: it ‘passes understanding’ (Ephesians 3:19). The most extensive ideas that a finite mind can frame about divine love are infinitely below its true nature…It is an ocean which swells higher than all the mountains…it is a fountain from which flows all necessary good to all those who are interested in it (John Brine).”
Questions For Discussion/Application:
- Re-read the text, 1 John 4:7-11. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
- Read the DA Carson quote at the beginning of this outline. What is Carson getting at? What is the difference between the cultural view of God’s love and the biblical view of God’s love?
- How does the doctrine of the Trinity demonstrate and prove that God is love?
- Jesus was and is the revelation of God’s love to God’s people. How does Jesus reveal the love of God to us?
- It was said –“God’s love wasn’t awakened in us by our loveliness — we were unlovely. We were rebels.” When you consider God’s love towards you–that He reached out to you in your sin — how does that truth affect you ?
- It was said – “In order to give God’s love to others, first we have to receive God’s love ourselves.” Why is this true?
- In what ways is God’s love “self-giving.” What does it look like for us to practically to model God’s self-giving love?
- Consider taking time to pray, that God would help us to rejoice in God’s love, rest in God’s love and effectively demonstrate God’s love to others.