How Do We Know We Belong To God?
1 John 4:13-21
May 17, 2020
Sermon Audio & Video
- John’s original readers needed certainty that the gospel they believed was true, that they belonged to God, that they were saved.
- They needed this assurance because false teachers had greatly undermined their confidence in the gospel and consequently their assurance of salvation.
- John in this book wrote to help and care for the souls of those who remained and to definitively set the record straight.
- How can a person know that they are of God, that they belong to God, that they are a child of God?
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit (1 John 4:13).
- The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is a defining mark that they belong to God.
- How can someone know, with certainty, that God’s Spirit dwells within them?
- In our text, the Apostle John gives two criteria by which his original readers could evaluate themselves as well as the false teachers.
- These criteria are intended by God in particular to strengthen true believers assurance
- How do we know we have the Spirit of God living inside of us?
Criteria #1: Do we confess that Jesus is the Son of God?
- In this passage and in this book, the Apostle John is clear — a primary evidence that God’s Spirit indwells a person is that they confess Jesus is the Son of God come in the flesh.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. (1 John 4:15)
- You will recall Jesus’ question to his disciple Peter — “Who do you say that I am?” (see Matt. 16:13-17)
- Peter replied “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
- Jesus then said to Peter “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
- This was a defining moment in the Apostle Peter’s life where he professed faith in Christ for the first time.
- In 1 John and in our text, the Apostle John underscores the necessity of a simple, accurate, Peter-like profession of faith if you will.
- A true believer, an authentic Christian, someone who is “of God” — must confess that Jesus is the Son of God come into the world in human flesh to save sinners like you and me.
- If a person believes and confesses otherwise, John is clear in this text and in this book– they cannot be a genuine Christian; they do not have the Holy Spirit living inside of them, they cannot be “of God.”
- What is your response to Jesus’ question to Peter — “Who do you say I am?”
- Do you believe that Jesus was and is the Son of God?
- Do you believe He was and is truly God and truly man?
- Do you believe He came to die on a Cross in our place bearing the punishment we rightly deserved for our sins?
- If the answer is “yes” — All that’s left is to personally put your faith in Him.
- For those of you who have placed your faith in Christ — your profession of faith is evidence that you belong to God, that the Spirit of God lives inside of you, that you are a child of God.
- Remember, Jesus said to Peter “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven (Matt 16:17).”
- The same is true of every person who has put their faith in Christ.
- We didn’t save ourselves!
- The Father, by the Spirit, has opened our eyes to understand, to grasp, to see who Jesus really is.
- What a miracle of grace!
Criteria #2: Do we love others?
Abiding In Love Means Loving Others Well
- So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16)
- How does a person know with certainty that they “abide in God” and “God abides in them”?….well, John says — ‘they abide in love’ — meaning they love others well.
Love Perfected Is Mature Love
- In verses 17 – 18, the Apostle John speaks of love perfected in the believer.
- Love perfected does not mean on this side of heaven we ever come to the place that we love perfectly.
- Love perfected is mature love
- Love perfected is love not in word only, but in deed and action.
- Love perfected is God’s love in the gospel so filling our hearts that it flows out like a mighty river in love for God and love for others.
- A fruit of this love verse 17 is “confidence for the day of judgment because as he is so also are we in this world.”
- As we evidence Christ-like love, the kind of love Jesus himself demonstrated during his earthly life–that strengthens our assurance, our confidence, our certainty that we are children of God; it helps us to anticipate the final judgment with confidence.
- While we are absolutely not saved by our love – God is love – and when our love resembles His, we give living proof that we are His children.
Love Perfected Leaves No Room For Fear
- There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)
- Here John acknowledges fear and love cannot co-exist. They don’t go together. They are entirely incompatible.
- You cannot be filled with a deep sense of God’s love for you overflowing in love for others and simultaneously be fearful that He is going to punish you. True Christian love for other people is a fruit of the kind of relationship with God that drives away fear.
- If I am secure in God’s love, resting in God’s love, trusting in God’s love that does two things for me:
- Number 1 – It causes me to NOT be afraid that God is going to punish me for my sins.
- Number 2 – Being so filled with God’s love, I am now eager to show love to other people.
- True Christian love is the overflow of our relationship with the triune God of the universe — The very One who defines love, embodies love, emanates love.
We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).
- Application: if you want to become a more loving person – cultivate your relationship with God. Spend time with Him. Spend unhurried time with Him. Consider the gospel. Consider God’s love for you in Christ.
- In the remaining verses, verses 20 – 21, the Apostle John presses home his point that love for our fellow brothers and sisters is the defining quality of those who belong to God and have the Spirit of God living inside of them.
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. (1 John 4:20-21)
- Here John is saying, If you fail in the easier task of loving your fellow Christians—who you see all the time, It is absurd to think you really love God who you can’t see.
- It is very sobering to consider: If we truly love God, that will be seen in how well we love other Christians.
- Application: How is it going with loving others–especially those closest to you?
- Reminder: John was seeking to strengthen his original readers certainty that they
- belonged to God. And God by His Holy Spirit wants to strengthen our certainty as well.
- What a blessing to be a part of a church that excels in love. May God help us to excel still more!
Questions For Discussion/Application:
- Re-read the text, 1 John 4:13-21. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
- Why is a simple, clear, “Peter like” profession of faith so important?
- What does it mean practically to “abide in love” – to love others well?
- “We love because he first loved us (verse 19).” What is the connection between our love and God’s love?
- If someone desires to grow in loving others, how can meditating on God’s love in the gospel help?
- What are some ways we can proactively meditate on the love of God? How do you seek to do this?
- Mature love is love not in word only, but also in action. In what ways is God calling you to love those around you?
- Consider taking time to pray that we would be filled with a sense of God’s love and that God would help us to grow in loving others.