This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday November 17th, 2019.
We are approaching the conclusion of this series in 1 John. For the past couple of months, we have journeyed together through four chapters of this Epistle. We have looked at various topics which are interwoven through this letter all with the central theme of love. John is writing this letter to a church who had recently divided over bad doctrine and theology. Some false teachers or prophets had come into the midst of this church body and openly declared a false Gospel and denounced John’s Gospel. John, being an eyewitness and disciple of Jesus Christ writes to this church to encourage them through this messy situation and assures them his Gospel is indeed the one and only true Gospel of Jesus Christ and no other Gospel exists. He talks in detail about love throughout this epistle. He sets a foundation for God’s love which was shown to humanity by revealing himself through the Word who is Jesus. He talks about how we are to love God through holy living and renouncing the ways of the world to pursue God. He tells us that we are children of God and dearly loved by the Father. He stresses the need of loving one another multiple times. He gives us an example of what true love is which is displayed through Jesus’ death and resurrection. He exhorts the believers to test all the spirits and to cling to and love the truth which is given to us in the Gospel message. He defines love by showing that the essence of all of God’s being is love… he writes, “God is love.”
Last week as I concluded chapter 4, I mentioned that in this chapter alone John tells his readers to love one another three times. He continually stresses the importance of loving one another and loving God throughout his letter. He is saying the two are completely interdependent of one another. One cannot merely love people and not love God nor is the opposite true, one cannot only love God and have no affection for other believers. Loving God and loving others are a package deal and must be practiced in the Christian life personally and within the body of Christ (The Church).
Today we jump into Chapter 5.and John continues to write about much of the same. John has spent a great deal of time making a case for the importance of love, obedience, and belief. As he begins chapter five, he elaborates on the connection between both loving God and loving our brothers and sisters.
(Read I John 5:1 – 5)
Verse 1: Every person who puts their confidence and trust (faith) in Jesus being the Messiah (The Anointed one, the Son of God) has been transformed, made alive (reborn) and we have become sons and daughters of God through the work of Jesus Christ. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17 We are new creations in Christ “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” This does not mean we are better versions of our old selves… It means we are made completely new IN Christ, the old has passed and the new has come. Since we are new creations, we are now considered children of God. Since we are his children, we can love God and proclaim His love to others. However, we are not called to only love God we must also love the one born of Him.
Many people think that “the one born of Him” refers only to Jesus (which it certainly does). But let us remember Jesus is not the only one from God… We, His children are birthed from Him. Through God we have been re-born and if we are born of God then we belong to God and we are from God thus John not only declares we must love God, but we must also love God’s children. Imagine that, John is telling us to love one another yet again!
Verse 2: Here is the evidence (this is where the rubber meets the road) that we are from God. John tells us earlier in chapter 4 that one cannot just be a follower of Christ in name only. Our relationship with Jesus must bear fruit. We must love God AND obey His commands. This is where the true test of our commitment to Jesus Christ comes in. It is easy to say you are a Christian, but it is not always so easy to live as a Christian. We cannot truthfully live the Christian life and not live a life that reflects our faith. I am sure we all know people who say they are Christians, but their lives bear no evidence of any such a relationship Christ at all. They claim to be “Christian” but the way they live declares loudly just the opposite. Part of becoming a Christian entail becoming a new creation or adopting a new way of living through the power of the Holy Spirit. John tells us here, “The evidence of being a child of God is first shown by loving God and secondly, by obeying his commandments.” Love and obedience are also mutually supportive of one another.
Verse 3: Keeping God’s commandments should not be burdensome or a difficult task because God’s commandments are rooted in love. As children of God doing what is right should not be a task; it should be the natural outflow for all His children. Doing what is right and what is good needs to be our nature.
This brings up a question… What fuels our Christian love? What motivates us to love the way God calls us to love? Is it out of joyful obedience or fearful submission? As Christians are we obedient to God because we are fearful of the consequences of disobedience; or are we obedient because it is a natural reflection of the Father and our desire to be faithful to Him? As children of God it is good to have a healthy fear (not in the sense of terror but reverence) of God but fear should never be our motivation in serving God. Jesus never told people to follow him so they wouldn’t go to hell or face punishment. Jesus invited people to enter a love relationship with him and the Father.
As a parent there are times when consequences need to motivate my children to be obedient, but I certainly hope that is not the only reason why they obey otherwise it is a one-sided relationship. My hope and prayer are that my children are obedient to their mother and me because they love us, they want to make us happy and they trust that we have their best interest in mind. As a parent I also realize my children’s behavior is not always based on love and trust, but consequences are the motivation for their good behavior but our relationship with each other cannot be based on fear of punishment.
Those who are truly saved will be characterized by a desire to do the will of God and pursue holy living. Jesus declared in the Gospels, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” Notice He didn’t say, “If you love me you will fear me”, “If you love me You will do what I say If you want to go to heaven”, or “If you want to stay out of hell you will obey me.”
John tells us God’s commands are not burdensome (cruel, severe, violent, or weighty). This however does not imply that they are never difficult (in our human flesh). Instead they are things men and women who are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit love doing. To put it another way, “If you have a right relationship with the Father then you will have no problem being obedient to his commands.”
So, what are the commandments we are to keep? Are we, as Christians required to keep the 600 plus commands, rules and regulations written throughout both the Old Testament? If this is the case, then it would certainly be burdensome, and we would all be weary AND lost forever. According to the teaching of Jesus the command we are to keep is the command to love.
Verses 4 - 5: Since you are a child of God (John has established this in Chapter three) you are victorious or have overcome the world. The word overcome is derived from the root word nike (ni-Kay) which means victorious. We are victorious in this life. The darkness of this world cannot overtake us because we are victorious. The reason we are victorious is because of our faith in Jesus Christ.
God’s love for us is so great that He has fought the battle for us and declared us victorious. Through Jesus Christ we now have a new life, a life where we are fully alive, thriving and in need of nothing because the Spirit of God dwells in each of us. The old ways; the sinful, dark ungodly ways are gone, and we no longer need to live in the murky waters of the world. We now live in the fresh waters of Jesus Christ; living victoriously over sin, darkness and evil, thriving in the Kingdom of God and sharing the Good News that Jesus and His Kingdom has come. Life will try and beat you down but take comfort and security in the understanding that nothing that comes your way can defeat you or hold you down in this life or the life to come because Jesus has defeated death and sin.
As believers we need to be continually reminded about the fact that we are victorious in this life because of our faith in Jesus. The world has no hold on us, and we are not slaves to this world. Since we are victorious in Christ we need to live victorious lives. There is nothing the world can do to beat us down, take away our joy or cause us to live our lives in defeat of evil and darkness. The world can and certainly will try it’s hardest to beat us down, Satan will work overtime to lead us down the paths of doubt and uncertainty, He will try to take away a joy that cannot be taken away, so let us start living as victorious Christians. Jesus has conquered the world! Let us acknowledge and believe that in turmoil, pain, suffering, and persecution joy can be found. Let the truth that we serve a victorious king be our foundation. We live in a time of uncertainty, violence, godlessness, amoralism and turmoil and this should not affect our lives in the least. We have overcome the world because Jesus has conquered the world of darkness and evil. We belong to God and He is the ultimate victor ensuring that we can live victorious lives as well.
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday November 10th, 2019.
Two months and eight sermons ago we started our current series “Love Letter” which is a study through the epistle of 1 John. You may recall that this letter was written by the Apostle John to a church in Asia Minor who had recently experienced great turmoil and a division over bad doctrine and false teaching. John writes this letter to encourage the church in remaining faithful to God and to know and grow in love for God and one another. So far, we have looked extensively at the theme of love and how it applied to the church he is writing and to us personally and as a church.
Now, some of you may be getting tired of reading about about love and all that it entails. John mentions the word “love” nearly 30 times in chapter four alone. I believe the repetition referring to love is intentional as John stresses how God and love go hand in hand. John is trying to drive the point home, if you love God, then you will be obedient to him and His commands, you will show respect and dignity to others (friends and enemies), and you will love one another. This repetition reminds me of a story I read a while back and I am not sure of the source or even if it is true or not, but it goes like this…
A pastor was hired by a church with the hope that this preacher would bring new life to the church and challenge the parishioners weekly in God’s Word. The first week the Pastor preached an amazing sermon about love and he exceeded the expectations of the church with his Biblical stance and understanding of God’s Word. The next week he preached just as compelling a message as the week before, in fact it was the same sermon, but few people caught on to this, and it went pretty much unnoticed and the people praised him for his wonderful sermon. The third week he preached the same message as the previous weeks and people started to notice this sermon sounded familiar. Week four comes and goes and he preaches the same message again and the people were starting to get frustrated because it seemed like the pastor was being lazy and preaching the same sermon week after week. When the church gathered for week five, a few disgruntled congregants went to the leadership board and said, “We noticed the pastor has been preaching the same sermon for the past four weeks, if he preaches the same sermon this Sunday, we will need you talk to him. Sure enough, he preached the same exact message word for word. After the service the leadership team went to the Pastor and confronted him on what seemed to be the pastor being lazy in sermon prep and delivery. They asked, “Surely, you have more messages to preach than the one you have been for the past five weeks.” They reminded him that they hired him with the great expectation to bring new life to the church and usher them into new heights. The Pastor hears their concerns and thoughtfully responds to the leadership team, “Yes, I have more sermons to preach, and yes I have taken great care in preparing and studying for these sermons, but the congregation still is not practicing the love that I am preaching about week after week. When the congregation finally gets what I am saying and starts putting this love into practice, then I will move on to my next sermon.”
I believe this is what John may be doing as well. He repeatedly writes, “Love, love, love…” This message of love what the church needed to hear over and over again and he will continually preach so they understand the importance of love… and we need to hear this message continually today.
Last week we looked at the words penned by the Apostle John and determined three truths about the nature of God’s love…
Today we pick up in 1 John 4:13 – 21 (Read)
Vs 13: John now goes back to the idea of abiding or remaining in God. He wrote earlier in the letter about the evidence of God abiding in us when we obey God’s commands, love him and show love to one another. Now John writes one more truth about God’s abiding (remaining) in us and that is by giving us His Spirit. Paul affirms this in 1 Corinthians 6:19 – 20, “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.” God’s abiding Spirit in us give assurance that He remains in us and we will remain in him. Through love (the Spirit) we can know that we will be kept continually in Jesus. Through love God has bestowed on us His Spirit (his nature, his essence or the divine nature of Christ).
Vs 14: John is an eyewitness to this. John writes this to show that he has the credibility as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and this validates the message he is giving. He saw Jesus live and die in the flesh. He sat under the teaching of Jesus and learned from Him. He was with Jesus on the night of his transfiguration in Matthew 17:5 where he heard the audible voice of God affirming that Jesus was His beloved son in whom he was well pleased.
Vs. 15: He testifies that confessing Jesus as the son also assures that God abides in them. Jesus says in Matthew 10:32, 33, “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge me before others, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven, but whoever denies me before others, I will also deny him before my Father in heaven.” Since we have the Spirit of God in us, we can love as God loves and we remain (are kept) in God through confession of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. If we acknowledge and believe in our hearts Jesus is the manifestation of God, then He abides in us and we in Him.
Vs 16: Through Jesus we have seen God’s love displayed, and through this display we can know AND believe the great love that God has for us, his children.
To summarize these four verses, I love what Pastor John Stott writes in his commentary on 1 John, “In our fallen and unredeemed state we are both blind (unable to believe) and selfish (unable to love). It is only by the grace of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth and whose first fruit is love, that we ever come to believe in Christ and to love others… This, then, is the sequence of thought: we know we live in God and God in us ‘because he has given us his Spirit, and we know he has given us his Spirit because we have come to ‘acknowledge that Jesus is the ‘Son of God’, and to ‘live in love’.”
Vs 17: When we abide in God and He in us, His love is made complete and perfected in us. This complete and perfect love gives us confidence and boldness (Assurance) that we belong to Him and we have no reason to fear on the Day of Judgment. To the unbeliever (the one who does not love because he/she has rejected the Father’s love) there is fear and terror in death because for them the result is fear, uncertainty and ultimately punishment. For the believer, there is no fear whatsoever. There is no room for worry or anxiety over death and judgment because we are kept by God’s abiding Spirit through Jesus Christ.
Vs 18: There is no room for fear when God’s love is present. Thus, believers have no need to fear the past, present or future because perfect love (God’s love) removes all fear. Because through this perfect love (which is displayed through Jesus Christ) we may boldly enter the presence of God as His child and in confidence because we abide in Jesus Christ.
God’s desires for believers is to live in His perfect love and security. He does not want us to live in fear. The secret to our boldness is, “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). We know that “we shall be like Him” when He returns (1 John 3:1–2), and “He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.” (Phil. 3:20–21). Positionally, we are right now “as He is.” We are so closely identified with Christ, as members of His body, that our position in this world is like His exalted position in heaven. Warren Weirsbe writes “This means that the Father deals with us as He deals with His own beloved Son. How, then, can we ever be afraid?” 
The one who lives in continual fear does not have the love of the Father. If you need to hear anything today, hear this, if you are a child of God you are loved far greater than you deserve and you are made complete and kept through His perfect love. Thus, you have nothing to fear. Through the love of God, you can have confidence and assurance on judgement day
Vs 19 - 21: At the conclusion of this chapter John re-iterates that we can love because God first loved us and displayed His love through Jesus Christ. As Christians our characteristic is love and not fear and this is because God first loved us.
Thus, as Christians our love for God is found in the confidence to stand before the Father and in loving concern for those we call our brother and sister in Christ. Since we love God, then we must love our brothers and sisters and John doesn’t candy coat his words when speaking to those who are unloving towards others. He says if you say you love someone and your actions and words show different, then you are a liar. These are harsh words, but true words. Our words and actions do speak volumes about our relationship with God. John concludes with reminding us the Old Testament commands of Deuteronomy 6:5, 6, “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words I am giving you today are to be in your heart.” And the second part of Leviticus 19:18, “love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.” Because when we truly love God, we MUST in turn love our brother and sister in Christ.
Love one another – I stated earlier in the message that John mentions the word love almost 30 times. He also tells his readers of this letter to love one another three times in this passage. Do you think he is trying to say something important? Do you think maybe, just maybe John is trying to stress the importance of believers loving one another? We are called to love one another (Jesus’ command), we are able to love one another (through God’s manifest Spirit in us), we know why we are able to love (because God displayed His love to us by sending Jesus Christ to be the propitiation of our sins) and we know that we have no fear of the past, present or future because the perfect love of God removes fear and doubt and replaces it with joy and confidence. So, let us continually be reminded to love one another. Let us understand that the ability to truly love cannot exist outside of God. Any other kind of love is a false love.
 Stott, John R.W. (1964, c1988). The Letters of John: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries "Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press p. 166
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (1 Jn 4:17). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday November 3rd, 2019.
In the past six verses of chapter 4 John talked about testing the spirits. Last week I talked a little about these verses and how they can apply to us today. If you missed this message, then it is available online by going through the church’s Facebook page or on you can go to my personal website jeffreyholton.com to listen. Today I would like to continue in our study and look at chapter 4 verses 7 – 12.
In verse seven John makes an abrupt change in subject from discernment of spirits to love. As I have stated throughout this series the theme of this letter is love and John does not fail to remind us about the importance of love in a believer’s life throughout this epistle. In today’s message we are going to look at John’s complete definition of love, how love equates to God, and since love comes from God, we must love one another.
Once again John refers to his readers as “beloved”; this word is used six times throughout this short letter and it just continues to show the heart and passion he has for this struggling congregation. He loves these people like they are his own family. John continue to stress that this letter is a message of love and encouragement and is not necessarily one of rebuke and criticism.
So, to make thing easier I have broken todays passage it up into six bullet points to help us understand exactly what John is trying to get across to his readers. I will briefly introduce each point and then take a few minutes to touch on each point as we break down this passage and see how John makes the connection between love and God.
1.Love one another – Verse 7
2.Love comes from God – Verse 7b
3.God is love – Verse 8
4.God’s love is manifested through Jesus Christ – Verse 9
5.We love because God first loved us – Verse 10
6.Love one another – Verses 11, 12
(Read 1 John 4:7 – 12)
Vs 7: John continues his exhortation for believers to love one another. This is the third time John tells his readers to love one another. Not only do I believe that his repetition If you say something more than once you are trying to stress the importance of what you are saying) shows the importance of loving one another since it was commanded by Jesus and is the evidence of Jesus in you, but also that we are to love because love is the nature of God and love is grounded in God.
Jesus spoke of loving one another as one of the two great commandments for all believers to keep, ““Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:37 – 40). The love spoken about in this verse does not refer to that emotional feeling one gets when they are around someone they are attracted to, I talked about how this concept of love and how it cheapens the truth of real biblical love. The word “love” in this verse is agapeo which means to love dearly, to be fond of, to be well pleased, and be contented at or with a thing. As believers we are called to be fond of one another, to love one another dearly or as I would put it… find great pleasure and satisfaction in being with those you consider your spiritual family. I have heard people say, “I know Jesus said I have to love fellow believers but that doesn’t mean I have to like them.” I disagree… I believe the translation of this word Agapeo does in fact mean that we are also called to like fellow believers.
Vs 7b: Love is from God. We can love because love comes from God. When we are obedient to Christ’s command and display love to one another we know that we are born of God. “Being born of God” is a metaphor of God making or adopting us as his son’s and daughter’s through faith in Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. We will see in a moment the reality that God is the very essence of love. Author Stephen S. Smalley writes, “(L)ove originates in God, and thus it belongs to the divine dimension”
Vs 8: “The one who does not love does not know God…” Once again John re-iterates that if one chooses not to love as Christ commanded then this person does not know God. The reason being is not only is love from God, but God is love. According to Gary Burge, “It is important to note what John is not saying. He is not saying that ‘God is loving’ (though this is true). Nor is he saying that one of God’s activities is ‘to love us’ (though this is true as well). John is saying that God is love, that all his ‘activity is loving.’ Love is the essence of his being. But the reverse is not the case. We cannot say, in other words, that ‘love is God’ as if any displayed affection suddenly qualifies as divine.” I believe the saying “God is love” happens to be one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible and often quoted out of context because people confuse the word love with such words as tolerant, passive, and accepting of everything… including sin. The truth is God is tolerant with us and accepting of us, however He will not excuse or justify sin in our lives. You and I know that love does not mean that you get to or can do whatever you want. We learn this with our own children. We discipline, guide, correct and withhold things from them as acts of love; because we know that not everything is beneficial to our children. The truth is we need to say, “no” at times and not allow them to do certain things because they are harmful. Thus we need to understand that “God is love” does not mean God will let you do whatever you want or get away with anything you want. So, I feel it is important for us to look at three observations about what “God is love” does and does not mean.
A summary of observations about what “God is love” does and does not mean.
John shows that His love is his essence and now in verse 9 he shows us God’s love looks like.
Vs 9: This is what God’s love looks like – God’s love was revealed among us... His greatest display of love was shown through sending His beloved son Jesus Christ. Verse 9 is very similar to John 3:16 which says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Verse 9 tells us that Jesus came so that “we might live through him.” When you break this sentence down in the original language it essentially says, “God sent His one and only son into the world so we may be made alive (to enjoy real life, to have true life) through Jesus.” God’s love is a sacrificial in the reality that He sent his son to die so we may have life. This love not self-serving but life giving.
Vs 10: “Love consists of this: not that we loved God, but he loved us…” This is God’s representation of love. We are not able to love correctly outside of God. We have the ability to love God and others because God first loved us, and he loved us by sending Jesus Christ to be the atoning sacrifice (Christ is the “the propitiation of sin, because by his becoming our substitute and assuming our obligations he expiated our guilt, covered it, by the vicarious punishment which he endured.) for our sins. So, when we look at the full context, we conclude that God’s love is shown through Him sending Jesus Christ and we might have abundant life through Him. Since Jesus was God’s way of showing His love, we can love both God and one another. We can love properly because God has loved us properly.
Vs 11: Since God showed us how much He loves us through Jesus Christ, then we can love one another. I have found two truths that painfully obvious in verses 10 & 11, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point them out.
1.God showed how much He loves you through sending Jesus as an atoning sacrifice. Think about that for a moment. God loves you that He gave his most beloved son. s. I am sure many of you have heard people say, “If God is such a loving God then how does he let (insert tragedy or difficulty) happen to me?” The answer to that question is “God shows how loving He is through His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross so that you may be made alive through Him, enjoy life and be a partaker in the Kingdom of heaven.” Isn’t that enough? God doesn’t owe you or me anything! But since He so loves you and me, He has made provisions for us to live a full Kingdom life.
2.We must love one another. John tells us “If God loved us in this way (sacrificially), then we must love one another. We should look at the word MUST. I believe this word makes this a command and NOT a suggestion. There is no clause stating that we should only love those who love us, it says that we must love one another period. The very minimum you or I must do as Christians is love one another. Many Christians cannot even do this, but this is entry level Christianity. We have the obligation to love one another.
Vs 12: “No one has ever seen God….” This seems like the statement was just thrown in there as it doesn’t seem to fit the flow of this portion of the letter, but as Stephen Smalley writes, “John maintains that God cannot, in fact, be seen; but he goes on to draw a contrast between this truth and the equal truth that he can (in any case) be spiritually discerned through the exercise of love which he himself inspires.” This is true… No one has ever physically seen God, but they have seen Jesus (John 1:18). We are told in Exodus 33:20, “But he added, "You cannot see my face, for humans cannot see me and live.” However, God dwells in us and this is evidenced when we show love for one another, and for him. We do not need to see God for him to dwell in us. God dwells in us, so we can show him to others by loving others. By loving one another it shows that God is in us and when we love one another we are loving completely or the way that God intended. The truth, reality and concluding thought to this passage is We can love properly because God has loved us properly.
 Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 51 – 1, 2, 3 John. Word Books, Waco. 1984. Page 237
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 186, 187
 Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 51 – 1, 2, 3 John. Word Books, Waco. 1984. Page 246
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I currently live on the Gulf Coast of Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with over 25 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.