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.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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