The Power of Love - 1 John 4:7-12. Why is love so critical to our faithful service as a church of our Lord Jesus and so crucial to your our own walk with the Lord? Why can't we simply settle for being nice and polite to each other?The Apostle John has already written about the importance of love several times in this letter. 1 John 4:7-12 continues to emphasize its importance in the life of individual believers and the local church.
Love's message. 1 John 4:7-8 (ESV) Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. Love is critical because it communicates a critical message about the nature and character of the living God. The importance of that message is emphasized by the number of times the command to love appears in Scripture.
Romans 12:9-10 (ESV) 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV) 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Galatians 5:13-14 (ESV) 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
John 13:34-35 (ESV) 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
James 2:8-9 (ESV) 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. Biblical love such as that written in 1 Cor 13 comes from God. It isn't something that we can manufacture and apart from being filled and led by God's Spirit not something we'd stick with for the long haul. Love is a non-negotiable since God Himself is love. To put that another way, God as to His essential character and nature is love. Consequently, to serve, believe, follow, worship and obey God is to love others. Refusal to love others and especially God's people is a sign that you do not know, have a relationship with or genuinely believe in the God of Scripture.
Love's manifestation. 1 John 4:9-10 (ESV) 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Love is critical as it's one of the main if not the main motivation of our eternal redemption. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the full and complete manifestation of the Father's infinite love for all of His people. In other words, the conception, birth, perfect life, sinless sacrifice and bodily resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the clear, lasting and accurate picture, proof and declaration of God's love for us. What then does this clear, lasting and accurate picture and declaration of love teach us? God's love was first and foremost an act of His will in which He purposed to act in the highest and best interest of the objects of His love. God's love moved Him to take the initiative in our redemption. We can see this in how He dealt with Adam and Eve following their rebellion. Out of His love God was willing to sacrifice and pay a great cost on behalf of those He loved. God's love is unconditional in that He didn't wait for us to express interest in serving, worshiping or obeying Him, nor did He wait to see if there was something within us no matter how small that would signal that we were worthy of His love. That is, the living God did not put a condition on His initiating, sacrificial love. Finally, God's love is absolutely effective. It is since Christ's death didn't make it possible for God's people to be rescued from His wrath against sin and rescued to an initimate deeply loving relationship with Him. It was effective because Christ's death actually paid the price for all of God's people.
III. Love's mandate. 1 John 4:11-12 (ESV) 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. Love is critical since it verifies and validates God's work within us. How do I know that I've genuinely believed the gospel and that I do in fact have an authentic relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? I know by the way I desire to and practice His virtue of love with His people. As you can probably tell the word translated 'if' is better translated since or in view of the fact. That fact is, God's great act of love for us in sending His one and unique Son and then crushing the life out of His Son on the cross to pay the price for our sin provides both the motivation and power to love those in Christ the way we've been loved. We have a moral obligation to love each other which means among other things that we almost always if not always must be apart of local church. Does that mean you will be loved in this way if you are apart of a church? No it does not, no more than than going to work everyday guarantees you'll get promoted on your job. But if you refuse to work, you can be sure you won't get promoted. We cannot consistently claim to love God whom we've never seen and yet refuse to love His people who we see on a regular basis. Doing so could mean that in some way we've deemed God's decision in loving His people as a foolish waste of time and effort. It is by consistently loving each other that we show God's power and presence among us. Moreover, it is one of the ways God has determined to continue to show His love toward His people. Finally, loving each other demonstrates that God's work of salvation is effective in not only releasing us from the penalty of our sin, but in transforming us in such a way that we begin to imitate His character and nature with respect to love. In other words, it shows us, our society and our children that God is indeed at work within us.
Conclusion: Find one person at SOPC whom you don't know well and begin a loving relationship with that person. Start today by just getting to know them and build on the relationship from there. The following questions are a good way to start. Where are you from? Tell me about your family. How did you meet your spouse? How did you hear about SOPC? What's going on in your life right now that I could pray about?