Sermon #24 — 1st John Series
Title: The Love of God
Text: 1 John 3:10-18
Subject: The Love of God
Readings: Bob Poncer and Bobbie Estes
Tape# 1st John 24
My subject is The Love of God. Our text will be 1st John 3:10-18 — 1st John 3:10-18. Let’s read it together.
1st John 3:10-18
Verse 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
I take that to mean that doing righteousness, behaving righteously, more than anything else has something to do with loving our brethren.
Verse 11 ¶ For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
Do you see that? Doing righteousness has something to do with loving one another.
Verse 12 Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.
I remind you, the only righteous works Abel did which are recorded in this Book are described in these words, — “Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” (Genesis 4:4). — Abel worshipped God by blood atonement, trusting Christ, testifying to Cain that Christ alone is the sinner’s access to and acceptance with God, that Christ alone is our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption. — Abel’s love for Cain was demonstrated in the testimony he bore before his brother: — Christ is the Way! There is no other! — For that Cain hated him and murdered him!
Verses 13-15 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 ¶ We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
Verse 16-18 Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
(1 John 3:10-18)
There is much that could be said and needs to be said about these other verses, but tonight I want us to focus our attention on verse 16 — 1st John 3:16.
“Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.”
O the wondrous love of God!
Who its heights and depths can tell?
God the Son has shed His blood,
And redeemed my soul from hell!
O my soul! Sweet mystery this —
All my sins on Christ were laid,
All my guilt He took as His, —
By His death atonement made!
I in Him am justified,
Freed from sin (and more than free),
Guiltless, holy, sanctified, —
Righteous made at Calvary!
Savior, Lord, to You I bow,
Conquered by Your love and grace.
Saved unto the utmost now,
By Your blood and by Your grace.
Whenever we think about the love of God we must begin here. — The love of God is in Christ. We rejoice to know that “God is love.” Love is in God. Love comes from God. Apart from God there is no love. But the love of God is revealed, expressed, known, manifest, and found only in Christ. The Bible never speaks of the love of God outside, or apart from Christ. Those who talk of the love of God toward sinners apart from Christ, the Mediator between God and men, speak in direct opposition to the Scriptures.
“The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:9). — Because of his goodness and tender mercy, God feeds the raven, clothes the lily, and sustains the beasts of the field. He is kind even to the thankless and reprobate in this world (Luke 6:35). His providence extends to all his creatures. And he sends the sunshine and the rain upon both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). But the love of God is in Christ. It is reserved for and given to his elect in Christ.
Those who declare that God loves all people alike, that he loves those who perish under his wrath in hell just as he loves those who are the heirs of eternal life, reduce the love of God to a fickle, helpless, frustrated passion. But that cannot be. God’s love is like himself, from everlasting to everlasting, immutable and unchanging. I fully agree with A. W. Pink, who wrote, — “Nothing is more absurd than to imagine that anyone beloved of God can eternally perish or shall ever experience his everlasting vengeance.”
When Paul says, nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” the word “us” refers to God’s elect, those sinners who are actually saved by his grace. When the Apostle John declares, “Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us” the word “us” refers to a specific, limited number, a vast multitude which no man can number, but still a specific, limited number, the whole host of God’s elect for whom the Lord Jesus died at Calvary. When false prophets declare that God loves everyone in the world, they speak contrary to the Scriptures and give sinners a false hope, crying “peace, peace,” when there is no peace.
The Word of God plainly declares that God does not love all people (Psalm 5:5; 11:6-7; John 3:36; Romans 9:13-8)
· Noah’s Generation
· Sons of Korah
Note: The word “world” in John 3:16 is used to refer to God’s elect among the Gentiles.
Note: To tell sinners that God loves them regardless of their relationship to Christ is either an assurance of salvation without Christ, or a declaration that God is weak, mutable, helpless, and frustrated.
We cannot understand or appreciate the love of God unless we begin here. The love of God is in Christ. As all the grace, all the promises, and all the blessings of God are in Christ, so the love of God is in Christ. As we were chosen of God in Christ (Ephesians 1:4), as we are accepted of God in Christ (Ephesians 1:6), as our life is hid with God in Christ (Colossians 3:3), so we are loved of God in Christ.
Proposition: Because the love of God toward us is “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” our Head, our Husband, our Mediator, nothing can separate us from that love; for nothing can separate us from Christ.
Nothing can be more profitable to our souls than for us to meditate upon and spiritually contemplate “the love of God which is in Christ.” If we are enabled to do so by the Spirit of God, as we are lifted outside of ourselves and lifted above this world of care, our souls will be filled with satisfaction in the love of God. To know and to believe the love which God has toward us is both an earnest and a foretaste of heaven.
Divisions: I want to lead your hearts in meditating upon the love of God. In doing so, I will just give you an outline for direction, and leave it to you to fill in the spaces. May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher. — Four Points
1. Some Characteristics of God’s Love
2. Some of the Operations of God’s Love
3. One sure Consequence of God’s Love.
4. Our Response to God’s Love.
Of God’s Love
1st — I want us to consider some of the characteristics of God’s love, as it is revealed to us in Holy Scripture. Obviously, we must limit ourselves to a few outstanding characteristics of God’s love, or we might be here a long, long time. I do not pretend that we will exhaust this inexhaustible subject in this message. But I do want to inspire you to consider the wonder of it, the greatness of it, the majesty of it…
“17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
Here are three things revealed in the Word of God about “the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In Hosea 14:4, the Lord God declares, “I will love them freely.” That simply means that God’s love toward us is an unconditional, unqualified, unmerited, uncaused love. God does not love his elect because of anything amiable and attractive in us. He says, “Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated,” and that before either had done anything good or bad, “that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth” (Romans 9:13, 11).
Our love to God is not the cause of his love to us, but the response of our hearts to his love revealed in us (1 John 4:10, 19).
“10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
“We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
God loved us when we were lost and ruined in sin, destitute of all grace, without the least particle of love toward him or faith in him. While we were his enemies and alienated from him, God loved us freely (Romans 5:8, 10).
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10)
Not even the death of Christ is the cause of God’s love for us. Christ’s death is the cause of our pardon and justification. Christ’s death is the cause of our redemption and salvation. But our Lord’s death on our behalf is not the cause of God’s love for us. — It was the result of God’s love (John 3:16). God so loved us that he gave his Son to die for us!
“Twas not to make Jehovah’s love
Toward the sinner flame,
That Jesus from His throne above,
A suffering man became.
Twas not the death which He endured,
Nor all the pangs he bore,
That God’s eternal love procured,
For God was love before.
He loved the world of His elect
With love surpassing thought;
Nor will His mercy ever neglect
The souls so dearly bought!
The love of God is free and unconditional.
As God’s love is without a cause, so it is without beginning. “The love of God which is in Christ” is not of yesterday. It did not begin I time. It bears the date of eternity upon it. He declares, — “I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31).
Try to get hold of this. If you can, it will bless your soul. — As God the Father loved his Son from eternity, so he loved us from eternity. And as God’s love is in Christ, God’s love for Christ and his love for us are the same! (Read John 17:23). Only faith can grasp what I am saying. It is beyond reason and emotion. God loves us in Christ. As God beholds his people in his dear Son, he loves us as he loves his Son, delights in us as he delights in his Son, and is pleased with us as he is pleased with his Son. ——— “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:23).
God’s love is not like man’s love. God’s love does not change, ever, under any circumstances, under any conditions. Having loved us, he will never call his love back. And there is nothing we can do to destroy or even lessen “the love of God which is in Christ” (John 13:1). — “Many waters cannot quench love; neither can the floods drown it” (Song of Solomon 8:7).
We did nothing to attract God’s love in the beginning; and we can do nothing to repel his love now. God’s love is not dependent upon or regulated by our faithfulness. God’s love is immutable (Malachi 3:6).
Illustration: Hosea and Gomer
The Prodigal and His Father
God’s love is…
Of God’s Love
2nd — Now, let me remind you again of some of the operations of God’s love. — All the acts of God for his people in time are expressions of his love for us from everlasting. God’s acts of grace are the shedding abroad of his love in our hearts.
The very first act of God’s love, as it is revealed in this Book, is election and predestination (Ephesians 1:3-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Deuteronomy 7:7-9).
(Ephesians 1:3-6) “3 ¶ Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
(2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) “13 ¶ But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Deuteronomy 7:7-9) “7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye [were] the fewest of all people: 8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he [is] God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.”
The love of God is revealed in the redemption of our souls by the death of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10; 3:16). That is what our text declares. — “Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us!” — We read the love of God in the precious blood of Christ. We see the love of God revealed not in the incarnation of Christ, not in the life of Christ, not in the example of Christ, not in the doctrine of Christ, not even in the prayers of Christ, but only in the blood of Christ.
Had he done everything else and left this undone, had he not poured out his life’s blood unto death for the atonement of our sins and the redemption of our souls, we could never have known the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Behold, my soul, the love of God!
He bought me with His precious blood!
Yes, Christ my God, my covenant Head,
My Substitute, died in my stead!
Yes, Jesus took this wretch’s place,
And died for me in deep disgrace!
For me He plunged into the flood
Of woe, — the horrid wrath of God!
Now, for His praise I can but tell
How Jesus vanquished death and hell,
Put sin away with His own blood,
And brings His ransomed home to God!
No wonder that Paul, when realizing this, cried, — “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). No wonder he made this the constant theme of his preaching, saying, — “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
· Regeneration (Ezekiel 16:6-8).
· Effectual calling (Jeremiah 31:3).
· Adoption (1 John 3:1).
“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drawn it” (Song of Solomon 8:7). — God’s love toward his elect is invincible and unquenchable. There is no possibility that it will expire.
With men, nothing is stronger than death. But with God nothing is stronger than love. You can measure the strength of God’s love when you can comprehend the obstacles his love has overcome.
One Sure Consequence
of God’s Love
3rd — Let me show you one sure consequence of god’s love (Jude 24-25). — All who are loved of God now, were loved of God from eternity, and shall be loved of God forever. — And the love of God shall bring us home to heaven at last in the perfection of everlasting glory. In the end, when all things are finished, when the sons of God are in the Father’s heavenly kingdom and all the wicked are cast into hell, what will be the difference between the saints in heaven and the wicked in hell?
But “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” — Because he loved us God determined to save us, chose us to be his own, predestinated us to be his sons, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, called us by his Spirit, keeps us by his grace, and shall bring us to glory.
“24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25)
To God’s Love
4th — What is our response to the love of god? — “We love him because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). — “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11). — “Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). — “The love of Christ constraineth us!”
Men point many things as evidences of Divine grace in the heart. Most of those “evidences” men look upon and applaud are nothing but deeds of self-righteousness. They are things done to be seen of men, pleasing to men, and honored by men; but they are an abomination to God (Luke 16:15).
But our Lord Jesus Christ has plainly told us that there is one distinguishing character by which all true believers may be identified. — “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” If I have in my heart a true love for the people of God, all the people of God, then I am one of God’s elect. If love is absent from my heart, grace is also absent from my heart. Just in case any do not know how to measure true love, Paul gives us a clear description in 1st Corinthians 13:4-7.
· Love is longsuffering. It is patient with the weaknesses, infirmities, and offences of others.
· Love is not sharp, bitter, quick tempered, and malicious, but kind.
· Love is not proud and selfish. It does not envy others, does not promote itself, and does not behave rashly. — Love is not self-seeking.
· Love is not easily provoked. True love for someone will prevent me from being easily offended by him, and will cause me to quickly forgive him.
· Love thinks no evil. Love always looks for and thinks the best of its object. It looks for reasons to think good and not evil. Love does not harbor suspicion, and jealousy, and resentment.
· Love patiently bears all things in its object. If I love someone I wil1 bear-without anger or hurt feelings most anything from them, because I trust them and believe the best concerning them.
All anger, wrath, malice, suspicion, and gossip are contrary to that love which characterizes God’s elect. They spring from the old man, from the heart of sinful flesh. We must repent of such things and turn from them. It is my constant prayer that the Lord God will teach me to love my brethren and teach me to show them true love for Christ’s sake.
I want you to go home now, with your heart filled with this one thought. Nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God’s love for us is our incentive in all things.
Bro. Scott Richardson once wrote, — “I defy anyone to find a solitary text of Scripture in the New Testament that uses the law to motivate, inspire, regulate, or even guide the believer. Believers are motivated by love, inspired by gratitude, regulated by grace, and guided by the Holy Spirit. The whole Word of God, the complete revelation of His will is our law.
· Our lives are governed by love, not by fear.
· We walk by faith, not by legislation.
· We walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh (Romans 8:9-14; Galatians 3:3).”
If you would know the love of God, look to Christ!
“Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)
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 Notice the words “of God” are italicized by our translators. God the Holy Spirit is here telling us that we perceive that love Abel showed Cain, the love of God in Christ, in the sacrifice of our dear Savior.