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Sermon #40 — 1st John Series
Title: “We love him.”
Text: 1 John 4:19
Subject: The Believer’s Love for Christ
Date: Tuesday Evening — July 16, 2013
Tape# 1st John #40
Readings: David Burge and Bobbie Estes
There is one thing that I know is true of all believers. There is one thing about which all God’s elect are in complete harmony and agreement. There is one point at which all the church of God meets in unity and in one accord. There is one statement which I know is true of all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is the one fact which is true of every elect, blood bought, regenerate child of God in the world. — “WE LOVE HIM.” All who are born again by the Spirit of God do with honest and delightful hearts sing —
“My Jesus I love Thee, I know Thou art mine,
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.”
The title of my message is “We Love Him.” My text is 1st John 4:19.
1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
This is the great mark of distinction between the saints of God and the people of this world. Those who are born of God love God. Those who are renewed by the Divine Spirit love the Divine Spirit. Those who are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ love Christ their Redeemer. Wherever there is true heart faith in Christ, there is also a sincere heart love for Christ. And as our knowledge of Christ increases, our love for him increases. John Gill rightly observed…
“The larger the discoveries and applications of the love of God be, the more does love to him increase and abound. And nothing more animates and inflames our love to God than the consideration of the earliness of his love to us.”
In other words, the more we know of God’s love toward us, the more our love to him will grow.
Proposition: In this text John shows us that — All believers love Christ, and the source and cause of our love to him is his love to us.
1. The Acknowledgement of Love
2. The Affirmation of Love
3. The Activity of Love
4. The Argument of Love
5. The Assurance of Love
1. THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF LOVE
“We love him.” — That is a true statement. We do not say it presumptuously, or self-righteously. But in all honesty, we confess that it is so. — “We love him.” Yet, we have nothing to boast about, no ground of glorying in ourselves. The question is put to each of us, “Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” And with Paul we confess, “By the grace of God I am shat I am.” We who love Christ do most gladly acknowledge that, “We love him, because he first loved us!” The love we have for Christ does not arise from within ourselves. We do not love him because of any superior qualities which we possess above all other people. Our love for Christ arises from and is caused by the free grace and sovereign love of God for us. This is what John is teaching us. — God loved us before we loved him. And his love for us is the cause of our love for him.
The love of God for us precedes our love for him. — “He first loved us.” Be certain that you understand this as a point of doctrine. Many errors have arisen because of ignorance in this one point. — God loved us first.
According to the Scriptures, God’s love must be first, because God’s love for us is eternal (Jeremiah 31:3).
Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
From all eternity, the Lord God looked upon us in Christ with an eye of love; and since nothing can precede eternity, he must have loved us first.
NOTE: God’s love for his own elect is a peculiar, distinguishing love. God loves some men, but not all men (Psalm 5:5; 7:11).
NOTE: One of the many Southern Baptist evangelism campaigns in the 90s was an atrocious delusion, by which unsuspecting souls were damned. — “Good News America, God Loves You.” To assure rebels that God loves them is damning!
NOTE: I rejoice to declare that God loves sinners. He does. But no sinner has any reason to suspect that God might possibly love him until he trusts Christ, because God loves sinners only in Christ and for Christ’s sake. Until you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ his Son, you have no reason to imagine that God loves you (John 3:18, 36).
It becomes most obvious that God’s love precedes our love when we consider all that his love has done for us. There was a time when we could not see the love of God in anything. Look in whatever direction we might, love could not be seen. But it was there in every place. Now, looking back upon the pages of Scripture and through our own life experiences, we see the love of God in everything he has done, is doing, or shall do. We are compelled to confess, “He first loved us.”
‘Twas not to make Jehovah’s love
Towards 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 e’er neglect
The souls so dearly bought.
Today, I see most clearly the love of God for me in his providence, even before I was converted. God’s love for me set the time of my birth, the bounds of my habitation, and the path of my feet to bring me to faith in Christ. Yes, God has appointed a time and a place where he will meet the soul he loves. And he graciously brings his own to the place where love shall be revealed (Ezekiel 20:35-38).
Ezekiel 20:35-38 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. 36 Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. 37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: 38 And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
Children of God, there never was a time when God did not love us. Though for many years we lay in the arms of another, his love for us was never quenched (Hosea 2:8).
Not only did the Lord our God love us before we loved him, but the love of God for us is the cause of our love for him. — “We love him,” John said, “because he first loved us.” The love of God for us is the motive, the force, the power, the source, and the cause of our love for him. Love in God for us created love in us for God. If we now love the Lord, it is “because he first loved us.” We love him with a love which he created in us. Love for God must be planted and sustained in our hearts by the power of God’s grace. Otherwise, it would not be there.
‘Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For, Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
But Thou hast chosen me.
Thou from the sin that stained me
Hast cleansed and made me free;
And to this end ordained me,
That I should live to Thee.
‘Twas sovereign mercy called me
And taught my opening mind;
The world had else enthralled me,
To heavenly glories blind.
My heart owns none before Thee;
For Thy rich grace I thirst;
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first.
Whatever we are now by the grace of God, we are as a direct result of God’s great love for us (Ephesians 2:1-4).
· It was the love of God that sent Christ to die in our place (1 John 4:9-10).
· It was the love of God that sent a preacher to tell us of Christ’s great sacrifice.
· And it was the love of God that sent the Spirit to quicken our hearts, creating in us faith and love toward Christ (Galatians 4:6).
Now let me tell you one more thing about the love of God for us. God’s love for us is eternal. And God’s love for us is the cause of our love for him. And God’s love for us is immutable (Malachi 3:6).
God’s love, like himself, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is unchanging and unchangeable. God’s love for us is not a passion or emotion in God’s heart toward us. Passion and emotion imply change; and God never changes. God’s love toward us is the eternal, unalterable commitment of his very Being to our eternal happiness and welfare. God’s love is the determination of his heart to do us good, and the eternal satisfaction, delight, and complacency of his heart in us for Christ’s sake.
· God’s love never changes in its object.
· God loves all his elect for the same reason. — His own sovereign will.
· God loves all his elect to the same degree. — Perfectly (John 17:23).
Sometimes he manifests his love more and sometimes less; but his love is the same. Sometimes he hides his face from us; but his love is still the same. Sometimes he rebukes and chastens us; but his love is still the same (Psalm 89:29-33; Isaiah 54:7-10). God will never cease his own to cherish!
Psalm 89:29-33 His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. 30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; 31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; 32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. 33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
Isaiah 54:7-10 For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. 8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. 9 For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. 10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
Health, wealth, and friends may all forsake me, but God’s love never shall. My soul will soon be separated from my body; but nothing, either in life or in death, shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus my Lord (Romans 8:35-39). God’s love for me will endure forever; and he will see to it that my love for him endures forever (Jeremiah 32:37-40).
“Having love his own which were in the world, he loved them to the end, to the end of their lives, to the end of time, and to all eternity.”
God’s love for his elect will bring all his elect to the same enjoyment of eternal bliss and glory (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4, 5, 10-12).
If you would know the love of God, look to his crucified Son. You can only know the love of God by trusting the Son of God (John 3:14-18).
John 3:14-16 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
2. THE AFFIRMATION OF LOVE
“We love him.”
Hark, my soul! It is the Lord;
‘Tis thy Savior, hear His word;
Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee:
“Say, poor sinner, lov’st thou me?”
Lord, it is my chief complaint,
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet, I love Thee and adore –
Oh for grace to love Thee more!
This is my honest, sincere heart confession to Christ. After much searching of heart and soul, with the full realization that he sees and knows all things, knowing that my heart is naked before him, I say to my Savior, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” How about you? Do you or do you not love the Lord Jesus Christ? “We love him, because he first loved us.”
I am fully aware of the fact that I do not love him by nature (Romans 8:7). My soul’s experience confirms the Word of God and compels me to confess that I would never have loved him had he not first loved me. My heart, like yours, was dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). I lived all the days of my life in enmity and rebellion against God, until he arrested me by his grace. And I must confess, though it gives me great pain to do so, that there is still within me a sinful heart of flesh that is enmity against my God (Romans 7:14-24).
NOTE: Don’t ever forget what you were when God saved you, and what you still are by nature. — A wretched, depraved, worthless, useless sinner (Isaiah 51:1).
Illustration: The Remembrance Room
But God in infinite love and by sovereign grace has intervened and conquered my heart; and he has, by covenant mercy, given me a new heart that loves the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:4; Psalm 65:4; 110:3; Ezekiel 36:24-28).
Nothing but the revelation of God’s love in Christ will break these hearts of stone and break our stubborn will. But if ever a man sees the love of God in Christ, his stony heart will melt like wax before the sun, and his will will be broken into the most voluntary subjection (Ezekiel 16:8; Zechariah 12:10).
The holy law of God convinced me of my guilt. And the fear of hell terrified my soul. But when I saw Christ dying for me, satisfying God’s law as my Substitute, and putting away my sin, my heart melted before him.
Lord, Thou hast won, at last I yield;
My heart, by mighty grace compelled,
Surrenders all to Thee:
Against Thy terrors long I strove,
But who can stand against Thy love?
Love conquers even me.
If Thou hadst bid Thy thunders roll,
And lightnings flash to blast my soul,
I still had stubborn been:
But mercy has my heart subdued,
A bleeding Savior I have viewed,
And now I hate my sin.
I do love the Lord Jesus Christ, my God and Savior. I do not love him as I should. I do not love him as I wish I could. And I do not love him as I shall. But I do love him. I really do love him (Psalm 18:1-6; 116).
Psalm 18:1-6 I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. 3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. 4 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. 5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. 6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
Psalm 116:1-19 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. 3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. 5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. 6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. 7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. 8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. 9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. 10 I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: 11 I said in my haste, All men are liars. 12 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? 13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. 14 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. 16 O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. 18 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, 19 In the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.
This is the general, universal confession of all God’s elect. — “We love him.” Yes, “we love him, because he first loved us.” No, our love is not worthy of his love. It cannot in anyway be compared to his love. But we do love him.
We love Christ because he is who he is. He is the Son of God, the God-man, our Mediator.
· He is Immanuel.
· He is our Surety.
· He is our Prophet.
· He is our Priest.
· He is our King.
· He is our Redeemer.
· He is our Advocate.
· He is our All.
Everything about our dear Savior is lovely (Song of Solomon 5:9-16). Christ is lovely. Christ is very lovely. Christ is most lovely. Christ is always lovely. Christ is altogether lovely!
· His attributes.
· His purpose
· His providence
· His judgments
We love the Lord Jesus Christ because of all that he has done for us.
· His Covenant Engagements
· His Incarnation
· His Life 0f Righteousness
· His Substitutionary Death
· His Heavenly Intercession
· His Providential Rule.
We love Christ because all the fulness of grace and glory is in him (John 1:16). Everything we need or want for time and eternity we have in Christ with infinite abundance (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Let every believing sinner make this affirmation of love. — “We love him, because he first loved us.” Though we are beset with many infirmities, plagued with many weaknesses, shamed with many failures, and defiled with many sins, “we love him.” Though our love is sometimes as cold as the arctic and our hearts as hard as steel, “we love him.” Though often we show it so little, we love him.”
· We love Christ unashamedly.
· We love Christ supremely (Psalm 73:25). — “Lovest thou me more than these? Yea, Lord thou knowest that I love thee (John 21:15).
· We love Christ increasingly.
We cannot think of love, it seems, except as a passion, a shifting emotion. We always think of love as the sensational feeling of sweethearts for one another. To be sure, love may be passionate, emotional, and sensational; but that is not the real essence of love. Love is commitment. More than anything else, love is commitment. It is the growing, increasing commitment of our hearts, no, of our beings to Christ. “Sweetheart love,” as it is called, is fickle, frail, fragile, and easily quenched. Mature love is steadfast, dependable, trusting, and firmly committed.
Illustration: Husband and Wife
Love is faithful. Because of our sinful flesh, it does not always speak and act as it ought; but it is faithful. It is the attachment of the heart to its object.
Illustration: Noah, Abraham, Lot,
Moses, David, Peter
· And the day will soon come when we shall love the Lord Jesus Christ perfectly.
Thou knowest that I love Thee, dearest Lord;
But, oh, I long to soar
Far from the sphere of mortal joys,
And learn to love Thee more.
3. THE ACTIVITY OF LOVE
Love is not a dead, stoic principle or philosophy. Love is a living, active grace in the heart. Dormant love is no love at all. Love is like fire; it must break out. It is like a volcano; it will erupt. Love is active. It is known only by its deeds (1 John 3:16).
If I love the Lord Jesus Christ, I love everything about him. — His will, his Word, his worship, and his works. — “He is altogether lovely!”
· His promises are like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
· The words of his mouth, the doctrines of grace are sweeter than honey in the honeycomb.
· His preachers, those men who bring glad tidings of his salvation, are beautiful and lovely as the angels of God to me.
· His saints are the precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold.
· His ways are the ways of pleasantness.
· His tabernacles are amiable.
· His ordinances are delightful.
If I love Christ, I keep his commandments with a willing heart (1 John 5:1-3).
1 John 5:1-3 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Others may talk of their love to Christ; but the person who truly loves Christ is the person who obeys Christ (John 14:15, 21).
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
· The commandments of the gospel. — Faith, Baptism, the Lord’s Table, Love
· The commandments of the Spirit.
If I love the Lord Jesus Christ, I cherish and jealously guard my fellowship and communion with him (Song of Solomon 2:4-7). When broken I eagerly seek to restore it.
Song of Songs 2:4-7 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. 5 Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. 6 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me. 7 I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.
If I love Christ, I will part with all and bear all for his sake, take up my cross, and follow him (Mark 8:34-37).
If I love Christ, I will love and serve the people of God (John 13:15).
John 13:15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
4. THE ARGUMENT OF LOVE
This is what we profess, “We love him.” Do we not? We say that we love Christ. If indeed we love him, love him above all people and all things, our love for him is the ruling principle of our lives (2 Corinthians 5:14; 8:8-9).
2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.
2 Corinthians 8:8-9 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
Love is the root of godliness and the rule of godliness. In this Book, I see three ways by which I am to measure my love for my Savior.
1. I must measure my love for Christ by my generosity to him.
· Love tells me what to do.
· Faith does it.
2. I must measure my love for Christ by my love for my brethren (Ephesians 4:32-5:2).
3. I must measure my love for Christ by my surrender to the claims of his love.
Gratitude for such love as Christ has shown me demands my wholehearted surrender to him. Christ is worthy of all my heart’s devotion.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my heart, my soul, my all.
5. THE ASSURANCES OF LOVE
If indeed “we love him,” there are seven things which the Word of God assures us are ours.
“We love him, because he first loved us.” — O children of God, let us spend much time at Calvary, contemplating the Savior’s all-consuming love for us, begging God the Holy Ghost to immerse our souls in his love, that we may burn with all-consuming love for him!