Friday, April 26, 2024

The Vision (4.26.24): Love in the Christian Life


Image: View from Antigua, Guatemala, April 2024. Photo credit: Jeff Clark.

Here are my notes from the closing application to last Sunday’s sermon on 1 John 4:7-10:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God (1 John 4:7).

How do we locate, define, and understand the principle of love (agapē) in the Christian life?

We begin with God Himself. God Himself must be the Stackpole of our religion. “For God is love” (v. 8). He is the definition and standard of love. We only know what love is, because he is love.

God is the source of love (v. 7: “for love is of God”).

How did God manifest his love toward us? In sending his own dear Son to be our Savior (vv. 9-10).

Because of this, we become his “beloved” (v. 7), the objects of his love, when our lives are hid in Christ (Colossians 3:3), who is the true beloved of the Father (Ephesians 1:6). God can only purely love one who is pure. We are not, but Christ is.

It is by this love that we have life who were at one time dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1; cf. 1 John 4:9: “that we might live through him”).

Then, because we are his, that love flows from us. It begins in love of neighbor but is shown most plainly in our love for the brethren. It stands as a proof, a sign of assurance, that we are in fact saved (v. 7b), or a condemnation that we are not saved (v. 8).

How is that love of the brethren being demonstrated in our midst? Is that fellow feeling being manifested among us? Does it show in our relationships with one another? In time we prioritize to spend with one another in worship and prayer and ministry? Does it show in the hospitality which we extend to one another? In the sacrifices we make for one another? Or do we only love the brethren when it is convenient for us?

I recently finished a short biography of lesser known Swiss Reformer Pierre Viret, a pastor in Lausanne, where he brought the gospel to a people who had been lost in the darkness of Roman superstition.

In one of his writings, Viret said that a Christian cannot have a “double peace.” He wrote:

For just as [Christians] cannot enjoy a double paradise, one in this world and another in the next, likewise, they cannot experience a double peace. For if they be at peace with God, they cannot be at peace with his adversary, the devil, and with the world of whom he is called the Prince…" (from L'Interim fait par dialogues, as cited by Jean-Marc Berthoud in Pierre Viret: A Forgotten Giant of the Reformation, 78).

I think Viret would approve a slight modification of that statement to add that the Christian cannot have a “double love.” He cannot say he loves God and loves the brethren, but then live as though he loves the world. See 1 John 2:15-17.

How is the principle of Christian love being demonstrated in your life and in the life of our church? May the Lord be pleased to show in us the love of God in Christ to demonstrate that we have indeed been born again.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

1 comment:

Phil Brown said...

At the end I certainly didn't feel mushy gushy. I felt that God not only cares for sinners, but He also wants us to see and walk a path more clearly that is good for us.