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The Objective of God's Love - (4:11-13).

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. [12] No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  (1 John 4:11 )

Lenski calls God's Love being made complete (perfect - KJV) in the believer, the goals of God's Love. This is taken from the original teteleiotai which means "...that which is complete or fully developed, reaching its intended goal." [1] The first objective of God's Love is found in 1 John 2:5 where the believer is obeying[2] the Word of God. The very first act of obedience the believer has performed was that of obedience to the Gospel. This obedience has its beginning in the New Birth and continues in obedience to God's Word in the Christian walk - John's reference to guarding God's Word. Please note the passage in 2:28, 29. John always has in the background of his epistle the beginning of this Christian walk as starting from the New Birth. The first objective of God's Love is met when we come to Him in repentance and confess our need of a Savior and as a result of our conversion we keep on guarding His Word. This is the first objective of God's Love. Paul expressed it this way: "But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted." (Romans 6:17, NIV ). Obedience to God's Word started at conversion and continues throughout one's Christian Walk.

The objective of God's Love is that we might have fellowship with Him and in His Love have fellowship with each other. Plainly, we are to enjoy the same intimate fellowship with each other and God that the Trinity has with each other. The first thought that comes up in this passage is that we have a debt. That's what the word "ought" means. We've touched on this before but the objective of God's Love is that we fulfill that debt - to Love as God Loves. The temptation for the believer is to stray from walking in the Light and to operate from a carnal or fleshly standpoint. The temptation is to keep records of good done to us so that we in our legalism might repay favor for favor. This is not God's Love. Before we get collectively insulted please take note that operating in the flesh includes human good as well as sinful behavior. If we do not recognize the fact of God's rejection of human good as well as sinful behavior we'll always stumble regarding the issue of walking in the Light and His Love. The temptation is to rely on some natural good qualities that we might have and use these "good" qualities as substitutes for allowing God's Love to act out His moral attributes through us (Graciousness, Compassion, Mercy, etc). The debt is that we recognize this tendency and assure that we are in fellowship with Him and are fulfilling our debt to Love each other with His Love - even if we have to do the initiating.


Vs 12). The objective of His Love is that we walk in His Light, in faith, even though we cannot see Him we, yet, are Loving just as He is. Peter touched on this subject in his epistle:

"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:"  (1 Peter 1:8)

Jesus promised a special blessing to those who would believe in Him even though they have not seen Him.[3] This is an action of faith on the part of the believer. Loving with His Love does not come naturally as some believers would suppose. Sometimes Loving in an unloving circumstance most certainly requires an act of faith because we will not automatically respond in the correct way - unthinking we might just hurt the one hurting - we might respond with a sharp injuring tongue someone who is annoying us. No, John is teaching his friends that they must act out of faith and Love in all circumstances with His Love.

"We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit."  (1 John 4:13)

The Objective of His Love is Enabled by the Indwelling Holy Spirit - verse 13. Here is the crux of Loving as He Loves - the indwelling of the Holy Spirit has several ministries. The life of Christ in us comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Not much is made of the gift of the Holy Spirit these days but in the days of the early Church it was understood that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was a very important gift of God's grace. [4]

Too many believers today leave the ministry of the Holy Spirit out of their every day living. While there are no additional steps to be taken to have the Holy Spirit, He can be grieved through a life of sinful disobedience and neglect of fellowship with the Father.[5] Neglect of prayer can stunt the specialized ministry of the Holy Spirit who helps the believer in his fellowship with the Father and who leads him as a son.[6] The Holy Spirit can be quenched by ignoring the operation of the Holy Spirit in His giving and operation of spiritual gifts.[7]

The early disciples made sure that the salvation experience was genuine and that folks were operating in His power. There was and is no other way of living the Christian life. John makes this clear that this is the basis for living in Him and Loving others through Him.

The Saving Message of Love - (14, 15).

" And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." (1 John 4:14, NIV)

Quite simply, God, in His Love, has provided for the salvation of the world. By the world John means every man. I wonder if we grasp the meaning of 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Tim 2:4 - It is God's desire that every man come to Christ and be saved. Saved from what? From a troubled, sinful life of lonely grasping for that which man knows not what - from terrible bondage to sin that inevitably leads to death - from the fear of death itself - separation from God having no fellowship with Him. Man was designed to have fellowship with God. When he sinned that "connection" was broken and man has been in misery since. Then there is the eventual destiny of the Lake of Fire. Man was never meant for a destiny in the Lake of Fire - that was meant for Satan and his cohorts. It is man's destiny to spend an eternity with God in Loving fellowship with Him and with millions of other saints.

The natural outgrowth of God's Love for man was that He was going to provide a rescue for the sinner from hell. A rescue from loneliness. A rescue from a life of constant slavery to sin. This is salvation - deliverance. John put it this way: "Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth." (1 John 2:8 - KJV). Jesus said this: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." Paul said this: "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:" (Col 1:13 - KJV). The point? Salvation is the rescue of each man from certain calamity of body and soul and deliverance to eternal life where he can enjoy the wonderful Love of the most Gracious God and to share this Love with others who have also been rescued from sin's death.

I recently read of a heart-rending story of contributing writer Tricia Rhodes of Discipleship Journal who while visiting Mother Teresa's headquarters in Calcutta, visited The Home for Abandoned and Crippled Children.[8] It was an oppressingly hot day and as she went into the orphanage she was overwhelmed by the stench of disease. They came upon one particular room where lay dozens of blind, deformed, palsied and diseased babies. Their heads had been shaved to discourage lice, beds were stained with urine with bodies barely clad. Love drew her to them and as she went from crib to crib she rubbed their backs - held some - praying for all of them and loving them as best she could. She was drawn to a certain child and picked her up and held her. The child bathed her cheek with slobber as she kissed Tricia over and over again. The child wrapped her arms around her with a hug and remained there in an embrace of desperate need. Our visitor weeping with great compassion had to literally force the child to let go as the time came for her to leave and lowered her to the bed. Our visitor left that orphanage weeping, and powerless to rescue these pathetic children from their circumstances - never before did she have such a helpless, powerless feeling for anyone who was in such a horrible condition.

This is the story of God's Love for sinful man with a wonderful difference.[9] God was not powerless to rescue man from his desperate, sinful condition. Our Heavenly Father saw our sinful condition and in His great Love with the infinite wealth of His Mercy "drew up" a plan - a plan to save us from sin and its horrible consequences. God, the Son agreed with the plan and gave up His place of Glory to come into this wretched, stinking world as the God-Man to be our Savior.[10]

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, [5] Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)" (Eph 2:4, KJV).

This is the objective of God's Love – His saving message of Love. God is not willing that any should perish – indeed, God is very desirous that all men come to know Him and to have fellowship with Him. He had the desire to save – He had the resources to save. Unlike puny, sinful man, God intends to save man and has the power to do so. That is the goal of His Love. This is what John was writing about in verse 14. Do we need a Savior? You bet we do! And it was because of God's great Love that God, the Son was willing to leave paradise and come into this sinful world to suffer humiliation from sinful men so that He could make salvation come true. The Gnostics were so wrong. And anyone who denies the deity of Jesus Christ is so wrong about the testimony of John and all those who testify of the Gospel. Jesus saves! And anyone who comes to that truth as a repentant sinner will be saved and will have the indwelling presence of God, Himself.

This is the saving message of Love – that God did love us all greatly and did something about it – Jesus Christ shed His blood on the Cross for you and for me! The objective of God's Love? It is that every sinner hear the good news and that they come to Him and receive Him as Savior – God wants us all to be saved!

1 From The complete Biblical Library, World Library Press, Inc.   Hebrews-Jude Volume, Page 413.  The same thought is expressed in Lenski. [ Back ]

2 NIV has this right. [ Back ]

3. John 20:29, "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."  [ Back ]

4 Jesus referred to the coming Holy Spirit as the gift that the Father had promised (Acts 1:4, 8).  Salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit were mutually inclusive (Acts 2:38).  The gentiles also received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:45). [ Back ]

5 Eph 4:30 [ Back ]

6 Romans 8:14-27 has overtones of a father/son relationship.  This would involve close fellowship ("Abba, Father" - vs. 15) and the father guiding the son (vs 14). [ Back ]

7 1 Thess 5:19, 20. [ Back ]

8 He left His Place in Paradise, Discipleship Journal issue, 102, Pg. 42 by Tricia McCary Rhodes. [ Back ]

9 See Ezekiel 16:3-14 for a similar situation but God was the rescuer and had the resources to save this baby, Judah.  [ Back ]

10 Phil 2:2, 5:8; 2 Cor 5:21.  [ Back ]