Monday, July 27, 2009

7-27 I John 3:14-18; Love as evidence

(a KKK march- not every group is a group for love- hatred has no place in Christian faith)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

7/27- I John 3:14-18

14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a fellow believer is a murderer, and you know that no murderers have eternal life in them. 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17 If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Calvin abridged: “We know”- He commends love to us as an evidence of a transition from death to life. So it follows that if we love our brothers and sisters we are blessed, but that we are miserable if we hate them. There s no one who does not wish to be freed and delivered from death. So those who by cherishing hatred willingly give themselves up to death, must be extremely stupid and senseless. We are not our own deliverers, as though by loving others we could escape death. Here the cause of salvation is not human love, but it is a fruit of the Spirit and a symbol of regeneration. Since no one can truly love the brethren, except he is regenerated by the Spirit of God, so he rightly concludes that the Spirit of God, who is live, lives in all who love the brothers and sisters.
3:15- “Anyone who hates a fellow believers is a murderer.” To stimulate us to love, he shows how God detests hatred. Everyone dreads a murderer, but here it is declared that all who hate a fellow believer are murderers.” He could have said nothing more atrocious. Even if we do not seek an injury, but wish an evil deed to happen to our brother from someone else, we are murderers.
3:16- “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” Now he shows what true love is. For Christ, not sparking his own life, testified how much he loved us. This is the goal for each Christian- when we transfer to love of ourselves to our fellow believers, so that everyone in forgetting themselves, should seek the good of others. It is the Apostle’s purpose to stop the vain boasting of the hypocrites, who boasted they had faith in Christ without love for the believers. He means that our feelings should be so formed and shaped that we may desire to devote our life and also our death to God and our neighbors. Our death and blood does not mean as much as Christ’s death.
3:17- “If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you?”- He now speaks of the common duties of love, which flow from Christ’s love for us. He who refuses to help his brother with material help will not expose his own life to danger. But there is no love in us if we withhold help from our neighbors. Here are some propositions: 1) No on truly loves their fellow believers except those who show it when they have the occasion to show it. 2)We are bound to show love for the Lord provides opportunities to show love. 3) if any one needs food or drink, our aid is required. 4) no act of kindness except those accompanied with sympathy is pleasing to God. “The love of God” This generates the love of fellow believers.
3:18- “Let us not love in word” – we cannot love in tongue only. Let us not just profess with the tongue how we love, but prove it by our deeds.

Thoughts: It is one thing to talk about faith, as a philosopher, a professor, a church goer or and adherent who doesn’t go to church. It is another to have it right. Calvin often talked of this. There is a visible church- those who profess (or talk) about faith and there is an invisible church (those who really are the elect- only God knows these). Today there are a lot of people who speak of being a Christian, but it doesn’t mean much to them. Our faith according to this passage should bear the fruit of love for others. One of the great purposes of church- especially in our day when we can see church on TV or the internet- and believe we practice our faith isolated- is to love. Frankly, this is why churches are such hard places in which to take part. It is in the church that we are around people with a common goal- a goal to love God and neighbor. Love means nothing if we are purposefully (not because we are sick or unable) neglectful of other people. In this passage John talks about faith without love- or fruit means nothing. It is similar to the passage in James- faith without works is dead. It is not saying we are saved by the work of love, but that love is a fruit of that work (as Calvin says love is an evidence not a cause of faith). As a husband can say he loves his wife, but is never home spending time with her- and that relationship is dying and meaningless, so those who neglect Christ’s bride- the Church- may talk of loving God and neighbor but it means little.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving us many opportunities to love others. Thank you for the Church which gives us those opportunities to serve together, and learn to cope with and love one another.

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