Wednesday, August 5, 2009

8-4- I John 4:11-16, Loving Others is a way of Seeing God

(Making way for a water purification plant- Iquitos Peru)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

8/4- I John 4:11-16

11 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. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Now God exhorts us to love our fellow believers by his own example. Christ sacrificed for us as an example so that we might work to benefit our neighbors (Eph.5:2). Our love should not be mercenary [where we love someone to get benefit for ourselves], but should be done freely as Christ gave himself freely for us. When we look to our own advantage, or give good rewards to friends, it is self-love and not love to others.
“No one has seen God”- these same words are found in the first chapter of John’s gospel. There John the Baptist meant that God could not be known other than how he has revealed himself in Christ. Here the Apostle is extending the same truth farther, that the power of God is understood by us who have faith and love. This helps us to be assured that we are his children and he dwells in us. God shows himself present when by his Spirit he forms our hearts so that they are able to love others as brothers and sisters. We know we are His by the Spirit for the fruit of the Spirit is love.
4:24- “and we have seen” – we experience God in that God communicates himself to us in his Son, and offers himself to be enjoyed in him. God is received by faith. God is so united to us by faith and love, that he really dwells in us and shows himself by the effect of his power, otherwise we could not see him. When the Apostles says, “we have seen and testify” he refers to his own and others’ seeing. By seeing, he does not mean any sort of seeing, but what belongs to faith by which they recognized the glory of God in Christ- that he was sent to be the savior of the world. This knowledge flows to us by the illumination of the Spirit.
4:15- “Whoever shall confess’- We are united to God by Christ, but we cannot be united to Christ unless God abides in us.
“Jesus is the Son of God” – this is the sum and substance of faith; for nothing is necessary for salvation except what faith finds not in Christ. The order and connection of this passage is this- faith in Christ, makes God to dwell in people; and we are partakers of his grace; but as God is love, no one dwells in him unless he loves their fellow believers.
4:16- “and we have known and believed” – such knowledge is not attained without faith, so he is basically saying, “we have known by believing.” How different is an uncertain or doubtful opinion from faith. He defines faith in different ways. Previously he had said that to confess that Jesus is the Son of God is faith; Now he says we know by faith God’s love towards us. Thus the paternal love of God is found in Christ, and that nothing certain is known of Christ unless by those who know themselves to be children of God by his grace. The Father sets his own Son daily before us so that he may adopt us in him. God is love- By faith God dwells in us, and God is love; then wherever God abides, love ought to be there. So love is necessarily connected to faith.

Thought- faith and love go together clearly here. Having faith is how God abides in us, but if we don’t love, we drive God away from us. So it is necessary to have faith and love together. Faith without love- may move mountains, but it is just a clashing gong- noisy and showy without love. But love without faith is mushy and wishy-washy, taking away from the glory of God that motivates us to love. Jim Elliot said, "I have found the most extravagant dreams of boyhood have not surpassed the great experience of being in the will of God." When we are assured we are God's children, loved by Him- and loving others, following Him by faith- it is like a dream fulfilled- a purpose found. Jesus said blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. God is seen and peace is found when we are in his love, loving others, and walking by faith. Jesus said when you give a cup of cold water in his name he is there, when we do something for the least of these he is there as well. Caring for others in need is a means to finding God.

Prayer- Lord, help us to have both legs to stand on : faith and love.

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