We’re continuing our deep dive into 1 John 4:15-19, and we’ve finally gotten into what I think would be where I will be getting the majority of what I’m going to be sharing to the junior and senior high kids tomorrow. That is, if I’m even called to speak tomorrow – it looks like it by default but who knows, anything could change.
But well, whether I’m called or not, I’ve decided to finish this… only because how we started was pretty eye-opening. I enjoyed the build-up towards today. It’s been… clarifying.
We spoke first about thoughts on belief – Or, what we say when we say that we believe in Jesus Christ. It begins with acknowledging that He is who He says He is – what we believe, first and foremost, is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, to be precise. Basing on 1 John 4:15-16, and also throwing Romans 10:9 in: if we say that we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, it is to say that we believe in His deity. He is not just a ‘teacher’, nor is He just a ‘prophet’, nor is He just a role model to imitate, or a man with a lot of good sayings to emulate – He is, first and foremost, begotten of God, and is divine. Jesus Christ IS the Son of God.
If we say that we believe in Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Romans 10:9 also shares that we are also saying that He is Lord – that is, He isn’t just any deity, but THE deity – the God above all Gods, just as He is King of all Kings and Lord of Lords – that is, infinitely superior to anything and anyone else in this reality that claims to have power, influence, and/or authority over us.
Finally, if we say that we believe in Jesus Christ, we are saying that God raised Him from the dead, and to say this implies that we believe He died, and He died in our place. To say that He died also implies that He was born as one of us, taking on earthly flesh that expires. It says a lot so far, but the exclamation point is, again, that He who was born as one of us, and He who died in our place – God raised Him from the dead, which speaks of His everlasting love for us, as seen in His willingness to lay down His body and blood in His death, and His commitment to not only reconcile us but to enjoy us now and forever, in His resurrection.
When we say we believe in Jesus Christ, we are saying all this – or, in our walk with Him, we would eventually come to the same realizations of the Truth; and, indeed, we appreciate how it is truly the Truth that sets us free. It is the Truth that saves us.
Yesterday we covered even more ground, drawing out and clarifying my thoughts on the second half of 1 John 4:16, and the entire 4:17: “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.”
The apostle John has said it twice now in the set of passages we’re covering: God abides in us. If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in us. If we abide in His love, God abides in us. Now I don’t know if logic allows me to imply that believing that Jesus Christ would have us abide in His love, but I suppose it fits well with the rest of the implications we’ve established previously. So putting it all together, if we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, we are also believing that He is Lord, and He rose from the dead, AND that His love abides in us.
Our perspective on salvation is revolutionized when we realize that salvation involves union – or, in our case, re-union. Christ’s finished work has brought us reconciliation, and it’s only because of this that we are able to say: we abide in God, and God abides in us.
Christ has reconciled us to God, and we now enjoy union with Him – He abides in us, and we abide with Him, and this is not only to be beheld in full force when our physical bodies expire, but the presence of the Holy Spirit poured out upon us is proof that we enjoy union with Him, right here and right now, in this finite reality. This right here is precisely why we are not only so bold to come to God and to His throne of grace in our time of need, but, as the rest of the verse goes, this great salvation we have is also why we are confident in the day of judgment.
Christ paid such a great price for us to be so present with God, and He is as close to us as He could ever be, to the point that we say that as He is, so are we in this world – and we say this through the lens of God’s love for us, and all He has done for us.
What do we believe? We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. We believe that God raised Him from the dead.
What does this mean? We believe in Christ’s divinity, Christ’s superiority, and Christ’s commitment to reconcile us – and reconcile us He did, by His death, proven by His resurrection, and guaranteed by His ascension.
And because we believe this, we ourselves are saved.
What does it mean to be saved? It means that we abide in His love. It means that we abide in God, and God abides in us.
Why do I think that John had to go this deep? Because it needed to be presented as a backdrop, a fitting introduction to what he meant when he said the following:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear.
There is no fear in love. Is it to say that we should never fear? I don’t think so. I think that we are still capable of being afraid, but here’s the key – we won’t stay in fear forever. Why? Well, because we believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and because of this, it’s God, who is love, that abides in us. We won’t stay in fear forever because God abides in us forever, and we abide in God forever as well.
And, apparently, because God is love, and because John said what he said, it’s not just Love that abides in us, but, friends, it is Perfect Love that is alive in us.
For fear has to do with punishment
I’m so tempted to just end this here and to continue where I left off tomorrow, but something’s telling me that I need to get this up, so the time I have left would be to meditate on it and to figure out which bits to share and which bits to hold off on saying. I have all sorts of reasons – I’m sleepy and I need rest, and I haven’t given myself time to relax. But, man, if there’s anything I’m learning this week, it’s that I certainly can get more done in the span of a day… so bear with me, friends…
All fear has its roots in punishment. We have it recorded in the book of Genesis that the as soon as Adam and Eve partook of the fruit they were warned not to eat, they saw that they were naked, and (1) they used fig leaves to hide their nakedness, and (2) they hid from God when He called for them. They hid, because they knew that they were warned – they were specifically told that if they ate the fruit, they would die – and they ate it anyway. As soon as they disobeyed, they were afraid.
Romans 3:23 says that the wages of sin is death, and I believe that the effect of death is fear. We’re all afraid of one thing and another, depending on who we are, but there is one fear that grips us all, and that is not merely the fear of death, but fear of punishment.
(and) whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
And see, here’s the thing. We go back to what we believe, and what it means to be saved. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and therefore, that He is Lord, and that He rose from the dead. We believe in Christ’s divinity and superiority, and that He has reconciled us to God through His finished work. Because we believe in this, we are saved – God abides in us, and we abide in God. I think it’s important for us to say this because we need to emphasize that it we no longer abide in sin, death, and fear – no, we abide in God, who is Perfect Love that abides in us.
This is not to say that every time we fear we do not show how God has perfected us in love. No, on the other hand, I believe that it is God’s perfect love that would last longer than any fear that would try to harm us and tear us down, now and forever. And to think that even the smallest of fears would imply that we have not been perfected in love – What a weak and imperfect love that would be! No, friends, we do not have a love that demands that we be perfect – No, we have a Living Love that abides in us and IS perfect no matter how great the fear may be!
And, friends, it is not merely a Perfect Love that is ready to handle fears as they come, as a reactive peace – No, my friends, and this is my ultimate point: This is a Perfect Love that abides in us, and in Whom we live, and move, and have our being. What does this mean? It’s not merely a Love that holds us together whenever things happen to us – No, because it is a perfect love, it is an overflowing love, and a love that we have that is the power behind us making things happen!
I suppose I need this as a reminder to myself as well – Because God lavishes us with such great mercies that are as high as the heavens are from the earth, and because these mercies are for us and they are new with every morning, we are certainly willing and able to overflow with mercy for others – whether the world deems anyone worthy of mercy or not, we would grant mercy, because we ourselves have experienced God’s mercy towards us.
And, as we discussed, it doesn’t stop there – for as Christ is our Prince of Peace, and the Peace that is alive in us, so we do not just ‘give’ peace to others, but we ‘are’ peace – we understand, say, how our mere presence ministers to our troubled neighbors. We understand that in our own times of trouble, God didn’t sit and listen to us, nodding His head and just waiting for us to feel better already, nor did He say a cliche ‘everything happens for a reason’ or ‘it’ll all work out’; No, God knows each and every one of us, and all that we’ve done, and all that we’re going through, so much that He sincerely spends His time with us, speaking or staying silent, it all depends on the Creator of the Universe who knows that’s best for us to have peace.
As Christ is patient with us – surely, just as patient as He was with the Pharisees who mocked Him, and the Romans who inflicted great pain to Him; just as He was patient with His disciples who were trying too hard to get His attention or His approval – So we are also patient and longsuffering towards others, dedicating time understanding who they are and why they do what they do, and responding with elegance and grace.
As Christ ministers to us with exceeding joy, so we are able to draw joy out for others, even in the most testing and frustrating of times. Again, He knows the best way for us to rejoice, and just as He does it for us, so we are able to take the time to sincerely bring joy for others, even in the most joy-less of times.
And I can keep on going, but I suppose I’ll end with that:
We love because He first loved us.
Again, I apologize if this comes out as anticlimactic, but I wanted this out of my mind before I started another day. I promise to perhaps fine-tune my thoughts on the matter tomorrow, and perhaps have a proper presentation, both to you and to the kids I’ll be speaking to.
Until the next post, be blessed.