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July 6th Sermon | God's Shining Love | 1 John 4:16-21

Read 1 John 4:16-21


We have to ask the question:  God loves us, God loves His people and loves His church, How are we supposed to respond to God’s love for us?


The answer may seem easy to think of, we are supposed to love God back.  But what does that look like?  How are we supposed to show the world the DIFFERENT love which only comes from God Himself?


The Point:  God loves His people. The Church must be a shining beacon of God’s love to the lost and to each other—this is the testimony of God’s family.



1.  God has given His followers (believers) a selfless, perfect love, God loves His people.


So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also, we in this world.”


--1 John 4:16-17


God is Holy and set apart from this world.  We know this because God created the world, in the beginning there was nothing and God created all of this.  He made everything to be good and He made humanity to be very good.  He made the first humans, Adam and Eve, in His image,


Then God said, “Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;  male and female he created them.” 

– Gen. 1:26, 27


However, Adam and Eve committed a disobedient act, they sinned and directly disobeyed God’s only law in the garden.  When they committed this sin they hid from God, they tried to run from God yet God pursued them and looked for them asking out loud “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:8-9).  Even in their sin, God pursued His people, God loves His creation and loves humanity.  He loves humanity so much that He is offering a gift of grace to them, a gift of salvation from their inherited sin which He purchased by living a sinless life as Jesus, dying on the cross (undeservedly) and rose from the grave three days later.  God loves His people so much that He pursues and asks “Where are you?”


John is remind the churches of this essential truth in a Christian’s life—God is love! If you aren’t sure what love looks like—look at God Himself! God loves so much that He offers the free gift of salvation. 


God loves so much that He makes His people more righteous by highlighting their sin, convicting of that sin and cleaning His people of that sin.  Someone in a relationship with God will love others as God has loved them.

 "’Believing and knowing the love is certainly a very unusual expression.’   It is perhaps John’s way of referring to one’s knowing and believing the whole thesis and system of Christianity, which might be summed up, really, ‘as knowing and believing the love of God.’  What a beautiful way to express it!

--Coffman’s Commentary


“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

--Ephesians 5:1-2


Christians need to no longer be afraid because they have received God’s love—don’t fear the unloving, broken and scary world.  Rather, fear (revere) God, tremble before Him and understand that He has given us a new life because He loves us so much. 



2. We find confidence in God—there is no fear found in God’s love, don’t be afraid! God loves us! God gave us life for us! Let that truth give us amazing confidence and hope in this life.


“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

--1 John 4:18


“I cannot imagine a true man saying, ‘I love Christ, but I do not want others to know that I love him, lest they should laugh at me.’ That is a reason to be laughed at, or rather, to be wept over. Afraid of being laughed at? Oh sir, this is indeed a cowardly fear!” 

--Charles Spurgeon


 It is something that every Christian should be unafraid to proclaim: “I love Him; I love Jesus.” Can you say that? Are you embarrassed to say it? Can you say, “I love Jesus”?

We find a simple instruction from John here:  Church! Love God because He has first loved you.  Love us because God has first loved you.   This is a prescriptive instruction for every Christian including Christians living today.  If you have confessed your faith in Christ and are saved by His love then are you showing that love to others around you? 



3. The church has an amazing testimony:  God’s love shining through us! God’s love is shining through His church as we share the gospel of Jesus on a daily / weekly basis. 


“We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

--1 John 4:19-21



In the letter of 1 John we have to understand that John is reminding the church of what Godly, biblically accurate love looks like.  The church is a shining testimony of God’s love! What were the main points and context of 1 John?  God’s love is specific and looks a certain way.  It is also easy to slip into the teaching a false version of who God is and what God’s love looks like.


If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

--1 John 1:6-7


John makes it clear—if someone claims to follow God yet misrepresents who God is and what God’s true love looks like then they are not actually with God—they are a liar and we need to be aware of this.  This is important because:


The world has a definition of love.  The world’s version of love is full of sin and lawlessness, it is affirming of sin, it doesn’t call out truth and speak truth when someone needs to hear the truth, the world’s version of love is selfish and self-serving and leads to destruction.


If you have ever heard “God loves you for who you are” or “Your truth is the most important truth in the word—anyone that contradicts that you need to stay away from.”  These are major principles that our world teaches today.  God’s love teaches the opposite.  God teaches us that we are made in the image of God yet we are tainted by our sinful nature, nobody is perfect.  Yet, the one who is perfect, God, loves us so much He is offering salvation, we must repent and turn to Him and He will forgive us. 

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.  Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.  For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.   Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not become partners with them;  for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.

--Ephesians 5:1-8


“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?   You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

--Matthew 5:43, 47-48


We see here that Jesus is reminding the crowd and His disciples during the sermon on the mount of what Christ’s godly love looks like.  If you hate your enemy and pray to curse them then you are just like the world! You are having a self-serving love in your heart.  It is similar language to what Paul is reminding the church in Ephesus as he tells them that if they have Christ’s love in their hearts, they will not love what the world loves. They will not practice sexual immorality, they will not talk filthy, they will not be foolish. 


There are two things happening in both passages here as they match up with 1 John 4:18-21. 


God is reminding the church of one thing:  You can say that you love as God loves but do your actions line up with what you are saying?


Vs. 18:  “If anyone says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”


Jesus makes it clear that if we do not love as God loves, if we do not pray for those who persecute us, if we want revenge, if our actions do not line up with what we say than we are liars and being hypocritical. 

A church that is following the true Christ must be a shining beacon of God’s love, a true church will look like this:


a). They pray for their enemies (Matt. 5:43-47)

b). Their love for other’s is self-sacrificing NOT self-serving (1 John 3:15-18)

c).  They don’t affirm sin and lie to people telling them to stay in their habitual sin rather they tell people to love and worship God—God will make you more righteous. (Ephesians 5:1-8)

d).  They are generous to everyone, feeding people, offering help and services for people without asking for anything in return (1 John 3:15-18)

e).  They love each other, they put themselves last and others in their church first, a healthy church looks out for one another, walks together in Christ and loves one another, holding each other accountable, eating together, living life together.  (1 John 4:18-21)


“There is a difference between the love of man, and divine love. ‘These verses are the equivalent of saying that a person cannot practice agape-love unless he can first practice philia-love.’”

--James Montgomery Boice


Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.   Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

--Psalm 37:3-6



The Point:  God loves His people. The Church must be a shining beacon of God’s love to the lost and to each other—this is the testimony of God’s family.


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