This month's Series looks at I John verse by verse. (Here is the link to the beginning of the Series: I John Introduction.)
Yesterday's post covered I John 4:15-16. Here is the summary:
John has added to his model by stating that people who abide in love PROVE they are believers...they PROVE that they abide in God and God abides in them.
Now that John has FORMALLY added LOVE to his model, he can explain SPECIFICALLY the WHY/HOW of love.
Today, we will conclude I John 4 and find out John's definition for love...
I JOHN 4:17-21
"17 Herein is love made perfect with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, even so are we in this world."
Notice, our love is made perfect in an ACTION: that we have boldness in the day of judgment. WHY would we have boldness in the day of judgment?
John says BECAUSE as He is, even so are we in this world. Having the Holy Spirit in us NOW makes us "like" Jesus as He is NOW. Remember, Jesus said He had to go away so the Holy Spirit would come. Jesus said we would do GREATER things than Him BECAUSE of the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, John has PROVEN different things connected with being bold before God...
I John 2:28 said:
"28 And now, my little children, abide in him; that, if he shall be manifested, we may have boldness, and not be ashamed before him at his coming."
John stated that abiding in Him resulted in being able to have boldness before Him at His coming. We now know this is ONLY done through taking direction from the Holy Spirit inside of us.
I John 3:21-22 said:
"21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God;
22 and whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight."
In that post, we saw that John's model for LOVE was:
LOVE is a QUANTITATIVE ACTION that SPECIFICALLY involves GIVING.
LOVE is Profitable.
LOVE is a Right WHAT (giving) with a Right HOW/WHY. However, John has not explained the Right HOW/WHY yet.
The next verse allows us to look at the Right HOW/WHY for love. Let's look at the next verse in I John 4...
"18 There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love."
Thre is A LOT in this one verse...
PERFECT LOVE removes FEAR.
John states that fear has punishment...which is the loss of a value. We have seen that love involves giving. However, this giving CANNOT be concerned AT ALL with the loss of a value...otherwise it is fear.
John is stating the HOW of LOVE!
Love is the giving of a value WITHOUT being afraid of losing the value. This means two things...
1. Love must involve giving WITHOUT EXPECTING anything in return from the one to which we are giving. If we have ANY expectations, then we will have fear that we have loss the value.
2. Love must involve giving AND KNOWING we will get it back SOME WAY. Remember, love is Profitable...so we know we are going to gain. The ONLY way to gain, is if we get something back that is MORE valuable to us.
Remember, perfect LOVE casteth out FEAR. Fear and love are COMPLETELY incompatible. Giving without expecting AND giving knowing that it will result in more BOTH remove ANY possibility of punishment...loss of value...fear.
WHY don't we expect to get anything in return?
WHY would we expect to become Profitable?
As John wrote from the beginning of this letter: God is light and in Him there is no darkness AT ALL.
God is ALWAYS COMPLETELY Right and ALWAYS COMPLETELY Just.
We KNOW that God will equal everything out through Justice. We KNOW that the value will return to us eventually through God. If it returns at judgment (when we are bold before Him), then it is an eternal value...which is MUCH MORE Profitable than anything we can give today!
-I Corinthians 13:3 has Paul stating that if he gives but does not do it by love, then it profiteth him nothing. Love is more than just the action of giving...it involves an attitude that does NOT expect anything in return from the person you are giving to. It is not fearful of losing something.
-John quoted Jesus as saying greater love hath no man than he gives his life for a friend. (John 15:13) Notice, if you give your life, there is NO WAY to expect the person to pay you back! The ONLY way to get paid back is through God!
-Jesus defined love as giving and not expecting anything in return from the person you gave to in Luke 6:34-35.
Giving without expecting anything in return from the one to which you give is the ONLY definition that fits the words of Jesus, Paul, and John!
"19 We love, because he first loved us."
MAJOR DOCTRINE!!! John has wrapped up his model on "God is Love". Love is ONLY possible if it is God's love through us. We don't have the ability to love within ourselves. We couldn't do it FIRST. God HAD to FIRST love us IN ORDER for us to be able to love Him. God had to FIRST love us IN ORDER for us to be able to love ANYONE.
God had to FIRST give us a value IN ORDER for us to be able to give ANYTHING to ANYBODY.
Take some time to really state what you believe the definition of love is BECAUSE it is THE MEASURE for determining if someone is a believer.
"20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen.
21 And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also."
I John 4 ends with John stating the commandment we have from Him: loving God and loving his brother.
John states POINT BLANK: How can someone who does NOT love his brother who he sees (doesn't require faith) SAY that he loves God?...who he hasn't seen (which requires faith).
This is a HUGE POINT: IF a person does NOT love believers in ACTIONS, then he is NOT a believer.
CHAPTER 4 SUMMARY
John states that loving believers is PROOF that God dwells in us and that we have Righteousness...that we are making progress (ACTION) in the light. Notice, John ends with two foundational principles: Righteousness (being a believer/loving God) and loving our brother.
John then references the commands that he referenced earlier to show that he has PROVEN them TRUE. What were the two commands?
First Command: Love the Lord thy God
Second Command: Love your neighbor.
John has gone through an EXTREMELY powerful philosophical proof. Unlike Paul, John does NOT use the scriptures to prove his points. He is doing this COMPLETELY logically...and it ALL checks out WITHOUT contradiction.
Now we are ready for John to bring the ENTIRE PROOF to a POWERFUL conclusion in the final chapter of I John.