Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

1 John 4:7-16

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent his Son as the world’s Savior. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

The Original Intent

1) How has God loved us?

The author of John (believed to be a half-cousin of Jesus, and described often as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”) tells us in verse 7 how all genuine and true love begins with God. God is the first and ultimate model of love.

These verses focus on His greatest act of love for people, God the Father sending God the Son “as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (verse 10). The depth of this statement is difficult to comprehend in its brevity. In fact, God used the whole Bible, years of history, and the entire nation of Israel to display what this statement is summarizing.

As 1 John 2:2 states, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
In light of this, sacrifice is a key descriptor of God’s love for His people. However, this word does not stand alone. In offering himself as a perfect, innocent sacrifice, Jesus’ years on earth are full of the fruits of the Spirit: humility, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

Jesus, as God the Son, lived out perfect obedience and submission the plan of the triune godhead to reconcile humanity to Himself.

The Everyday Application

1) How has God loved us?

God’s love for people cannot be grasped without first understanding who people are before God. When reading in Genesis, we only get a few chapters in before we see the first created humans twisting God’s words, doubting His goodness, and lying about their disobedience.

The Old Testament Law is eventually given as a mirror to remind us how we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Who are we, as created beings, that God should suffer and die on our behalf while keeping in mind, His own righteous judgment, which declares us guilty, sentencing us to death and eternal separation from Him?! He delivered justice, pouring out our consequence upon Himself, that we might be forgiven if we trust in Him for our only salvation.

So, what is our life application since God is doing all the work on our behalf in taking our punishment and literally being righteous for us? Rest and freedom in God’s love.
First, recognize salvation is completely the work of God! Repent then, turn from your sin, and rejoice in the freedom given as a result of God bestowing His favor upon us through His gracious forgiveness! 

You cannot earn something that has already been paid for by someone else. Second, as a Christian, your identity is in Christ alone. Be free to be who God made you to be. Throw yourself on Jesus who will continue to free you from your rebelling, selfish ways and from fears of this physical world. The God who created you and saved you will keep you for HIS eternal, big picture purposes.

The Original Intent

2) How does this transform the way we love one another?

1 John 4:11 states, “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” This theme is actually threaded all throughout 1 John. The letter ties together loving our fellow Christians closely with walking in righteousness and loving God. 1 John 2:10 states, “The one who loves his brother or sister remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”
Later in 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth”, firmly reminds us that love is an action.

Love does not sit idly by while someone is hurting, in need, or simply needs a friend for company. However, John tells us the importance of these actions being tied to truth, the anchoring, transforming power of the Gospel. 1 John emphasizes actions of love flowing from a heart bound to God, and therefore, flowing from a genuine concern for the overall well-being of those around us because we have been so loved!

The Everyday Application

2) How does this transform the way we love one another?

We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). Christians and non-Christians alike can display deep, inspiring acts of love. Non-Christians can indeed make sacrificial loving choices that put others first. These are following the ways of the Lord without even realizing it.

Anyone can be kind, even sacrificial, but to love as radically as Christ, we must first experience His love in a deep, intimate, personal way. Only His love is truly transformative to radically make every aspect of our lives and our minds bran new. Only a love rooted in the personal experience of the gospel will overflow into an entire life lived with the love by which Christ has loved.

1 John 3:16 notes, “He laid down His life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” Yes, Christ sacrificed His life at the cross, but we must not downplay the 30+ years of daily sacrifice Christ demonstrated on earth as He submitted to the Father, getting his hands dirty and building His Kingdom. Do you and I go about life according to our desires and sprinkle it with Christ’s love when it is convenient? Or do we prioritize our lives to intentionally focus on encouraging and building up others in the church.

Are you willing to sacrifice time, talent, and treasure to love the hurting? Or expose the imperfections of your home to welcome the lonely? Do we demonstrate patience and grace when a fellow servant of Christ makes ignorant statements? Do you ask God to help you cover a fellow Christian with forgiveness and mercy when they have hurt you? Love! You have been well loved first!

The Original Intent

3) What other theme is tied into these verses of love?

We have discussed how God is the beginning of love, the demonstration of His love, and how we are to mimic and reflect that love. Threaded tightly throughout the commands to love one another is the warning against being deceived by false teaching.

In watching for false teaching, one must learn to recognize the Spirit of the Lord. God does not give us power to judge another’s salvation, however, recognizing whether or not we are in Christ is emphasized strongly throughout 1 John. John’s letter is full of contrasts between the one who loves his brother and the one who loves the world. The one who loves the Father most, will also love others with the same mark. The one who chases after self and the world, John clearly says the Father is not in him (2:15).

The way we love others is a litmus test of our genuine salvation, being mentioned at least 4-5 times in these few verses. This test is first for ourselves personally, assessing if we are truly tethered to Christ by confessing Jesus as the Son of God (verse 15).

Secondly, the test of genuine, sacrificial love tied to the truth of Scripture, is a signpost by which we are to examine actions, teaching, and speech. If these are not in line with the truth of the gospel, proceed with awareness and a readiness to share truth of Christ with grace, realizing they may not have embraced the saving power of Christ.

The Everyday Application

3) What other theme is tied into these verses of love?

Committing to learning more about what God says in His word can feel overwhelming as there is so much to take in! But it’s not impossible, nor as difficult as it first seems. Begin simply by opening His Word, this is His revelation to us about Himself. Write down your questions and take them to a pastor, a trusted believing friend, or write us here at Gracefully Truthful!

Biblical sermons, podcasts, truthful websites, and commentaries are all good resources, but nothing compares to the beautiful Word of God itself! As you study the Bible, God will reveal His character. Look for His justice, mercy, faithfulness, humility, patience, and sovereignty in each recorded event. Spend time with Him by connecting through prayer either aloud, silently, or journaling. Engage in fellowship with other Christians.

Believers aren’t perfect people, just people who have been saved and are in the process of being made new in Christ.
To help you grow, no matter how long you’ve been following Jesus, read through 1 John and answer his questions for yourself.

Are you walking in light and righteousness of the Lord? Or, perhaps, do you know of Him but are not tethered to him IN Christ? Then read the book again considering who you look to for spiritual leading. Do their teachings and actions reflect God’s sacrificial love while being bound to the truth of Scripture? Are they proclaiming Christ IS God? True love and life begin with first knowing God and abiding in Him through the power of His Spirit.

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Rachel Jones
Editor
5 years ago

You have given me a prayer for this day: God, let me do “actions of love flowing from a heart bound to God.” It is so much easier to do anything when it flows out of a love relationship with Him.

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character,grace,patience,righteousness,sacrifice,salvation,true love
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