The Revelation of God. Lesson 13. Lesson Text—I John 4:8. I John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. Lesson Text—I John 4:16.
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I John 4:8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
I John 4:16And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
I Corinthians 13:1-21 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
I Corinthians 13:3-43 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.
II Corinthians 5:14For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.
I John 4:8
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
In the essence of His nature, God is love; we enjoy a love relationship with Him.
The Nature of True LoveI. God Is Love
What is true love? The world loves to talk about love, but how many people in the world understand what true love is?
One secular song I remember from my teenage days was “What the World Needs Now Is Love” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The songwriters go on to say about love, “It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”
Sadly, our world often confuses many twisted, perverted activities with love. Pornography or perverted sexual practices have nothing to do with love. They do not express love at all, but many people are confused by the culture and tricked into associating perversions with some form of love.I. God Is Love
The only true definition of love is given to us in the Scriptures: “God is love.” True love is one of the pure, unspoiled characteristics of the nature of God. As succinctly stated by Arthur W. Pink in his book The Attributes of God, “Love is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature.” God is love! The two are so conjoined, it is impossible to separate God and genuine love.
Like a miner settling for fool’s gold instead of the real thing, we must not be fooled by the culture into accepting imitation love in place of the genuine. Real love includes God, for He is love.
Love is one of the most overused words in the English language. There is a wide variation in the intended concepts proffered by the word love, and there is a difference between what the world calls love and what the Bible calls love. The world prints “I love you” on cards and personal notes and in song lyrics. The phrase rolls glibly from the tongue, often without any deep emotional stirrings.
Two hallmarks of God’s nature, His holiness and His love, dynamically affect His relationship with mankind.I. God Is Love
God’s plan of redemption required a blood sacrifice. The first known indication of blood sacrifice was when God sacrificed animals and used their skins to clothe Adam and Eve. Another early indication of animal sacrifice appeared in Abel’s offering to God of the firstlings of his flock (Genesis 4:4).
After God first promised to redeem mankind, He slowly worked toward the fulfillment of His plan.
The law required the blood sacrifices of bulls and goats, but they only forestalled judgment; they were unable to remit sin and reconcile individuals to God.I. God Is Love
The scriptural ideal of love is quite different from the world’s contemporary idea. This is clear when comparing three Greek words that represent three concepts of love: eros, phileo, and agape.I. God Is Love
It is often easy to love those who love us but more difficult to love those who despitefully use us. Nevertheless, people will recognize us as Christ’s disciples if we love Him and others and keep His commandments.
God Is LoveI. God Is Love
Love defines the character of God. From before the creation of the world and throughout eternity, He always has been and always will be the very essence of “love,” for He is love. His love is not reactive and is not based upon the actions of others. He loves regardless of how or whether an individual returns His love.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
God demands our love and will not tolerate being given secondary loyalty in our lives. What if our love is divided between Him and someone or something else?I. God Is Love
1. Some people will not let go of their love of the world. Some people may decide not to follow Jesus because they want to continue to enjoy the pleasures of sin. Or, once enlightened, others may turn back to the world, being drawn by the pull of former pleasures.I. God Is Love
2. Some people will not let go of their love for their own life.I. God Is Love
God loves all people, whether they are believers or unbelievers, whether they are dead “to” sin or dead “in” sins. (See Romans 6:2, 7; Ephesians 2:5.)I. God Is Love
True love is more than a sentiment or emotion. It is a living principle that manifests itself in our actions. We may say we love, but how deep is that love?I. God Is Love
Sadly, the world has taken God’s gift of the ability to love and bent it into unrecognizable shapes. Like a person’s distorted reflection in a wavy mirror, some people’s concept of love is disproportionate and sometimes perverted. For many, love is earthly and sensual. Some fall in love and out of love indiscriminately.
Others have been burned by earthly love so many times that when someone expresses genuine love for them, they immediately suspect an ulterior motive. Still, God loves all individuals because He created them in His image. He woos the world with His pure, undefiled love, and all believers are to demonstrate the same love to others.
The Spirit of God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. No man has seen God at any time (John 1:18) for God is a Spirit. Humankind’s only ability to observe God has existed by glimpses of Him through theophanies (brief, temporary manifestations) or through observing the life of Jesus Christ, God manifested in the flesh.
The context of God’s love is His holiness. Since God’s nature is holy, His love also must be holy. Mankind’s wallowing in the filth and corruption of sin repulses God, but still with love He reaches down into the mire and draws us up to Himself.I. God Is Love
The history of the Israelites displays the steadfast love and patience of God.I. God Is Love
God’s dealings with Israel provide a tremendous example for us today. He would not forsake Israel even though the people often turned to idols and gave them worship that rightfully belonged to Jehovah.I. God Is Love
How far reaching is the love of God? One cannot compute, calculate, or measure it. His love never falters; it is constant. Further, He delights in blessing, caring for, and enabling those who love Him, and He grieves when He must mete out judgment because the sinner refuses to repent.
The power of God’s love caused Him to give. He gave up the splendor, wealth, majesty, and adoration of Heaven to accept the ignominy, poverty, lowliness, and rejection of humanity. He gifted mankind with mercy, grace, compassion, healing, forgiveness, and ultimately His own life. It was the most selfless, extravagant display of love the world has ever known.
No wonder John wrote, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us” (I John 3:1).
For Jesus, the greatest pain of crucifixion was not the mutilation of His body or the mocking of the gainsayers. The greatest pain was that our Lord bore in His body the sins of the whole world. He who knew no sin became sin for us (II Corinthians 5:21). He withheld nothing of the price of redemption for fallen man.
Christ’s death on the cross was the ultimate example of sacrificial love. He died that we might live.
We often refer to the Day of Pentecost as the birthday of the church. In the same sense, every person’s personal Pentecost becomes his spiritual birthday. Every sinner who is born of the water and the Spirit cries out in repentance, is born of the water through water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and receives the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. John marveled over God’s loving gift of spiritual birth.
“What manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God”
(I John 3:1).
Love seeks an outlet of expression and produces a response. It is not flowery words but a living force that propels us to go beyond the sense of duty or obligation and give our all to Him. We are channels through which the Spirit of God flows to touch the lives of others.
God does not ask us to go to the cross, though many Christians have died as martyrs through the centuries. He asks us to present our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Instead of hoarding to ourselves the mercy and love God has lavished on us, we give it away to others. We become His hands, feet, and mouthpiece to declare His love in word and deed to a hurting world.
People who may never read the Scriptures watch our lives closely, “reading” us like a living epistle. This is not a display of arrogance or self-righteousness; instead, we are trying to please our Savior. This is the love of God on display in our lives.
The greatest example of the love of God in us is brotherly kindness and compassion for others.
“Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered.I. God Is Love
Love seeks the welfare of all, Romans 15:2, and works no ill to any, 13:8-10; love seeks opportunity to do good to ‘all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith,’ Galatians 6:10” (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).
Paul approached the subject of love from a different angle by providing a more detailed list of the attributes of God’s love. (See I Corinthians 13.)
We decide to rejoice in truth, protect the reputation of others, trust, hope, and persevere. This is the love of God on display.
Judas betrayed Jesus because he loved what was in the money bag more than he loved Jesus. Demas left Paul because he loved this present world more than he loved Jesus.
The love of God is a powerful motivating force. Because He loved His creation, God manifested Himself in flesh as the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He lived a humble life of obscurity until He began His ministry. Then, He healed lepers, made the mute to speak, and opened deaf ears. He delivered the demon-possessed and those bound by spirits of infirmity. Because He loved, He gave mankind the opportunity to enter into His kingdom.
We as believers can obey the plan of salvation and have the sinless blood of the Lamb applied to our lives. The Lord washes away our sins through repentance and water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. We receive the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.I. God Is Love