1Jn_4:9. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
There is love in our creation; there is love in providence; but most of all there is love in the gift of Christ for our redemption. The apostle here seems to say, “Now that I have found the great secret of God’s love to us; here is the clearest evidence of divine love that ever was or ever can be manifested toward the sons of men.”
1Jn_4:10. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
In us there was no love; there was a hatred of God and goodness. The enmity was not on God’s side toward us; but on our side toward him. “He loved us and sent his son.” The gift of Christ; the needful propitiation for our sins, was all of love on God’s part. Justice demanded the propitiation, but love applied it. God could not be just if he pardoned sin without atonement; but the greatness of the love is seen in the fact that it moved the Father to give his Son to an ignominious death, that he might pardon sinners and yet be just.
1Jn_4:11. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
Here we have a fact and an argument. We ought to love. We ought to love after God’s fashion; not because men loved us. Nor because they deserve anything at our hands. We are too apt to look at the worthiness of those whom we help; but our God is gracious to the unthankful and to the evil.
He makes his sun to rise and rain to fall for the unjust as well as for the righteous, therefore we ought to love the unlovely and the unloving. But just as God has a special love for his own people, we who believe in him ought to have a peculiar affection for all who are his.
1Jn_4:12. No man hath seen God at any time.
We do not need to see him to love him. Love knows how good he is, though she hath not beheld him. Blessed are they who have not seen God, yet who love him with heart, and mind, and strength.
1Jn_4:12. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
He is not far to seek. If you love one another, God is in you; he dwells in you, he is your nearest and dearest Friend, the Author of all other love. The grace of love comes from the God of love.
1Jn_4:13. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
And his Spirit is the spirit of love. Wherever it comes, it makes man love his fellow man and seek his good; and if you have that love in your heart, it came from God, and you dwell in God.
1Jn_4:14. And we have seen.
Yes, there is something that we have seen. John writes for himself and his fellow apostles, and he says, “No man hath seen God at any time,” but —
1Jn_4:14. We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
John saw him live, and saw him die, and saw him when he had risen from the dead, and saw him as he ascended. So he speaks to the matter of eyesight, and bears testimony that, though we have not seen God, we have, in the person of the representative apostles, seen the Son of God who lived and laboured and died for us.
1Jn_4:15. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
Let Christ be God to you, and you are saved. If, in every deed, and of a truth. You take him to be the Son of God, and consequently rest your eternal hopes on him, God dwells in you, and you dwell in God.
1Jn_4:16. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.
How far is this true of all of you? How many here can join with the beloved apostle, and say, “We have known and believed the love that God hath to us”? We know it; we have felt it; we are under its power. We know it still, it remains a matter of faith to us; we believe it. We have a double hold of it. “We know,” we are not agnostics. “We believe,” we are not unbelievers.
1Jn_4:16. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
This is not mere benevolence; there are many benevolent people who still do not dwell in love. They wish well to their fellow men; but not to all. They are full of indignation at certain men for the wrong that they have done them. John’s words teach us that there is a way of living in which you are in accord with God, and with all mankind; you have passed out of the region of enmity into the realm of love. When you have come there, by the grace of God, then God dwells in you, and you dwell in him.
1Jn_4:17. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have a boldness in the day of judgment:
That is a wonderful expression, “boldness in the day of judgment.” According to some, the saints will not be in the day of judgment. Then, what is the use of “boldness in the day of judgment”? As I read my Bible, we shall all be there, and we shall all give an account unto God. I shall be glad to be there, to be judged for the deeds done in my body; not that I hope to be saved by them, but because I shall have a perfect answer to all accusations on account of my sin. “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” If I am a believer in Christ, —
Bold shall I stand in that grand day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
While through thy blood absolved I am From sin’s tremendous curse and shame.”
Because as he is, so are we in this world.
Happy Christian men, who can say that? If you live among men as Christ lived among men, if you are a Saviour to them in your measure, if you love them, if you try to exhibit the lovely traits of character that were in Christ, happy are you.
1Jn_4:18. There is no fear in love;
When a man loves with a perfect love, he escapes from bondage.
1Jn_4:18. But perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
There is a loving, holy fear, which is never cast out. Filial fear grows as love grows. That sacred dread, that solemn awe of God, we must ever cultivate; but we are not afraid of him. Dear heart, God is your best Friend, your choicest love. “Yea, mine own God is he,” you can say; and you have no fear of him now. You long to approach him. Though he is a consuming fire, you know that he will only consume what you want to have consumed; and will purify you, and make your gold to shine more brightly because the consumable alloy is gone from it. He will not consume you, but only that which would work for your hurt if it were left within you. Refining fire, go through my heart! Consume as thou wilt! I long to have sin consumed, that I may be like my God. Say you not so, my brethren?
1Jn_4:19. We love him, because he first loved us.
The reason for our love is found in free grace. God first loved us, and now we must love him; we cannot help it. It sometimes seems too much for a poor sinner to talk about loving God. If an emmet or a snail were to say that it loved a queen, you would think it strange, that it should look so high for an object of affection; but there is no distance between an insect and a man compared with the distance between man and God. Yet love doth fling a flying bridge from our manhood up to his Godhead. “We love him, because he first loved us.” If he could come down to us, we can go up to him. If his love could come down to such unworthy creatures as we are, then our poor love can find wings with which to mount up to him.
1Jn_4:20. If a man say, I love God.
Not, “if a man love God,” but if a man say, “I love God.” It is a blessed thing to be able to say, “I love God,” when God himself can bear witness to the truth of our statement; but the apostle says, If a man say, I love God, —
1Jn_4:20. And hateth his brother, he is a liar:
It is very rude of you, John, to call people liars. But it is not John’s rough nature that uses such strong language; it is his gentle nature. When a loving disposition turns its face against evil, it turns against it with great vehemence of holy indignation. You can never judge a man’s character by his books. Curiously enough, Mr. Romaine. Of St. Anne’s Church, Blackfriars, wrote the most loving books that could be; yet he was a man of very strong temper indeed. Mr. Toplady wrote some of the sharpest things that were ever said about Arminians; but he was the most loving and gentle young man that ever breathed. St. John, full of love and tenderness, hits terribly hard when he comes across a lie. He was so fond of love, that he cannot have it played with, or mocked or mimicked. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar.”
1Jn_4:21. For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
This is that “new commandment” which our Lord gave to his apostles, and through them to his whole church. “That ye love one another as I have loved you.” John was, in a special sense, “that disciple whom Jesus loved.” It was meet, therefore, that he should be the apostle to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to bring “this commandment” to the remembrance of any who had forgotten it. “This commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” God help us so to do, of his great grace!