Friday, November 16, 2012
1st John Chapter 4 Part 11
4:16 And 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.
Two verses prior John writes that he has seen and testified that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Now he states that they have known and believed the love God has for us. This love was demonstrated at the cross when Jesus died on our behalf. John witnessed this firsthand, John 1:14; 19:26. Now he tells us that they have known and believed. Right knowledge is a beginning; but faith must take over where knowledge ends.
God never insists on blind faith. Many critics of Christianity level the charge of blind faith where our acceptance of the Scriptures and Christ’s life and death are concerned. But God never wants us to come to Him blindly. He has left evidences of His existence in creation, in history, in science, in archeology. Moreover He has left evidences of His character and purpose toward man and our universe in the Bible. He entered history as Jesus Christ and died on the cross for our sins as payment due His own perfect justice, Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 18:20. The testimony of hundreds who saw Him after His resurrection confirms its authenticity. The foundation of the church as an entity with water baptism and the Lord’s Supper sprang from the historic occurrence of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
Knowledge alone cannot help us, however. Head knowledge must become faith. I may know that the drug the doctor prescribed will rid me of my headache; this is head knowledge. But until and unless I trust the doctor and this medicine I won’t take it. Finally ingesting the drug to cure my headache testifies of the fact that my knowledge matured into faith; I trust the source of knowledge enough to believe that what they have said is true and will help me. The drug is no less or no more efficacious while it’s sitting on my kitchen table; but until I ingest it and allow it to do what it was meant to do I cannot partake in its efficacy. The Psalmist says “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Psalm 34:8.
We return to the abiding nature of fellowship with God. God IS love, John reiterates. Those who dwell in a state of love with their fellow Christians likewise dwell in a harmonious state of perpetual fellowship with their Creator and Savior. It is mutual; the believer dwells in God and God dwells in him. Jesus our Lord told us “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him,” John 14:23. This same train of thought was given again by our Lord when He was reproving the Laodicean church: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me,” Revelation 3:20. The warning Jesus gave in John chapter 15 about abiding in Him had not been heeded by the Laodicean church, and now they were suffering complete spiritual barrenness. Christ offers this counsel: that anyone hearing His voice should open the door (figuratively to their church) to allow Him entrance and fellowship once more. This is achieved by a return to serious and reverent study of Scripture that surpasses knowledge and presses on into faith. This faith is then visible and tested before men, Matthew 5:16. More than that, it is seen and rewarded by God, Matthew 6:1-18.
As a final note, recall as John began his epistle that he wrote about how God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all, 1st John 1:5. Cults and even Christians who advance the “God is love” mantra to unbiblical proportions conveniently forget that God is also holy and love can only be in truth, according to the One who is truth, John 14:6; 1st Corinthians 13:6. Love is not an excuse to justify or gratify any sinful behavior we wish because “God is love.” If we clearly understood what it meant that God is love, and what He suffered to demonstrate that love we would rethink how quickly we choose to offend our Father by relishing sin and disguising it as love. Peter writes “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using your liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God,” 1st Peter 2:15-16. God did not liberate us to indulge sin; He died to sin so we too might do so; because it is the only way to truly live for Him, 2nd Corinthians 5:14-15.