Monday, November 19, 2012
1st John Chapter 4 part 12
4:17-18 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
We come now to what I believe is the heart of John’s message regarding the believer’s eternal security in Jesus Christ. Our love is made perfect (Greek teleioo, meaning to complete, accomplish, or consummate) so that we may have boldness in the day of judgment. Herein, says John; for this reason our love is made perfect, so that we may have boldness in the day of judgment. The Greek word for “boldness” in this instance is “parrhesia” and means “all out-spokenness, frankness, bluntness, by implication: assurance.”
We may have this boldness brought about by perfect love due to the revealed truth about our spiritual condition upon believing the gospel and being saved. Paul writes about our Savior: “Jesus…delivers us from the wrath to come…for God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1st Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9. He concludes this thought by adding “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing,” 1st Thessalonians 5:11. In his letter to the Romans Paul writes the same, telling us, “Much more then, having been justified (saved) by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him [Jesus],” Romans 5:9. Whereas Jesus Himself promised “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” John 5:24.
The day of judgment, or the OT Day of the Lord as it is otherwise known, was a fearsome thing to contemplate. “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land,” Zephaniah 1:14-18.
To further clarify the apostle Paul writes about this same day, assuring us that the Lord will “give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed,” 2nd Thessalonians 1:7-10.
This is the wrath we shall be saved from. John assures us we may have boldness, confidence and assurance on this day, because as He is, so are we in this world. Christ was the light of the world, and in His absence He shines through a million, million saints who have His Holy Spirit abiding in them; and we in His stead are lights in this world and ambassadors of His gospel, Matthew 5:14; 2nd Corinthians 5:20.
Verse 18 is especially important to take note of. So much so that I’m going to repeat it once more for our mutual edification. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” The first usage of the word “perfect” in this verse is a trifle different. It is a term that is the root word for “teleioo.” It is “teleios” and means “completeness or complete in growth of mental or moral character.” It is translated once in Scripture as “of full age.” In other words, it involves comprehensive understanding of God’s love that provokes a mature trust reflected in our character as Christians.
The doctrine of falling away, which John would clearly have adamantly opposed, thrives on fear. Fear motivates the believer to living for God with one eye on the state of his salvation. Remove fear from the equation and “falling away” deflates like a proverbial balloon. John insists that we do so; he wants nothing more than to remove fear from our thinking and view of God, so we may love Him in a way that honors Him and frees us to live for Him without fear. The word “torment” is the Greek “kolasis” and simply means “penal infliction.” The word “kolasis” stresses the punishment aspect of God’s judgment. Living with a fear or dread of God’s torment can certainly quench any love we have for Him; how can we freely and fully love a God we’re afraid of in this fashion? He claims to love us, but is willing to cast us out after placing our faith in Christ so we will suffer eternal fire? This flies in the face of our Lord’s words when He stated “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out,” John 6:37. Perfect love, John writes, mature love drives out these thoughts because they are unworthy of the One who promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5.
The conclusion John reaches is that he who fears in this fashion is not yet made perfect (mature, complete) in love. In other words the believer, disciple or teacher has a juvenile perspective when it comes to the nature of God’s love for us and the believer’s security in His Son. It stands as a mild incongruity that a teacher should preach about God’s love with one breath, and then teach the error of falling away with the next. They do not square, according to John’s assessment. God’s justice was satisfied at the cross, and the issue of our eternal dwelling place was determined when we heard and believed the gospel. Our security in Christ is absolute. I conclude with the apostle’s words on the matter: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ...For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 8:35, 38-39.