Love of the Church motivated by the Assurance of salvation
1 John 4:11-14
An elderly man said to H.A. Ironside, “I will not go on unless I know I’m saved, or else know it’s hopeless to seek to be sure of it. I want a definite witness, something I can’t be mistaken about!” Ironside replied, “Suppose you had a vision of an angel who told you your sins were forgiven. Would that be enough to rest on?” “Yes, I think it would. An angel should be right.” Ironside continued, “But suppose on your deathbed Satan came and said, ’I was that angel, transformed to deceive you.’ What would you say?” The man was speechless. Ironside then told him that God has given us something more dependable than the voice of an angel. He has given His Son, who died for our sins, and He has testified in His own Word that if we trust Him all our sins are gone. Ironside read I John 5:13, “You may know that you have eternal life.” Then he said, “Is that not enough to rest on? It is a letter from heaven expressly to you.” God’s Spirit used that to bring assurance to the man’s heart. (H. A. Ironside).
- The Exhortation to Love (vv. 11)
“Beloved” – mentioned another time.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
The expression “God so loved us” – either refer to:
- The manner of God’s love to the reader – He loved the readers in this way, that is, in a gracious and sacrificial way.
- The extent of God’s love – He loved them to the extent that He sent His unique Son to save them.
The Latter is preferred, though it is difficult to distinguish between the two in this context.
In either case, John is using God’s love for the readers as an example and incentive for his readers to love one another.
Matt 22:37-39 “And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’”
The fact of God’s matchless love lays upon us a continuing obligation (Greek present tense) to be loving one another. Not only is it true that we have received the nature of God by reason of our new birth and thus we should love, but we have the example of His love teaching us and persuading us to love each other.
Those who are children of God they ought to have mercy as God have mercy on us.
Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
We must live a holy life as He is holy
1 Peter 1:15-16 “ but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”
We must love one another as God loved us.
II. The Motivation to Love (vv. 12-14)
In these verses John is drawing a connection between loving other believers and the assurance of salvation as an incentive for his readers to heed his exhortation.
- The first motivation is that God is seen through our love to one another (v.12)
“No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
In this verse John is answering an implied question, how is God seen in this world?
- Since God is pure spirit and absolutely holy, no man has ever seen God at any time.
- Yet, this does not mean that God cannot be seen.
- John’s point is that God can and should be seen in the love that those who are born of Him show toward one another.
- Those who continue (present tense) to show love toward one another demonstrate that God abides in them, that is, they demonstrate that they have been born of God and that they enjoy a saving relationship with God.
- Furthermore, by loving other believers, God’s love that has been sown in us is perfected in the sense that it is reaching its intended goal.
John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We have to show the world God by our love to each other when:
- We meet together (Heb 10:24-25; Acts 2:42)
- We practice Baptism and communion (Acts 2:41; 1 Cor 11)
- We witness to the world together (Matt 5:13-16)
- we are united (Eph 4:1-6)
- We are welcoming (Col 3:9-11; James 2:1-7)
2. The second motivation is the witness of the Holy Spirit (v. 13)
The Subjective element of assurance is the internal witness of the Spirit
“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”
The readers can know, that is, they can have confidence that they abide in the Father and Father in them because of the presence of God’s Spirit in their lives.
The connection between this verse and the preceding one is clearly implied. As the believers love one another, God’s Spirit gives them assurance that they are the children of God and have eternal life.
Romans 8:16 “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.”
Galatians 4:5-7 “so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”
Ephesians 1:13-14 “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”
- The third motivation is the witness of the apostolic preaching of the gospel (v. 14)
The Objective element of assurance is the witness of the apostolic preaching of the gospel (v. 14)
“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”
“We have seen and testify” – (cf. 1 John 1:1-3) The use of the pronoun “We” is referring to the apostles and eye witnesses.
“that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” – John introduces another criterion for confirmation of the believers’ union with God: adherence to the apostolic message. They bear “witness” to the Father’s saving activity in the Son.
This fact that God promised us salvation and eternal life motivate us to love one another.
1 Tim 1:15 “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.”
2 Pet 3:13 “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”