Thursday, January 24, 2019

 

Psalm 14 The fool Has said in his heart there is no God.


Psalms 14

1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.

3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD?

5 There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous.

6 You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge.

7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

 

This week I read a story about three sisters—ages 92, 94, and 96.  These elderly siblings had never married and had lived together their entire LONG lives. One night, the 96-year-old sister drew a bath for herself. She put one foot into the water, then paused and called out to her sisters asking,  "Was I getting in the tub or out?" The 94-year-old hollered back, "I don't know sister, but I'll come up and see."  She started up the stairs, but stopped halfway and with a perplexed look on her face called out to her siblings, "Was I going up the stairs or coming down?" The "little" sister—the 92-year-old—was sitting at the kitchen having tea and she listened to her sisters' interchange with a smirk on her face. She shook her head and said, "I sure hope I never get that forgetful," and knocked on wood for good measure. Then she yelled out, "I'll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who just knocked at the door."

 

We can relate to this story because like these three spinsters we often struggle with failing memories. It is no doubt one of the side affects of living in an area like this where we endure such a hurried pace of life—but the truth is all of us forget things: names, purses, keys…appointments. I bring all this up today because—let's see—WHY did I bring this up? Oh yes—I brought it up because sometimes we REMEMBER the WRONG things while at the same time FORGETTING the RIGHT ones.

 

This Psalm is almost exactly like Psalm 53. This word  "fool" (Nabal -1 Sam 25) refers to people who should know YHWH but choose to live as if He does not affect their lives.  Even many of the covenant people sometimes lived as practical atheists (cf. Deut. 32:6,212 Sam. 13:13Ps. 10:4,11,13; 53:1; 74:22Ezek. 13:3).

David portrayed a fool as a man who affirms, "There is no God" (Psalm 14:1). The words, "There is," are in italics, added to carry the sense of the passage.  No God! is the original expression, as if the fool is one who says, "No God for me!" This implies not actual atheism, the denial of God's existence, but a practical atheism, the denial of the moral government of God. This is why fool and wicked are sometimes treated as synonymous terms. A life lived without God is a God-

less life. . . . The man Jesus described may not have been a morally bad man. There is no

evidence that he had added wealth to wealth by any fraudulent practices. He appears to have been a diligent, thoughtful sagacious man. His great folly was that he was ignorant of the divine hand supplying his multiplied prosperity. Early Jewish interpreters understood the declaration " There is no God" the same way. This is seen clearly in the Aramaic paraphrase of the Psalter. According to this version (called the Targum), the thinking , " There is no God," implies the assumption on the part of the wicked person that "none of his thoughts are revealed before the Lord" ( Tg . Ps 10:4). In Tg . Ps 14:1 the fool's declaration that " There is no God" is paraphrased to read, " There is no rule of God in the land." Though expressed differently, the same point is made in Tg . Ps 53:1, " The fool has said in his heart that God does not punish him."

Plato speaks of contemporaries who believe that the world is governed by chance, not gods, and that morality is man- made, not divine (Laws 10, 889a–890a). Similarly, in a play by Critias a character asserts that the gods are an invention designed to deter crime that other wise would g o undetected and therefore unpunished (Sisyphus frag . 19). Plato also speaks of those (like "public" Epicurus) who assert that the gods exist but are indifferent to humanity (Laws 10, 885b, 899d-e). Here we have a practical atheism not unlike what we see in the Hebrew Psalms.

Philo speaks critically  of "the  opinion which denies any god [atheos],  and that which worships a multitude of gods . .he who worships no god at all is barren, and he who worships a multitude is the son of a harlot" (On the Migration of Abraham 69). Indeed, according to Philo, "If you know it not, you are an atheist [atheos], and atheism [atheotēs] is the beg inning of all iniquity " (On the Decalogue 91).

 

The Lord Jesus told a parable of a fool, and undoubtedly had this passage in mind.

Luke 12:15 And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." 16 And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' 18 And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' 20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."

 

 

1. The Picture of a Fool

 

The fool has said in his heart "No God for me!"  It is more a determination than the product of rational logical thinking.  As we said last week, Antony Flew acknowledged that the complexity of the macro universe and complexity of the micro universe (DNA) led him to the same conclusion that Einstein arrived at: Someone designed it all! And that being is God.

 

The atheism of a fool is not a Head problem it is a Heart problem that becomes a Head Problem.

The Lord Jesus highlighted the true source of atheism. The atheist can't find God in the same way a burglar can't find a policeman. He doesn't want to!

He doesn't want to find God because there are other things he has mistaken for God.

 

He was mistaken about who had power over his life."I will do this!!" "The farmer was called foolish because, while he thought of his body, he forgot his soul."He mistook himself for God.  

 

He was mistaken about his purpose in life.  "I will tear down my barns and build larger ones," "A person may be a millionaire, yet a spiritual bankrupt."

He was mistaken about his possessions  "and there I will store all my grain and my goods."

 

He was mistaken about the permanency of his residency in life."And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years"

 

He was mistaken about the priorities of his life.  "relax, eat, drink, be merry.' 20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."

A popular expression of Greek Epicureanism was "eat, drink, be merry, for tomorrow we die" (cf. 1 Cor. 15:32). The rich fool omitted the last phrase from his quotation; he had no funeral plan!

"One may be wise in material things and a fool in spiritual things."

  "How much did he leave? All that he had!"  "Wealth is no measure of worth."

He had life all wrong!!

 

Three forces developing from the Enlightenment period

Secular Humanistic Philosophy (Knowledge sector & Reason)

Evolutionary Theory and Materialism (Science & Reason)

Modernization (Wealth accumulation & Media)

Division of Sacred and Secular

Secularism – Max Weber perceived secularization occurring because of a consequence of modernity's rationalization because rationality no longer gave space to religion thus creating a "disenchantment of the World."

 

Renaissance (14th and 15th centuries)

Scientific Revolution (16th and 17th centuries)

Enlightenment period (18th century)

Industrialization and Modern period (19th and 20th centuries)

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) – proclaimed God as dead indicating that enlightenment thinking had killed him in the sense Western culture had excluded him from public life.

 

Genesis in the Enlightenment

Age of Reason – Thomas Paine (1794)

Darwinism – Evolutionary Theory & Materialism

Before Darwin (1700's) there was an idea of the world moving from primitive to the more complex

Darwin (1809-1882) gave it a scientific setting through his book Origin of Species (1859)

There is a philosophical commitment to the idea of progress of humanity

Humanist Aldous Huxley (Ends and Means)  said he and his contemporaries did not want government or morality. So they chose evolution in order to shut the mouths of those who believe in special creation.
Swedish embryologist, Soren Lovtrup in Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth,  suggests that he believes that some day Darwinism "will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science."

 

14:2 "The Lord has looked down from heaven" YHWH was envisioned to dwell in heaven, from which He sees and knows all that occurs on earth (acts, motives, intents, cf. Ps. 33:13,14; 102:19Job 28:24). YHWH, so different from the idols, sees, knows, and acts!

 

The Lord looks down from heaven. He alone has the right perspective on what really matters in life.

Men say 'relax, eat, drink, be merry.' 20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."

 

 

2. The Problems Of A Fool

3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD?

5 There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous.

 

Heart, Head and Hand Problems.

 

The False Beliefs in "Science"

Defining "science" believing Science is objective and the measure of all truth.

Science can give humanity a partially true understanding of the world

Reason can be the basis of morality and law

Universal truths can be discovered through reason only

Science , technology, and education can solve humanities problems

Views contrary to reason not respected or even tolerated

 

These viewpoints are fatally flawed. 

 

Three primary carriers of modernity  (Hunter, 1994)

The first is "industrial capitalism" with its "applied rationality" and "rational control."  (also communism, et. al)

The "modern state" as the primary purveyor of a "rationalistic or bureaucratic form of social organization" with its compartmentalization rather than the integration of knowledge. 

The third is the "knowledge sector" with its "institutions of culture formation and reality definition" …universities, the mass media, and the arts.

Influence of Modernism on Culture
Dependence on reason & science from a closed worldview

Wealth accumulation and self-sufficient perspective

Popular media and technological influences

Knowledge sector's pursuit of truth from a closed worldview perspective 

Modernism's Influence on Christianity
Emphasis on self as the center of human life

Knowledge and education through science and reason is enough for ethical and moral decisions

Material well-being given priority

Religion relegated to sub-conscious experiences, needs, desires and feeling.

Biblical Criticism: Liberal scholarship denies inspiration

Modernization & belief in "science" as answer

Religion redefined as personal (leading to post-modern relativism), Subjective or psychological

Religion seen as a personal matter

Religion pushed to the fringe of academic pursuit

Religion seen as not important

Spiritual aspects of humanity down-played or ignored

"As there is a secularization of society and culture, so is there a secularization of consciousness." (Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy)

Secularism – Religion for the first time in history has lost its validity for the individuals in the society. (Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy, 124)

 

Andrew Murray said "All the sin of heathendom, all the sin of Christendom, is but the the outgrowth of the one root -- God dethroned, self enthroned in the heart of man."

The Lord summarises these problems

3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD?

 

 

 

 

Hell Problem Glen Innes man, 45 "My heart is too hard!"

5 There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous.

5 "There they are in great dread" Literally this is "they feared a fear" 

They do know God is there!  And they are in great fear and trembling.

 

 

 

3. The Prescription for A Fool

6 You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge.

7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

 

 

The nations do not call on YHWH (i.e., Ps. 79:6) but Israel does — Ps. 14:4; 50:15; 53:4

In the NT this OT worship phrase (i.e., ritual and prayer) becomes a way of denoting entrance into a relationship with YHWH through Jesus (cf. Acts 2:21; 22:16Rom. 10:9-13).

We are a called people who call on the name of the Lord and are then called to service! Prayerlessness is a sign of false faith and practical atheism! 

 

God alone sets the agenda for the world and the individual. He protects His people.

God alone can change your heart.

 

 

By way of conclusion, what is worth noting is that the practical atheism of the biblical period and late antiquity is much like the atheism of today. Most of humanity believes that God exists, but much of humanity lives as though God does not exist or, if he does, he takes little interest in human affairs. The atheism of today is much more than what we see in writings and pronouncements of atheist celebrities, such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. Atheism is much more than an explicit denial of the existence of God. The atheism that should concern all who believe in God is the practical atheism reflected in the lives of many theists, including Christians. The fools are not limited to those who openly state, " There is no God"; they  include  those who profess belief in God but live as though he does not exist. Until it is too late! And then? It is too late!!

Luke 12:20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."


Saturday, December 29, 2018

 

1 John 4 You Can’t Play The Blame Game If You Know His Love


7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.

18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

19 We love because he first loved us.

20 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 5:

1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.

3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world---our faith.

5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

 

 

The headlines on Thursday the 27th December 2018 was "The Blame Game"

The Australian Cricket team's 2018 shame was revealed: Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith blamed Dave Warner for the "SANDPAPERGATE" Test cricket cheating saga, "throwing Warner under the bus."

But The Blame Game began in the Garden of Eden

God asked Adam and Adam blamed Eve ("the woman you gave me", eve blamed the serpent and the serpent didn't have a leg to stand on!

1 John is written to combat a gnostic heresy, that Jesus wasn't both really God and Man at the same time. It was an error that affected the very nature of the gospel itself.  John demonstrates that a real faith in the true Christ produces real changes on believers.

Real faith in a true Christ, sound doctrine, brings a real relationship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit.

The power of sin has been broken in the life of the individual believer, and in the life of the church fellowship.

The breaking of the power of sin in the  life of the church and the life of the believer is evidenced by a sincere love for God and a sincere love for other believers.

John is bringing to our notice that  there is a difference between the way cultists live and the way true Christians live.

Christians evidence true sacrificial love, and by implication, pride, not self-sacrificial love, is the trait of the gnostic cults, that took pride in what they knew.

Because the cultists didn't correctly understand the nature of the atonement of Christ, a complete pardon through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, they didn't respond appropriately in relationships with others.  They descended to the blame game.

Many today can struggle with the Blame Game. In churches it looks like this:

"It is all so and so's fault."

Three is a concentration on the faults of others, not to help them, but to help ourselves.

There is the tendency to exalt ourselves above others, by seeing the sinful things they do.

It is seen most clearly in unloving actions and a backbiting tongue.

 

The Blame Game destroys Assurance of salvation because it doesn't relish the free mercy of God in Christ, but secretly goes back to forms of legalism to provide a pecking order in the church.

Any form of legalism reverts us away from the Gospel, towards an idea of salvation by works.

Look at the test that is provided.

Over these last few weeks in our study of 1 John we have examined:

False Beliefs

1. The Performance Trap – "I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself."

Consequences – The fear of failure; perfectionism; driven to succeed;

manipulating others to achieve success; withdrawal from risks.

God's Answer – Justification – Justification means that God has not only forgiven me of my sins but has also granted me the righteousness of Christ. Because of justification, I bear Christ's righteousness, and I am

therefore fully pleasing to the Father (Rom 5:1).

2. The Approval Addict – "I must be approved by certain others to feel good about myself."

Consequences The fear of rejection; attempting to please others at any cost; overly sensitive to criticism; withdrawing from others to avoid disapproval.

God's Answer – Reconciliation – Reconciliation means that, although I was at one time hostile toward God and alienated from Him, I am now forgiven and have been brought into an intimate relationship with Him. Consequently, I am totally accepted by God (1 John 3:1-3).

Today we examine ourselves for:

3. The Blame Game – "Those who fail (including myself) are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished."

Consequences – The fear of punishment; punishing others; blaming others for personal failures; withdrawal from God and others; driven to avoid failure.

God's Answer Propitiation means that by His death on the cross Christ satisfied God's wrath; therefore, I am deeply loved by God  (1 John 4:9-11).

The Compulsion to condemn others who fail

Answer the following questions as honestly as possible on the scale below.

Total your score to see how performance and fear of failure may impact you.

This information is just for you and you will not be asked to share results.

1

2

3

4

 5

6

7

Never

 

Very Seldom

Seldom

Sometimes

Often

Very Often

Always

 

Question

Score

 

I am afraid of what God may do to punish me.

 

After I fail, I worry about God becoming angry with me.

 

 

When I see someone in a difficult situation I wonder what they

did to deserve their problem.

 

When something goes wrong, I have a tendency to think

God must be punishing me

 

I am very hard on myself when I fail.

 

I find myself wanting to blame other people when I fail

 

I get angry at God when someone immoral or dishonest seems to get everything he wants and never gets punished

 

I can't keep myself from criticizing others when I see them doing something wrong

 

Instead of complimenting others on their strengths and accomplishments, I tend to focus on their mistakes and failures

 

God seem like He is harsh to me.

 

 

Total Score _____

 

Scoring

0 - 26 A strong appreciation of God's unconditional love and acceptance.

27 - 36 Small fear of punishment only in certain situations.

37 - 46 Moderate fear of punishment influences your decisions.

Emotional problems are sometimes rooted in this fear.

47 - 56 Fear of punishment forms the background of your life.

Constantly critical of yourself and others.

57 - 70 Overwhelming fear of punishment. Probably feel steadily depressed.

Experiences of rejection and failure probably fill your memories.

Strong victim mentality.

What are the four most negative terms you use to describe yourself?

Symptoms of the Blame Trap

Self-Induced Punishment

If I'm hard enough and punish myself, God will not have to be so hard.

Bitterness

Harboring anger and resentment lead to bitterness.

We become pessimistic and bitter questioning everyone's motives, including God.

Passivity

Fear of failure and thus punishment, freezes us from using the abilities and potential God gave us to create and succeed. We just don't try.

Punishing Others

We respond to others' failure with verbal abuse, criticism, nagging, backbiting, or ignoring them. This is based in the fear that their failure may make us look bad.

 

The Blame Game is a problem because it is based on a failure in Assurance of salvation.

Love is at the heart of the Gospel.

1 John 3: 11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous.

13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.

14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.

15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Love is at the Heart of God

1 John 3:16                By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

 

The word love is found 49 times in 1 John, 28 times as a verb, 18, times as a noun and 5 times as an adjective. The word agape is found 320 times in the New testament (philia friendship love 55 times). It is an old word revived and renewed as a special word for the New Testament. It primarily means self-less love, self-sacrificial love.

John's main theme is that you can't play the blame game if you know the love of God.

Knowing the love of God deeply will manifest itself in avoiding the Blame game.

Many years ago when I was preparing for ordination, those being ordained had to meet with Dr. Bill Anderson for a week to discuss pastoral problems we were experiencing in our churches.

I shared a problem I had, and after a day of discussion, Bill Andersen summed it all up "this situation is hopeless.  You and the church have done all you can to recitify the problem, and there is nothing anyone can do to fix it. The situation is hopeless, unless this man( the antagonist) experiences a good dose of the grace of God!"

A good dose of the grace of God. A fresh understanding of the love of God towards him.

 

1 John 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

Thy name is love, I hear it from yon Cross;

Thy name is love, I hear it from yon tomb;

All meaner love is perishable dross

But this will light me through time's thickest gloom.  H Bonar.

'Tis Love! 'Tis Love! Thou diedst for me! I hear Thy whisper in my heart;

The morning breaks, the shadows flee; Pure, universal Love Thou art:

To me, to all, Thy mercies move; Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

 

 

 

Have you experienced a good dose of the grace of God? Have you experienced a growing deepening appreciation of the love of God to you?

Backbiting is self-defensive. God's love is selfless and sacrificial.

God's love manifested in the Incarnation (v. 9). In verse 9 John sets forth the manifestation of redemptive love in the Incarnation: "By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him." John's term indicates the sacrificial nature of the Father's love in sending His only Son. The perfect tense verb "has sent" (apestalken) points to the abiding impact of that crucial sending.

9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

The purpose of this divine sending of the Son was "so that we might live through Him". The aorist subjunctive verb "might live" indicates the actual bestowal of life as the intended result of His mission. This statement of purpose implies that those to whom the Son was sent were spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1), but He came to give them life. The added words "through Him" declare that the Son Himself was the mediating agent in this bestowal of life, imparting to them eternal life while they are still living in this world. Eternal life is not merely future; through Christ it is received here and now and will continue into the eternal future.

God's love is manifested in the Atonement (v. 10).

Two facts concerning God's love are stressed. First, "that He loved us", literally, "that He Himself loved us". He took the initiative in revealing His love. His love "was original and spontaneous, the source of all other love."  The aorist tense "loved" refers to the historical coming of Christ; regarded as a distinctive landmark.

The redemptive purpose of His love is made clear in the additional fact that He "sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

The aorist "sent" views the First Advent as a mission that culminated in making "His Son to be the propitiation for our sins". Since no verb is used, the expression may be rendered "His Son to be the propitiation" or "His Son as a propitiation." John insisted that the Son "Himself is the propitiation for our sins" (2:2). He was not sent merely to be "the propitiator for our sins," like the high priest under the Mosaic Law, but Himself became "the propitiation for our sins" by shedding His own blood for the remission of sins. Christ's self-sacrifice for sins made full atonement for all sins, thus enabling God to pardon at His own cost the sins against Himself of those who believe and to restore them to acceptance and fellowship with Himself. In the words of Pentecost, "The death of Jesus Christ did not change the heart of God, as if One who hated us now loves us; rather it opened the floodgate so that the love of God for sinners could be poured out to them through Jesus Christ."

Charles Wesley:

'Tis Love! 'Tis Love! Thou diedst for me! I hear Thy whisper in my heart;

The morning breaks, the shadows flee; Pure, universal Love Thou art:

To me, to all, Thy mercies move;

Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

 

Backbiting is self-absorbed, God's love is immense in its quantity and quality.

The adverb "so" recalls the sacrificial love portrayed in verse 10, while the repeated use of "God" stresses the majesty of the love shown by the God they have come to know. The verse echoes John 3:16, but the use of the pronoun "us" makes it more personal in its direct application to John and his readers. God loved us "not because of our merit but because of our need."

Marshall insists that its place here is deliberate and that John was refuting those who claimed to know and love God because of their mystical experiences. John insisted that God is not truly known through such professed mystical visions of God but that He can be known because He has revealed Himself through Christ and the experience of His love in Christian relations. For those who disparage the obligation to love the brethren, no vaunted mystical visions of God will ever enable them to attain to a vital relationship with God.

 

In this paragraph John has been describing the nature of God's love, but he has also called for believers to respond to the divine love in loving the brethren. The words rendered "His love is perfected in us" do not denote an internal perfecting of God's love through the elimination of inadequacies; they mean that God's love has been brought to its intended goal in believers' lives through their consistent practice of loving one another.

11             Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another

Backbiting is natural, God's sort of love in your heart is supernatural.

13             By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

14             And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

15             Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

16             So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

 

 

John pointed to a confirmation of God's love, grounded in the apostolic testimony: "And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.'" The "we" (h[mei?j) is emphatic and points to the apostolic experience and testimony. John affirmed that their apostolic message was grounded in their own personal experience; it was not speculative philosophy.  In a similar way by the Spirit believers have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son into the world. How do you know that you have the gift of the Spirit of God? You confess that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. The heart of the apostolic witness is "that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." The acceptance of this message is the test of doctrinal orthodoxy. The perfect tense "has sent" denotes the abiding significance of the sending of the Son "to be the Savior of the world."

 

The term is applied to the Father as the originator of the plan of salvation, who sent the Son into the world "so that we might live through Him" (1 John 4:9); the Son is the Savior as the one who wrought salvation through His death and resurrection.

Stott well observes, "The theology which robs Christ of His Godhead, robs God of the glory of His love, and robs man of the one belief that generates a perfect love within him."

The two clauses mark two aspects of the Christian's life. The believer has a new and invincible power for the fulfilment of his work on earth: "God is in him." And again he realizes that his life is not on earth, that he belongs essentially to another order: "he is in God."

There is no light in the planet but that which proceedeth from the sun; and there is no true love to Jesus in the heart but that which cometh from the Lord Jesus Himself. From this overflowing fountain of the infinite love of God, all our love to God must spring. This must ever be a great and certain truth, that we love Him for no other reason than because He first loved us. Our love to Him is the fair off­spring of His love to us" (C. H. Spurgeon).

The love of God is far greater [far]  Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,  And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,  God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,  And pardoned from his sin.

 

Could we with ink the ocean fill,  And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,  And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,  Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,  Though stretched from sky to sky.

 

O love of God, how rich and pure!  How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure  The saints' and angels' song.

 

When years of time shall pass away,  And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,  On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God's love so sure, shall still endure,  All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam's race—  The saints' and angels' song.

 [Frederick M. Lehman; "The Love of God"].

 

 

Backbiting doesn't assure us, God's love does, and over flows to us loving even our enemies.

 

17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.

18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

God's love abiding within promotes the consciousness of reciprocal love (v. 16b), produces confidence in view of the future (v. 17), and casts out the feeling of fear (v. 18).

The sense of fear springs from the consciousness that punishment is deserved. But John's precise wording "fear has punishment" implies that the punishment is not merely future, but that fear involves present suffering because "fear anticipates and makes real the future punishment it contemplates."47 Such fear is destructive of inner peace and mars the consciousness of the love of God.

The present participle, "the one who fears" pictures an individual whose life is habitually beset with fear. In him love "is not perfect", has not yet been enabled to attain its intended goal in his life.

Perfect love gives faith in place of fear; trust in place of torment; peace in place of trembling; boldness in place of dread. "Bold I approach the eternal throne, And claim the crown, through Christ, my own."

Now, if a saint fears, there is something imperfect in his love; or, as Knox puts it, "he has not reached the full measure of love."

"0 love that casts out fear, 0 love that casts out sin,

Tarry no more without, But come and dwell within.

Great love of God, come in, Well-spring of heavenly peace,

Thou Living Water, come, Spring up, and never cease." (H. Bonar)

 

John Knox wrote "His love in its perfection will be displayed in us." We shall have boldness. We shall be fearless. That day, so terrible to others, will be a triumphant day to us. "We shall meet the day of judgment with confidenc."

 

Backbiting is worldly, selfless love is gospel focussed. It is heavenly, it keeps God's commands.

9 We love because he first loved us.

20 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

 

 

It is God's love to us that is the theme," wrote Dr. An­drew Bonar. "Now this love of God to us is made perfect—or has got its consecration day—has fully entered on its office. Herein has God's love to us reached its perfection. The ocean has been filled with love: it is an ocean we may call ours. And so complete is this display of God's love to us, that at the judgment day we shall have no fear! And even at present, in spite of indwelling sin, we are as really righteous as our Surety."

 

 

 


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