Sunday, January 28, 2007

1 John 3:16-24: True Love

Pray and Read: 1 John 3:16-24
Opening thought: Love One Another
Joseph M. Stowell shares this memory:
"When my parents moved to southern Florida, they sorted through some of the family treasures and divided them among the children. My dad brought me a little box and said, 'Joe, I want you to have this.'When I opened the box and pulled back the cotton, there was an old pocket watch-one of those round ones that usually hangs from a fancy gold chain with a watch fob on it.
"I have a few antique clocks, so I was somewhat aware of the value of old timepieces. That watch did not have a famous maker's name on it, or a brass or gold or sterling case; it did not have a fancy gold chain or watch fob. In fact, it really was a common old watch with a leather thong tied to it. As a watch, it was not something of great worth.

"But my dad said, 'This was the first watch I ever owned. My dad gave me this watch.'I remembered that he and I used to fish the St. Joe River every summer, floating down the river and fly fishing in the evening. This was the watch he used to pull out every once in a while to see what time it was.
"You know, if my dad had taken that watch to an antique store, they would have told him it was worth little, if anything. But all the money in the world could not buy that watch from me. That watch is precious to my father, and since it is precious to him, it is precious to me.
"That is what people are like. That is why God in essence said, 'Love Me? Love people!'"

Contextual Notes:
In 1 John 1:5, the apostle introduces his first theme: “This is the message: God is light.” In 3:11, John introduces his second theme of the letter, “This is the message: love one another.” In context, he shows that those who were leading them astray and were of the devil (3:7, 8) were like murderous Cain who not only was not his brother’s keeper, he was rebellious in his offering of Abel as his sacrifice.

1. True love is generous (3:16-19)
a. Gives selflessly (3:16)
i. Christ’s sacrifice was not just an example but a substitute (2:2; 4:10; John 3:16; 10:11, 15, 17; Isaiah 53:10)
ii. Illustration of martyrdom of Bashir
b. Gives what one has (3:17)
i. Subjective genitive – “God’s kind of love”; “has no pity” is literally “closes his heart”;
ii. John does not write this to cause the uncertain to agonize over whether they are saved. His intention is to reassure those who do love that the presence of a caring spirit is evidence of the reality of God’s presence in their lives.
iii. Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10
c. Gives feet to words (3:18)

2. True love gives confidence (3:19-22)
a. Confidence in His Presence (3:19-20)
i. Dr. Danny Aiken: “He will motivate us (v. 17) to just say no to a hard heart, an unloving heart. He sees everything and so He knows what is going on. Indeed, He knows our hearts better than we know it ourselves. He will inspire us, encourage us, challenge us to love others just like He has loved us (3:16). Our conscience, our heart, who we really are on the inside may be either too severe or too lenient in its verdict, but not God. He is greater than all and He knows all. He is the perfect judge. None of the believer’s failures or successes escape His notice. It is the difference between conscience and omniscience! He knows! He sees! Loving others as He loves us will provide acceptance in His presence.”

b. Confidence in our position (3:21)
i. Should read: “If our consciences no longer condemn us”
ii. Confidence (parresian 4x [2:28; 3:21; 4:17; 5:14]) – means boldness, freedom of speech. It speaks of the confidence a child has in approaching the father that he knows loves him, the father he knows is there, the father he knows who cares.
iii. Illustration: “Every time he needed me I was nowhere to be found. I was locked up.” Robin Reid, father of Richard Reid, the British man accused of trying to light a bomb in his sneakers during a trans-Atlantic flight. The elder Mr. Reid spent 18 years in jail for such offenses as burglary and car theft while his son was growing up. (World, 1-12-02). Our Father is different! He is no absentee Father! He is a good, great, perfect Father who loves us with a daddy’s love.

c. Confidence in our prayer (3:21-22)
i. Because they have given to meet the needs of others, nothing now interrupts fellowship or hinders prayers”

d. Confidence in our performance (3:22)
i. Matt. 22:36-40 says, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
ii. John 15:12, 14, 17 says, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. These things I command you, that you love one another.”
iii. John 14:15 says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
iv. When I am obeying Him I know (and even feel) that I am pleasing Him. When I am obeying Him I know (and even feel) that He is watching me. When I am obeying Him I know (and even feel) that He is listening to me when I pray.

3. True love provides assurance (3:23-24)
a. Confess the Son (3:23)
i. We trust in the Jesus confessed by the church in A.D. 451 at Chalcedon. Having dealt with the false teachings of men by the name of Arius, Apollinarius, Nestorius and Eutyches, the church confessed its understanding of what the Bible teaches about our Lord with these words:
ii. “Following, then, the holy fathers, we unite in teaching all men to confess the one and only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This selfsame one is perfect both in deity and also in human-ness; this selfsame one is also actually God and actually man, with a rational soul and a body. He is of the same reality [homoousion] as we ourselves as far as his human-ness is concerned; thus like us in all respects, sin only excepted. Before time began he was begotten of the Father, in respect of his deity, and now in these ‘last days,’ for us and on behalf of our salvation, this selfsame one was born of Mary the virgin, who is the God-bearer [theotokos] in respect of his human-ness.

iii. [We also teach] that we apprehend this one and only Christ – Son, Lord, only-begotten – in two natures; without confusing the two natures, without transmuting one nature into the other, without dividing them into two separate categories, without contrasting them according to area or function. The distinctiveness of each nature is not nullified by the union. Instead, the properties” of each nature are conserved and both natures concur in one “person” [prosopon] and in one hypostasis. They are not divided or cut into two prosopa, but are together the one and only and only-begotten Logos of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus have the prophets of old testified; thus the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us; thus the Symbol of the Fathers has handed down to us.”

b. Care for the saints (3:23)
i. John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

c. Commune with the Spirit (3:24)
i. Note the entire Trinity mentioned in 3:23-24
ii. A transitional verse, a linking verse, connecting vs. 18-23 with 4:1-6.
iii. Keeping His commandments and abiding (118 in the N.T.; 66 in John) in Him go together. Having the Spirit and abiding in Him go together.
iv. The Spirit comes as a gift not obligation, and He and He alone enables us and equips us to abide, stay with, and remain in Him (God).
v. Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

Love causes us to see people differently, to give the benefit of the doubt, to open our hearts and our wallets to help others in need.
Assurance of salvation and the security of the believer are real.
Pray with confidence that the Lord hears you and cares for your need.
At home: A husband will not snap his fingers at his wife. A wife will not put down and nag at her husband. Parents will not yell at, ridicule, and wound their children.
Children will not mock, disobey and dishonor their parents.
At church: Pastors will not rule their congregation with an iron fist. A church will not criticize and challenge the leadership and its pastor.
No, we will support, encourage, pray and yes, love one another.


[1] Thomas Davis prayer letter, January 2007.
[2] Lawrence O. Richards, The Victor Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, (Colorado Springs: Cook, 1994), 603.
[3] Danny Aiken, Help for a Hurting Heart (1 John 3:18-24), including some of Application and much of #3.
[4] Richards, 604.
[5] Richards, 603-4.