Summary: Spiritual maturity is tied directly to my learning to rely on God's love and relay God's love to others.

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.

Truly the length and depth and width and height of the love of God for us is unfathomable! Yet, it is the pursuit of understanding the greatness of God's love which consumed John, and which the Bible teaches should consume the life of the Christian.

"I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the

fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:17-19 (The Message)

The word "love" appears in our text no less than 11 times! And here, in this section of John's letter, we are told about "love being made

complete among us" (verse 17). The word translated "complete," is the word "telios," which refers to maturity. In other words, John says that growing in the life of love is key to maturing as Christian.

In verse 17, John says, "In this way," which refers to what he said in verse 16, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him." In verse 16, John tells us how the love of God is made complete in us - how we are to mature as a disciple of Jesus Christ. If I am growing as a follower of Jesus Christ, then I am growing in the life of love. Such growth is accomplished by two things, according to 1 John 4:16: 1) Seeking to know God's love, relying on His love for me (v. 16a) and 2) Seeking to show God's love, relaying His love to others (v. 16b).

Growing in the life of love in this way, will result in -

1. Providing Us With A Life Of Confidence - vs. 17-18

John says there are two ways we can approach life as a Christian:

A. We can live life full of assurance - v. 17

B. We can live life full of anxiety - v. 18

As we grow in our awareness of God's love, we can live with a sense of assurance, not anxiety; faith, not fear; confidence, not confusion!

Realizing the greatness of God's love for me brings confidence about:

A. My Security in God -

"We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the

one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" - Romans 8:28-39 (HCSB)

B. My Speaking to God -

"In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." - Ephesians 3:12 (NIV)

Imagine a wealthy man sitting in the den of his mansion. There is a knock at the door. The man gives permission to enter. Another man enters the room, bows before the wealthy man, and stands, awaiting instructions. He is a servant. Upon receiving instructions, the servant leaves the room. Momentarily, there is another knock on the door. The servant enters with another man and introduces him. The man is instructed to have a seat. He and the wealthy man visit. He is a guest. After the visit, he leaves the room.

After a bit, a boy opens the door and runs to the wealthy man. He climbs onto the man's lap and talks with him about his day. The wealthy man is happy to see the boy and obviously loves him. He is his child. That is who we are to God! And because we are His

children, we can crawl up onto His lap through prayer any time we desire to, and we are always welcome!

C. My Sharing about God -

"(Paul) proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ - with all boldness and without hindrance!" - Acts 28:31 (NIV)

Paul's boldness found it's roots in his awareness of God's love. Others have likewise exemplified Paul's boldness. One was John Wesley.

John Wesley averaged 3 sermons a day 4or 54 years preaching more than 44,000 times. In doing this he traveled by horseback and carriage more than 200,000 miles or about 5,000 miles a year.

His published works include a four volume commentary on the whole Bible, a dictionary of the English language, a five-volume work of natural philosophy, a four-volume work on church history; and histories of England and Rome; grammars on the Hebrew, Latin, Greek, French and English languages; three works on medicine, six volumes of church music; seven volumes of sermons and controversial papers. He also edited a library of fifty volumes known as "The Christian Library."

He was greatly devoted to pastoral work. He arose at 4:00 AM and worked through to 10:00 PM, taking breaks only for meals. At 83, he was aggravated to discover that he couldn't write more than 15 hours a day without hurting his eyes; and at 86, he was ashamed to admit he could not preach more than twice a day. In his 86th year, he preached in every town in England and Wales, and rode thirty to fifty miles a day to preach the Gospel. He passed away at age 87.

What motivated Wesley? The same thing which motivated Paul. The same thing that should motivate us. God's love. In a the words of a hymn written in German by Paul Gerhardt, that Wesley translated into English, we find what might very well have been Wesley's testimony: "Jesus, Thy boundless love to me, No thought can reach, no tongue declare; Oh, knit my thankful heart to Thee, And reign without a rival there! Thine wholly, Thine alone, I am; Be Thou alone my constant flame."

D. My Standing before God - v. 17

A Tennessee newspaper told about a man, named Foster Walker, who accidentally strolled onto the scene of a holdup at a store in Memphis, and heard the gunman order him to surrender his money or, "I'll shoot you." "Go ahead and shoot," Walker said. "I just got through reading my Bible and talking with the Lord. I'm ready to go." The robber was dumbfounded and left the store, leaving Walker, a man in his sixties, unharmed.

"And now, children, stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we’ll be ready for him when he appears, ready to receive him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when he arrives." - 1 John 2:28 (The Message)

2. Delivering Us From A Life Of Contradiction - vs. 19-21

John tells us, that as we seek to show God's love, relaying His love to others, we can live sincerely, not superficiality.

I remember when, if I wanted to listen to a song without waiting for it to play on the radio, I would have to purchase the album. When I purchased the album, I got to listen to the song I wanted to hear, but I also had other songs on the album to listen to, which I may or may not like as much, but that was just the way things used to be. Today, I can download only my favorite songs and compile an album of my own design, filled only with my favorite tunes.

Technology's amazing. But the Christian life is not like a downloaded album. We can't pick and choose when it comes to living for Christ.

He has commanded us to love others as he has loved us. How can we obey this command? Note verse 19! As we focus on the love God had for us in giving His Son for our sakes, we will find the courage we need to reach out beyond our comfort zone and demonstrate genuine love toward others! Even those we may not particularly like.

Notice: He FIRST loved us! When we were not pleasing in His sight. When we were anything but lovable! He chose to love us. And as we come to know more and rely more on God's love for us, we will be enabled to see others as we ought and love them as we ought! If we want to connect with the heart of God, and reflect the heart of God, we need only look to the cross.

Conclusion: "Lead Me To The Cross" Video