Summary: We may not see God in His own Person, but where there is love, there is the evidence that someone has been born of the Spirit of God.
GOD IS LOVE
Every Sunday as I was growing up in Scotland, I would hear the minister of our church repeat these words from the beginning of 1 John 4:7 - “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God.”
This is one of the tests of true Christianity. We cannot claim to have the love of God in our hearts, nor can we claim to love God, if we do not love our fellow-believers in Christ. If we love one another, then it is evident that we are true servants of the God of love.
Jesus was once asked, ‘Which is the greatest commandment?’ To which He replied, ‘To love God first, and secondly to love our neighbour as ourselves’ (Matthew 22:35-40).
Love is not just a sentiment, but something which is active. ‘Let us do good to all,’ said the Apostle Paul, ‘especially to those who are of the household of faith’ (Galatians 6:10).
Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another. ‘By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another’ (John 13:34-35).
In Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. We could almost imagine the neighbours saying to one another ‘See how these Christians love one another.’ Love should always be what marks out Christians from others.
The person who is born of the God of love, the Christian, becomes like Christ in his love towards others. And Christ’s love is a sacrificial love.
There was no limit to the love which God showed us. He sent His only Son into the World to live and to die, and to overcome death for us. The love of Jesus becomes the standard for our love. He who does not love does not know the God of love, for God is love.
Love has its origins not in the heart of man, but in the God of love. This love in God is so great, that He sent His Son into the world in order to make satisfaction for our sins. Jesus was the substitute on our behalf who paid the penalty for our sins with His own life’s blood.
We receive the love-gift of God’s forgiveness through faith in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the sacrifice of Jesus the righteous God is able to pass over our sins without compromising His justice (Romans 3:25-26).
The beginning and source of our love for God, and for one another, is in the love which God first displayed to us. Sinful human beings will not usually choose to serve God. Those who are Christians know that God first loved us. We did not deserve his love. It was ‘while we were yet sinners’ that ‘Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). There is no greater manifestation of the love of God.
What evidence might we expect from one who claims to be a Christian? Well, one thing would be the love which he has towards his fellow believers. If Christ died for your sins, then you will love those whom God has loved. We may not see God in His own Person, but where there is love, there is the evidence that someone has been born of the Spirit of God.
There was a man who wished to be accepted into the membership of a certain other church in Scotland, and to partake of the communion of the Lord’s Table. The elders asked him to give an account of his faith, but being a simple man, he could not put it into words. However, the elders knew he was a man of God, and asked if he could say anything at all to convince them that he should be allowed to attend the Lord’s Table?
‘I love the brethren,’ replied the man (1 John 3:14-15).
We see God, not in images and pictures, but in such love abiding in Christian people. If we abide in love, we abide in God, for God is love. The faithful heart rests in God, and in the confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. God’s love is perfected in the hearts of His people, and He abides there.
The origin of love is found in God Himself. The demonstration of God’s love is seen in His sending of His Son to die for us. We love God because He first loved us.
God’s love for His people began in the counsels of Eternity, when Father, Son and Holy Spirit determined together to bring salvation to mankind through our Lord Jesus Christ. Believers in Him are said to be ‘chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world’ (Ephesians 1:4).
God so loved the world that, when the fullness of time had come, He sent forth His Son to die on our behalf. By this act, fear was vanquished in the hearts of believers. The torment of our consciences is quietened. The dread of a harsh judgement against us is cast out by the love of God towards us.