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.