Summary: Christians demonstrate their salvation through obedience to the command of Christ to love others as He loved.
In 2004 we learned of the abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of American soldiers because of pictures and videos made public by Australian television. Iraqi terrorists immediately made their own film as they brutally beheaded American civilian John Berg. In the film, they justified their brutal execution Mr. Burg because of the abuse endured by Iraqi prisoners at Abu Gharib, though to my knowledge no Iraqi prisoner was beheaded or killed. They vowed to continue this kind of barbarianism because, and this is their word, “We are a people of vengeance.”
Compare that to Monday, October 2, 2006, when Charles Roberts tied up and shot ten Amish schoolgirls, ranging from seven to thirteen years of age. Five die, and then, Charles Roberts took his own life. What particularly spoke to me was reading about the grandfather of Marian Fisher. Marian was the thirteen-year-old who asked to be shot first thinking it would spare the lives of the younger children. Marian’s grandfather went to the killer’s home that day to express concern for the Roberts family.
As news about this horrendous evil spread around the world; donors began pledging money to help the families of the dead and wounded. Amounts ranged from $1 to $500,000 were received to defray the costly medical bills. Do you know what the Amish leaders did? They set up a fund for the future needs of the killer’s widow and children. In contrast to the Iraqi terrorists, the repeated response of the Amish in word and deed was “We are a people of forgiveness and love.” This is the difference Jesus Christ and His salvation make in people.
There is no more relevant and practical book than the Bible. Jesus Christ and the salvation he gives is the difference between whether we will be people of vengeance or people of love and forgiveness.
In the previous passage John said that Christians are characterized by righteousness and freedom from sin. In verses 11-20 he says that Christians are characterized by love for one another. Though they are characterized by love for one another, it is still necessary to urge Christians to love one another. John explains the nature of Christian love by illustrating it negatively by Cain, who killed his brother, and positively by Jesus Chris,t who laid down His life for us. In this paragraph John appeals to Christians to love one another and explains the nature of that love by contrasting hatred and sacrificial giving.
In verses 21-24 John says when we obey Christ’s commands and love our brother, we receive confidence in approaching God in prayer. The Holy Spirit also assures us we are the children of God.
How do I know I am really saved? Christians demonstrate their salvation through obedience to the command of Christ to love others as He loved.
How does love demonstrate our salvation?
I. LOVE REVEALS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD (I JOHN 3:11-16)
Scholars find evidence that false teachers boasted they had received some secret revelations and teachings; this was typical of false teachers then and it is typical of false teachers now. Joseph Smith claimed an angel showed him hidden golden tablets and interpreted those tablets for him. Mohammed claimed to receive secret and special revelations.
The apostle appeals to a truth these Christians had been taught since the beginning of their Christian faith. He calls it a “message.” John uses that word in I John 1:5 to stress a basic teaching concerning God’s character: “God is Light.” In other words, the word “message” points to a primary fundamental duty of the Christian life: love one another.
There are some things that never change. The sun will always rise in the east and set in the west, and Christians are to always love one another. This is a basic, fundamental truth of our faith: We are to love one another. The church has changed in many ways during my life as a Christian and even more over the centuries, but this has not changed: Christians are to love one another. That is what you would expect if people have the nature of the God of love within them.
The fundamental difference in character between a Christian and a non-Christian is as stark a difference as between Cain and Christ. John uses this contrast to emphasize love being the primary characteristic and duty of a Christian. Hatred is the characteristic of those who belong to the devil (vv. 12-13), but love is the characteristic of those who belong to God (vv. 14-18).
A. Hatred is characteristic of unbelievers (vv. 12-13)
The first question we need to ask is, “What happened?” We find the story in Genesis 4. Cain was the eldest son of Adam and Eve. He was a farmer, and his younger brother, Abel, was a shepherd. Both came to worship God. Cain offered the fruit of the soil as a sacrifice, and Abel offered from his flocks. God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s. We are not told why God rejected Cain’s offering and accepted Abel’s, but we can speculate: perhaps Cain did not offer it in faith or did his own thing and did not offer it in the prescribed way. All we are told is God rejected it, and this made Cain angry. He focused that anger on Able and, after luring him out in the field, he murdered his brother. “Murdered” is violent word that is used. It literally means “to butcher, to kill by cutting the throat.” Cain illustrates the growth of sin within the human race.