Summary: Love is the distinguishing characteristic of all true believers.
The Foundation of Love
Text: 1 Jn. 3:11-18
1. Illustration: On December 2001, the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” was finally reopened to the public, after having been closed for almost a dozen years. During that time, engineers completed a 25 million dollar renovation project designed to stabilize the tower. They removed 110 tons of dirt, and reduced its famous lean by about sixteen inches. Why was this necessary? Because the tower has been tilting further and further away from vertical for hundreds of years, to the point that the top of the 185-foot tower was seventeen feet further south than the bottom, and Italian authorities were concerned that if nothing was done, it would soon collapse. What was the problem? Bad design? Poor workmanship? An inferior grade of marble?
No. The problem was what was underneath. The sandy soil on which the city of Pisa was built was just not stable enough to support a monument of this size. The tower had no firm foundation.
2. The foundation of the Christian and the Church is love.
a. It is the foundational principle upon which the church is built.
b. God’s love for us, and His command for us to love one another.
3. Unless our lives are built upon the foundation of love, they will crumble.
4. Read 1 Jn. 3:11-18
Proposition: Love is the distinguishing characteristic of all true believers.
Transition: The first thing that love does is...
I. It Distinguishes Who Is the Child of God (11-13)
A. We Should Love One Another
1. John begins this section by stating "For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another..."
a. What does John mean that this is the message we’ve heard from the beginning? The beginning of what?
b. He is talking about the beginning of the Church and our Christian lives.
c. It was the fundamental teaching of Jesus.
d. Matt. 22:34-40 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, "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."
e. Jn. 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
2. Love is so essential, so foundation to the Christian life that it is the first thing taught.
a. This is not a new teaching; they had heard it from the beginning.
b. They could not say they had not hear it before, because they had heard it over and over.
c. Illustration: There is a story about the Apostle John at the end of his life. He was the pastor at the church in Ephesus, and at this point he was so old that he could no longer walk. Sunday after Sunday they other elders would carry him in on a mat and set him in the middle of the assembly. From this mat he would teach. At one point he would just mutter the words "beloved love one another, beloved love one another!" This went on for several months. Finally one of the elders said to him, "Brother John that is a great message, but don’t you think we could hear something else." Then the old pastor looked at him and said "when we learn this lesson we will move on to the next one!"
3. John goes on to show us the opposite of love - hate. He said "not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous."
a. We are not to be like Cain "whom was of the wicked one..."
b. John’s point was not that Cain murdered and became a child of the Devil; rather, because Cain belonged to the evil one, his anger and jealousy drove him to murder.
c. John wanted his readers to understand the terrible results of refusing to love one another.
d. Lack of love can lead to anger, jealousy, hatred—and, finally, even to murder.—Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary
4. John asks the question "And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous."
a. Cain could not bear the contrast of his brother’s righteous actions with his own actions which were evil, and the first murder became a monument to self-love, as the cross was to become the demonstration of divine love. - New International Bible Commentary, Pradis CD-ROM