Summary: In this passage, the simplest & yet most profound statement of all is "God is love." That sounds beautiful, but what does it mean? We use the word "love" a lot, & I’m afraid that our use of it can be rather confusing. (Powerpoints available - #118)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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Some of the greatest words of love in Scripture are found in 1 John 4:7 10. Listen as I read them to you.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:7 10)
A. In this passage, the simplest & yet most profound statement of all is, "God is love." That sounds beautiful, but what does it mean? We use the word "love" a lot, & I’m afraid that our use of it can be rather confusing.
ILL. For instance, I do not hesitate to tell you that I love my wife. We have been married for more than 55 years. She has been my companion, my encourager, my counselor, faithful & loving throughout all those years, & I tell you unashamedly that I love my wife.
I also love Flint Ridge. I love it because of its quiet location. I love it because of its forested lots & hills. But most of all, I love it because of the church & the people here.
But even though I used the same word "love" to describe my feelings toward my wife & toward Flint Ridge, I trust you realize that I don’t love them in quite the same way.
B. Our English language is limited. We use this one word “love” as a catch all for many different feelings. We love ideas & beauty, we love countries & hometowns, we love our pets, we love colors & flavors, songs & poems & books. "I love my wife. I love cherry pie. I love a sunny day. I love my home."
Since we use the same word to express all those different emotions, we depend a lot upon the people who hear us to put our words through the filter of under-standing, & then to arrive at the correct conclusion.
When I say, "I love my wife," I trust you to take those words & reach the conclusion that "He loves his wife the way that a man ought to love his wife."
When I tell you that I love Flint Ridge, I trust you to understand that I am not weird, & therefore I don’t love a place in the same way that I love my wife. I trust you to put those words through the filter & reach the conclusion that I love a place in the way that a man ought to love a place.
C. To confuse things further, the word "love" is also used in many different expressions. Love is something that we “fall into.” Love puts stars into our eyes, & causes our hearts to go pitter pat. "Love makes the world go ’round."
D. We may even get confused when it comes to the subject of Christian love.
The Bible tells us that "God is love," & that I am to "love the Lord, my God with all my heart." It tells me to love myself, to love my neighbor, & even to love my enemies.
SUM. So what is love, really? Much of our confusion is because of the limitations of our language. Most of you realize that the New Testament was written originally in Greek & not in English. And it helps to know that.
Many of you have also heard of the 3 different Greek words that are most often translated into the one English word, "love" "eros, phileo, & agape."
We realize that they express different kinds of love but, at the same time, we generally translate all 3 of them into one English word "love," because we don’t have any other single words that would translate them better.
PROP. Now for a few minutes this morning let’s look at those 3 words to help us understand a bit better what God is saying when He tells us to “love one another.”
A. The first word, "eros," is not used in the New Testament, but its meaning is referred to many times in both Old & New Testaments. "Eros" means physical attraction, sexual love. And when that is mentioned in church, there are two common reactions. Some react nervously. Others are even shocked a bit about the subject being discussed in a holy environment.