Summary: a sermon on how love is manifested
September 2, 1927 1 John 3:13-18
Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
St. John is often called the apostle of love, because he seems to dwell on that theme more than the other apostles and when he was very old he must be carried into church he oft repeated the words: children, love one another. Still we find that the other apostles also often dwell on that theme and one of the most beautiful passages on love contained in Scripture was written by St. Paul in the 13th chapter of Corinthians, for Jesus Himself is the example of love and Himself revealed to us what love is. It is also necessary in our time that we often dwell on this theme, for Jesus says, in the time of the end love will grow cold and we can see the truth of His Word even in the church today, that there is much self seeking and self love and less of that kind of unselfish love which is manifested in Jesus, our Savior. Love, as a hymn writer once said, is a never ending theme and we shall dwell only on it’s manifestation. How it manifested itself in him who loves.
Love is a sign of life, though it is not life itself. If a tree shoots forth buds and leaves and fruit, we know that the tree has life, though these leaves and buds are not the life itself. So does the appearance of love show that a man has the life of God within Him, the new life that carries this faith in Jesus Christ, yet this love is not the life itself. Such a one has life because like a branch he clings to the vine, clings to Jesus by faith in His blood and receives life from Jesus, as Jesus says, I am the vine, ye are the branches.
We have passed from death to life. To live in sins he calls death. To live unto God and Christ he calls life as St. Paul says, Ye were dead in trespasses and sins. We have passed from death to life through Jesus, who gave his life for us, as he says in the beginning of this epistel, the Blood of Jesus Christ, His Son cleanseth us from all sin. By the preaching of this gospel God the Holy Spirit has awakened us from the death of sins to life in Christ, as we confess in the 3rd Article. He has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, etc.
Where there is true faith in Jesus, there is also love. We know that because we love the brethren. For where there is not love of the brethren, there is also no true faith in j. Such a soul is still dead in trespasses and sins and shall never see eternal life, if it remains thus, for he says, He that hateth his brother is a murderer and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
Therefore we ought to prove ourselves and ask ourselves: Do I love the brethren? Do I call myself a Christian and still not love my fellow Christians? And if we find that we have been lacking in this manifestation of godly life, we should come to Him and confess our sins, who alone can give life, as John says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Our Lord is patient and long sufferings, as He shows in the parable of the fig tree and will dig about such an unfruitful tree and dung it, whether it may still bring forth fruit.
Love is not a mere sentiment or feeling, but manifests itself in deeds, even as God’s did not remain a good will and wish that He had for mankind, but He put this good willinto action and gave Himself for us. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.
Thus our love will do no one any good, if it lies sleeping within us and does not break forth in action. If we see another man drowning and we say, I feel sorry for the man, who will believe that we feel sorry for him, when we do nothing to save him? Therefore John says, we should learn from God what love is. We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Life is the most precious thing a man has on earth, but love, if it be of the kind that God has and gives will also give that most precious gift for the brethren. Love will count it’s own life and convenience for nothing, if it can serve those whom it loves, as Jesus says, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself.