Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 June 18, 2017
“The Father’s Love for Us”
Text: 1 John 4:7-10
Happy Father’s Day to you—one and all. I pray that our Heavenly Father will bless you richly today as you worship Him and seek to live for His glory. We continue on hiatus from our sermon series through 1 Peter. I hope, God willing, to resume our series in early July. Peter’s first letter to the church at large is such a timely word for our time and place—and I look forward to returning to it in a few weeks.
Today the Lord has for us both welcome Gospel news and fuel for faithful Gospel obedience. Let’s hear God’s Word—in order that we may receive the aforementioned blessings and any others that He deems fit to give us today.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
In didactic Scripture passages—that is, passages that teach—the passage’s main point usually occurs at the start (contra narrative texts, where the main point usually occurs at the end). The main point of today’s didactic passages holds true to form. The Apostle John, led by the Spirit, starts with a command, namely, “Beloved, let us love one another.” The rationale then follows. Let’s first examine the ground underneath this command, and then we shall have the fuel that empowers our compliance with it.
The ground and fuel for our obedience to today’s text, simply stated, is God’s being and God’s doing. First, let’s look at a facet of His being, namely, His love. The Holy Spirit, through John, tells us that God is love. God is more than love, to be sure, though He certainly is love. Whatever is true of God—expressed by His attributes—is true to infinite degree. Hence, God loves us, in His Son, infinitely. This is staggering good news. Moreover, it is true regardless of how others feel about us. It is also true regardless about he we feel about ourselves. There are times when we feel unloved, and there are times when we feel unlovely or unlovable—and sometimes we feel these at the same time. Yet God’s love, both infinite generally and infinite toward us, never fails. This, for today, is a portion of God’s being. Let’s look now at a portion of what He does—and that perfectly consistent with Who He is.
God manifest His love among us by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. Jesus is the One—the only One—whom Augustine (354-430) called the God-man, Note Jesus’ unique person. He is fully God—our Heavenly Father is Jesus’ father by eternal generation. He is the eternal second Person of the Trinity. As such, He both offers an infinitely valuable sacrifice unto His Father and is Himself infinitely worthy of worship. Yet, Jesus, being fully God, is also fully man—born of Mary, the espoused of Joseph. Jesus, in His manhood, identifies with us to the uttermost and suffers as man in our steads. This is Jesus’ Person. Now let’s look more closely at His work.
We may describe Jesus’ work with two forms of obedience. When we refer to Jesus’ active obedience, we confess that He obeyed perfectly every command of God—hence, He was without sin. When we refer to Jesus’ passive obedience, we refer to His submission to death on the cross. Both are necessary for our redemption through Jesus’ propitiatory work. That is, God poured His wrath, rightly due to sinners, upon His Son—Who for the joy set before Him enduring the cross, scorning its shame, and is set down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus’ propitiation both satisfies divine justice and reconciles elect sinners to God. Hence, there now remains no condemnation of those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)—for God hath poured out His righteous condemnation upon His Son (again, Who gladly bore it), and there remains no more for us. Now that is love—and that while we were yet sinners (cf. Romans 5:8)
God sent His Son into the world in order that we may live through Him. Think of this in two large spheres. First, if we be in Christ, we shall live forever with Him, as Jesus Himself declares, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). We have confidence, then, that when this life is over, we continue to live—in Heaven until such time as Jesus’ realizes His final victory in time and space, and in the new heavens and the new earth after that. There is more, though.
Second, our life is not merely after this life. We live, and live truly, even now. Hear Jesus once again, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). This extra dimension to earthly life, which Jesus’ alone gifts, comes from no other source. We do not worship Jesus merely to get this abundant, eternal life; we do it merely because He is worthy and, moreover, because He commands it. Yet, as we acknowledge Him fundamentally by receiving Him as Lord and Savior, we get abundant, eternal life to boot. This, too, is love.
I pray that, by now, you have grasped at a deeper level than ever before, that God loves us—and, by extension, that God loves you. He really does. He loves you infinitely, and that with no regard to real or perceived defects in your person. He loves without regard to any real or perceived defect of performance. He knows your frame and, if you be in Christ, He has forgiven your sin. He loves you independent of the opinion of others—or even your opinion—concerning you.
God loves us, therefore, we love Him (1 John 4:19). Notice the order; we love God because He first loved us. Therefore, because God loves us, and because we love Him, we love others in turn. We have capacity to do this through the Son’s atoning work, and we have the will to do it through the Spirit’s ministry in our lives. This applies to some degree to those outside Christ’s saving love; we are to love them, for such pleases God and blesses them. Remember, somebody in Christ loved us when yet we wandered far from the fold of God. This principally applies, however, toward our fellow Christian believer. Again, hear Jesus, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:35).
Rejoice, then, this Father’s Day, in your perfectly, infinitely loving Heavenly Father. Now, filled with His love, go forth in His power to love one another. AMEN.