Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, September 24, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

09/24/17 Sermon - God is Agape

 

“God is Agape”

 

1 John 4:7-16


As we continue in our study of 1 John, chapter four continues with the theme of love. I’d like to perform a little test here if I could. We are going to play the “Word Association Game”  you know the one I am talking about. The game were one person says a word and the other person says the first thing that pops into their head. Okay, are you ready?


Here’s the word…..  LOVE.


Does everyone have the first word that popped into their head?


I am going out on a limb here, but how many of you thought of someone’s name?

How many of you thought of something that is loving, or kind, mushy and wonderful to think of?

I think many of us go there when we think of love.

Warm feelings, comforting, and kind.

How many of you thought of the words,

“sacrifice, selfless, giving?”


The word “love” has some many connotations attached to it for so many people. We have already discussed that in the Greek language there are four different words for the different types of love a person can express.


If we take away the thoughts and attachments we have for the word love and analytically look at how the beginning of this passage is written, it would go something like this,

 

The NIV has it written like this:

“Dear friends, let us love one another,”


The ancient Greek reads like this….

“Those who are loved, let us love.”


“Let us love” is written in a verb tense as a command.


But it’s not the kind of command that comes because we “have” to, it is a command that comes because we have already experienced God’s love and through that experience we have comprehended that we are loved, sacrificially,

unvetted,

just the way we are,

regardless of who we are, and

when one comprehends being loved like that,

there isn’t really even a need to “command” us to give that type of love to others.


The author claims that whoever is born of God, and knows God, has the ability and

should be

loving others in the body of Christ. The author reminds us that once we are “born in Christ,” or what Christians say today, “born again,” there is something given to them, they didn’t have before,

the Holy Spirit,

And it is the Holy Spirit that gives them the ability to love, like God loves.

The Christian is given a birth trait, much like the traits we receive from our earthly parents, such as blue eyes or dark hair, the born again person receives the trait of “unconditional love.”

The Christian begins to realize that not only are they forgiven, but they are also “loved,” “agape” a love that doesn’t take into account

their past,

their personality quirks,

all of the things about us are not considered,

other than,

God made us and God loves us,

because that’s what God is like.


Not only are we born of God, but the author says we “know” God. Here we go with different meanings for a word. The word “know” in Greek translates into different meanings in English.

The Greek word for “know” in this verse means “to know by experience” rather than to “know intellectually.” So once we really experience God in our life, the evidence of this, will be seen by our love for one another. The opposite is also stated here. If we are not showing love for God’s people, then our claim that we know God, is false. Does that mean we are expected to love everyone in the family of God? All the time?

Actually……………………….not this side of heaven.

But we should be doing so enough of the time and our love should be growing and we should be striving to love others, in spite of ourselves. And the best way to make sure our love for others grows is by getting to know God better. Regardless of the relationships we are in, as Christians, our relationship has three points, like a triangle. As two Christians draw closer to God, they are drawn closer together as they reach closer to God, above them.  



Now, Verse 8 can be misleading, it reads,

“Whoever does not love does not know God,


This doesn’t mean that only Christians are capable of showing love. Non-Christians can display acts of love.


Theologian, I. Howard Marshall of Scotland, explains it like this:


“It is because (humans) are created in the image of God, an image that has been defaced but not destroyed by the Fall, that they still have the capacity to love… Human love, however noble and however highly motivated, falls short if it refuses to include the Father and the Son as the supreme objects of its affection.”


“Because God is love”


God is agape - self-giving, giving without demanding or expecting a re-payment,

This describes the very character and heart of God. This agape love is the central aspect of his nature. Whatever aspect of God we name, it is done in a loving manner. God’s holiness is loving, God’s righteousness is loving, God’s justice is loving. Everything He does and is manifests itself through agape, love.


This type of love, agape, was demonstrated by both Jesus and the Father. Jesus sacrificed his life for us, but God the Father showed His love by giving His Son. It was a sacrifice for the Father to give up the Second Person of the Trinity, and allow the judgement we deserved to be placed upon His only begotten Son.


A lot of times we think of God, the Father, as the stern one of the Trinity. You know, the “angry God” of the Old Testament. And we think of Jesus as the loving, Son of the New Testament. But the two are one in the same, the love Jesus demonstrated is the love that represents the Father.


John 14:9

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”


The idea of Jesus being the only begotten Son of God is important to recognize. This term means that Jesus was not a son that was born like our human sons are born, but that He was Begotten, which means that Jesus and the Father are the same substance, essentially the same Being. As human beings, we are God’s creation and we are adopted sons and daughters of God. But Jesus’ Sonship is different from ours. He was the “only Begotten Son” and as a God-being, He added humanity to His deity, and by doing so, we have the opportunity to live through Him. By taking on humanity, Jesus was able to turn away the wrath of God, due to our sins, take it on Himself, and provide a way for us to reach God.  His sacrifice turned away the judgement we deserve.


This is the example of God’s love, in yet, while we were but sinners, Christ died for us.

It might have made sense if God were to pay this great a price to save someone who deserved it, or always did good, or was noble or had done a lot for God, but check it out, God gave His Son for us sinners. Agape.


Verse 10 defines love - agape - and the real definition of love doesn’t even include us, it is defined by God’s love for us, that’s where love begins. And until we receive God’s love we will not be able to love the way God loves. Then we need to recognize that our love doesn’t really say anything about us, but is a reflection of God’s love for us. We are but mirrors soaking in the image of love and then reflecting it off to those around us.

Agape.

The author has a pattern here, have you noticed. The pattern consists of us receiving from God then giving to others. The author received that pattern from walking around with Jesus for three years. When Jesus was at His last meal with His disciples he washed their feet and showed his love and demonstrated servanthood to them. We may have expected Him to get up and tell the disciples it was time for them to wash His feet, but instead, Jesus said, Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”

In order for us to demonstrate our love for God, we are called to go out and love one another.


The author continues with the need for demonstrating our love for God by loving one another, by reminding us that “No one has ever seen God,” but we can see each other. And when we love each other the way God loves us, we experience God living in us and we allow others to see the effects of God’s presence.


We are told by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:17 -

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.”


Jesus declared of God the Father,

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”


So God has no tangible body that we can see, He is not within our ability to comprehend, fully. But He has given us the ability to recognize when He is around, and that is through love. And when God’s love lives in us the author says “His love will be made complete in us.” Here is the evidence, if we really walk in God’s love towards us, it will be demonstrated by our love for one another.


The next verse tells us how we “know” that Christ is in us and we are in Christ. Because God has given us His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is how Jesus abides in us, and it is the Holy Spirit that testifies to us how we can abide in Jesus. Paul put it like this in Romans 8:16

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

Our assurance comes from the Holy Spirit.

For the author, in verse 14, he states that “we” have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.

The author was an eye witness. He and the other disciples had the privilege of seeing, talking, walking, touching, Jesus.

But that isn’t the only way to have assurance. The author goes on to say that “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.”

It isn’t enough to know about Jesus, or know Jesus, one has to “acknowledge” that Jesus is who He said He was. And when  you acknowledge something you, accept or admit the existence or truth of something.

The author has now added to his focus on love being the demonstration of God’s presence in one’s life. The fact still remains that this demonstration of love, comes from the confession that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

The author goes on to tell us what should be the Christian response to God and His love.

We are told we should know and rely on the love God has for us. God wants us to experience and believe the love God has for us.

Many times easier said than done.

What if we considered this the opposite way? What if we considered what it would take to make us stop believing God loved us?

Paul did and he wrote his response in Romans 8:35-39

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

   we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Whoever lives in love

Lives in God

And God in them.

 

When we truly comprehend the love of God, we wouldn’t want to be any place else, but in the midst of it. Soaking it up, at peace with everything around us because we are loved, regardless. Then that love flows from us to others because we are so immersed in it, and we know that other Christians around us should also be experiencing this unconditional love, and when love exists, it comes back to us, demonstrating that God is love.

Agape.

 

With the Holy Spirit living in us, we are more than conquerors.

We are able to conquer the evil stuff that comes our way, the comments that make us feel “less than.” The response of the Holy Spirit, is AGAPE.

 

Let’s pray.