The Book of 1 John
Perfect Love Casts Out Fear
1 John 4:14-21 SCC 8/28/11
††††††††††† Here are believers in relationship with God the Father through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. And fellowship with God is possible now. Fellowship with God must cultivated and then demonstrated. A believer who matures in this way has nothing to fear at the judgment seat.
1. Our love for one another gives us assurance of fellowship with God 12
Since no one has seen God at any time, how is it possible for believers to know that God resides in them?
††††††††††† No one has seen God at any time This claim is made three times in the Gospel of John (1:18, 5:37, and 6:46) and is repeated in 1 John 4:20. No human being has ever seen God as God is. Jesusí revelation of the Father in his own life and actions is not exactly the same as seeing God himself.
††††††††††† God resides is a reference to the permanent relationship which God has with the believer. Here it refers specifically to Godís indwelling of the believer in the person of the Holy Spirit, as indicated in 4:13. The author does not mean here that Godís indwelling of believers is contingent on the love of Christians. Rather, Christians love because God resides in them, not the reverse.
††††††††††† Godís love is perfected in us stressing Godís love for us because the immediate context 4:11 speaks of believers as the objects of Godís love (ďif God so loved usĒ). The entire phrase ďhis love is perfected in usĒ then refers to what happens when believers love one another. The love that comes from God, the love that he has for us, reaches perfection in our love for others, which is what God wants and what believers are commanded to do. So Godís love reaches completion in out love for one another and assures us that God resides and lives within us.
2. The fact that the Spirit resides is us assures us of our fellowship with God 13
††††††††††† What is the basis of the genuineness of our fellowship with God? Its basis is the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit within us.
††††††††††† By this we know gives the content of what believers know, namely that we reside in God and he in us. The reason why believers know that they reside in God and God remains in them is because he has given us of his Spirit. Our knowledge that we have this relationship with God arises from the fact that he has given us a share in the Spirit given us of the Spirit. The Fatherís giving of the Holy Spirit to indwell the Christian is one means of providing assurance to the Christian of the genuineness of his/her relationship to God. Our love expressed to one another is the product of the Spiritís operation in a believer. This is evidence that we are enjoying an abiding relationship with God.
††††††††††† Of his Spirit This is emphasizing the fact that God has given his Spirit to believers, and it is this fact that gives believers assurance of their relationship to God. In other words, it is the fact that the Holy Spirit has been given to believers and the ongoing testimony of the Holy Spirit within the believer displayed by our loving one another that signifies we belong to God.
3. By means of the Spirit we can testify to what God has done through His Son 14
††††††††††† Possession of Godís Spirit promotes confession about the saving work of Jesus Christ for the entire world. Not only does the Spiritís presence enable love for one another it provokes testimony of the Person and Work of Christ.
††††††††††† We The author is speaking of more than physical sight here, because in context what is seen is that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. This probably intends to include the readers as genuine Christians who are holding fast to the apostolic testimony. They themselves are able to testify to the saving role of the Son.†††††††
††††††††††† To be the Savior of the world The Spiritís presence enables us to testify of the incarnate work of Christ in life and death. That renewed life and death is put on display through our loving one another with Christ like love. The apostles saw Christ in the flesh and spiritually it is seen again in our love.
4. Confession of Christ as Godís Son is evidence of fellowship with God 15
††††††††††† One confessing the reality of the deity of Jesus Christ is one who is enjoying intimate fellowship with God. The idea is that one agrees with God of His testimony about Jesus Christ.
††††††††††† Jesus is the Son of God The confession being made is significant. It is the claim that Jesus himself has this kind of relationship with the Father; namely, that He is Godís Son! Of course many people would reject this but whoever confesses this is saying that this Jesus that the apostles testify of is the Son of God. Many would call this blasphemy.
††††††††††† God resides in him and he in God The outcome of this specified confession is evidence that this person is in fellowship with God. This is clear-cut evidence from Johnís point of view that one is in intimate relationship with God. No one in fellowship with the God of the Bible will even fudge on who Jesus is. There is a fundamental agreement with God the Fatherís testimony about His Son.
5. Since God is love then loving one another is a natural expression of fellowship with God 16
††††††††††† We have come to know and we have come to believe implying a past action with existing results. In this case the past action is specified as the recognition of and belief in the love that God has in us. It appears both terms to describe a single composite action describing an act of faith/belief/trust on the part of the individual; knowledge is an inseparable part of this act of faith. We do not place faith in faith but faith in evidence that is undeniable and unavoidable.
In us or for us Here is a reference to Godís love expressed in believers. 1 John 3:15 and 5:10, the only other uses in 1 John literally refer to something Ďiní someone. This connects with in used in the second part of the present verse to describe God ďresiding inĒ the believer. This emphasizes the mutual indwelling of God and the believer.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† God is Love Here is the affirmation of Godís character. This is one of the 12 attributes of God. In relationship with THIS GOD will be people who love according to Godís character. This is a natural expression in oneís life in fellowship with this God and the one who abides in love abides in God and God abides in Him. So there is mutual fellowship. This is not true of Islamís God for instance.†††††††††††††
6. One in fellowship with God has no reason to fear the day of judgment 17-18††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† By this Ė by our residing in love so that we reside in God and he resides in us Ė is love brought to perfection with us indicating the result of this perfection of love in believers: in the future day of judgment they will have confidence. The reason for such confidence in the Day of Judgment: because just as Jesus is, so also are believers in this world Ė they are already currently in intimate relationship with God in the world just as Jesus is. The only one believers can be like already in the present age is Jesus Christ. A loving believer is one in whom Godís work of love is being made complete with regard to our actions in loving our fellow believers and the fruit of that work is confidence and not shame in the Day of Judgment 1 John at 2:18, 28, and 3:2. The NT places much emphasis on being ready for this.††††††††††† ††††††††††† There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear Fear on the one hand and mature, perfect love on the other are mutually exclusive. A Christian who fears Godís punishment has not yet been perfected in love, but needs to grow in his or her understanding of love. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††† Perfect love Here is a concept of love on a sort of continuum: ďperfectĒ love begins with God, who himself is love (4:8) and from whom all love proceeds (4:19). Godís love for the world of men is manifested in his sending of his Son Jesus into the world to be its Savior (4:9, 10, 14). This divine love manifested in Jesus as he came into the world gives life to those who believe in him (4:9b, John 1:4), and resides in believers, actively manifesting itself in both love for fellow Christians and love for God (4:21). The concept of Ďperfectedí love encompasses all of this but culminates in the active demonstration of love toward fellow believers and love for God. When it does it expels fear from us. †††† ††††††††††† Fear involves punishment Fear invites guilt and punishment and fear to meet the judge. One who fears is not completed in love. But a believer who loves one another has nothing to fear and escapes inner torment and rebuke and loss at the judgment seat. Loving one another and perfecting and maturing this way argue for confidence and not fear before Christ according to John. †††††
APPLICATION††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† 1. It is possible and necessary to walk in fellowship with God. God wants this. Loving fellow believers is the ground for this fellowship with God.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2. An outcome of this fellowship is testimony of Jesus Work on the cross and confession of the fact that He is indeed the Son of God. ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3. Loving one another in the body of Christ on earth is the basis of confidence and no fear before God at the judgment seat in heaven. We love because it has eternal value.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††