1 John 4:7-21
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
So last week was an incredible week for our church. I remember last summer Ross and I were talking about his new role as the Serve pastor and what that would look like and we said, that last year we had maybe just over 100 go on short term mission for Christ and I said well what if at WorldReach this year we tripled that number and we got 300 people to go on mission for Christ. Not knowing how we could do it and only being like 1 week into his new job I was really impressed when Ross said, alright yes. Lets do it; lets get 300 people on mission for Christ. Leading up to WorldReach I was so excited just about all that God was going to do in our church and all that he was doing in our church but I started to think, you know 300 is a really big jump from around 100. I was talking to Paige one day and she said, do you think we’ll have that many people commit, and I said, well maybe not 300 but maybe we’ll get like 200 which would be incredible, that would be twice as many as we had go last year. World Reach came around and it was amazing and our missionaries were incredible and the whole week if just felt like God was moving and Sunday came around and for those of you who were here, and last Sunday when we called you forward, we had 350 people commit to go on a short term mission trip this year. So I just want to thank you, and tell you that it is such an honor to be the pastor of a church that is really on mission for God.
Here is what I know. You will be on mission for God when you walk with God. You will be on Mission for God when you Know God. It is the deep and personal knowledge of God that drives us toward mission for God, when you know God and love God you begin to treasure and give your life for the things that he knows and loves.So for the next several weeks – We are going to spend some time thinking about God, meditating on God, knowing God.And specifically over these next few weekswe are going to be talking about one of the most misunderstood and I believer under talked about truths in all of Christianity. I am talking about The Trinity. The trinity can be a very difficult doctrine and therefore it is rarely taught or talked about in our churches.It is very foundational to what we believe as Christians. We believe in a three person God. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.So, we believe in three separate persons, but we believe that each person is one and that they are all eternally God. There never was a time that the Spirit wasn’t God, there never was a time that the Son wasn’t God, and there never was a time that the Father wasn’t God.Three persons. One God.
So if you want to walk with God, if you want to know God, you have to understand God, who he is, his character, his nature, how he operates, how he works, this is so important.You have to understand the trinity to understand the gospel.
JI Packer is one of the greatest theologians of our time His book “Knowing God” was actually the first book I read that helped me begin thinking through the Trinity and how to understand God in this way. We are actually going to have that book for sale today on your way out. But he said one time “The evangelical world has become a world of virtually Unitarianism.” Meaning, we all affirm the trinity, but we don’t really live out this idea. Of course Unitarians reject the doctrine of the trinity.
For example, there have been several times when I have been sharing the gospel with a child. And I will say, that when Jesus died on the cross, the God the Father punished the son, God the Father punished Jesus so that he would not have to punish us and we might be set free from sin.”
And many times the child’s parents have said, “wow, the Father punishing the son, I’ve never heard it that way” and I am certainly not trying to beat those parents up, but it just shows how little we have talked about the Trinity in our churches.
Another common mistake that I used to make and mistake I have heard Christians make is that when we pray people will pray to the Father, and then at the end of the prayer they will say, “in your name.” Now Jesus of course, told us in John 14 to pray in his name. So, are people just ignoring the command of Christ when they pray?Well I don’t think so, I think people are thinking to themselves, “I’m praying to God, Jesus is God, therefore, I’m praying in your name” But in so doing we ignore this glorious idea of the unique personhood of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.This is what JI Packer means when he says, we live in a world of Virtual Unitarianism. And I think it is because we don’t really understand the Son, we really don’t understand the Father, and we really don’t understand the Holy Spirit. So over the next month we are going to do something that we need to do more often as a church, we are going to talk about the trinity, we are going to talk about each person of the trinity and how we understand who the Father is, and who the son is, and who the spirit is and how they relate to one another, and how we can relate to each person of the Trinity. And to help us with this conversation we are going to be considering some of the ideas of John Owen.John Owen was a 17th century theologian in Britain and could easily be argued as the greatest British theologian.And he wrote a book about the Trinity called Communion with God. In this book John Owen, wants his readers to understand our unique relationship with each member of the Trinity – it isn’t a doctrinal book it is a relational book and it has been very influential in my life. Following his outline, this week we are going to be talking about communion with the Father next week and the week after we are going to be talking about communion with Son and then we are going to be talking about communion with the Holy Spirit, and then we are going to be celebrating each member of the Trinity in a Big way on Easter.
So communion with the Father how are we to understand our relationship with the First person of the Trinity?
So what comes to your mind when you think of God the Father?
I think a lot of people don’t like to think of the Father because they see the Father as cruel, as this vengeful and wrathful person, and you know thank goodness Jesus is a member of the trinity or else we would all be in trouble… I think Christians are afraid of the Father. There is kind of this mentality in Christianity like, “Don’t mess with the Father, he will send lightning bolts on you if he has to… if you have to pray that is ok but be sure to do it in Jesus name.”
John Owen and of course the Bible has a completely different view of the Father. Owen writes, “The chief way by which the Saints have communion with the Father is love –free, undeserved, eternal love. This love the Father pours on the Saints. Saints are to see God is full of love to them. They are to receive Him as the one who loves them, and are to be full of praise and thanksgiving to God for his love. They are show gratitude for his love by living a life, which pleases him.
This is the great truth of the gospel. Then Owen goes on to say what we just said, Commonly, the father, the first person of the Trinity, is seen as only full of wrath and anger against sin. Sinful men can have no other thoughts of God. That is very insightful, when you are in sin. It is almost as if there is a known separation from God, and therefore the sinner only knows the wrath of God. But Owen continues “But in the gospel, God is now revealed especially as love, as full of love to us. To bring home to us this great truth is the special work of the gospel.”
Turn with me to 1st John 4
Now we are going to pick up in a text where John is urging the church to love one another, and the reason that he gives, the reason that the church should love, his ground for this he bases on the love, not on the love of the Son, or of the Spirit but of the Father.
So 1st John 4 beginning in verse 8.
8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God – This is God the Father – God unspecified is typically always the Father in scripture, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, So this is how you understand the love of the Father that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
You understand the Father by his great and amazing love for you.
So if you really want to know the Father, Meditate on His love. And so today and this week I hope that we would do just that. Meditate on the fact that we have a heavenly Father, maker of heaven and earth, ruler of theuniverse who loves us, and who loves us so deeply. There are four things in this verse that help us to understand the Father and His deep love for us.
First of all the Love of the Father is Full –
God’s love is Full – He sent His only son. In other words this is a full sacrifice.This isn’t a halfhearted love; this is God’s full love.God isn’t moody. God doesn’t have his days with us; his love is consistent and full all of the time. Even when ours isn’t.
You ever date a fickle girl?
When I was in high school I dated this sweet little girl named Jenny and some days our relationship was great, and she was so sweet. But some days she was just cold. Jenny how are you doing today, “I’m fine.” And I never knew which Jenny I was going to get. And that was pretty miserable, and it was the most frustrating relationship.
God’s love is not fickle it is full it is consistent to the point where he was willing to freely send His only son into the world.God knew he wanted to save you, and he was fully committed to saving you.
“God’s love is like the sun, always the same it its light. Our love is like the moon. Sometimes it is full. Sometimes it is only a thin crescent.”
God’s Love is Full.
And this is very important.
The love of the Father is initiated by Him. I want you to hear that church, You didn’t go out and win God’s love. Its not like God was sitting in heaven and saying, “man Ole Jason really has been awesome lately, and I think really loves me, therefore he really deserves for me to send Jesus into the world to pay the price for his sin”
No The text says,
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us.
That is a huge text. God loved us, God pursued us.
I am of course reminded of Romans 5:8 –
God demonstrates his love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, while we were still running from God, while we were far from God, he loved us. He pursued us, he came after us.
I think of course of Ephesians 2.
2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
It is the Father that initiates this love not us. It is the Father that pursues not us, now of course we respond and we are called to respond to this love. The love of God is initiated not by us, or even by the Spirit, or by the Son, the Love of God is initiated by the Father.
I don’t where you are with God, but if you are a Christian God has initiated that relationship, he pursued you. And if you aren’t a Christian, by virtue of the fact that you are here today hearing this is evidence that God is pursuing you now. He wants a relationship with you, so much so that He sent Jesus for you. You know when you think about that. All that means for God the perfect Father to send the perfect Son for sinners like us.I am going to say something that is going to sound provocative but it is just the truth.
God would have been totally justified in sending us all to Hell. God would have been totally justified in sending us all to hell, we have sinned. We were dead in the trespasses and sins… by nature children of wrath. You know it wasn’t really until I got into college that I really thought about that, now of course I believed that Jesus had saved me from hell. But in college I really saw my heart before God, I really saw how capable of sin I was, I really believed that because of my sin, if I were to hold up my performance record before God it would do me no good. I really saw how deeply I needed a savior, how deeply I needed God’s love.But the good news is God does love us, and he initiated this covenantal relationship by sending his son for us, for me, and for you.
Which brings me to the next point.
The love of the Father is for you (Specific)
The Father’s love isn’t just general love for mankind, it is love for you.
I want you to hear that God the Father loves you, particularly. And if you have never thought about that you need to. What did God do to save you?If you are saved, God has been pursuing you he has been chasing you down to bring him to himself.I can think of what the Father has used in my life – When I go back and meditate on God’s incredible saving and keeping power in my life.First of all as I have said many times, I think of my family, what an extension of God’s love for me to be born into such an incredible family that loved me and showed me Jesus.
I think of a guy like Jim Spann who was my Sunday School teacher from the 6th grade through the 12th grade, and at least once a month he would send me a card saying, “hey I just wanted you to know that I prayed for you today” I think of a guy like Peter Doyle, 75 year old man who when I was at Auburn would meet with me and Brett Pennington every Tuesday at Moe’s and talk about the Bible.I think of a friend Ben Bowden who when I was so discouraged one time, feeling unfit for ministry, encouraged me and lifted my soul.And I could go on and on and on but you know that that is? That is the Father’s particular love.
The Father has known exactly what I needed and when I needed it. Because he knows me, who I am with my particularities and he loves me, and God loves you and he has pursued you. I have shared this story before, but you want to get inspired for missions, you want to get a vision for what God is doing globally. I was on a short-term mission trip in 2012 and I met on a small remote Island in Indonesia called Selayar. And Bashri lives in a village on an island where the Gospel has literally never gone, so this is the end of the world, and about 6 months before I met him he began having dreams about Jesus, Jesus began appearing to him, and telling him to follow him, and that someone would be coming with good news.
Well shortly after the visions began these Indonesian Christians made contact with him and gave him a Bible. So he has been having dreams about Jesus, a man shows up at is house from a different part of Indonesia and gives him a Bible, then in the summer of 2012 4 Americans show up, and we had the chance with him to tell him the whole Gospel again from Genesis to Revelation and throughout he asked incredible questions, and when we got to the End he said “It is true I believe it.”
So you have got this man, on a remote Island in Indonesia, the Gospel is not present in his village. And now by God’s amazing love for him he is a believer. He is saved. Everyone that knows God has a story, and maybe it was through faithful parents, or maybe it was through a youth pastor, or college minister. But if you know God, there was a particular way that God said I am coming for.
God loves you. In a very special particular way, God knows your name, he knows your personality, he knows your likes and dislikes, and he loves and pursues you.
Lastly, The Love of the Father is sacrificial. God gave his son
10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
He sent his Son and the justifier, he sent his son as the sacrifice for sin,
Now this really hits home.
The sacrifice of the Father.
Paige is so excited about our son coming next month. And one of the reasons that we are so excited about him is because these amazing two years with my daughter wonderful daughter who I honestly treasure her and love her more and more every single day. I can’t wait to see her, I love being with her, I am going out of town this week but I will have Paige send me a picture of her every day, I love watching her grow I love seeing what she is up to, I have an office upstairs in my house and the other day I was up there doing some work and I had the window open behind me, but I had my head phones on and very faintly I heard her crying out, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy! And finally I heard Emery Anna screaming at me from the back yard and so I turned around and she was back there playing and I said, hey baby what’s up? Are you having fun? And she just said, “I love you” “I love you daddy.” And I love her. And I can’t imagine her suffering. And I would do, and will do whatever I have to keep her safe. But God the Father who loves Jesus perfectly, more than I will ever love Emery Anna.Was willing to send him to earth, he was willing to watch his son, Jesus the son of God who had the whole world at his disposal, he was willing to watch him be born among livestock, he was willing to watch his son grow up a fugitive running for his life to Egypt as a little boy, he was willing to watch his son grow up poor the son of a carpenter, he was willing to watch his son be tempted by Satan himself.
He was willing to say “no” to his son when Jesus begged his Father while sweating blood, Father if there is any other way let this cup pass from me. He was willing to watch his son, be beaten, and mocked, and spat upon.Can you image this as a parent, as an all-powerful parent?
And then in the cosmic moment the sin of the whole world was put on Jesus.2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus who knew no sin, became Sin in that very moment
And as the guilt of the world was placed on Jesus, God punished Jesus on our behalf. Now let me just tell you, punishing a child is about the worst thing ever. You hate to hurt and correct your child.But how hard would this be? To punish your child for something that they never did.To punish your child for the sin of another. The one who sinned is going to go free and my child has to be punished? I can’t imagine.But all of this happened, because God the Father loves you. And his love is immeasurably and incomprehensively sacrificial. The Father loves you. His love is full, it is initiated by him, it is particularly for you, and it is enormously sacrificial.
You know I know a lot about a Father’s love both as a Father and because I have been loved so much by my Father. And one day in all likelihood I will have to say goodbye to my Father and my Father will have to say goodbye to me, my Father will go on to be with the Lord. As much as he loves me. His love is limited; it is limited by his own life and the human limits that hold every Father back.
But I have another Father an even better Father, whose love for me is unlimited that will never fail or die. Do you know this Father’s love? Have you experienced that kind of love do you feel that? Do you feel loved by the Father?
You can, by trusting in the son. One of the great verses of the Bible.
John 1:12 – talking of Jesus. But to all who did receive Jesus, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God the Father, 13 children who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but and I like to say But by the Love and the will of God.