Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.
The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. His intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything so he established daily chapel services. Today, that tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from the University Chapel platform. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University, is continuing a study series entitled Truth and Love, which is a study of the book of 1 John. Let's now listen to today's message from 1 John 4, 11 through 12, entitled God's Perfect Love. We're reading this morning in our passage of scripture in 1 John chapter 4, and as we read this passage of scripture and as you read it on your own, it almost appears like there's a lot of repetition going on. And in one way, that's the way John teaches, but we're really coming to a very, very crucial part of our study this semester and what I believe John is driving towards. And so I'd like to ask you to really pay careful attention and give careful thoughts. You can go back and read it in your study yourself. As I speak this morning on the theme God's Perfect Love, I'd like to read verses 11 and 12 as we begin.
Notice what it says. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us. We're going to take at least two messages this week and then two times from this next message where we're going to understand or try to understand what it means when the Bible speaks of perfect love. And as we begin, I think it's important to recognize that John's goal or John's destination for the Christian life is that we have perfect love.
Let me put it this way. In the New Testament, the main writers, Peter, Paul, John, James, they all have an end or a goal for the Christian life. It's the Greek word teleos. And what are those goals? Well, for Paul, when you read his letters, his goal is for the Christians to be like Jesus Christ, Christ's likeness, being conformed to his image. And for most of us, that's probably the kind of answer we would give if we speak about what God's goal is for our life. But when you read the book of James, you get a different theme from James and that is his goal for us is to be wise.
So when you read Proverbs, for example, it says to get wisdom. But when we read John's letter, it's different. And that is John's goal for us is to be perfect in love. Now, each writer basically has the same goal in mind.
It's just that their focus is slightly different. Paul, Christ's likeness, James, wisdom, John to be perfect in love. And what's interesting is that each goal has a barrier or a hindrance to overcome in order to reach that goal. For example, to be Christ-like, Paul says, we have to overcome the flesh. So we read in Galatians 5 where we walk in the spirit will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. To be wise, James says you have to overcome being double-minded. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. And then when we come to John, John says to be perfect in love, we have to overcome fear or insecurity.
All of these things are barriers to change and growth, the flesh, double-mindedness or fear or insecurity. And so when we look at John today and we look at John again in the next few weeks, we're going to see that it is perfect love that overcomes the barrier of fear. And John speaks of perfect love from two aspects. Number one, he speaks of God's love perfected in us. And then secondly, he speaks of our love is being made perfect or love is perfected with us. And so today we're going to seek to understand what is meant by the statement his love is perfected in us. Let's go back and look at verse 12. He says, if we love one another, God dwells in us and his love is perfected in us.
So what does this mean? Well, let me begin with a few reminders, some things we've already seen. Number one, John has been commanding all of us to love one another. Secondly, he's given us reasons why we should do that. First of all, because love is God's nature. And secondly, love is the nature of the believer because we've been born again and his spirit has come to live inside of us. He's literally put his love, his nature within our hearts. So we naturally as a Christian love God, we love his word, we love his people. And then thirdly, he reminds us that God has shown us or displayed that love through his son. And we see this in Jesus's entrance into the world through his incarnation. And we see this in Jesus's exit from the world through his crucifixion. So now we come to verse 11 and John is pressing home the importance of loving one another by telling us what happens when we love.
Not just why and just how, but what happens. And he tells us in verse 12, if we love one another, God dwells in us and his love is perfected in us. When we love one another, his love is made perfect. So what does that mean? Three points I want to give you this morning.
First of all, really three questions just try to answer. First of all, what is meant when he says perfected love? Well, let me first of all say perfected does not refer to a Christian who's come to a point when he's free from all defects. Like reaching a state of sinless perfection.
That's not what the Bible teaches, but because none of us are going to reach that in this life. He's not saying our imperfections or our inadequacies have been totally eliminated. Rather, the word perfect has the idea of reaching, completing, or achieving a goal. For example, let's just take sports. Sports has goals, basketball goals, soccer goals, football goals.
And the purpose of the game is to score goals, preferably more than your opponent. Now, when John speaks of perfected love, he's talking about reaching a goal or reaching a destination. And it's important to understand that John is not speaking of our love, the believer's love being perfected. The phrase has God as the subject.
Notice what it says. It is God's love that is being perfected. God dwells in us and his love is perfected in us. Now let me ask you a question.
Does that sound strange? Is God's love imperfect? Can our actions change God's love?
The answer is no. So then what does it mean? And fundamentally, here's what it means. It is the idea that when believers love one another, God's love has reached or it has achieved its goal or its ultimate purpose in us. God's goal is for us to love one another. And when we are doing that, then we are achieving God's purpose or God's goal. That is his love has been perfected. And since the verb is in the perfect tense, it means not only has the goal been reached, but it continues on in the present.
It's not just something that takes place at a point in time, but it is a continuation. His love is continually being perfected in our presence. Now, is God's love always then being perfected among believers?
Well let me ask you a question. Does God's people always love each other? Yes or no? Yes or no? No.
All you have to do is go in the dorms at Bob Jones University and find that out. The very nature of the phrase if we love one another is conditional. It leaves the possibility that believers may not fulfill this obligation, and in the case of the word, the probability is actually low. So he is urging, he is pressing upon us that we are to love each other, and when we do that, then we are reaching the goal that God has established. God's love is being perfected in us. So that leads me to the second question, and that is why is God's love being perfected so important? Let me put it this way. We should all feel a sense of duty, responsibility, urgency that this is really important.
So why? Well, beginning in verse 12, there's a general statement of fact where John says these words, no man hath seen God at any time. That is, no one at any time in the past or in the present has ever seen or will ever see God in his essence. You cannot see God because God is invisible. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 16, he says, speaking of God, whom no man hath seen nor can see. John's Gospel tells us the same thing. John 1.18, no man hath seen God at any time.
Nobody has ever seen the Lord. But when Jesus came into the world, what did he come to do? He came to show us the Father. John 14.9, he that hath seen me, Jesus says, hath seen the Father. So Christ came to show us the Heavenly Father, and specifically, Jesus did this by demonstrating God's love to the world. Now, here's the point, Christ is not with us. So the demonstration of the Father in his love is no longer with us, so how is it that God is making his love known to the world? How is God revealing himself today?
And the answer is, John tells us, verse 12, no man hath seen God at any time. If, that's the condition, if we love one another, God dwells in us, that is, God's presence is with us, and his love is perfected in us. God reveals himself to the world when believers love one another.
That's why it's so important. God's goal is that we love one another. When we love one another, we've achieved or we've reached his purpose.
And why is this so important? Because this is the way God reveals himself. FF Bruce said, the love of God displayed in the world is the strongest apologetic that God has in the world. Let me put it this way, our lives demonstrate to the world who God is. And folks, if we're not doing that, then there is no manifestation of who God is. This is God's plan. We are to actively and obediently love one another.
Let me give you a very simple illustration. My wife, Terri, was diagnosed with cancer the first time in 19, actually it took place at the end of 1998. And then in 1999, from January to May, my wife went through chemotherapy treatments for about, it was about five month period of time. And it was a very difficult and challenging time in many different aspects for our whole family. My wife physically, financially, my children having to adjust to the reality that their mother could die. I was living on the road traveling in order to bring income in, and so I was away from the family. My wife was surrounded by people that loved her. Her family was there, her siblings, and so she had good support base. But nonetheless, it was very, very difficult.
And of course, whenever you go through a trial or whenever you go through a hardship, you sort of naturally question God's care and God's love. And after we had gone through the entire ordeal of chemo, my wife lost all of her hair. I was gone, and when I came back, all of her hair was gone. And my wife opened the front door and she stood there and she was as bald as a cue ball.
And she looked at me and she says, well, how does it look to have to kiss Telly Savalas? That's the way my wife handles hard times. She always laughs. So my wife always has a good sense of humor, but still deep down in your heart, there are all kinds of fears and insecurities.
But what happened during that five month period was really a tremendous blessing from God because my wife received countless emails and phone calls and letters from people all over the world who were expressing to my wife that they were praying for her and that they loved her. In January, my wife came to me and said, we need to open up a bank account. I said, for what and with what? She said, well, you're gone and we can't pay bills and I have to wait for you to get back. And so I said, well, look, I'll open up an account, but we don't have much money.
And she said, okay, well, we'll just do that. So I opened an account, put a little money in it for her to pay the bills that come along. And from that point forward, from January all the way to May, my wife never received one more dime from me. Because God, through his mercy, without ever telling people our needs, my wife received, I think over that period of time, somewhere around $10,000 from people that just sent her money.
So that in May, when I picked my wife up after we had gone through the entire semester and we were getting ready to travel again, my wife had so much money, I had to borrow money from her. And I remember as we were traveling back across the Midwest, I said to my wife, I said, sweetheart, what is it that God has taught you? And she said, Steve, I have always known God loves me because the Bible tells me so. She said, but it is through getting cancer that I really realized God loves me because God has shown me his manifold love through his people.
I think that's what John is telling us here. God's love is demonstrated through Christians. Folks, if we don't love each other, then what's missing? When God prompts you to show kindness and love and care, how do you respond? If believers do not manifest this kind of mutual love for one another, then God's love does not reach its goal.
It's not being perfected. And so this is why I think John is so urgent as he speaks to these believers, as he challenges them. And that leads me to the third and last question, and that is how is this love perfected? And if we go back into verse 11, notice it says, beloved, if God so loved us, then we alt also to love one another.
The word alt is an obligation based on a moral or a legal constraint. You could say it this way, it is love with a conscience. We should all have a conscience to love one another.
We should be convicted, if I could say it this way, if we don't. If God loved us when he sent his son to die on the cross, should that love not constrain us? Should we not alt also to love one another? And I want you to consider this command to love one another in light of what was going on in John's day. I've mentioned earlier there were false teachers, and one of the rising problems among believers is that they were retreating from the world in order to experience God in a deeper, more mystical way.
I think it's easy, and we're all kind of naturally bent this way, that we think of Christianity as one long God in eye time. And by the way, you need to have time with God, and you need to read the Word, and there's nothing wrong with taking retreats or going up into the mountains for a couple of days and getting away and praying and seeking God. That's all a part of the Christian life. But meeting God on the mountaintop and never coming down to a world filled with trials and temptations is not God's will for us. Do you remember when Peter desired to stay on the mount of transfiguration because he wanted to enjoy the glory of God? What did Jesus have him do? The next day he led Peter back into the world in order to love people and to deliver people from the evil effects of sin. The focus of the Christian life is not primarily centered on spiritual experiences that are personal, but they are on learning to practically love one another. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones said Christianity is not a truth that is to be contemplated, but a life that must be lived out. We don't see God withdrawing from the world, but entering into the world by faith and loving those that are His. John is making it clear that the pinnacle of spirituality is not mysticism, but rather Christians mutually loving one another. And folks, the result of this is a powerful witness to the world. John 13 35, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you love one another.
Think about that. We can do all the verbal witnessing we want, but actions often speak louder than words. If you are not loving one another, then God is not being seen. And I think it's right here that we face one of our greatest challenges. How easy it would be to withdraw into a spiritual world that does not involve living in relationship with other people.
You know, it's really easy to love Christians when you don't have to be with them. And we have even extreme movements in our own day. I've been involved in this a long, long time, and I've seen all kinds of things happen. Where we go, for example, to a homeschool movement, which I'm for, my children were homeschooled. But we do it to protect our children from the evils of the world, and we go from a homeschool movement to now a home church movement. Because we want to protect our children from imperfect people.
And we're kind of whacked out. As if somehow protecting your children from other children that are not good influences, and I understand the importance of that, don't get me wrong. But we have a tendency to think we're going to take them out of the church, out of the youth group, and we're going to isolate and separate our children so they won't be influenced by negative influence, forgetting the fact that the real problem with your child is not what's on the outside, it's what's on the inside.
Because let me tell you something, your child is wicked as the day is long. And every one of us are wicked in our own hearts apart from the grace of God. And oftentimes, we think that a life of seclusion and isolation will make us free from sin. That's not the way God — that's not what God has called us to do. You don't develop holiness by separating from people, you develop holiness by separating from sin and loving people.
Because God's chief commandment is to love people, and loving people always kills sin. Three times Jesus asked Peter, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me? He said unto him, yes, Lord, you know that I love you.
He said unto him, feed my sheep. It seems that for Peter, it was more difficult to love people than it was to worship Christ. And it also seems that Peter learned this lesson, because in 1 Peter 1, 22, he said, seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently.
Love is the only way to — love can only be perfected through relationships. And this is our daily struggle, it's the natural self-love that is opposite from God's love. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones has supplied us with a very helpful understanding of the manifestations of self-love. Because these are the things that arise in our heart all the time, like, I'll go just through the list, self-centeredness. Looking at yourself, watching yourself, always regarding yourself. Self-assertion, pushing and asserting yourself to get your own way. When I desire things, I want to have them now.
By the way, let me just say this, I have no problem at all with you writing me and giving me suggestions of things that need to change at Bob Jones University, because believe me, things need to change here. But I also sometimes can smell self-assertiveness, and you know what, it stinks. It reminds me of my roommate's socks in college. They were the smelliest, most rotten things I'd ever smelled. So your being self-assertive will smell.
That's not God's way. Self-conceit, a readiness to defend yourself and to condemn others, we're really good at that. Self-indulgence, being glutted with my own wants. Self-pleasing, being happy and pleasing myself is my goal. Self-seeking, always looking out and thinking of myself.
Self-pity, feeling sorry for myself, and having a party and inviting my best friend Pity to come. Being self-sensitive, how touchy. How easily wounded and offended you are. I've had lots of people say, look, I hope I don't offend you. I said, don't worry about it.
I said, we're all good. Self-defensiveness, always being on the defensive. Self-sufficiency, depending on yourself, especially in a lack of prayer.
I can make it through the day without God. Self-consciousness, always thinking that people are watching me or thinking about you. You ever thought that everybody's looking at you? Can I give you some advice? Nobody's looking at you.
You know what? Most people don't really care about you. You know when you're 20, you're worried what everybody thinks about you. When you're 40, you don't care what anybody thinks about you. And when you're 60, you realize nobody was thinking about you in the first place.
So get over it. Self-righteousness, trusting my own goodness and my own lifestyle to find acceptance before God. And then self-gloring, constantly looking for and expecting the recognition of others, boasting in myself. All of these things are the things that hinder love. And God's glory shines brightest when self is most denied. We are called to meditate on the love of God, turn away from self-love and choose to love one another sacrificially. And this is how God's love reaches his goal, how it's perfected among us.
When we choose to love one another, love in the end always humbles self and always lifts up one another. So I hope if you learn anything as a student here, I hope you'll learn to love each other. College is not about you. It's not about you. I hope you learn that. Get over it.
College is about preparing your life to live your life for the service of others. Father, thank you for your word. Help us Lord to love you and to love one another in Jesus' name. Amen. You've been listening to a sermon from the book of 1 John by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. If you would like to order the study booklet titled Truth and Love written for this series, visit our website at thedailyplatform.com. Thanks again for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we continue the study in 1 John on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-26 16:42:28 / 2023-04-26 16:51:51 / 9