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1727. Perfection of God’s Love

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
March 12, 2024 6:00 pm

1727. Perfection of God’s Love

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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March 12, 2024 6:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit continues a discipleship series entitled “Truth and Love” from 1 John 4:11-12 and 17-18.

The post 1727. Perfection of God’s Love appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Every day, students are blessed by the preaching and teaching of the Bible from the University Chapel Platform. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit is continuing a study series entitled Truth and Love, which is a study of the Book of First John. Well, I'm going to ask you to take your Bibles and turn with me, please, to 1 John chapter 4. We have been working our way this semester through the theme of Truth and Love from 1 John.

And so we have three weeks left this week, next week, and the following week to really finish up the series. And I'm very, very excited about coming to this very, really crucial part of the study, which I hope will God will greatly use in your heart and life as we've looked at what John has been talking about, first of all, God's truth and about God's love. And essentially, what we're going to see today over the next few weeks is the ultimate goal or destination John has for us as believers. And I'd like to begin by saying this, that when you read the New Testament, you look at the New Testament writers.

So let's exclude the Gospels, but the letters. So you have Paul. Everybody knows Paul. You have Peter. You have James. You have Jude.

John. And then you have the writer, the unknown writer of the Book of Hebrews. And when you read the letters, what you discover is that they all believed exactly the same as to how a person is saved. We'll use the term justified and also how a believer is sanctified.

How is a Christian made holy in an unholy world? Okay, so you get consistency in the message. But what you do find is you find variety among each writer. In their emphasis or in their focus, we understand that when you listen to different preachers, they can preach the same thing, but they just have a different way of saying it. And that's true of the writers of the New Testament. For example, when you read Paul's letter, the goal of the Christian life is to be Christ like to be like Jesus. When you read, for example, the Book of James, the goal of James for the believer is to be wise. When you read the letters of Peter first and second, Peter, you read that the goal of Peter for the believer is to be made holy. When you read the Book of Hebrews, the unknown writer says that the goal of the Christian life is to persevere in our faith. And if I could say it this way, be faithful to the end. They are holiness, wisdom, faith, love. They are all a part of the Christian life, and yet each writer basically has a slightly different emphasis. And so not only do they have a different goal, but they also have different enemies or different barriers. So what's the barrier to Christ's likeness?

It's the flesh. What's the barrier to wisdom? Being double minded. What's the barrier to faith? It's always unbelief. What's the barrier to being perfected in love?

We'll discover it's overcoming our own natural fears and our own natural insecurities. And so this morning I want us to read verses 11 and 12, and then we're going to jump down to verse 17. And I want you to notice the statement that John brings out about being perfected in love. Verse 11, he said, 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. So in verses 11 and 12, he speaks about the perfection of God's love, and I'm making that an emphasis.

Now notice, if you will, please, verse 17. Herein is our love made perfect that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear because fear hath torment.

He that feareth is not made perfect in love. Now I don't know if you saw the difference, but there is a difference between what we read in verses 11 and 12 and what we read in verses 17 and 18 about the perfection of love. And here's the difference, and this is what we're going to talk about today, and that is in verses 11 and 12, he talks about the perfection of God's love. In verses 17 and 18, he talks about the perfection of our love as a Christian. So one is God's love being perfected, the second is our love being perfected. Today we're going to talk about God's love, and then in two weeks, we'll talk about our love being perfected as the culmination of our study this semester. So let's try to understand what it means when the Bible says that God's love is perfected in us.

And I want us to go back with a few reminders of what we've already talked about this semester. First of all, John has been commanding us to love one another. Verse 7, Beloved, let us love one another. He commands us to do that. Then secondly, he gives us reasons why we're to love one another.

Why? Because love is of God and everyone that loveth is born of God. That is, love is God's nature, and love is the nature of believers who have been truly born again because God's love has been poured into our hearts. And then he reminds us how God has displayed that love. How has he shown us that love? And he did it through his son, Jesus Christ.

He did it when Jesus entered into the world through his incarnation, and he did it when Jesus exited the world through his crucifixion. So we see God's love displayed in and to us through God's son. Now we come to verse 11. And here we find that John is pressing home the importance of us loving one another. Why should we love one another? We know it's God's nature. We know it's our nature. We know it's displayed in Jesus. But there's another reason.

It's very powerful. Notice he says that we are to love one another because of what happens when we love. What happens in the world when the people of God love each other? Look at what he says in verse 11. 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 dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us. Here's what John is saying. When we love each other, God is abiding among us. He's with us. And God's own love is perfected in us.

So three questions I want to answer. The first question is, what is meant by God's love being perfected? Because it sounds a little bit odd as if God's love is imperfect. Well, the word perfected here is not referring to a believer who has come to a point in their life when they're free from their defects. We would often call that sinless perfection. So the Bible never teaches that any of us reach a state of sinless perfection. That's not the meaning of the Greek word. He is not saying that our imperfections or our inadequacies have been totally eliminated. That's not what he is saying.

Rather, the word perfect means to reach a goal, to complete a goal, to achieve a goal. We are right now in the middle of March Madness. I don't play the, what do you call it? Yeah, whatever they do, whatever you do.

I don't do it. And I typically really could care less because I'm not, I mean, I'm not a basketball fan except for the Bruins. That's about it. But I actually have watched a little bit of it because this week's vacation, we had free time. And so I watched some of the games and I thought they were pretty exciting. And of course, University South Carolina women are 34 and 0 and they're the number one team in the nation, so forth and so on. But anyway, when you watch basketball, what's it all about? It's all about goals. It's all about getting the basketball and the goal more than everybody else.

It's not about how perfect the players play. It's about reaching the goal. So when John speaks of God's love being perfected, it's talking about achieving a goal or reaching a destination that God has set. And it is important to understand that John here is not speaking of the believer's love being perfected.

He's not talking about you. He's talking about God's love. Because God is the subject. It is God's love that is being perfected. If we love one another, God dwells in us and his love, that is, God's love is perfected in us. Now, what does that mean? Obviously, he's not talking about God's love is imperfect. So what's the idea?

It is this. When believers love one another, God's love has reached its goal or its intended purpose. Micah said he's a soccer player and I love soccer. I played soccer high school, college, I used to coach soccer. And there is a particular Spanish announcer that if you ever watch a soccer match and a goal is scored, you want to listen to what the soccer guy is going to do. Because he doesn't just say goal. He says goal, goal, goal. That's kind of embarrassing, isn't it?

I had to get that out this morning. Now here's what he's saying. God's goal for us is to love one another.

And when we do this, we score the goal. That's essentially what he's saying. And the verb here when he says that his love is perfected, it's actually in the perfect tense, which means not only has the goal been reached, but it keeps going on. Now, the question is, is God's love being perfected among all believers? And the answer is no, because he says if we love one another, that's conditional.

The possibility that believers may not fulfill this obligation is actually, in this case, it's actually predictably low. If I could say it this way, we're not reaching the goal. The shot is wide or high.

Somebody is shooting air balls. You understand what I'm saying? I'm saying that actually among us, the goal may not be being reached. And if it's not being reached, then God's love is not being perfected. So that leads me to the second thing, and that is why is God's love being perfected so important? That is, why is it so important that if we love one another, God's love is being perfected?

What happens? Why is this so important? Look what he says beginning in verse 12. He says, makes a general statement. He says, no man has 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. No man has seen God at any time. Now, it's very interesting that John, who wrote this, 1 John 4, is also the same one who wrote the same exact statement in John chapter 1, verse 18.

And what does it say there? It says, no man has seen God at any time. The only begotten son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

What is he saying here? John's saying that when Christ came to this earth, he came to do something. What did Jesus come to do?

In John chapter 14, verse 9, Jesus says this, he that has seen me has seen the Father, and how do you say then, show us the Father? What did Christ come to do? He came to show us who the Father is.

You see me, you see the Father. So Jesus perfectly demonstrated to the world who God is and what God is like, especially God's love through his life and death. Now, Jesus is no longer here. He has returned to heaven. He has sent his spirit, that is Christ himself, to live in our hearts.

When you and I get saved, God pours his love into our hearts. So the point John is making is this, how is God being made known to the world? How does the world see God? Jesus said if you've seen me, you've seen the Father, but Jesus is not here. So how is the Father being seen in the world today?

This is what he is asking the question all about. And he tells us when he says in verse 12, no man is seeing God at any time, but if we love one another, God dwells in us and his love is perfected in us. That is that when believers love one another, God's goal is being reached. He is being seen in the world.

Does that make sense? The world sees the Father through believers who love one another. The great writer F.F. Bruce said the love of God displayed in the world is the strongest apologetic that God has in the world. Do you not see the importance that we love one another? Because if we don't love one another, then God's goal is not being reached. And what is God's goal?

It is that the world would see him. In 1999, my wife Terri, who is here this morning, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer. There are many, many stories that I could tell you about that experience. But one main story was after she had gone through chemo treatments for six months, from January until really to the end of May in 1999, when she was completed, we were finished, we were traveling up to northeastern Wisconsin where I served in a camp ministry.

And on our way up to Wisconsin, I asked my wife the question. She said, sweetheart, what do you feel like God has really been teaching you over the last six months? And here's what she said, and I'll never forget it. She said, Steve, I've always known that God loves me because the Bible says he loves me. But it is through getting cancer that I discovered that God really loves me.

I said, how? And she said, through his people. She said, God has provided for our family in so many amazing ways. Without me having to go tell everybody, God's people responded by gifts and letters, and this is all before the days of email or texting.

This is not Facebook. This is personal phone calls, personal letters, conversations, gifts that came out of nowhere. And she said, it was getting cancer that I really discovered that God really loves me. Do we see why perfected love is such a big deal? When believers love one another, God is being demonstrated to the world. And if believers do not manifest this kind of love for one another, then God's love is not reaching its purpose or goal. It's not being perfected.

It's not being seen in the world. So your relationship with other believers is absolutely crucial. You can't sit here and say it doesn't matter.

It does matter. Because what matters is that our God be seen in the world. And that leads me to the last thing, and that is how then is this love perfected? And let's go back to our text.

John says here in verse 11, Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. The word ought, we ought to do this. I mean, how many times in your life have you thought, I ought to do this? And you didn't do it. How many times have you thought, man, I probably should be doing this, but I'm going to do something else.

The idea of the word ought is an obligation based on a moral or a legal constraint. You could say it's love with a conscience. Or you could say it the way Paul says it, the love of Christ constrains me. My wife one day asked me as she snuggled up next to me, she said, do you love me? I said, yes, I love you, sweetheart. She said, why do you love me? She was fishing for romance. I said, sweetheart, I love you because the Bible tells me to. Now, it's not very romantic.

But after you get married, you'll understand that we are obligated, I ought to do this. Now, I want you to consider the goal of loving one another in light of what was going on in the day of John. One of the rising problems in the early church was that believers were running away from the world, retreating from the world in order to experience God in a deeper and more mystical way. And by the way, that has not changed. It's easy for us to think that Christianity is one long God in eye time, meeting with God on the mountaintop.

But the problem is we never come down to a world that is filled with trials and troubles and temptations and tribulations. Do you remember what Peter desired to do when he was on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus and Jesus began to shine like the sun? He said, let's build some tabernacles. Let's put up some tents and let's camp out.

Let's have a glorified retreat for a millennial kingdom. And what did Christ do? Christ took Peter down from the mountain and the first thing he did is he brought him into the midst of a crowd where a father had a demon-possessed son and the Bible says it was his only begotten son. And I believe when Jesus walked in and he saw that boy possessed by a demon, knowing he was the only begotten son of this father, he had within his own heart a compassion for him because he was his father's only begotten son.

And what did he do? He delivered the boy from the demons. And there, Peter began to recognize that the way God is seen in the world is through acts of service and acts of love. The focus of the Christian life is not primarily centered on personal spiritual experiences, but it is to be centered on practically loving one another. We don't see God withdrawing from the world. We see God entering into the world by faith and loving those that are his. So John makes it clear that the pinnacle of spirituality is not mysticism, but it is a believer loving another. And the result of this is a powerful witness to the world.

Jesus said, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one to another. If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times. People have visited the campus of Bob Jones University and almost without fail, they talk about, they don't talk about the buildings. They don't go, wow, these buildings are amazing.

I mean, some of them are cool and some of them aren't. They don't talk about that. They don't talk about our amazing soccer field. They don't walk into the dining common and they're just blown away. But if I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times.

We were blown away by the people, by the students, by the way. I mean, I've heard it over and over and over. Our life speaks so loud that people can't hear what we're saying. If we love one another, God is among us presently and his love is perfected.

It is achieving its purpose, it's achieving its goal and that is to show the Father. And this addresses our great challenge, how easy it would be to withdraw into a spiritual world that does not involve living in relationships with other people. Extreme Christian movements always want to retreat from the world. Whether it is a home school movement, which is not wrong, or a home church movement, where everybody in that little group is perfect and everybody else is sinful. There's only one word I have for that, stupid.

Your brain is filled with a box of rocks. Because you sit here somehow thinking that if I can get with these handful of people, we're all going to be perfect and you neglect the reality that you have a wicked old man living on the inside of you. We're not called to a life of seclusion and isolation that makes us free from sin. We're called to live out what we are in Christ through loving one another. You don't develop holiness by separating from people.

You develop holiness from separating from sin and loving and serving people. Three times Jesus asked Peter, he said, Simon, do you love me? And he said, yes, Lord, you know that I love you. He said, then feed my sheep. It seems that Peter had a far more difficult time loving people than he did worshipping Christ.

And it also seems that Peter learned that lesson because he writes in 1 Peter 1.22, seeing that you have purified your souls and obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, that's un-hypocritical love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently. You know what's the great thing about living in dormitories? Is you have to live with people. Dormitories would be great if you didn't have the people living on your hall. How wonderful your experience would be without your RA. How great everything would be, but that's not reality.

Because when I live with people, what's being exposed, not the other people, and their problems was being exposed as my problems. My self-centeredness, my self-indulgence, my self-pleasing, my self-seeking, my self-pity, my self-sensitivities, my self-defense, my self-sufficiency, my self-righteousness. And all of those things reveal that God is perfecting us, that is working in us, so that we would love more, and by loving more, then God's love is being perfected among us. The goal is being reached. That God is being seen as we learn to love one another. That's what John is teaching us. And what a command for all of us that we love one another. Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you that you love us. And you showed that love when you sent your son, the son of your affection to us, and now you have sent that love into our hearts. Lord, we acknowledge that we fail miserably, but we thank you that your blood cleanses completely. And Lord, help us to show who you are, that your love would be perfected among us as we learn 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. Thanks again for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we continue the study in 1 John on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-12 21:25:03 / 2024-03-12 21:34:24 / 9

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