All You Need Is Love
Text: 1 John 4: 8-21
Proposition: The love of God opens our understanding of Him, it sets the way that we relate to one another, we abide in Him by it, it shelters us.
Introduction: Sometime in early 1967, the BBC began publicizing an upcoming live television event that would be "for the first time ever, linking five continents and bringing man face to face with mankind”. This ambitious program would be entitled "Our World" the world's first global television program, which proposed to link five continents simultaneously by satellites orbiting the earth. A projected 500 million viewers were anticipated, making this the most ambitious and historic television program of its time. Ending the broadcast was the contribution from England, live coverage of the Beatles in a studio recording a song never heard before. They sang a song about the essence of what every person in the world needs. It was simply called, ‘All You Need Is Love’. The song embraced the way that love transforms us, enables us, changes us but being the Beatles they missed the most critical aspect of love, the origin of it. That was a subject that John Lennon could sense but John the Apostle described. Have a look at 1 John 4:8-21.
I. Because God is Love, All You Really Do Need Is Love.
It’s an enigmatic saying, ‘God is love’. On the surface it seems to reduce God to a feeling, to a belief that love is all that God is. The Bible also tells us that God is spirit (John 4:24); God is light (1 John 1:5); and that God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Love does not define everything there is to know about God but it does describe how it informs and shapes everything He does. The origin of love was first seen when God gave Adam free will for apart from free will you cannot love. You can’t pay your best friend $1000 to love you, you can’t promise your children a mansion on a hill if they will just love you. Love can’t be bought only given. Look at what John writes in verse 8, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” You could flip that first part around and say, ‘He who does not know God does not love.’ The inference is that apart from a true knowledge of Who God is, you cannot love as He intended you to. So how did God ultimately intend you to love? Well if we begin with the truth that you are made in the image of God, like Him in the capability of emotion, intellect and will then the love that He intends you to have is the very love He has. That can seem like a ‘tall order’ until you come to the place of knowing Him, surrendering to Him, trusting Him and obeying Him as faith is made alive in you. It would be like thinking of God’s love like an electrical circuit. If the wire comes from God and stops at you then you are lit up, but if it stops at you and then goes on to another and then another the power moves to you and then through you to enlighten and empower others. That is what the love of God is meant to do and be. It awakens you and saves you but the intent is to move in, through and out.
II. Since the Love of God Does Not Demand Worthiness, Neither Can Ours.
Check out verse 9, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” What’s the inference here? It’s that apart from Jesus we aren’t alive, we can’t live like God intends apart from Christ. We can go through the motions, we can love in our own way but that always is conditional. I’ll love you only IF… you love me back, if you only will respect me or value me, if you’ll just do what I say or want. In other words the indicator that we are in the flesh is that we put the caveat of worthiness on all our expressions of love. That’s what human love apart from Christ looks like but what does human love in Christ look like? In a word, grace. It is not linked to worthiness, in that sense it is entirely unnatural, not a typical response for people. Check out verse 10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” This describes the flow of the ‘electricity’ of love, its origin is in Him. If you add Romans 5:8 to this, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”. you see that God’s love doesn’t demand worthiness. The conclusion, since God’s love doesn’t demand worthiness neither can ours if it is to be truly the love of God in us. So in verse 11 John concludes, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Maybe the point is that the design of love is not so that we would look great but so that God would look great! That takes us John’s next thought.
III. The Great Intention of Agape Love Is That People Would See God.
Now that can sound like an over the top statement so have a look at what John states in verse 12, “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” The great purpose of Agape love, unconditional love, self-sacrificing love, even unrelenting love is most clearly seen in the incarnation of Christ. The presence of Jesus on earth was in part so that people would see the invisible God. Kind of reminds you of Colossians 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Jesus is the exact image of the invisible God, what He does, the Father does, what He says is what Father instructs, what He accomplishes is the Father’s will. Jesus came that people would see God, would know the great love of God for them, would see the reality of sin that we can’t rise above, would know the incredible cost of sin as not just present destruction and eternal judgment in hell but also the very body and blood of the Son of God. Jesus came that we would see what the Father sees and that we would know the degree of agape love that God the Father loves us with. It’s an unconditional love, you don’t have to get all cleaned up before you come to Him. It’s a self-sacrificing love as the Son gave Himself to hands of sinful men that would nail Him to the cross. He took the full weight of the Fathers wrath against all sin in a self-sacrificing way, truth and life that all who would believe on Him would have that life that God has. So John takes this to it’s next intended step, “If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” By grasping hold of Christ’s offer of forgiveness of sin and embracing His righteousness as now being our righteousness, we will love one another with an agape love. The simplified conclusion is that by the love of God in you God is seen, God is glorified. That’s the great intention of agape love, that God would be seen, even in you! So John goes on to say that to abide in Christ and alternatively to have God abide in you demands the presence of the Holy Spirit in you. From the moment you accepted Christ the Holy Spirit indwelt you, an ongoing presence in you to comfort, counsel and correct. In the next verses this is what the Holy Spirit constantly counsels, comforts and corrects us in: 1. In testifying that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. (vs 14) 2. In confessing to God and each other that Jesus is the Son of God. (vs 15) Do you see that, first we proclaim the humanity of Christ and then we proclaim the absolute deity of Christ. 3. We do this because we both know and believe the love that God has for us. (vs 16). So John restates it, “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” When that happens in you…people see God. That was the intention of love, for God is love.
IV. There Is No Fear In Love; But Perfect Love Casts Out Fear.
Though we often quote this as a way encouraging others to overcome the fear of people or the fear of the world the context of verse 17 is different. “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” God’s love also has the purpose of giving us an assurance that we are His. It is meant give a boldness or confidence when we stand before the Lord. Our judgment for our sin has been put upon Him and as Christ now stands before the Father accepted and beloved so too are we in Him. That confidence is meant to direct our steps even right here and right now, it defeats the fear of not being good enough that Satan throws at us. It puts an end to the doubts about the eternal security we have in Christ, ending the question, ‘Can I lose my salvation.’ To fear that somehow God would with draw His gift of the forgiveness of my sin, to fear that I might be subject to utter torment in hell because God couldn’t complete in me what He had begun. God’s love is perfected in us by casting out that fear of His judgment. After all, it was not us who chose Him but He that chose us. John reminds us of that in verse 19, “We love Him because He first loved us.” So ‘All you need is love’, because God is love and God you really need.