Here in is Love…
Text: 1 Corinthians 13
Proposition: To understand salvation and the significance of the cross of Christ you must first understand what Love is.
Introduction: The title of this sermon is taken from the first words of 1 John 4:10 that says, “Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” It’s an appropriate verse to examine as this is Valentines Day, the day that celebrates love. Valentines Day originated around the 3rd century and began as a Christian feast day. Saint Valentine is the name attributed to several martyred saints in the early church from 300 to 800 AD. The name Valentine is derived from the Latin ‘Valens’, meaning worthy ones. It is particularly ascribed to one church leader who was martyred for marrying a Christian couple. He was buried on the Via Flamina north of Rome on February 14 around 380AD. About a thousand years later this somewhat obscure Christian feast was popularized by a protestant poet and writer named Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of Canterbury Tales. He shifted the emphasis of the feast to one of romantic love and it has continued to this day. So let’s go to the source of love, to where love first came from and rediscover it’s design. “Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Though there are four words in the ancient Greek language that refer to different aspects of love, ‘eros, storge, philos, agape’, it’s only the last two terms that actually appear in Scripture.
Eros refers to physical love, the word erotic has it’s etymological root here. Storge generally refers to the love of family members for each other. Philos is a word that primarily describes the emotional aspect of love, its our response to what brings pleasure to us. Then there’s this last word for love, agape, it’s the word used in this “Herein is love…” passage. In Kenneth Wuests, ‘Word Studies”, he says, “Agapao speaks of a love that is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it. It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object… The quality of this love is determined by the character of the one who loves and that of the object loved.” So when the Bible uses the word agapao or agape as the word for love it’s describing a love that sees something as incredibly precious and that preciousness is determined by the very character of the one who loves. In the case of “Herein is love” it is the character of God who determines the very preciousness of what He loves, namely ‘us’. That’s the origin of this highest expression of love, it begins in the very character of God and speaks to the wonder of the object He loves. So now that we’ve got that definition in place let’s look at “Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
I. The Effect of Sin in Man Is That God Is In No Way Precious To Him. Essentially what this means is that love for God does not begin with us, it is not there because of the effect of sin in mankind. That’s why it says, “Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us…”. John 3:19 amplifies it more, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” The word, ‘loved’ here is also agapao, the darkness of sin and evil is precious to man who does not know God. So what does this mean, it means man is hopelessly lost apart from God’s intervention.
II. The Purposes of God in Saving Mankind Were Based On Worth. If you saw a large diamond laying in the bottom of a large jar filled with acid the preciousness of the diamond would tempt you to reach in but the damage from the acid would prevent you. Up the stakes and let’s say that at the bottom of jar was a vial of medicine and your child was deathly ill and this was the only means to save them…now the vial is more precious than the diamond could ever be. Now agape love will sacrifice in order to reach which is needed for life. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The worth of man to God is beyond what we would imagine, we bear His image as beings of emotion, will, intellect, that are capable of knowing truth that glorifies God. Never think that you are somehow a mistake or flawed and have no worth to God, you bear His image, you have the capability of eternal life in Christ. Nothing else on the face of the earth compares to that! It’s why God sends that which is of highest value to rescue this great worth, “Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son…”.
III. The Justice of a Holy God Against Sin is Either Redemption or Judgment. This is not a new concept to us, if you break the law by speeding you either are redeemed from the offense by paying the fine or you go to judgment in jail. It is not a case where the judge will wink at the offense and say, “Oh well, boys will be boys…”, such justice would offend you especially if that driver had just killed your child. God is just, sin is an offense against Him, there’s only two possible recourses, the offense is somehow paid for or judgment results. The word ‘propitiation’ means the payment or appeasement of debt or wrath. “Herein is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Redemption has two parts to it, there is the buying or cost of the fine part and then there is the setting the prisoner free part. Jesus has not only paid your debt of sin when He died on the cross, He has also set you free to no longer be a slave to sin, free from the consequences of Hell, free from the fears that come with death and even with life. Jesus completely satisfied the justice of the Father against sin on your behalf. Will you accept this offer and step into the freedom He offers in Christ? “Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
“But what will not God do when He designs to demonstrate the height of any perfection of His? When He would show somewhat of His power and wisdom, He makes such a world as this; when He would show more of His grandeur and glory, He makes heaven for the ministering spirits that are before the throne. What will He not do then when He designs to demonstrate His love, and to demonstrate His highest love, or that He Himself is love, or that love is one of the most bright, dear, transcendent, operative excellencies of His unbounded nature; and to demonstrate this not only to us, but to the angelic world, and to the principalities and powers above, and this not for our surprise for a while, but for the admiration, and praise, and adoration, and felicity, of our most exalted powers to all eternity? What will not God then do? Surely then it will look more agreeable to the design, and grandeur, and pregnancy of his love (if I may so call it) to give an eternal Son for us…” - A.R. Fausset