From Death to Love

Dave Baxter, Speaker

1 John 3:11-18 | July 30 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
July 30
From Death to Love | 1 John 3:11-18
Dave Baxter, Speaker

Go ahead and turn in your Bibles, if you haven’t done so already this morning, to 1 John chapter 3. We’re continuing on in our series through 1 John this morning and this morning we’ll be looking at chapter 3, verses 11 through 18. So you can turn in your Bibles there. Let me just again, one more time, let’s look to the Lord in prayer, and express our dependence upon Him as we get ready to look together at His Word.

Father, we do thank You, Lord, for the privilege to gather, to sing, to pray, to confess, to hear Your Word. You’re so good to us, You’re so kind and gracious. We don’t deserve anything from You. But we come needing this morning again to hear from Your Word so we pray again this morning as we do every time we gather, but with sincerity, God, asking You to open our eyes, that You would soften our hearts, You would ready us for Your Word, empower Your Word by Your Spirit, to do the work that You intended to do in our hearts and in our lives. We need You, minister to us this morning. We pray it all in Jesus’ name. Amen.

I wonder if you’ve ever had a friend or maybe a family member who seems to repeat things, maybe they struggle to remember that they’ve already said something to you so they say it again, tell you the same stories. Some of you are already thinking, “No, that’s not my problem. My problem is that they can’t remember what I’ve said to them.” That’s maybe a problem as well, but that’s not what we’re talking about this morning.

Perhaps you know somebody who just can’t seem to recall or for some reason or another they seem to repeat themselves fairly often. Maybe I’m that person. I don’t know. How do you know if you are? I guess you just do it. If they’re here with you this morning, by the way, don’t look at them right now. That’ll just make it really obvious. You can maybe just talk to them later if you want to do that.

You probably know somebody like that, but if you don’t, maybe as we are moving through this letter of 1 John you feel like you’re getting to know somebody like that. Not a memory problem for John, but he does seem to be a little bit circular in his communion. I can’t help but wonder sometimes as I read through 1 John if maybe the folks he was writing to sometimes thought about sending a letter back saying, “I think you’ve sort of already said something sort of like that before.”

Yet there’s something for us there, even here as we get started and move towards our text this morning, something that we can benefit from, something that we can be reminded of this morning. That it’s not always our need actually to move on. Sometimes our need is actually to remain. Sometimes our need is actually to come back, to dwell on something old, maybe even something we’ve heard before, to think about it, ruminate over it again, and then maybe to seek to apply it at the moment, a new day, a new situation. How are we doing with that?

Which is actually kind of how our passage begins this morning, with John saying to them, this is something not new, this is something you’ve heard from the beginning. Not even just from the beginning of this letter actually, but from the beginning of your acquaintance with the Gospel, from your knowledge of Christ altogether.

No doubt it’ll be true for many of us here this morning as well. It’s not a new message for many of us, I’m sure, but an old message, a familiar one, but it’s a message that needs to be revisited by us over and over and over again as we walk and live together in Christ.

This is the message: That we should love one another, that we should love one another.

Of course, John’s going to unpack that a bit more than just the statement and we’ll walk with him through that. I think as we do so follow along with him we’ll see three things that John would highlight for us this morning.

First of all, we’ll see the fruit of brotherly love, brotherly and sisterly love, of course, but brotherly love. The fruit that grows out of a relationship with God, that takes the shape of brotherly love.

Then the form. What does that love actually look like? How do we know if it’s that love? The form of brotherly love.

Then finally, briefly, we’ll see the fountain of brotherly love. Where does it come from? How does it continue to grow in our lives?

So we’ll see the fruit, we’ll see the form, we’ll see the fountain, as we look together at this passage.

Let’s do that now. Look with me now at 1 John 3. Read along as I read it then we’ll look together at the fruit of brotherly love.

1 John chapter 3, this is the Word of the Lord, starting in verse 11.

“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

We should love one another. Nothing really flashy there. Again, it wasn’t for John’s readers either. He says it, you’ve heard it from the beginning. We should know right off as we’re looking at this as well that John’s not talking just about a general kind of love, though there’s certainly texts and maybe other sermons that could be preached to that effect, but here the emphasis is specifically on loving one another within the church, love for other believers, that there should be for Christians actually a particular and a special kind of love for other Christians.

We want to come back in just a moment to what that looks like, what shape that takes in our lives, which I think is really the thrust of the passage this morning. But we need to deal with the next couple of verses just for a minute and what John has to say about what is the natural produce of a sinful heart apart from God, the natural produce that comes out of a heart separated from God, and the inevitable fruit of a new birth in Christ. Because after saying what we should do, John quickly pivots and turns to say what we should not do, or more specifically, who we should not be like. He says don’t be like Cain.

Now if you’re not familiar with that story, you can find the situation John’s referencing here back in Genesis 4, the first book in the Bible. Cain was the first son of Adam and Eve, conceived and then born after their fall into sin and their expulsion from the garden of Eden, then followed shortly after by a younger brother Abel. If we were reading on there in Genesis 4, we would find that it says there that in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground and then his brother Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.

Then it says, “And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering He had no regard.” So Cain was very angry and his face fell. He was angry. Angry enough, actually, and with that sustained and percolating in his heart enough over enough time that he eventually plotted and actually carried out the murder of his brother. It was the first murder and it may be particularly relevant for our passage this morning, it was a murder of a brother.

Now I don’t know about you as you kind of read through that, if it seems a bit odd. It catches me as a bit odd. It may be even a bit of a downer to bring up that particular story here in this beautiful passage about loving one another. As I was thinking about it, I honestly thought, you know, frankly it’s sort of a low bar. You think about maybe sending your kids out in the morning, and you say, “Oh, did you remember to grab your lunch? Did you grab the water bottle, too? Oh, and don’t forget, don’t murder anybody, especially your brothers and sisters.” It’s not the highest bar that we could set.

Why is Cain here? Well, maybe several reasons for sure. There’s a lot that we could draw from it. A significant part, we’ll see, Cain’s here in part to serve as contrast to Christ, and we’ll come back to that in a moment. But also Cain here shows us in his life where hate ultimately leads. Cain’s life shows us where hate wants to go.

There may be all kinds of reasons why hate doesn’t finally end up there in our lives, but ultimately whether it reaches that point or not, that’s what hate wants. Hate wants what murder accomplishes. Hate wants what murder accomplishes. Riddance, harm, removal, destruction.

Need to say that not all anger is necessarily sinful, though certainly if you’re like me, many of you are, probably more of ours is than isn’t, but not all anger is necessarily sinful. There are things that we should hate, things that we should hate, but we should not hate one another, and especially as brothers and sisters in Christ.

With Cain, it ended in murder, but it began with hate. It ended in murder, it began in hate, in envy, in enmity. John says he murdered him because his own deeds were evil while Abel’s deeds by faith were righteous. John says it won’t be the last time, that those who are of the world follow this pattern, which is why he adds don’t be surprised, brothers, if you find that the world hates you.

That may be in part meant to help these Christians navigate and process, interpret what had happened. We read it back in chapter 2, the departure of some who went out from them from their church, but it’s generally true. Not that we will always experience if you’re a Christian hatred from those of the world and explicit actions or words, but that we shouldn’t be surprised if we do, from the world, that is. Christians, John wants to make clear, are different.

John’s point here is not necessarily that Christians will never experience hatred toward one another. We will. John’s already pointed out if we say that we have no sin, then we deceive ourselves, and praise God there is forgiveness, complete and full forgiveness, complete cleansing, for every sin, even for murder that’s brought to God through Christ in confession. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

John’s not saying that Christians won’t struggle with sins like enmity or envy, even with one another, but as we’ve seen before in this book, John is saying we won’t be okay with it. We won’t be comfortable with it. We won’t ultimately be mastered by it, or just let it fester unchallenged in our hearts. Rather, we will fight to love one another. We will love one another. He’s not talking about perfection, he’s talking about direction and progress in the Christian life, and that will look like love.

I think that’s really John’s emphasis here in this paragraph. Look again at verse 14: We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.

We’ve seen already that to abide means to remain. So John’s saying whoever does not love, and particularly whoever does not love the brothers and sisters in Christ, remains in death, that is spiritual death, which means, of course, that’s where we all begin. So what we’re seeing here, friends, is the truth is that we are actually all born into Cain’s condition. That’s actually where we start. It’s only by God’s grace, only by God’s grace through faith in Christ and the renewal of a new birth in Christ, that we become anything different, that we become something other.

John’s reminding us here of where we all begin, but also he is reminding us of how we can begin again. How we can begin again. He’s emphasizing the possibility of new fruit. In fact, the inevitable new fruit that comes from a new life in Christ. He says this is how we know that we have passed out of death and into new life. We love the brothers and sisters in Christ.

There’s a new trajectory in our hearts towards all people, yes, but party towards those who are in the Body of Christ. Here’s one thing that we do need to see this morning and that we need to remember about the Christian life this morning, especially if you’re here and maybe you’re here and you’re new to this whole Christianity thing, or you’re just investigating, and if that’s you, let me just by the way can I just say how glad we are that you are here, how much we hope that you’ll continue to come back and be with us. But for all of us, it is so easy, you could have been in church a long, long time and it can be so easy for us to begin to get this backwards and it’s absolutely essential, it’s foundational for the Christian life. We can’t make progress in the Christian life if we have this backwards. We actually won’t love one another well, even truly at all, if we get this backwards.

It’s so essential because it’s so easy, it would be so easy to read it this way, to read it this way: We know that we will pass from death to life because we love the brothers. We know that we will pass from death to life if we love the brothers.

But that makes moving from death to life contingent upon our loving the brothers. Which is actually not what John says. He says that we know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brothers. See the difference that makes? What a profound difference that makes? Loving the brothers is not the path to new life, it’s the fruit of it. It’s not the steps into new life, it’s the result.

Friends, this is such good news for us this morning. We don’t love each other in order to gain new life from God, we love each other because we’ve already been given new life from Him. In fact, only because we’ve been given new life through faith in Christ because God by His Holy Spirit has enlivened us, opened up our eyes, unstopped our ears to really see and understand our sin for what it is and to see Christ for all that He has for sinners and to run to Him. He gives new life to us.

Friends, if that’s not you, that can be you this morning. Praise God it is true for so many already here this morning because God is so gracious, He’s so gracious, He’s pouring out new life into the world and it springs up in the life in the form of Christians, new creations as the Bible calls us.

But here John is saying you can actually see it. You can know it. You can tell. Because whenever someone has passed from death into life, they’ve actually passed from death to love. When someone has passed from death to life, they’ve actually passed from death into love, that wherever there’s new life there is new love.

Do you know how you tell an apple tree is an apple tree? Apples. I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to tell that an apple tree’s an apple tree if you know something about trees. But here’s the thing – apple trees grow apples, and Christians grow love. Especially for one another. Because the life of God is in them and the life of God loves.

So I think John does want, in part, to inform us this morning, but he also wants to encourage these brothers and sisters. He says sort of almost, “Look around you. Would you just look around you for a second in the room?” Maybe they’re reading this letter somewhere. “Look around. Do you love each other? Do you? If you do, then you know you’ve passed from death into life.”

See, it’s a summons, it’s a command, that we should love each other, but it’s also a gift, it’s fruit. We can love each other. In fact, we will. We can give thanks and praise for that this morning, for producing in us, for beginning in us what we could never produce or begin in ourselves. Praise God for that.

Now of course that doesn’t mean that it won’t take some effort on our part. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t require learning or maybe practice or growth, that we can’t grow in love or shouldn’t worry about that. We should and we do, and that’s really where John moves next, to remind us not only of the fruit of brotherly love, but what is its form? What does it look like? The form of brotherly love.

Look at verses 16 through 18 again: By this we know love, by this we know love, that He laid down His life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

He said by this we know that we have passed from death to life that we love one another. That’s how we know we’ve passed from death to life. But then how do we know what love is? How do we know what it is? What it looks like? How do you know if it’s love?

Now, that’s a great question. So many people have taken that question up, so many musicians, in fact, have wanted to spend time exploring that question with some deep thoughts. Great songs like “Is This Love?” from Whitesnake, Foreigner “I Want to Know What Love Is.” I mean, probing. Of course, you’ve got the great Whitney Houston, “How will I know if he really loves me?” Haddaway put it quite succinctly in his one-hit wonder, the title “What is Love?” I was thinking about it – I kind of ran out at that point. I was like, “Oh, man, these are all 80s and 90s songs and half of you aren’t going to get it.” I don’t know, students, if they’re still exploring this question or maybe your generation has settled it. I’m sure, I thought, you know, Taylor Swift has got to have had something to say about this, so I just don’t know. You can maybe tell me later.

But I actually googled this – how do you know if it’s love? Googled it, because that’s what you do when you want to know. It turns out not just musicians are thinking about this. Lots of people have thoughts on how you know if it’s love. Lots of hits come up. One article caught my eye. I didn’t read it, but the title was a bit overwhelming: “How Do You Know that You Love Someone? 27 Signs You are Falling in Love.” That’s quite a checklist. I did not send that to Rachel. I’m a bit afraid to. 27 signs? I mean, I’m glad she didn’t have that when we were dating. That’s a lot of boxes to check. I’m afraid I wouldn’t fare well.

Now, of course, those songs, those articles, are dealing with romantic love. There would certainly be overlaps from brotherly and sisterly love to be applied to love for our spouses, not least of which because if you’re both in Christ then your spouse is really your nearest brother or sister in Christ.

But again here John is talking specifically about a Christian’s love for brothers and sisters in Jesus. When it comes to Christian love, brotherly love, describing and then defining our love for one another, what it is, what it looks like, fortunately there’s a much shorter checklist, a much shorter checklist. John might say it in one question – Does it look like Jesus? Does it look like Jesus?

By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, so we ought to lay down our lives for each other. You see how John is drawing a picture of love there? He’s drawing a picture of love for us using the self-sacrifice of Christ, that He laid down His life for us by taking up a cross and dying in our place.

There’s a number of things we could see here, and this is not an exhaustive summary, but maybe just a couple of important reminders, briefly, to cover regarding the nature of brotherly love that we could highlight from just this one little phrase, four to be exact, and they’re brief. I’ll just quickly move through them.

First of all, we can actually know love. You can know what love is, because God has revealed it to us – by this we know love. We don’t need to invent it, we don’t have to make it up for ourselves, God didn’t leave us to our devices to try to figure out what we think might serve as love. Love is what God is and love does what God does, and anything that’s not out of that pattern is simply not love.

Now it’s a good time to remind ourselves that Jesus’ sacrifice was utterly unique. Utterly unique. He laid down His life for atonement of sin. He became sin, endured the wrath of God for sinners in our place. It was an unrepeatable act of divine love that only the Messiah, only one fully God and fully man, could ever do. Only Jesus could and did do that.

Yet John shows us here it still lays down a pattern for us, still lays down a pattern of what love is, that we can know love. We can know love.

Second. Love involves choice. Love involves choice. That it, that love is not something that can be just exacted from you by others.

In his Gospel, John actually records Jesus saying in chapter 10, you’re probably familiar with this, “I’m the good Shepherd and the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” He says, “For this reason, the Father loves Me because I lay down My life that I may take it up again.” Then listen to this, “No one takes it from Me but I lay it down of My own accord.” He laid down His life. Love involves choice. No one forced Jesus’ hand – He chose to lay down His life.

So love grows naturally out of new life in God but it also involves our choices.

Third. Love seeks the good of others. He laid down His life for us. Not because He needed it, but because we needed it.

Listen to John Stott here: Hate is negative. Hate seeks the other person’s harm and it leads to activity against him, even to the point of murder. But love is positive. Love seeks the other person’s good and it leads to activity for him, even to the point of self-sacrifice.

Seeks the other person’s good. Leads to activity for them, even to the point of sacrifice.

Which points to the fourth thing we should notice, that love is willing to sacrifice. He laid down His life.

We think of our lives as the ultimate sacrifice. I’m sure you’ve seen the phrase on bumper stickers or heard it said, we talk about our military: All gave some, Some gave all.

Some gave all. That’s what we think of when we think of giving our life. When you give your life, you give all. There’s nothing higher or greater of a possession that someone could give. It’s the ultimate sacrifice. Christ’s life was the ultimate life given up in exchange for ours.

Yet John doesn’t want us limiting the idea of sacrificial love to that ultimate expression alone. That’s what verses 17 and 18 are going to point out for us. Again, John Stott says: True love, true love is revealed no only in the supreme sacrifice, it is expressed in all lesser givings.

Not many of us are called to lay down our lives in some deed of heroism, but we constantly have the much more prosaic opportunity to share our possessions with those in need. Which is where verses 17 and 18 are pressing us.

Look at those with me: But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Now, of course, sometimes the need is for words. Right? Sometimes the word is the need. A note, a phone call, a prayer, could be comforting words, maybe it’s encouraging words, maybe even at times it’s confronting words. These can definitely be expressions of love for one another, they can be timely and necessary expressions of love. We need them.

That’s not what John, John is not trying to cordon off words altogether as a category. If it’s words, it’s not love. Sometimes words are a way to love one another. That’s not what John has in mind here.

Rather what he has in mind are verbal affirmations that we love someone when we can plainly see legitimate, material or felt needs in their lives that we could help meet and yet refuse. Because the kind of love we’re called to is the kind of love we have received, and that is a love that does what’s needed to meet the need.

As those who are new in Christ, whose who have the life of God living in us, it’s actually a kind of love we’ve been enabled to give, to give to one another.

So maybe this sermon then for you this morning is simply this, maybe it’s an opportunity just once again to ask that particular question, to ask the question that these last two verses ask of us: Where do you have the opportunity to love another like this?

One more thing to note before we move on here, just need to see here that God is something of a matchmaker. Did you notice that? God is something of a matchmaker here. That is, that God matches up provisions with needs. We don’t need to forget that, that He’s working behind this. That’s sort of the point here, part of it, verse 17: If anyone has the world’s goods and then sees his brother in need…

You know, presumably of course, we read over that, we don’t think about it, but presumably those things correlate in some way. We might say they tend to match up.

So what kind of provisions has God given to you? Of course, we often think about material possessions when we hear a question like that. Maybe our finances, your income, your home, things such as those, and that may be the center of the circle for John here, certainly within the scope of what he’s explicitly talking about. Good things to think about when we think about applying a passage like this.

But in addition to our treasures, it’s good to remember categories like time and talent as well. God has blessed this room with a great variety of skills, a great variety of skills, and sometimes the skills that you have been given might match up with the need in a brother or sister’s life. Or maybe it’s time. I think in our moment particularly, maybe in our city, in our part of the city, at our moment in history, maybe for many of us in this room, that might be the most precious of our possessions and the hardest thing for us to share. Maybe it’s the thing that for you would feel the most like sacrifice to give to someone, but what kind of provisions has God given to you? And what kind of needs is He presenting to you?

And then do any of those actually match up? Do any of those match up?

Of course, there are brothers and sisters in other places, connections that we have all over the place with Christians, especially with social media these days. We move around, all kinds of other connections. We don’t want to discount those.

But I want to think particularly just for our last minutes for a bit how might God brings those needs and provisions together even within the bounds of this church. How might He do that within us as a church?

I want to encourage you in part thinking about that just with a reminder – we have a wonderful diaconate here. I hope you know that. Some incredible deacons who help us in the gathering and the organizing and the stewarding, the sharing biblically and faithfully and thoughtfully, helping to connect the provisions of our congregation with the needs of our congregation. So as you give, as Clay said earlier, to our church through our tithes or especially through our Mercy to Member offerings that we have, we have an opportunity in those ways, perhaps, to meet needs we actually might not have the opportunity personally to see. We’re so blessed in this. I hope you know that. It’s one of the ways that we meet needs together.

What about the needs that we personally do see? Where might we see those? Maybe it’s through a small group. Maybe joining a small group for you is a way to find your way in connection with people and needs that you might be able to see. Or maybe it’s through one of our Bible studies, or a conversation you strike up during Sunday School, or serving together with someone on a ministry team, or on a missions trip. Maybe it’s an invitation to lunch after service. Sometimes it takes actually asking, inquiring of people, maybe “How can I pray for you?”

But when we encounter needs that God brings across our path, when we find in our lives by God’s grace some provision which might correspond, by which we might help to meet it, the question is, “How will we respond? How will we respond?”

Look one more time at verse 17. You see here John says it’s ultimately a matter of the heart. Will you open or close your heart? Not ultimately a matter of our wallet, our calendar, our home, our stuff… It’s a matter of the heart. Is your heart open?

If you looked around the room this morning, is your heart open? It’s a great question.

Here’s the reality. You are not called to meet every need. You’re not equipped to meet every need, not even if we just circumscribed it to the needs in this room. It takes a church to love a church. We, of course, we need to practice wisdom. We need to love together in community. We need to learn how to discern what are true needs from those that aren’t. It’s not always easy. I know it’s not for me. There are any number of reasons why I might encounter resistance in my heart to love another.

But the question this passage is asking of us this morning is, “Is your heart open?” or “Will you fight to keep your heart open?”

How can we do that? Here’s a great way to seek that, to be ready to live what’s God calling us to. First of all, to pray. Just to pray. Pray that your eyes and your heart would be open, ready and willing to see the needs that God might bring across your path, that you would be ready and willing to love one another. It’s simple. But that we would pray, “God, keep my eyes, keep my heart open.”

So we can pray, but we must also go. We must go to the fountain of love. If you want to be ready to love, or maybe you’re hearing this this morning and you’re thinking, you’re sensing maybe I’ve been deficient in love some way or maybe you’ve really never been able to offer this love because you’ve never personally received this love from God in the first place. Wherever you are, the need for all of us is actually the same – how do we love one another? Most deeply by dipping again and again and again into the fountain of brotherly love.

Look one more time at verse 17 as we move towards the close. “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”

John puts it in the negative here, but we could flip it around. How can we keep our heart open to our brother in need? In part, by God’s love abiding in us. See, friends, God’s not calling us to go out and kind of find the resources for this on ourselves, cobble them together or dig deep inside ourselves. No, His love is the fountain. His love is the source. It glorifies Him, actually, that we need His love in order to love one another. God’s love must abide in us and to know that, to experience it, to be fueled by it, we must abide in God’s love.

Again, John 15, Jesus says to His disciples and He’s saying to us again this morning, as the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. Remain in My love.

I like how Derek said it last Sunday morning when we were looking at the end of chapter 2 there and it’s talking about abiding in Him. Derek said that John’s admonition was to them essentially saying, “Don’t move. Just stay right there. Don’t go wandering around looking for some ultimate meaning or some ultimate value somewhere else.” He says, “Remain where you are.”

In the same way, if we want to love one another, remain in God’s love.

Beloved, the wonderful truth is that if you are a believer, then you are a new creation, and His love remains in you. It abides in you. It is an inexhaustible source, an unfailing fountain of love, we just need to abide in it.

How do we do that? At least one way, maybe a primary way to think about this morning, to remember, to cherish, to be even in places where we’re reminded again and again. You see how we’re kind of coming full circle as we draw to a close here that it’s not always something new that we need. Sometimes it is the old thing. The message, in fact, that we have heard from the beginning. The message we’ve heard from the beginning, which is not just that we should love one another, but also that He has first loved us, so much that He laid down His life for us.

It’s the Gospel, coming back to the Gospel, again and again and again, by faith to see Christ laying down His life for us and saying to His disciples, and saying to you and me, to us this morning, no greater love has anyone than this that he lay down his life for his friends. He laid down His life for His friends. There is no greater love.

You cannot find, friends, a greater love than this. There is no other source. If you want to love, you need to be loved. If you want to give love, you need to receive love. Do we want to love one another? Then we must be loved by Him, we must abide in His love as His love abides in us.

It’s amazing that God will always provide whatever He requires. He says you should love one another and then He says here is love. It’s a fountain inexhaustible. It’s what gives form to all of our expressions of love for one another. It’s the seed from which all the fruit of Christian love for one another actually grows. In this room, maybe this afternoon, across the world today, down throughout the centuries and generations, as new person after new person comes to life in Christ until the very last of believers is drawn in and then Christ returns and all we will know is love, perfect, uninterrupted love with Him and with each other forever and ever. Praise be to God.

Would you pray with me as we close?

Thank You for loving us, Father. Thank You for sending Christ. Christ, thank You for coming, that You laid down Your life for us. Help us by Your grace to remain in that love, to abide in Your love, to receive it, to cherish it, to remember it, to come back over and over again and help us by Your grace as a body in practical, tangible ways, but flowing out of Your love to love one another as You have first loved us. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.