Sunday – November 9, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship
Word On Worship – Sunday – November 9, 2014 Download / Print
1 John 4:7-9
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
You may identify with the early believers. John has already emphasized the importance of love in 2:7-11 and hit it again in 3:11-18. We may be prone to say, “Okay, brother, we’ve got that one down now. Let’s move on to something else.” But John not only repeats the imperative to love one another but also he hits it longer and harder than at any other point in the book. He wants to make sure that we understand that love is not an optional virtue for the believer. It is to be the distinguishing mark of the church in the world. John goes so far as to say that if you do not love others, you do not know God! So we all need to examine our own lives by this supreme standard.
While love is the inevitable result of being born of God, it is not the automatic result. John tells us, “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” The implication is the life of God imparted to us in the new birth manifests itself in love for others. If we are children of the One whose very nature is love, then we will be like our Father. But at the same time, John writes, “Beloved, if God so loves us, we also ought to love one another.” Love is not automatic nor effortless! We always have room for growth in love.
Love is not opposed to truth. John has just spent six verses warning us (4:1), “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” He did not say: “Let’s just set aside those points of doctrine where we disagree and come together where we do agree, loving those who differ on these matters.” Because these men denied essential truth about Jesus Christ, John calls them false prophets, whose teaching is the spirit of antichrist. Love does not mean that we set aside the truth for the sake of unity.
We must exercise wise discernment here. Some doctrinal differences are not essential to the gospel, and we need to love brothers who differ with us on these matters. Some of these doctrines are important for how we live the Christian life, and so we may vigorously debate them among ourselves. But we must always remember that we are debating as brothers in Christ. If we divide from one another over every minor point of doctrine, we fall into the errors of “fighting fundamentalism.” At the heart of that sort of cantankerous behavior is a spirit of pride, where I assert that everyone must agree with me on every minor issue. At the same time, some issues fall into a gray zone, where salvation may not be at stake, but to embrace a particular view will have momentous consequences. We should not accuse those who differ with us of not being saved, unless they also deny the essentials of the gospel.