Designer clothes are known by their trademark labels and designs. You can know if clothing is from Under Armour if it has the UA symbol. You can know if it’s a Polo shirt if it has the symbol of a horse with a man and polo stick. Nike has the swoosh, Addidas has the stripes. Vera Bradley bags are known for their floral & pastel designs. Such trademark labels and designs make these products easily distinguishable and fully on display for others.
Further, those who hold an office of a unique kind can be identified by their attire: doctors wear the white jacket, police officers wear a uniform, a judge wears a robe.
Likewise, God has designed easily distinguishable and displaying evidence for those who belong to Him. The evidence can be irrefutably proven. Jesus said it was this: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Today’s message will show us 3 locations of love and then challenge us to live out this love in at least 3 expressions.
EXAMINE Newborn Jesus is our Love 1John 3 – 4 [4:7-21]
Love is seen in the identity of God (1John 4:7-8)
John says that we should love others because God’s identity is composed of love; “love is from God… God is love” (4:7). The very nature of God is made up of love. Love existed in God even before creation – before the creation of angels, animals or even people. God was in fully perfect and loving relationship within His Triune nature between the Father, the Son and the Spirit. The mysteriously awesome relationship between the persons of the Trinity is profound and perplexing for us to fully understand. Yet, we can understand that God’s identity is the very essence of love.
Illus: If you walked into my home and looked in my fridge you would see common elements like milk, OJ, AJ, cheese, Tea and some various leftovers. If you asked me where I got all these from I would say the grocery store (Food Lion).
If you were to go in my basement it would be very likely that you would feel heat. You could ask me what is the source of this heat and I would point to the fire.
When John says “love is from God… God is love” (4:7), he is not speaking as food from the grocery store but rather as heat from the fire. Fire gives heat because it is heat, the sun gives light because it is light. And God is the source and supply of love; there is no love is there is no God.
à How do you view God? Do you see God as the source and supply of love or dispensable or unessential?
Love is seen in the incarnation of God (1John 4:9-10)
John further explains God’s love being known through the manifestation and sending of His only Son into the world. God’s love is selfless and sacrificial, He gave His most precious gift – His own Son. This is what it means to love – give, be generous and full of grace unto others. And more, God’s love is far-reaching to those whom did not love first but were in fact His enemies (cf. Romans 5:8-10).
God sent His Son to be the propitiation (cf. 1John 2:2) for our sins. This theological word ἱλασμός: means sacrificial atonement; propitiation/expiation. In the OT Day of Atonement (cf. Leviticus 16) there were 2 sacrificial goats: The first goat was a sin offering, sacrificed on the altar as payment for sin. This symbolized propitiation. The second goat was sent away into the wilderness as a symbol that sin and guilt were removed from the people. This symbolized expiation – “As far as east is from west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
So, John is saying that Jesus is our ἱλασμός – living as our spotless sacrifice to die in payment for our sins and therefore removing our guilt so that we can be declared righteous before God.
à Many look at Christmas and the incarnation and see God’s love as a cuddly baby. But God sent His Son not just to be born and live but also to suffer and die. The incarnation was for the purpose of the atonement. The incarnation was like a doctor’s incision to enter flesh for the purpose of removing a disease. So, God’s love isn’t just as a cuddly baby but also as a skilled technician who cuts in order to heal. The penalty and power of sin no longer stings with death but springs hope with eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Love is seen in the community of God’s people (1John 4:11-21)
Those who receive God’s love have received God’s Spirit (4:13). Our fellowship with God results in fellowship with others. God’s love and Spirit compel us to love, listen, share, serve and minister to the needs of people in our lives. In essence, loving others is trademark evidence that we belong to and abide in God.
1John 4:19-20 “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
The Bible notes that as the world draws near an end that people’s love will grow cold (Matthew 24:12). Further, “people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power” (2Timothy 3:1-5).
Today, our world and nation is permeated with people who hate and pursue each others downfall. This is seen in political parties, inner city gangs, neighborhood gossip, family strife and in personal attacks. One thing is certain: the church – God’s people – must be different.
3 locations of love: God’s identity, God’s incarnation and God’s church.
3 applications for SPBC to love one another:
1. Love through spiritual growth.
1John 4:13 “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”
SPBC must continue to trust & treasure God more than anything, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We can do this through personal devotion, corporate worship, small group participation.
2. Love through service
1 John 3:16-18: “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.”
SPBC must look & listen in our church & communities for how we can proclaim the gospel with our lips and promote the gospel with our lives. One new way in 2014 we are going to serve is through our small group outreach – each small group is challenged to serve together, budget money available upon request & approval.
3. Love through sending
1John 4:14 “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.”
SPBC must continue sending the gospel through people into neighborhoods & nations. We will host ongoing ministries as well as outreach events on campus but we also will be prayerwalking in neighborhoods and partnering with local church plants. In 2014 we will likely serve with LCC. We are also going to serve with Redeemer City Baltimore in June 5-9. Lastly we will be sending 2 teams to Nicaragua with MPNICA.
 Illustration adapted from Tony Evans Illustrations.
 Illustration adapted from John Piper, http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/the-new-birth-produces-love