Gods love for us (Part 1: 1 John 4: 19)

Theme: /
Gods love for us
Text: /
1 John 4: 19
Textpart(s) to read: /
Luke 19: 1-10
1 John 4: 7 - 5: 4a
By: /
Rev. Ton de Ruiter (at that time minister reformed church -liberated- at Enkhuizen)
Ds. Ton de Ruiter (destijds predikant gereformeerde kerk vrijgem. Enkhuizen)
Translated by:

M. Vonkeman
Original Dutch version:
1: 1Jo04v19 - Gods liefde voor ons (Deel 1: 1 Johannes 4: 19)

Delivered at: /
Gehouden te:

Delft on the 1st of October 2000
Originally delivered in Dutch in Enkhuizen (20 september 1998)

Remark RJCV: /
Opmerking RJCV

The parts of the sermonseries about Gods love for us can be read seperately.

Part 2 (in Dutch) can be found by selecting Dutch for sermon language in the search window.

Suggestions for the Order of Worship / Aanwijzingen voor de Liturgie

  1. Votum and Salutation
  2. Congregational singing: Ps. 136: 1-5 (beurtzang)
  3. (Morning service: The Ten Words of the Covenant)
  4. (Morning service: Congregational singing: Ps. 143: 1, 8-9)
  5. Prayer 1
  6. First reading: Luke 19: 1-10
  7. Ps. 116: 2 (think of Zacheüs who was freed)
  8. Second reading: 1 John 4: 7 - 5: 4a
  9. Ps. 62: 1
  10. Text: 1 John 4: 19
  11. Ministry of the Word
  12. Responsive song: Ps. 63: 2-3
  13. (Afternoon service: Confession of Faith)
  14. Prayer
  15. Offertory
  16. Closing song: Ps. 103: 5, 7
  17. Benediction

Today, we want to pay attention to love. Why? Because love is a major issue in the Bible as well. The Law demands love to God and your neighbor. We also read in the Bible: God is love. And: Love comes with the believers. John states: without love you're not a believer.

Love is central. It is characteristic for God, but it should also be an identifying mark for Christians. Christians can be recognized from it, John says. So does Jesus, and in fact, all around the Bible similar statements can be found.

Is love a typical Christian thing? Don't we hear the whole world singing about love? Appeals come from everywhere: Let us be sweet for each other. Give a little love and stop the wars. Who does not want that? Who in the world is against love? Everyone is in favor. Have you ever heard anyone shout: Down with love?

Is love really for Christians only? The Bible says: Yes. John tells us: the love Christians have and know and show is different, more and deeper than the world's love.

John says: Our love is something special. For we love because God loved us first. We learned love from God. Our love has got something divine in it. Watch God's love closely. It is very special. It is a love that is greater, more beautiful and all-embracing. A love that is wonderful. And this love will sway us.

I want to give attention to it today:

Gods love for us:

  1. This love is really very special
  2. This love is a power from God
  3. This love alters us

1. This love is really very special

To many people love is something like being nice. To be sweet to each other. That is good. But the love of God is different, deeper, further-reaching. One might even say: God's love is from another planet. God's love is so extraordinary that there are people who think it's odd or even get annoyed by it. To feel and understand the specialty the following example:

Imagine: You are going for a walk in the early morning. As you leave the house, you see the neighbors kid messing around his father's car. The guy's behavior has more than once upset the neighborhood. Noisy and insolent. You too have often been annoyed. He's only fifteen years old, so he has no drivers license. But look: he steps into the car. You think: Oh no! But the next moment you hear the engine scream. Oh no! Look: the car starts moving: it dashes backwards from the garage path onto the road. Stops and starts moving forward. Heading strait for your garden. The boy has lost control over the car. It goes over the sidewalk, rams the nice fence you put there last year, cuts deep into the lawn and flower beds - all your nice plants and flowers gone! - makes a turn and speeds towards the street again, smashing your letterbox in its way. Well, in the street, it comes to a stop.
Silence for a moment. Then, the boy next-door steps out of the car and looks at you.

Now you must react and make a decision. There are three options:

I. You can treat him fair and square. You get angry and give him what he deserves: "Well you made a nice mess. I'll call the police and you get booked for driving without a license. Then I'll call your parents and tell them exactly what happened. You will have to take a job to pay for the damage to my garden and letterbox"! If you do so, you are no evil person. You give him as he deserves: no more, no less.

II. Maybe you choose the second option: You want to be merciful on the boy. You say: " Kid, I won't notify the police, but I will have to call your parents. Then, we'll determine the damage and you must pay". The boy will probably be happy and grateful because of you not making a big fuss of it. You are being merciful. You give love.

III. There is also a third reacting possibility. You could treat the nasty boy with mercy, really overload him with love. "Boy, you really messed up; look: my fence, garden and letterbox all scattered. It took a great effort to build it, and now look. But hey! I won't call the police. Neither will I call your parents, because then you will really be in big trouble. Don't mind the garden, fence and letterbox - I will fix them. Come inside, we'll have breakfast, then tell me what's going on, because I think you're not doing alright. Let us have some thoughts about your life and future. I want to help you to make something of your life, and if necessary pay for it as well.

How about this last choice? A bit weird? OK! I don't say you must do this to all of the kids in your neighborhood. But this is what biblical mercy is like: Love from God, strange indeed. Love without any reason. The kind of love God gives to you and me.

This love is sometimes referred to as dumm. You take quite a risk there. Tomorrow, the guy could take the car again and demolish the whole garden, or your entire house. Yes indeed. That could happen. Being merciful, giving this love is a risk. We tend to think: this far-reaching love is too merciful. It is too much. There is too big a risk that it will be misused. So it is. The danger is real.

But this wonderful love, this weird mercy can also hit the boy next-door straight in his soul ('wham'), changing his entire life. Making you influent, getting him on a different track. This extraordinary love can have such a positive influence that people really start living new lives.

This is how God handled me and all of us, John says. We love because God loved us first: therefore we love. God overloaded us with his love, overwhelmed us, stunned us. Hit our hearts ('wham').

Yet we committed sin, John says. We were guilty. We commit sin by nature. We are not inclined to do what God demands. Together we destroyed the beautiful world that God created. We have damaged, through our behavior, fellow people, often without even knowing. We are sinners. Guilty. But what is God's response? He says: I pay for the damage. I'm going to heal. I forgive everything. I give you my son who will take care of everything. Come to me, you will be my child. And I will take care of you all your life and give you everything you need for body and soul, take you to a great future.

God is much more than us aware of the fact that we have become bad people by sin, that we were not looking for Him, that we have nothing to offer but sinful hands and deeds. That's how we are. Love-less for Him and for each other. Sure, we are capable of a little bit of love, if it serves us well. God knows: I have to give it all. But o wonder, He really does it. See, that is God's love. Mercy to sinners. To deserve a 1 (very bad grade) and be treated like having earned a 10 (top grade). Unbelievable. The love of God is really special.

The Bible is full of it.
- Adam and Eve - God came to see them after the fall and told them that He really wants to continue with them and will make up with them.
- Take Israel. Each time they messed up with their sins. But time after time Gods comes to them: I want to make a new start with you. Return to me and I will forgive all the sins you committed and bless you and help you. Time after time God was merciful.
- Take the Jews who shouted: Crucify that Jesus! God offers them his mercy and grace later: forgiveness of sin and the Holy Spirit in the heart. Repent and receive the gift, Peter tells the murderers!
- Even Paul who persecuted the followers of Jesus. He gets a new chance. What a great love of God for people who were not seeking Him at all!

That's what John is writing about: really extraordinary, this love: very special. God gave his son for sinners who were absolutely not seeking Him. Why? In order to let this love be known to the whole world.

2. This love is a power from God

In the mean time this love is a power from God.
For John says: "We love because he first loved us". God's love gets us moving. Look at Zacchaeus. One of the many examples in the Bible. A chief tax collector. A bed guy, a thief, with a bad reputation among the Jews. But Jesus chooses to pay attention to him. Zacchaeus experiences Gods love and WHAM!: he changes. From that moment on he lives a different life, has a different view on money an on his neighbors.
The same thing goes for the lost son in the parable. Run away from home. Wasted half his fathers' money. Lost. Totally gone. Now look. Reluctant he goes to his father. Please have a little mercy on me? What does that father do? He showers his son with love and a feast is held. Again: a big risk. Would the boy misuse it? The father doesn't even think of it. He gives his love: "Boy come home!" He receives everything and there is feast. What do you think that this has done inside the boys' heart? Wham!
I don't think that he took off the next week again with a sum of his fathers' money. It makes you realize: with this father, we get things really well. Nowhere can one be better off than with this father. With God.

"We love because God loved us first"

The urge to pay love to other people gets to you if you know the love of God for you, and experience it. Gods love is a power of His.

Therefore He spreads his message, about his love. That he gave us his Son and his Spirit. So that we will resemble Him and this love will be an identifying mark of us too.

The eldest son in the parable however thinks his father's love is crazy. He gets annoyed by this love.
A lot of Jews and members of the church take offence at Jesus visiting Zacchaeus and other sinners. They don's seem to know Gods love. They do not realize how lost they are themselves, it seems. That is what annoys them when Jesus spends much time and effort on a sinner like that. That is too weird. But God and Jesus do it. And the returned son and Zacchaeus realize the more: How stupid was it to run away from God. I do not want to do that ever again.

Indeed, we love because God has loved us first.

3. This love alters us

And so we are altered by this love. The love that has been poured out in our hearts. And the Holy Spirit wants to put this love into flames inside us. And so we will show something of this love to our neighbors, our brothers and sisters. We won't cavil at one another and won't keep in mind the flaws, shortcomings and sins. So the church becomes a warm and safe place. A place to be open. For we aim to show each other something of Gods love, we want to share something of it with each other. We seek the good of each other, just as God does, even if the other harms us. No, this does not come all by itself. It does not arise from our nature. But the more we get to know Gods love for us, the more we will pass on this love to others. By faith, we conquer the world, the sinful world in our hearts too. And the Spirit, the Holy Spirit has been given to us, to help us shape this miraculous love for each other.

No, this loving is not the nice and superficial being nice to another. Of course, that it means as well. But John means the love that is prepared to make sacrifices for the other, if necessary. The love that is prepared to seek the good of others, even if they do not do this for you.
"Love one another" says the Lord Jesus too "as I have loved you". Love me, says Paul, with the love Jesus sacrificed Himself on Golgotha for you and me. While we did not seek God and Jesus. He gave Himself for wretches, to set them free and convince them of Gods love.

O wonderful love of God. God loves us and therefore we love. God convinced in the deepest of our hearts of the greatness of his love. Our love is the result of Gods work in our hearts.

Thanks to Gods work for and to us, this wonderful love starts being characteristic for believers, according to John. We too become willing to bless and show mercy to neighbors who didn't deserve it.
"Love your neighbors, and pray for those who persecute you", says Jesus. The more we know Gods love, the less we think phrases like that are odd. Indeed, we start choosing to pay love, against the flesh, against our feelings.

This love goes much further than the love the world knows. It is loving like God, like Jesus does. Incredible gorgeous and wonderful. May the Lord give us growth in it. For His honor, for our joy and for the surprise of our neighbors.


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