In the previous lesson, we focussed on the reason why John the beloved Apostle wrote the Book of 1st John. We concluded that John is an example of how the love of God can transform a person who has had an encounter with God through the person of Jesus Christ. We love Him because He first loved us. It is the reason why all his books are saturated with the theme of Love. A careful study of the Book will help believers to express the love of God that they have experienced to other believers, but only after appreciation of God’s fatherly love.
We were created in the image of God. God has some attributes that He does not share with any human being; these are called incommunicable attributes. Such incommunicable attributes include His omnipresence, omnipotence etc. There are however some communicable attributes that He permits us to share in, we thus become reflections of such attributes which radiate from His Person. One such communicable attribute is His LOVE.
In this lesson, we will focus on how believers can experience this love of God, the nature of this love and how they can also reflect this love on other people. In his earthly ministry, Jesus Christ came to show us the way to the Father. Jesus himself addressed Him as Abba Father (Mark 14:36) and also taught as to address God in prayer as “Our Father”. Now, we also have the Holy Spirit of God living in us, and He calls out to God as Abba Father (Galatians 6:4; Romans 8:15). Our image (concept) of God is the most important thing about us. It determines our relationship with God, others, and ourselves.
Focal Texts: 1 John 4:7-10 (CEV)
My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life. We are now God's children, and we know him. God is love, and anyone who doesn't love others has never known him. God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life. Real love isn't our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven.
· Why are we commanded to love one another?
· Why does John say that God is the author/originator of Love?
· What sort of Love is being described in 1 John 4:7?
· According to the text, what is the evidence that a person really knows God?
· According to verse 8, what is the status of a person who does not love?
· What proves that we have new life?
· Can a person know God, have a new life and yet have no love?
· Why does John go back and forth to draw a correlation between the love we experience from God and the love that we are expected to share with each other?
· How did God demonstrate His love to us? Compare vs 10 with John 3:16, Romans 5:8
Nature of God’s Love
· It is unconditional
o It is not based upon what the recipient has done previously, or what he has given to God. He willingly and freely gives it. The Greek words for all the definitions of love in 1 John 4:7 come from agapao (God’s unconditional love). This same love is expected to come from His children who share His character, not to God but to fellow men. We should love people not because of what they can give us, or do for us but because we are obeying God’s command to be a channel of His love.
· It reaches out
o God’s love did not ask man to clean up his acts before being deserving of His love. Rather, when man was deeply steeped in sin, He reached out for him. It is God who came searching for Adam when He sinned in the garden (Romans 5:5-8).
· It gives
o In several verses where we read about God’s love, we see the action of giving out something (John 3:16, 1 John 3:17-18). What do you give out to people to prove your agape love for them?
· It is just
o God’s love is just. His justice demands that Sin is punished. Christ turned away the righteous anger of God and satisfied the demands of God’s justice. Jesus died as a propitiation to fulfill God’s love for us. God’s Grace gave us that which we did not deserve and His Mercy restrained the judgement that was deserving of us.
Any person who claims to know God should be able to love as just as He does because as He is, so are we in this world. God that they have experienced to other believers, but only after appreciation of God’s fatherly love. John’s continual back and forth on the link between the love of God and the brotherly love of believers is to prove the point that these two are dependent on each other. As we understand and appreciate the Father’s love for us, we will be continually transformed in the manner we express love to others.