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The Love Blog: 1 John 4:11-21 (continued)

April 4, 2007

This is surely one of the most clearly Trinitarian paragraphs in the Bible.  God has given us of His Spirit, says verse 13, and yet the Spirit of God is nothing less than God Himself for verse 15 says that God abides in us. And this Spirit who is God Himself is still distinct from the Father and the Son in verse 14.  The Father is God, The Son is God, The Spirit is God.  But the Father is not the Son, the Father sent the Son.  And the Spirit is not the Son, the Spirit enables you to confess that Jesus is the Son.  And the Spirit is not the Father, the Father sent the Spirit so that by the Spirit you would cry out “Abba, Father” through the Son.  I hope you love the doctrine of the Trinity.  It is always a tremendously edifying meditation.  Let me encourage you to pray this week and to ask yourself “Am I praying in a Trinitarian way?  Am I praying to the Father through the Son by the Spirit?  Meditate on that before you pray and it will keep you from the vain repetitions of the heathen.

We learn again from this paragraph the Christ-centeredness of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He was sent by the Father into our hearts to glorify Jesus Christ.  Verse 15 is saying that if you confess that Jesus is the Son of God, this is a result of the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart.  Paul says it this way in 1 Cor 12:3 “no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.”  Why do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?  Is it just “The Bible says it, I believe it, that’s good enough for me”?    It’s not less than that, but it is more than that.   There is the external apostolic testimony of verse 14 “we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world”  but there is also the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit in verse 15.  It is the Spirit of God dwelling in you that enables you to confess that Jesus is the Son of God.

So if you truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, praise God for that faith, give Him the glory for your faith, and be assured and encouraged that the Spirit of God does in fact dwell within you for He is the one who has given you eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart to believe in Jesus Christ.  So say exultantly with John in verse 16 “we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.”

Believe the love.   That phrase grabs me.  Believe the love.  Isn’t this our great need.  We need to believe the love.  If you say, “I believe in God, but I struggle to believe that God loves me”, then you have yet to really grasp the fact that God is love.  To believe in God is to believe the love that God has for us.  In fact the Greek says literally, “believe the love that God has in us”  You need to see that to follow John’s train of thought here.  He says that God abides in us in verse 15.  He says that love is in us in verse 16.  God is in us, love is in us, God is love.

In Jonathan Edwards writings on the Trinity he says that the Spirit of God proceeds from the Father and the Son because the Spirit is the love that flows between the Father and the Son and he gets that from the writings of John.  We see it even more clearly in Jesus’ prayer in John 17.  He prays in verse 26 “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”   The love with which the Father loves the Son is the Spirit in us.  John Piper writes on this verse in chapter 14 of his most recently published devotional called “Pierced by the Word” 

“What is Jesus final goal for us? Not simply that we see his glory, but that we love Him with the same love that the Father has for Him…And he doesn’t mean that we merely imitate the love of the Father for the Son.  He means that the Father’s very love becomes our love for the Son—that we love the Son with the love of the Father for the Son.  This is what the Spirit becomes and bestows in our lives: Love for the Son by the Father through the Spirit.”

So the love that is in us is the Father’s love for the Son.   But it is also the Father’s love for you.  This love should make you feel infinitely loved.  For Jesus says in verse 23 of John 17 “I in them and you in me that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you have loved me.”   That’s bewildering.  The Father loves us even as the Father loves the Son. 
What’s happening is that by the Spirit we are being caught up into the fellowship between the Father and the Son so that we love the Son even as the Father loves the Son, and the Father loves us even as the Father loves the Son.  And this love is the Spirit of God who abides in us.  Can you believe it?  Believe the love.

Now having unpacked the wonder of God’s abiding in us, John moves on to explain how

II. By this is love perfected with us.

(More to come…)

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