11 Beloved, if God so loved us, then we ought to love one another. 12 No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 In this we know that we dwell in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and bear witness that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God. 16 And we know and believe the love that God has to us. God is love and he that dwells in love dwells in God and God in him.1 John 4:11-16
While the Love of God has been explained, this passage is a bit of a hinge which turns to instances of how the Love of God is displayed in us. Here again is a familiar if/then statement. If God has loved you, then love one another.
Though God is invisible (Cf. 1 Tim. 1:17, Col. 1:15), we might be assured of His abiding with us as we love one another. This indeed is the perfecting of His love, that He might dwell with us, and put an end to Cain’s tradition of fratricide.
The invisible God is displayed in the midst of His people as they abide in love with one another. This can only be brought about by a new birth. As such, this is not a matter of UN councils decreeing peace and harmony. This is the work of the Spirit of God, taking out our heart of stone, and giving us a heart of flesh. It is by the Spirit washing us with clean water, whereby we might dwell together in love.
Indeed, this is what John explains in 4:13, loving one another is a proof that we partake of His Spirit. This is supernatural love. It is also propositional love. It is love founded on objective truths. It is the Incarnate Love that the Apostles witnessed in the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth.
This is where progressive Christians, social gospelites, and “woke” evangelicals drift off into the swamps of error. They talk about following Jesus’ example of love. But here John puts front and center the offense of the Gospel of Jesus. First, John states that the Apostles bear witness to the Father’s purpose in sending the Son to save world, and that the saints partake of this by the Spirit. This is rock-ribbed trinitarianism. This of course makes Unitarians blush and modern heirs of Modalism get more flustered than a Gender Studies Professor trying to define what a woman is.
Secondly, John’s statement in 4:14 forces the issue that man needs salvation from his sinful nature and deeds. Jesus came to redeem us from sin. This confronts us with the question of what exactly our sin is. John has already explained how Christ’s Gospel sheds new light on the glory of Moses’ Law (1 Jn. 2:3-6). He’s told us that sin is breaking God’s law (1 Jn. 3:4). This means there is such a thing as sin, and it isn’t defined democratically.
Lastly, John’s assertion in 4:15 demands that only those who make a certain confession dwell in God. This is not mushy ecumenicism. Those who dwell in God, and in whom God dwells, are those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the narrow way (Mt. 7:14). This is the only way to the Father (Jn. 14:6). This rebukes all the notions of “many ways to God.”
Though this offends milquetoast religionists, for the Saints, this is once more bold statements of immense comfort and assurance. You dwell in God and God dwells in you if you confess that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the World. John also gives us a helpful diagram of evangelical faith: know, believe, confess.
This faith is grounded on the nature of God, who is Love. We know it, believe it, and confess it. God has begotten us, giving us His own nature of love; love towards Him and love towards our brother. You dwell in love, and this is because God dwells in you and you in Him. All because the Spirit has been poured out upon you by the free grace and favor of God.
- 1 John 5:16-19 | The Sin Unto Death
- 1 John 5:13-15 | Big Prayers
- 1 John 5:9-12 | God on the Stand
- 1 John 5:6-8 | The Threefold Witness
- 1 John 5:1-5 | Swept Up Into Victory
- 1 John 4:17-21 | Bold Sons & Fearful Slaves
- 1 John 4:11-16 | The Offensive Love of God
- 1 John 4:7-10 | God is Love
- 1 John 4:4-6 | Overcoming Swarms of Devils
- 1 John 4:1-3 | Stranger Danger