Love (thoughts after sermon) – 1 John Ch3v16

Love (thoughts after sermon) – 1 John Ch3v16

(0:00 – 4:49)

In the YF, maybe 35 years ago, we used to do memory verses, and one of the exercises that we did was to memorize the 3:16s in the New Testament, or at least six of them. Your mind’s already gone to John 3:16, but we did 1 Corinthians 3:16, Colossians 3:16, 1 and 2 Timothy 3:16, and then the last of that six was 1 John 3:16, and I want to take us there for a minute tonight. Let’s read 1 John 3:16.

This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

What I want to try and do in a few minutes here, is just to get us from where Vic has been taking us this evening to the Lord’s table, because of all God’s attributes, his love is probably the most accessible to us. It’s a communicable attribute.

It’s not like his holiness, or his eternity, or his omniscience, aspects of existence that are way beyond our ability to even begin to understand. We’ve considered multiple aspects of his love tonight, and it shines, doesn’t it, as we’ve seen, like a multifaceted diamond. A hymn writer put it like this many years ago:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
  and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
  and every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
  would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
  though stretched from sky to sky.

These are majestic words, and they give us a sense of the grandeur of the love of God. But, but, but, there is one single defining feature of God’s love, above all others. And therefore, there is one single defining feature of love itself, because God is the origin and source of all love, as we’ve heard eloquently tonight.

And John himself, known as the apostle of love, writes this, the literal translation: “By this we have come to know love”. And then he tells us what “this” is.

Now, what John’s saying there is that there was a time when we didn’t know. There was a time when our understanding of love was very different. Maybe as the human race, we saw love in terms of human relationship, at best, human intimacy. But as we’ve heard tonight, when God showed up in the self-sacrifice of Jesus, the category in human experience marked love was redefined forever.

Look what John says. “This is how we know what love is”. I love John, I love John’s writing because he, he always tells us what he’s on about.

“This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down his life for us”.

No one made him do it. He didn’t have to do it. But as we come around the Lord’s table tonight, we remember that he chose to do it out of love for us. No one has ever given themselves so fully and completely to others in total selflessness.

We love sacrificially. We’re capable of that as beings made in God’s image. But our motives are always mixed.

(4:51 – 5:13)

And our motivation is usually driven by a sense of responsibility or obligation, and usually to friends or family or people that we’re close to. But the Lord Jesus loved us. The Lord Jesus loved me when you and I were his enemies, not his family or friends.

(5:15 – 5:50)

And the tense of the word, as we finish, the tense of the word ‘know’ is vital here. This is how we know what love is. That tense is important.

It’s the perfect tense. That means this is how we know fully, perfectly, for all time, beyond all shadow of a doubt, with nothing else to be added to it ever. Okay? This is how we know in that way.

(5:51 – 6:42)

Fullness of knowledge is the word. This is how we have fullness of knowledge of what love is. It’s in the sacrifice of Christ.

There is no greater love. We’re going to sing:

Here is love. Vast as the ocean,
  loving kindness as a flood,
When the prince of life, our ransom,
  shed for us his precious blood.

And then we’re going to ask each other a question or two:

Who his love will not remember?

We’re not going to fail to remember it tonight around His table, are you?

Who his love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing his praise?

Well, it’s not going to be us, is it? Not tonight.

He will never be forgotten
  throughout heaven’s eternal days.