Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1123 MP3 Audio File Video File

Taught By God

(1 Thess. 4:9-11)

Delivered 07/24/22

Good morning, Bereans. This morning we are continuing our study of 1 Thessalonians. In our last study, we looked at verses 3-8 of chapter 4. Verse 3 says:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 1 Thessalonians 4:3 ESV

This is talking about God’s moral will, his revealed will of precept. Yahweh wants his people to live holy lives because he is holy, and we are to be like Him. So, God’s will for the believers at Thessalonica and I believe for all believers is that "You abstain from sexual immorality." The Greek word translated as "sexual immorality" is porneia. Porneia is any kind of sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage (e.g., fornication, adultery, homosexuality, incest, prostitution, or bestiality).

So, how are they to avoid porneia? What does Paul tell them?

that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 1 Thessalonians 4:4 ESV
that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor, 1 Thessalonians 4:4 RSV

The interpretive problem centers around the verb ktaomai ("to control" or "to acquire") and the noun skeuos (translated as "body" and "wife"). Does this verse say that the Thessalonians should exercise control over their own bodies or that, in order to avoid sexual immorality, the single men should acquire wives? I think that the textual evidence is in favor of the latter understanding.

I told you in our last study that several of our extended Berean family contacted me after the first message on porneia and asked me if I was going to deal with certain other issues in following messages. One question concerned polygamy and another was about the issue of marrying only believers. We talk about these in our last study. We didn’t have time to discuss the other question I asked, so let’s deal with it now.

The question concerned those texts that say that those who commit porneia will not enter the kingdom of God? This is a great question. Paul brings this up to the Ephesians, the Galatians, and the Corinthians.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

Sexual immorality is porneia. Paul taught "those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." So, what is Paul saying here? Whom is he writing to?

and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Galatians 1:2 ESV

The word "church" is from the Greek word ekklesia which means "to call out of." The church is a body of called out people. In verse 4, Paul refers to Yeshua as He "who gave himself for our sins." Paul is writing to those who have been called out of the world by Yahweh and given redemption through the death of His Son. He is writing to believers. Can a believer lose his salvation?

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28 ESV

Eternal life is not revokable. All who trust Christ are eternally secure. So, what is Paul saying to the Galatians about porneia in 5:21?

Commenting on Galatians 5:21, one man writes, "But if you could identify with any of these sins on an ongoing basis, then you should ask yourself, 'Am I really a child of God?' This is so because God concludes this passage with this dire warning: 'They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.’"

Can any of you identify with any of these sins on an ongoing basis? Sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies. I'd be willing to bet that all of us could identify with these sins in some way. Does this mean that none of us is saved?

Think with me here for a moment. Could Paul have said, "If you practice such things, you will not inherit the kingdom of God." He could have, but he didn’t. I don't see this as a warning or a threat, but as a description by Paul about how the unbelievers act. Don't act like them. Notice what he said in Galatians 5.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. Galatians 5:2 ESV

This is a warning: If you do this, then this will happen.

But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Galatians 5:15 ESV

Here he says, "If YOU bite and devour one another, watch out that YOU are not consumed by one another." This is also a warning. But when Paul writes in verse 21 concerning "THOSE who do such things," he is referring to the non-believers who are not part of the kingdom of God. Notice what Paul says to the Romans.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13 ESV
Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you too will be cut off. Romans 11:22 ESV
for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Romans 13:4 ESV

These are all warnings of consequences that will happen to those to whom Paul is writing. In our text, there is no warning. Paul is telling the Galatians to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh, and then he gives a list of manifestations of the flesh and Spirit so we can know without a doubt if we are in the flesh or in the Spirit.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

Is there any exhortation or imperative in these verses? What is Paul telling the Galatians to do in these verses? Nothing. He is simply showing them what the flesh produces and stating the end result of living in the flesh—not inheriting the kingdom of God.

The word "warn" in verse 21 is the Greek word prolego which means "to say beforehand." And the word "warned" is proepō which means "to say already, to predict."  Prolego is the same word is used in 1 Thessalonians 3.

For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. 1 Thessalonians 3:4 ESV

There is no indication of warning here and neither is there in our text. Paul can't warn believers of the loss of the kingdom. A believer cannot lose his salvation. The life he received as a gift of God was ETERNAL life.

When Paul references "those who do such things," he is depicting those who are apart from Christ. He is distinguishing the believers of the church from those who practice these things as a way of life.

Every single person who does not have God as part of his or her life goes down this path. That doesn't mean people are involved with all of these things, but rather that there are some of these that are always a significant part of their lives. The point Paul is making is that left to itself, humanity will always follow this course. That's where we go by nature when we take God out of the picture.

Let’s look at what Paul said to the Corinthians.

But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Yeshua the Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:8-11 ESV

Paul is addressing the believers at Corinth. He opens the letter by saying, "To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Yeshua, saints by calling." The word "wrong" in verse 8 is the Greek word adikeō which means "to be unjust, that is, (actively) do wrong. So, he is telling the Corinthians that they are doing wrong. Then he says, "do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?" The word "unrighteous" is the word adikos which means "unjust; by extension wicked." So, he tells them they are acting unjustly and then says the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God. Are they not believers? Yes, they are believers. Paul is saying that unbelievers do not inherit the kingdom of God, so don’t act like them. Then he says that:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Yeshua the Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV

You have been washed, sanctified, and justified, so don’t live like those who don’t inherit the kingdom. Live like children of the King. In summary, Paul is not threatening believers with the possibility of their being expelled from the kingdom because that is impossible. As stated before, we can never lose our inheritance. He is telling believers not to act like the unsaved who don’t inherit the kingdom.

Let’s move on in our text to verses 9-12. In contrast to porneia (4:3-8), Paul now turns to Christian love. Porneia is never loving. It’s always self-centered and involves the exploitation and use of another for selfish reasons. Even though sexual sins are couched in terms of love by society, they are really acts of self-love that harm all who get involved with it.

Look at what Paul said to the Ephesians.

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

These two statements parallel each other. To imitate Yahweh is equal to walking in love. The entire Christian life could be summed up as a life of imitating Yahweh as beloved children as we walk in love.

Paul turns from the theme of self-sacrificial love in verse 2 to its opposite—

self-indulgent sexual sin in verse 3.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Ephesians 5:3 ESV

The adversative conjunction "but" here puts everything in verse 3 in contrast to verse 2. Paul’s point is that sexual sin is a violation of love. You cannot truly love another, in the biblical sense, and practice sex with him or her outside of marriage. It is impossible; they are mutually contradictory. Therefore, you cannot combine the two. There is no such thing as sexual relations outside of marriage done in love.

So, Paul goes from porneia to love.        

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 1 Thessalonians 4:9 ESV

The word "now" is from the Greek peri de which possibly indicates that Paul is here responding to a letter that Timothy had brought from the Thessalonian church. He uses this same formula some six times in 1 Corinthians (7:1, 25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1, 12) to introduce his answers to the Corinthians’ questions. Most likely, in 1 Thessalonians, Paul responds similarly to queries sent to him by the church.

"Now concerning brotherly love"—this is the Greek term, Philadelphia, which was used in secular writings for affection between natural brothers and sisters in a family. But in the New Testament, it is used of love between the members of the family of God, the church.

"You have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another."  What is Paul saying here? Is he saying that they/we don’t need biblical instruction on loving one another?

Commenting on this verse, John MacArthur writes:

He's saying you don't need external instruction, you don't need external motivation, external exhortation, you have an internal teaching, you're God-taught.

You say, "You mean if I'm a Christian nobody needs to teach me to love my brother because God will do that?" Yes. "How?" I'll show you how, Romans 5:5, it tells you exactly how God does that. Romans 5:5 says: "The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Every Christian has a basic, inherent attitude of love toward other Christians produced by salvation. And if it isn't there, salvation isn't there. You say, "Well what if a Christian doesn't love?" Not possible, absolutely not possible. The Holy Spirit comes, the Holy Spirit is a teacher, He teaches you to love. It's impossible not to love. Christians will love Christians.

As an aside, let me say that I am not picking on John MacArthur. I quote him because he is a contemporary, well-known, and influential teacher. And that influence isn’t always good

So, what do you think of that? This is MacArthur’s Lordship theology that teaches that when you get saved you automatically live right. He gives the idea that righteousness is imparted rather than imputed. Think about it. If righteousness is imparted in us, then why do we have so many commands in Scripture to believers to live righteously? Is it natural and automatic for you to live righteously? Is it natural and automatic for you to love others? Tell the truth now!

Do you buy into MacArthur’s theology that, "Every Christian has a basic, inherent attitude of love toward other Christians produced by salvation. And if it isn't there, salvation isn't there. You say, 'Well what if a Christian doesn't love?’ Not possible, absolutely not possible."

If you buy this and you find yourself not loving, what does that mean for you? It means you are not saved. So, what do you have to do to be saved? You must believe the gospel. But you say you’ve done that. So it must not have worked because you aren’t loving your brothers. So, what do you do now? This leaves believers hopeless.

Let’s talk for a minute about the doctrine of Justification. Justification may be defined as that act of God whereby he declares righteous those who believe in Christ.

Ladd writes: "The root idea in justification is the declaration of God, the righteous judge, that the man who believes in Christ, sinful though he may be, is righteous—is viewed as being righteous, because in Christ he has come into a righteous relationship with God."

Justification is a declarative act. It is not something wrought in man, but something declared of man. Justification is not being made righteous experientially but being declared righteous. It is not the removal of our liabilities; it is the imputation of Christ's righteousness. It's not something done in us; it is something done for us.

We are not and cannot be justified by our works.

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20 ESV

We can only be justified by faith.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua the Christ. Romans 5:1 ESV

Peace with God is the new status between God and the believer which flows from the reconciliation accomplished in Yeshua.

Back to our text.

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 1 Thessalonians 4:9 ESV

Is Paul saying that we don’t need biblical instruction on loving one another? No! This should be obvious because the New Testament has so much to say on this subject and because the church is often so poor at loving. Why would there be so many commands to love if it came automatically to the believer? The command to love is repeated thirteen times in the New Testament. Yeshua told his disciples.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12 ESV

This is a present active imperative used to portray that love is to be the dominating, constant activity in our relationships. Yeshua is repeating His command found in John 13:34. He repeats it again in 15:17. Three times in this discourse, Yeshua tells them to love one another. This is NOT a suggestion; it's a commandment. You cannot live out the Christian life, you cannot abide in Christ, and you cannot be a disciple of Christ without a commitment to loving other people.

Love is the most significant attribute Christians can offer the world. We need to love one another. Not being a loving person is not some small character flaw. It reflects the breaking of the greatest commandment. Most significantly, it is to not love God. So, we must understand that love is a requirement.

What did Paul mean by saying to them that "You have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another"?  The words "taught by God are from the Greek term theodidaktoi which is found only here in the New Testament. It means "God taught." How have they been taught by God? I think there are three ways that believers are taught by God to love one another.

1. They were taught by the example given to us by the Father in sending His Son.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:9-11 ESV

This shows us what love is and what it means. Love is not only defined by the sacrifice of Yeshua; it is also defined by the giving of the Father. It was a sacrifice for the Father to send the Second Person of the Trinity and to pour out the judgment we deserved upon Yahweh, the Son. This is an example of how we are to love.

2. They were taught by God through Paul. This teaching came from Paul himself when he was among them. Paul said earlier (4:2, 8) that the instructions he gives do not ultimately derive from his own authority but from Christ's authority. This instruction to love each other derives not only from Yeshua’s present authority but also from Yeshua’s Upper Room discourse where he told his disciples three times to "love one another" (Jn 13:34; 15:12,17).

3. They were taught through the continuing inward ministry of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22 ESV

Paul is talking about the Christlikeness the Spirit produces. Fruit is not something which is attached to the branch or fastened on from without, but is rather the organic product of the inner life. Believers are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, Ephesians 5:18-19 ESV

"But be filled with the Spirit"—this is a command (in the imperative mood). Christians in Asia Minor were commanded to be filled with the Spirit. This indicates that not all Christians are filled with the Spirit. But it's not an option. It's a verb that's in the present tense, and so it literally means to "keep on being filled." This isn't a once-for-all experience. The verb is in the passive which means that you don't fill yourself; it is something that is done to you. You can put yourself in the position to be filled, but it must be the sovereign Lord, the Spirit, that does the filling.

The word "filled" is the Greek word pleroo. It is used of something which is filled with content. For example, it is used in the active in the sense "to fill" containers. In the passive, it is used in this sense: "the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment" (John 12:3). Metaphorically, in the passive it can mean "to be filled with unrighteousness" (Romans 1:29). To "be filled" can connote the idea "that a man is completely controlled by the powers which fill him." We see this idea of "control" in such passages as John 6.

But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. John 16:6 ESV

The word "filled" here is pleroo. John’s audience was filled with sorrow to the point that it dominated and controlled them. What comes to your mind when you hear the statement, "He was filled with fear"? Don't you envision a man so controlled and motivated by fear that his every move and action is the product of that fear? Likewise, the Spirit of God is to so pervade all our being that He controls all our thoughts, affections, purposes, and plans.

How are we controlled by the Spirit?

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16 ESV

If you compare this passage with Ephesians 5:18, you will see that they are parallel passages. Being filled with the Spirit has the same results as letting the word of Christ dwell in you. As the Word dwells in us, the Spirit can control us.

Loving others is not natural or innate; it is something that believers are commanded to do. MacArthur is way off base with this teaching that it is impossible for a Christian not to love. As already noted, this is a damaging Lordship view.

for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 1 Thessalonians 4:10 ESV

If you remember, Paul began this letter commending the Thessalonians for their "labor of love."

remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Yeshua the Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV

They were a very loving church.

"That indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia""you are doing" is a present tense verb which speaks of continuing action. The love of the Thessalonians was known throughout Macedonia. This could be referring to the hospitality they gave to believers from other parts of Macedonia who traveled through the city. Or it may be reflecting on the way the Thessalonian church gave economic aid to needy believers in other parts of the province. Paul notes elsewhere that the Macedonian Christians were known for their poverty (2 Cor. 8:1–2); yet despite this, they gave!

But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more—since Christ’s perfect example is our standard (John 13:34), we always have room to grow. We can always love our spouse more, our children more, our family members more, our fellow Christians more, and our neighbors more. This is not automatic; it doesn’t come naturally to any of us. It requires deliberate thought and effort.

What Paul says here is very similar to what he said to the Philippians.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, Philippians 1:9 ESV

Here Paul prays that love may abound still more and more. Notice the additional clause, "with knowledge and all discernment." "Discernment" is aisthesis, which refers to spiritual insight or perception denoting moral and spiritual understanding of the issues involved. Love needs the wisdom of the Word so we can make loving and wise choices and not simply sentimental ones. Love is to be discerning.  

Love is described in 1 Corinthians 13, illustrated in the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), and commanded throughout the Bible. It is declared to be the preeminent virtue, the summary of the whole of Scripture (Mark 12:30-31). Paul exclaims, "The entire law is summed up in a single command, 'Love your neighbor as yourself’" (Galatians 5:14).

and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 ESV

There are a lot of questions regarding verses 11 and 12 and what exactly Paul is saying.

But most commentators have advocated a reading that states that the Thessalonians had abandoned work as part of their eschatological expectation. Why work if Yeshua was coming soon?

Listen to John MacArthur’s comments on this verse.

Paul had taught them about the return of Christ. And they were waiting for the return of Christ. I mean, they were literally, actually, waiting for Christ to come. What had Paul told them? He must have told them they had reason to expect its possibility. Did Paul believe it could possibly happen in his lifetime? I can't imagine any other reason why he would tell them to wait. Since even Jesus didn't know the hour of His coming, Paul didn't know. And they were waiting for the return of Jesus Christ.

So, MacArthur claims that Paul believed that the Lord would return in his lifetime but that at the same time "didn’t know the hour of His coming." But Paul said he knew. Was he wrong? What does that do to inspiration? When MacArthur said, "even Jesus didn't know the hour of His coming," he was referring to Matthew 24.

"But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. Matthew 24:36 ESV

Many today use this verse to prove that we have no knowledge of the time of a future-to-us, second coming of Christ. But Yeshua had already told them in verse 34 that it would happen in their generation (forty years or so). But they did not know the "day or hour" that it would happen.

When a woman gets pregnant, we know that in about forty weeks she is going to have a baby. We do not know the day or hour, but we can know that it will happen in about forty weeks. That is exactly what Yeshua is saying here. And it is quite interesting that the time prior to the consummation of the kingdom is often referred to as birth pangs.

All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Matthew 24:8 ESV

The Greek words translated "birth pains" is odin. It means a pang or throe, especially of childbirth: pain, sorrow, travail. The illustration of gestation and childbirth is a biblical one. We know when the birth of the child is near, but we do not know the day or hour.

Paul said in verse 11 that they were to "aspire to live quietly." This is a very interesting statement because the word "aspire" is philotimeomai. It means "to be zealous and to strive eagerly." They were to strive eagerly to be quiet. The word "quietly" is hēsuchazō. This word is used in the New Testament of a number of things such as to keep one’s mouth closed and not saying anything or to become quiet after speaking. It is used of resting. But it has the idea in all of those usages of a tranquility, a calm tranquility, and peacefulness. The root has the idea of "quiet" and "peaceable." One noun form literally means to keep your seat, sit down, relax.

So, I guess we could say that Paul means a life that is peaceful, not turbulent. A related word is used to describe the wife with a quiet spirit in 1 Peter 3:4. It is a life that does its best to avoid unnecessary contention and to be at peace with all men in so far as it is humanly possible.

Since this seems to be connected with their view of eschatology, maybe Paul is teaching that we are to be peaceful when sharing our views on the second coming.

"And to mind your own affairs"—some translate this "mind your own business." We don't really know what he was speaking to because we don't know what the issues were. He seems to be exhorting his hearers to not be a busy bodies.

"And to work with your hands"—commenting on this, G.K. Beale writes, "Most agree that the problem is Christians not working to support themselves because of a mistaken belief that Christ would return within the near future. The fact that the warning against slackness in working occurs both directly before and after (5: 14) Paul's explicit teaching about Christ's final coming (4: 13—5: 11) supports this conclusion."  

Maybe this is the case, but if it is, they had a long wait. When was this letter written? It was written around AD 50, which means that there remained approximately 20 years before the Lord’s coming.

Manual labor was generally despised by those of the Greek aristocracy and by those who aspired to a higher social status. To work with your hands was something that slaves and artisans did (the work of the artisan was compared with that of a slave), but those of high social rank and wealth lived "knowing nothing of labor," according to Philo.

Whatever Paul is telling them here he repeats it in his next letter to them.

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Yeshua the Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 ESV

Paul says something similar to the Ephesians.

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Ephesians 4:28 ESV

Then Paul adds, "As we instructed you"—Paul keeps reminding them of what he had already told them. The word "instructed" here is paraggellō and would be much better translated as "commanded you." Paul’s instructions were more than information or a mere suggestion. They constituted authoritative, apostolic commands!

so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. 1 Thessalonians 4:12 ESV

"So that" translates the Greek, hina, a conjunction of purpose or intended result. "Walk" is peripateo ("to walk") and refers to one’s conduct in all the various areas of life. Paul exhorts believers to be loving, to not be busybodies, and to work hard as a testimony to their faith in Christ to outsiders. They are to walk/live properly, to live in a way that brings glory to Christ.

As Christians, as children of the heavenly Father, we have a duty to imitate Christ. Since He is compassionate, we as His image bearers are to be compassionate. Because He is loving, we are to be loving. He is just, righteous, and true, so are we to be those things also. We are to display Him in all that we say and do. We are all sent to bear His image.

Let me remind you of what we saw in our study of 1 John.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12 ESV

"No one has ever seen God"—so John is talking about love and then he says, "no one has ever seen God." On the surface, this statement seems kind of random. What does God’s invisibility have to do with a discussion of love? John continues, "If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." What does he mean? He means that the unseen God, who was historically revealed in the incarnation of the Son, is now revealed by the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit in His people when they love one another. It’s an amazing thought! People do not see God and they may not read the Bible, but they will see God when Christians love one another. Mutual Christian love manifests the presence and actions of the invisible God.

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