Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #999 MP3 Audio File Video File

Seeing Yahweh

(1 John 4:11-16a)

Delivered 02/16/20

We are continuing our study of 1 John this morning. This is our thirty-fifth week in this study. I hope that you are learning something. I certainly am. If someone were to ask you what 1 John all about, what would you tell him? What is the theme of this book?

that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Yeshua the Christ. 1 John 1:3 ESV

“So that you too may have fellowship with us” is a hina purpose clause with a present active subjunctive. It introduces the purpose of this epistle—fellowship with God. What we need to understand here is that John expresses this idea in various ways in this letter. "To have fellowship with Yahweh" is only found in 1:3 and 6. One of his most common phrases is to be "in Him" (2:5; 5:20) or to "abide in him" (2:6, 24; 3:24; 4:13, 15, 16). Another expression for fellowship with God found only in John is "to have God (or the Son)" (1 John 2:23; 5:12; 2 John 9). And "to know God" has the same idea. We saw this in our last study:

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 ESV

This is not saying that if you do not love you are not a Christian. But if you do not love, you are not in fellowship with God who is love. In John's mind there may be Christians whose fellowship with God has been damaged so that they are not at this present moment in fellowship with the Father and the Son. John is not writing to his adversaries. Rather, he wants his "little children" to have fellowship with God. Such fellowship is not automatic. John’s burden in this letter is to teach believers how to be sure that God abides in them.

We ended our study last week with verse 10.

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. 1 John 4:10 ESV

“In this is love”—discusses loves basic character. He is explaining what love is really all about. It is not that we have loved God but that he loved us.”  This principle is to be displayed by us toward those who do not love us. This is how God loves, and this is how we are to love.

God’s love was not a response to ours. God's motivation for sending His Son to die for us was not in response to our love for Him. Rather, it was in response to nothing—absolutely nothing! In fact, it was a response in spite of our hatred and our rebellion towards Him.

Sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins”—propitiation is "the removal of wrath by the offering of a sacrifice." In biblical propitiation, it is not humans on their own initiative figuring out what God likes, but rather it is God Himself declaring what kind of sacrifice He accepts and then providing it. Christ, and Christ alone, is our propitiation. That is, out of love for the glory of God, He absorbs the wrath of God that was rightfully ours. As Stott summarizes, in biblical propitiation, "God Himself gave Himself to save us from Himself."

For our study this morning we are going to look at verses 11-16a.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11 ESV

“Beloved”— here is agapētos (“those who are loved”).  “If God so loved us”the “if” here introduces a first-class, conditional sentence which is assumed to be true. We could translate it as “because.” "So" here should be understood as "in such a manner," referring to His sacrifice in sending His only Son to be a propitiation for our sins.

Because God has so loved us, John’s conclusion is inescapable: we ought to love one another. “Ought” here is the word opheilōwhich means “to owe; figuratively to be under obligation.” John’s use of the verb opheilōhere indicates that he views mutual love on the part of Christians as a duty. This word implies obligation or commandment. John uses this word three times in this epistle. We have already seen its use in 1 John 4:11. Here are two more:

whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:6 ESV
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1 John 3:16 ESV

This love that we are under obligation to give is about sacrifice. He laid down His life for us, and we are under obligation to lay down our lives for each other. This is sacrifice! This is so missing in Christianity in our day. Contemporary Christianity is all about me (e.g. fix me, make me happy, make me prosperous, make me healthy). It is not about Christ and it is certainly not about others. The fact that love can be commanded shows that it is not a feeling but is rather an action based on commitment.

Remember what we saw in verse 10. “In this is love”—here is what love is really all about. It is displayed toward those who do not love you and maybe even hate you. This is how God loves, and this is how we are to love.

Since believers have received this love from God, they are under obligation to love one another. This pattern of receiving from God then giving to others was familiar to John. Reading the account of how Yeshua washed the feet of the disciples thereby demonstrating His love for them and servant-hood to them, we might have expected Him to tell them to wash His feet. Instead, Yeshua said:

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. John 13:14 ESV

“Ought” here is the same word, opheilō. He tells them that they are under obligation to wash each other’s feet. The way we love God in response to His love for us is to love one another. What God has given to us, He wants us to give to each other. When we sacrificially love each other, we are loving Yahweh.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40 ESV

How we treat other Christians is how we treat Yahweh.

And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Acts 9:4 ESV

"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”—I love this question because it tells us that Yeshua identifies with His people. To persecute or harm a believer is to do it to Yeshua. This verse should guide our treatment of other believers. How we treat other Christians is how we treat Christ.

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. Let’s deal with the statement itself, and then we’ll look at how it fits in this context.

No one has ever seen God”—this goes alone with what we see in Exodus 33:

But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” Exodus 33:20 ESV

This is God speaking to Moses. When Moses asks if he can see God, this is God’s answer. This seems to go along with our text in 1 John 4:12 and with what Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6.

To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:17 ESV
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. 1 Timothy 6:16 ESV

But what about the verses in the Tanakh that seem to contradict this?

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Isaiah 6:1 ESV

This is a throne room vision, and Isaiah says he saw the Lord. There are many passages of Scripture that record various individuals seeing God (e.g., Exod. 33:21-23; Rev. 1:10-18). Passages like Exodus 24 state explicitly that some men have seen God.

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. Exodus 24:9-10 ESV

They saw the God of Israel”—This statement is so troubling to the authors of the Septuagint that they translated “they saw the God of Israel” as “they saw the place, where he stood (there) the God of Israel” and proceeded to describe the appearance of the place under his feet. But the Majority Text has God as the object of “seeing,” even though it refers to his feet.

Michael Heiser, commenting on this text in Exodus, says “I think the point is that you can’t see the direct presence of God unveiled, like his direct presence. I would take panim to refer to the unveiled presence (because then you would die)… I think that’s really the point: the unveiled, unfiltered presence of God—the glory itself.”

So, the theophanies that we see throughout the Tanakh did not involve the full revelation of God as He is in Himself but only a suggestion of what He is in form that a human being could understand. No one has seen God in His pure essence without some kind of filter.

Let me just say here that whenever anyone sees Yahweh, it is Yahweh the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, whom he sees:

And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, John 5:37 ESV
not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. John 6:46 ESV
Yeshua said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:9 ESV

The Son is the visible member of the Trinity.

John’s denial here that anyone has seen God may well be a polemic response to a direct claim of the opponents to have “seen” God. It is possible that the Gnostic teachers, somewhat influenced by eastern mystery religions, claimed some type of vision from God or of God.

Now let us consider why John is raising this issue. What does God’s invisibility have to do with a discussion of love? John continues in verse 12, “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 action of the invisible God.

So, the question John is posing to us is how is this love of God demonstrated to us today? We know that it was demonstrated in Christ when He came in the flesh, went to the cross, died for our sins, and rose again. But we can't see Him. As God was manifested to men in the past in the incarnation of Christ, God will be manifested to mankind in the present not in Christ, but in the loving Christian. Therefore, when the world looks at us, what do they see? Do they see Christ? Do they see God? Paul puts it this way:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. Ephesians 5:1 ESV

"Be imitators of God"—"be" is a present imperative and has the idea "to become." They are to develop continuously into imitators of Yahweh. The Greek word for "imitator" is mimetes. It is the word from which we get our English word "mimic" (to mimic or to copy something). What it denotes is an actor, someone who spends time and energy in studying a character with the view to reproducing it. The constant call to the Christian is to be like Yahweh. It is Yahweh's purpose that each of us reflects the image of our Father. We are all to be image bearers.

If we are going to imitate Yahweh, what is the prerequisite? You have to know Him well. You cannot imitate someone that you do not know. To know Yahweh, we must understand who He is as revealed in His Word.

Yahweh has revealed Himself to us through His Word, the Bible. It is crucial that we come to know Yahweh as He has revealed Himself and not Yahweh as our culture portrays Him or Yahweh as we would like Him to be.

Does anyone know what the next verse in Ephesians says? How are we to imitate God?

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2 ESV

The "and" serves as a coordination or an epexegetical conjunction in order to explain what he means in verse 1. These two statements parallel each other; to imitate Yahweh is equal to walking in love.

John is saying that the unseen God becomes seen in the love of believers. When we love, as we should, when His love is perfected in us, we reveal that He abides in us. Our love is evidence of His indwelling presence and it becomes the revelation of that presence to others.

If we love one another, God abides in us”—The “if” is a third class conditional which means potential action--maybe we will or and maybe we won’t. He does not give us a first class conditional (“since”). He uses “if.” We can conclude that if we do not love one another, God does not abide in us. This is the same thing he said in verse 8 in a negative way.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 ESV

As I have said over and over “knowing God” is a synonym for “abiding.” So, anyone who does not love does not abide in Christ. But “If we love one another, God abides in us.”

I have been telling you throughout this study that most commentators understand 1 John as a test to identify a true believer and not as John’s telling believers how to have fellowship.

Commenting on this verse Stephen Cole writes: “While ‘abide’ is John’s word for fellowship with God, it would be a mistake to think that only some believers enter into this abiding relationship, while other believers do not abide.” He goes on to say, “But in John’s mind, every Christian abides in Christ and Christ in him. If you are not abiding in Him and He in you, then you are not saved. So, when we talk about assurance of abiding, we are talking about assurance of salvation.”

John Piper, commenting on this verse, says that “There are some today who teach that our abiding in God and God's abiding in us simply refers to an advanced stage of intimacy between God and the mature Christian. They say that you can still be a Christian and yet not abide in God and not have God abiding in you. They say that what John wants to give assurance of is not that you are truly born again but that you are walking in intimacy with the Father.”

We have gone over this many times in this series, but this is an important issue, especially in understanding this epistle. Let’s go back to John 15. Yeshua is talking to his disciples and he says to them:

Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. John 15:3 ESV

Who is the "you"? It is all the disciples that are in the upper room (Judas was not there). What does He mean by "you are clean"? To understand exactly what He means by this, we need to look back at chapter 13 where Yeshua says in verse 10 “and you are clean, but not every one of you." "Clean" here refers to salvation. Not all of them were clean because Judas was with them. Then Yeshua says to those who are clean, which is those who are saved,

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. John 15:4 ESV

"Abide in me"—This is a strong word in the original text. It's in a tense that expresses a decisive command. The use of the active voice indicates that it is something we are expected to do. We initiate that. Believers are commanded to abide in Christ. That's clear enough. But what exactly does it mean to abide? Well, the word “abide” is used with the meaning of “dwelling” in other parts in this Gospel. Yeshua is saying "Keep close to me." In other places, we find the words "Follow me," "do what I say," and "obey my commands." Christians are exhorted to abide in Christ because this privilege and duty may be neglected, and very often it is.

We see this same idea of calling Christians to abide in 1 John 2:28.

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 1 John 2:28 ESV

Here again, Christians are called to abide in Christ. Look at:

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 1 John 2:4 ESV

Remember that “knowing Him” is a synonym for “abiding.” If we take “knowing Him” to be equivalent to being a Christian, than this is saying that if someone says they are a Christian but don’t keep his commandment, they are not saved.

but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 1 John 2:5 ESV

The obedient Christian knows that they are “in him” (another synonym in 1 John for abiding).

whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:6 ESV

The believer who abides in Christ is under obligation to walk in the same way that Christ walked.

Piper goes on to ask “What does John mean by abiding in God and God abiding in us? Is it an intimate second stage of Christianity or is it just plain being a Christian? Jesus said in John 15:6, ‘If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.’ Abiding in Christ does not refer to a second level of maturity. It refers to whether you are in the vine or in the fire.”

In the context of John 15, Yeshua is telling his disciples that if they do not abide in Him, they will be disciplined. "Fire" is a common symbol that occurs throughout Scripture to describe the judgment of both believers and unbelievers. Yeshua is telling us that if we do not abide, if we don’t bear fruit, we will be disciplined.

John goes on in verse 12 to say And his love is perfected in us”—“Perfected” is the Greek word teleioo. It doesn’t mean “perfect” as much as it means “mature” and “complete.” If we love one another, then the love of God is “mature” and “complete” in us.

The entire phrase “his love is perfected in us” then refers to what happens when believers love one another. The love that comes from God, the love that He has for us, reaches perfection in our love for others. This is what God wants and what believers are commanded to do. God’s love reaches its intended goal when it flows from God, through us, and to our fellow believers. The love with which God loved us must in turn be extended to the fellowship of believers.

When you see a Christian brother loving another Christian brother or sister, truly loving in the sense of the Scriptures, then you have seen God in that individual. That’s what he means. The early church fleshed this love out.

A writer named Caecilius (ca. A.D. 210) said this of the Christians: “They know one another by secret marks and signs, and they love one another almost before they know one another.”

The Greek writer, Lucian (ca. A.D. 120-200), said of this of the early church: “It is incredible to see the fervor with which the people of that religion help each other in their wants. They spare nothing. Their first legislator [Yeshua] has put it into their heads that they are all brethren.”

The church father, Tertullian, said that “it is our care for the helpless, our practice of lovingkindness, that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents. ‘Look,’ they say, ‘How they love one another! Look how they are prepared to die for one another!’”

Do you think that the American Church would be described like this by anyone? God, whom no one has seen, will be visible in our manifestation of love. God's love for us is perfected only when it is reproduced in us or in the Christian fellowship. As believers love one another, they make the invisible God visible to the world.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 1 John 4:13 ESV

Most writers take this verse as referring to the assurance of salvation. This is because they view “abide” as meaning “saved” and they say that we know that we are saved because we have the Spirit as evidenced by our faith in Christ.

But by beginning with the words “by this,” John connected the thought of this verse directly to the previous verse. “If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” We can know by experience that “God abides in us” if His love has been perfected in us. And we know that His love has been perfected in us if we love one another. The Holy Spirit is the source of the abiding believer's love.

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

The first place in the list, the place of emphasis, is given to love. Love is the focus of this entire ethical appeal. All the other moral qualities in the list define and flow from it.

In our verse in 1 John 4:13 the Greek word means “out of.” So, John is looking at something which God has imparted to us out of His Spirit, namely, love (4:16). A believer's abiding in God and God's abiding in him or her become evident by the demonstration of love that comes “out of” His (God's) Spirit.

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4:14 ESV

Understanding this verse is critical to understanding this epistle.

And we have seen and testify”this sounds like the testimony of the apostolic circle in the prologue.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 1 John 1:1 ESV
that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Yeshua the Christ. 1 John 1:3 ESV

And most take verse 14 just as it is in the prologue as speaking of the apostolic circle. But is it? The key to understanding this is the “we.” In all the places where we see the apostolic “we,” we also have a contrasting “you” nearby. But not here. The subject “we” that runs through this passage begins in verse 7—“Beloved let ‘us’ love one another.” This obviously includes the readers. These same readers are included in “us” and “we” in verse 9, in the “we,” “us,” and “our” of verse 10, in “us” and “we” of verse 11, in “we” and “us” in verse 12, and in “we” and “us” in verse 13. There is no reason to change it’s meaning in verse 14. The “we” of verse 14 is not that apostolic circle as in the prologue but the apostolic circle and the readers.

The readers were to “have fellowship” with the apostolic circle in what that circle had “seen” (1:3). That fellowship could not be with the visible person of Yeshua. But it could be through seeing Him in the love of the believers. That “eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to” the apostolic circle (1:3) is now being manifested within the loving Christian community. What the apostolic circle has seen, the love of Christ, was now being seen among the believers who were abiding in Christ.

And we have seen”—the word “seen” here is theaomai. It is the same word used in 1:1 for “looked at” which means "to gaze intently at." Most of John's readers had not, and all of us have not "seen" Yeshua in the flesh as the apostolic circle did. But we also can "see" God and can bear witness ("testify") with the apostolic circle that God sent Yeshua into the world "to be the Savior." We can share (fellowship in) the apostles' experience—John’s goal in writing this epistle (1:3-4). We can see God, both in the manifestation of His love and in God's life behind that love, as we observe Christians loving one another. We can live out the purpose of this epistle when we truly love one another because it is then that we enter into fellowship with our Lord.

The Father has sent his Son”sent him to do what? As verse 10 says He, “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” There are theologians, who ought to know better, that tell us that the idea of a God who must be propitiated is revolting. To think of a God who does not love unless he has been propitiated, unless an offering has been offered to him, is to degrade the love of God. Sadly, that’s a common view.

It’s the Father who sent the Son to be the savior of the world. A loving God does require propitiation, but he supplies the propitiation that satisfies him.

In Genesis chapter 22, Abraham is told by the Lord God to offer up Isaac his son. Students of the Bible recognize that to be an illustration of what would ultimately come to pass when the Father gave up the Son. It’s striking that when Paul states in Romans chapter 8 and verse 32,

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32 ESV

Paul uses language derived from the Greek translation of Genesis chapter 22—“He that spared not his own Son.” He gave up the Son as he says “to be the Savior of the world through atoning sacrifice.”

The fact that God the Father sent God the Son into the world refutes the Gnostic false teaching about the supposed dualism between spirit (good) and matter (evil). Yeshua was truly divine and He was sent into an evil world of sin to redeem us.

          “To be the Savior of the world”this phrase is (sōtēr tou kosmou) is found only twice in the New Testament, here and in John 4:42. In John 4:42, it forms part of the Samaritan villagers’ response to the woman who encountered Yeshua at the well of Sychar. When they heard her testimony they came and met Yeshua themselves, and then John says:

They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:42 ESV

Why did they say that Yeshua is “Savior of the world”? Because they learned this simple truth: The salvation that Christ preached and provided is not simply for Jews. It is for Samaritans, the mixed race. And it is for gentiles. That is why they call him the savior of the world

This verse is not teaching Universalism. Whenever you see “all” or “world” in the Bible, you have to ask yourself this question: Does this mean everyone without distinction or everyone without exception? He is the savior of everyone without distinction. Jews, Gentiles, white, black, whoever—all are candidates for salvation, candidates for the Gospel. We preach the Gospel to all. He’s the savior of the world. It doesn’t embrace simply Israel and the Jews. It embraces the whole world, gentiles as well.

The title “savior” was also used in the Roman imperial cult. It has been suggested that the Christian use of the term to refer to Yeshua developed as a response in opposition to this usage.

The three persons of the Trinity appear clearly in vv. 13-14.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4:13-14 ESV

Let’s look at verse 15:

Whoever confesses that Yeshua is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 1 John 4:15 ESV

The word “confesses” here is from the Greek word, homologeō, which is from "to speak" and "the same." It literally means “to say the same thing.” Confessing that Yeshua is the Son of God, therefore, means saying the same thing about Him that God says. We must agree with God about who Yeshua is, and we find out what God says about Yeshua through the Word of God.

This verse seems to be saying that if we confess Yeshua as the Son of God, we will abide in God. This verse is used by those who say that being a Christian and abiding are synonymous. So, what is this verse saying? I believe John is saying that this mutual abiding relationship exists only for the one who makes this confession in the context of Christian love. Notice what John said in the previous verse:

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4:14 ESV

Here John speaks about their fellowship with the apostolic circle in what they had seen. Then in verse 15 he talks about their fellowship with the apostolic circle in what they had heard.

If you remember back to our first study in 1 John, I said that Lazarus was the unnamed disciple of John the Baptizer mentioned in John 1:35-40. I believe that the chances are good that Lazarus was there when John gave this testimony of Yeshua:

And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” John 1:32-34 ESV

The words of John the Baptizer, “I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God,” reflect the words of verse 14: “We have seen and testify.” And John the Baptizer’s words, “this is the Son of God,” reflect what we see in verse 15 of our text: “Yeshua is the Son of God.” So, the testimony mentioned in verse 14 is not limited to the manifestation of Christian love. John is thinking of a context where there would also be heard the confession of Yeshua as God’s Son.

In the context John had in mind, the visible manifestation of Christian love, accompanied by this confession of Yeshua, reproduced what the apostolic circle had seen in Yeshua and what they had heard about Him from His forerunner, John the Baptizer. So, we could say that John’s goal of leading his readers into this kind of fellowship with the apostolic circle (1:1-3) has been reached.

that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Yeshua the Christ. 1 John 1:3 ESV

What John’s readers will hear in the midst of their loving Christian community is that Yeshua is the Son of God.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16 ESV

The author concludes this brief section (4:11–16a) with these words: So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.”  When John says that we have come to know and to believe,” he uses a verb tense (the Greek perfect) that means “We have come to know and believe in the past with continuing results in the present and future.” The clause, "the love that God has for us," is a Present active indicative expressing God's continuing love.

John's point was that his readers had personally "seen" God in a sense similar to how the apostles had seen Him. The apostles had seen God in that they had seen Him in His Son, Yeshua the Christ. God had revealed His love to the apostles through Yeshua. The readers had seen God in that they had seen Him in His Spirit-indwelt abiding believers who loved one another.

I read an amazing story that came out of the Korean War. A young Communist officer ordered the execution of a Christian civilian. When he learned that his prisoner was in charge of an orphanage and was doing much good in caring for small children, he decided to spare his life, but to kill his son instead. The 19-year-old boy was shot in the presence of his father.

Later, when the tide of events changed, this same officer was captured, tried, and condemned to death for war crimes. But before the sentence could be carried out, the Christian father pleaded for the life of this Communist who had killed his son. He admitted that if justice were followed, this man should be executed. But since he was so young and blindly idealistic, he probably thought that his actions were right. “Give him to me,” he said, “and I’ll teach him about the Savior.”

They granted the request. That father took the murderer of his son into his own home. As a result of his self-sacrificing love, that Communist became a Christian pastor (“Our Daily Bread,” April, 1980).

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