One Particular Page of My Bible and the Exclusive Love of God
When my Bible is opened to a particular page, it spans from 1 John 2:15 to 1 John 5:1. Often, when I hear most preachers or Christians in conversation, today, I am baffled by how inconsistent their message is with this one open page of my Bible.
The apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world (1 Jn 2:15a),” and yet, this is one of the most common refrains, “We need to love the world.” John seems to answer, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 Jn 2:15b).” Christians need to be reminded that they are not in the business of, “changing the world,” either. No, the world is passing away. It has a death sentence upon it (2 Pet 3:10–12).
The world of people is separated into two kinds: children of the devil and children of God (1 Jn 3:10). This, too, is rarely acknowledged. One child of the devil is even highlighted by the apostle John (1 Jn 2:18–24). This is the man of lawlessness (2 Thess 2:3), who John calls, “antichrist,” who is coming. The world is filled with these types of liars, who deny Jesus and the Father (1 Jn 2:22). Does God love the devil, the antichrist, and the children of the devil? When I read this one page in my Bible, the answer is, “No.” When I listen to most Christians, the answer is, “Yes.”
John contrasts those who practice sin, and those who practice righteousness (1 Jn 3:1–12). The one who practices righteousness is born of God (1 Jn 2:29), and he has the anointing of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 1:21), who indwells him (Rom 8:9, 11; 1 Jn 2:27). God pours out His love in the hearts of those He gives His Spirit to as a gift (Rom 5:5). It is the Spirit of truth who teaches us about all things (Jn 16:13; 1 Jn 2:27).
It is the Spirit of God who teaches God’s children to love one another (1 Jn 3:11). Children of the devil, like Cain, hate those who do right (1 Jn 3:12). The world hates Christians for this very reason (1 Jn 3:13), the imputed righteousness of Christ in them. Believers have passed from death to life, having been given the promise of eternal life (1 Jn 2:25). Evil doers do not have eternal life because they are devoid of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9; 1 Jn 3:15).
Christ Jesus laid down His life, in love, for His people (Mt 1:21; Eph 5:25). Christians follow in His steps, denying themselves of the world’s goods, so they might sacrificially love their brethren (1 Jn 3:17). Only the abiding Holy Spirit can manifest this type of selfless love. He causes the beloved to do the things pleasing in God’s sight (1 Jn 3:22). This includes trusting in Christ and loving the brethren (1 Jn 3:24).
Union with Christ is the centerpiece of this open page in my Bible (1 Jn 4:13). God’s children abide in Christ, and the Spirit of Christ abides in the beloved (1 Jn 3:24). The term, “beloved,” is emphasized by John here (1 Jn 3:21; 1 Jn 4:1, 7, 11). If there is a category of ones loved by God, then there must be a category of ones not loved by God (Ps 5:5; 11:5; 7:11; Rom 9:13, 22).
God loved His own, first (Eph 1:4–5; Rom 5:8), and for this reason alone, they love Him (1 Jn 4:19). They love one another in active obedience, and this is not a burden. It is a natural outworking of the Spirit, willing and doing God’s good pleasure from within the ones He loved (Phil 2:13).
God is love (1 Jn 4:8, 16). The love of God is manifested in the beloved (1 Jn 4:9). The emphasis sits in 1 Jn 4:11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another,” in the church. We have already noted the practical outworking of this love (1 Jn 3:17), as does the book of James.
Love flows into the Christian and through the Christian because of her abiding union with Christ (Jn 15). Just as Jesus laid down His life in love (Rom 5:8), and we know we are loved by Him (1 Jn 4:16), so the believer fearlessly loves (1 Jn 4:18).
Many in the world of deceptive love have been stilted by the selfish love of others. Their heart is hardened by fake love. It fears being hurt, yet again. Many will turn to homosexuality for this reason. They are looking for love in all the wrong places. Perfect love, however, casts out fear (1 Jn 4:18).
Because the Christian knows she is loved by God — and she knows this because His Spirit abides in her — she can love in the manner of Christ. He was mistreated by His brethren and hated by the world (Jn 7:7). Still, He demonstrated His love by willfully suffering the shame of the cross. He died for His elect people, even while they were yet in the camp of enemy sinners.
Paul wrote Timothy with the very same sentiment, “I endure all things for the sake of those chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory (2 Tim 2:10).” Enduring much hardship as a Christian is indicative of being a Christian (Col 1:24; Heb 10:34). We were appointed to suffer and suffer we will (Phil 1:29). The same joy that gripped Jesus, en route to the Cross, is the joy true believers have when rejection and affliction come (Heb 12:2; Jas 1:2).
In conclusion, one page of an open Bible can powerfully refute the wisdom of the age, which has infiltrated the church, and which says, “God loves everyone and Jesus died for everyone.” This, of course, according to the whole Bible is not true. Rather, we see a life and ministry of suffering and joy for the ones God does love. These are brought into union with Christ, by His doing (1 Cor 1:30). It is this union that causes God’s love to flow toward His beloved people, the children of God. All things flow to us by His Spirit, who teaches us God’s exclusive love for His beloved, who love Him in return, and who love the brethren in the manner displayed by Christ (1 Jn 3:16–17). Got love?
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 16, 2022