(1 John 4:13)
1. How does a follower of Jesus know that God is living within them?
2. What did John testify to? How could he testify to this truth?
3. Who does God abide (remain) in?
4. How did John describe God and how does a believer abide in God?
5. How are the followers of Jesus to be “in this world”?
God offers everyone the opportunity to live within God’s circle of love and influence, and anyone can invite God into their lives. No matter how much someone has sinned or rebelled against God, God has made their reconciliation with Him possible by sending “His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Living daily and forever with God’s approval is possible for anyone who “acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God.” God is love, and God showed His love for the world when He sent His one and only Son into the world. Jesus taught and demonstrated the way of love; and then Jesus made the supreme sacrifice when He died on the cross in behalf of sinners, enemies of God, becoming “the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Believers can “know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16). Through faith in Jesus, God has graciously given believers His Spirit to live within them. Through faith in Jesus, God makes it possible for believers to love others as God loves them. Believers in Jesus have “been born of God and know God”; therefore, they can show forth the love of God for others (1 John 4:7). Those born of God are like Jesus, and the world should be able to see the love of God for all people within them. Because God is love and Jesus is their Savior, believers can live with confidence that they will have nothing to fear on the Day of Judgment. The perfect love of Jesus within them drives out all fear of punishment from God. — LG Parkhurst Jr.
Perhaps one of the most amazing teachings in John’s first letter relates to the type of people the followers of Jesus ought to be and the type of people seen among Jesus’ followers. John wrote about what type of person a follower of Jesus ought to be “in this world,” not what type of person a follower of Jesus ought to be “in heaven.” As the Holy Spirit led him to write, John expected the followers of Jesus to be “as Jesus is,” not as Jesus was or as Jesus has become, but “as Jesus is” and as Jesus always is. Jesus is the perfect expression of the love of God. Everything Jesus said and did before and after He came into this world expressed the perfect love of God for everyone. Sometimes Jesus needed to give strong warnings to those who refused to live in love, but those who knew Jesus knew that Jesus meant His strong warnings to move people to think and change and love others as God loved them. Jesus knew that when people loved God and others as God loved them that they would be the happiest people “in this world.” So, Jesus and John expected those who claimed to follow Jesus to truly become “as Jesus is” and become as Jesus is “in this world.” With the help of the Holy Spirit, day-by-day Christians can learn how to show forth the perfect love of Jesus for everyone “in this world.” When Jesus’ followers live “as Jesus is,” they show others how much God loves them. — LG Parkhurst Jr.
Sometimes people wonder if love is real. We cannot see love, but we can certainly feel love. Love is real. We know love is real because 1 John 4:16 says, “God is love” and God is real. From the Bible, we learn that love comes from God and we love because God first loved us. But what is love? Some have said that love is a special way of feeling, and we know when we have that special way of feeling. We also know that love involves more than our feelings and we have different types of love. In the beginning, everyone loves themselves and everyone loves having their needs met. Unhappily, some people never get beyond loving themselves supremely and having their needs met. If someone loves themselves supremely, they will often feel attraction for those who satisfy their desires and meet their needs. Sometimes they “love” the other person only until they no longer satisfy their selfish desires. God’s love is not this selfish type of self-centered “love.” Self-centered love cannot give anyone ultimate happiness. Because God’s love is not self-centered, God unselfishly sent Jesus Christ into the world, and He became the supreme example of selfless love. But Jesus does more for us when He comes to live and love within those who love and follow Him. His followers have discovered that their ultimate happiness comes from loving others unselfishly and from allowing Jesus to love and help others through them. They no longer do everything based on a supreme love for themselves. Now they prayerfully do everything based on a supreme love for God and the understanding that God wants them to love others unselfishly as God loves. — LG Parkhurst Jr.