Date: May 5, 2011
Bible Text: I John 4:7-13 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
If you have your Bibles, turn in them to I John 4:7-13. I am going to preach this morning on the fact that God is love. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” Again, this fact is all the way from Genesis to Revelation. God loves us, and He showed His love by sending His Son to die for our sins that we might live through Him.
You don’t have life outside Christ. I’m not talking about church membership, I’m not talking about being baptized. I’m talking about accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. You don’t live without Him. That’s why there is so much drunkenness and pornography and drugs. I know I sound like a broken record, but I see it around me all the time. I have to deal with it. Everybody laughs, “You Christians don’t have life. You can’t take drugs. You can’t snort that stuff because you’re a Christian.” By the way, we could if we were dumb enough to. It doesn’t keep us out of heaven. “You can’t get drunk.” Yes, we can. It won’t keep us out of heaven. But God gives us wisdom and strength, so we don’t have to. And the only reason a person would do those things to himself is because he is not happy. He can’t face life, because he doesn’t have life.
Again I say, you don’t have life without Christ. “…that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we 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 ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” That’s the thrust of the message. God loved us; and because He loved us, we ought to love Him. If we love Him, we’ll love others. Nobody’s ever seen God, but others can see God through our love. “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”
People sometimes say, “I don’t know whether I’m saved or not.” I don’t ever want to hurt people, but I believe if you’re saved and right with God, you won’t have doubts. If you are sinning, if you are not going His way, you’ll have doubts. People ask, “How do I know if I’m saved for sure?” The whole book of I John tells you how you can know if you’re saved. Do you love other Christians (not just other people)? I’m not saying you shouldn’t love other people, but do you love your fellow Christian? This verse says, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” If you are saved, the Holy Spirit dwells in you and you will love the family of God.
Verse 8, of course, very clearly and succinctly says, “…God is love.” Now this is misunderstood by those who have never accepted Christ as their Savior or by weak Christians. Often people don’t understand. They think that if God loves, there’s no punishment for sin. Again, that is a misnomer. That is a false idea of our day. Up until just the last generation, people would agree, whether they were Christians or not, that if you loved your children you would discipline them because you wouldn’t want them to grow up and be wild. Whether people were saved or not, they understood that if a Christian didn’t live for God, He was going to discipline him. Some people think, “If God is love, He’ll just let us go.” No, the Bible clearly says, “…whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth…” If you can sin and get by with it and have a clear conscience, I guarantee you are not saved because the Bible very clearly says, “…whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth…” Sometimes people cannot reconcile misery, or sickness, or death. They’ll say, “My mother died of cancer. If God is love, He would not have allowed that.” On the other hand, thousands, yea millions, of Christians, through the centuries have suffered for God. They’ve been thrown to the lions. They’ve been burned at the stake. They went through excruciating pain, poverty, and bitter disappointment but never lost their assurance of God’s love. I want you to understand something. God put man in a perfect environment. Man chose sin. It was his choice. Further, even though God warns us of the results of sin, man still chooses sin to a great degree. So don’t blame God. Sin brought death, sickness, everything bad—pain, even weeds. God didn’t want this for man, but man chose it. God has done everything to give man everlasting life. Even after man rejected God, He sent His only begotten Son to bring man back to Him. God is love.
If we’re saved, God gives us His Word. The person who complains is the person who is not in His Word. He doesn’t know it. If we’re saved, God gives us His Holy Spirit, and through Him gives us peace and wisdom. The Apostle Paul is the perfect example. Turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 8. The Apostle Paul never permitted suffering to make him lose his faith in God’s love. Because he preached the gospel, he was jailed. It wasn’t like Porter County jail; it was a terrible place. Because he preached the gospel, he was scourged more than once with a cat-o’-nine-tails. Because he preached the gospel, he was cold and hungry, and Christians broke his heart. But he always lived a life of victory and joy because he believed God. In Romans 8:35 he wrote, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
I think one of the problems with Christians today in America is that we have it too good. We have it too easy, and so we just go our merry way. We live our life, we flip God a tip, and maybe come to church on Sunday morning. We just have it too good. And then when we reap what we’ve sown, we lose our children, or God deals with us. I’m not talking about losing your children in death; I’m talking about losing them to the devil. You live ignoring God, you reap what you sow, and then you say, “What’s wrong with God?” There’s nothing wrong with God.
God tells you exactly how to rear your children, and one of the things you need to do is rear your children in church. That’s not just Sunday morning. They need to be around godly people. This morning on the radio, ads were making fun of God. You are not going to rear godly children at the Boy Scouts (and I’m not against the Boy Scouts) or at the YMCA. Let me remind you, the YMCA was called “Young Men’s Christian Association,” and it wasn’t just in word. People like D. L. Moody started the YMCA. They uplifted God; they were Christian. They were separated Christians. It was a Christian organization. But today, you are not going to raise your children in secular organizations. You may think you can, the educators might say that, and some book you might read says that; but you can’t do it. You do it God’s way, or you lose them. Don’t blame God; look in the mirror. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing can separate you from God, except you. I don’t mean you can lose your salvation, but you can live a life of selfishness and pushing God away, and then you reap what you sow.
God’s love shows an attribute for self-giving. People give themselves to the object of their love. Growing up, I heard that marriage was a 50/50 deal. That doesn’t work. In our generation, the women say, “Hey, it’s all or nothing. Nobody’s going to tell me what to do.” You are going to be miserable. You ask, “Don’t you believe in women’s liberation? I do not. “Why? Are you against women?” No, not in the slightest. But the Bible is against it. Some of you have been raised in what I call the mainline denominations, and you don’t know the Bible at all. You don’t know God at all. You may be saved, but you don’t know anything about the preaching of the Bible or the teaching of the Bible. You don’t know what the Bible says because the preacher didn’t love you enough to tell you. The Bible says that the woman is to be in subjection to the man. What does that mean? That she is in servitude? No. It’s just that there is a certain place that God put man and put woman. There are certain responsibilities.
The man, because he is the head of the home, is not trying to use his wife or abuse his wife. He will give himself. The Bible says that, as a husband, I am to love my wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. We have things so mixed up today. People think if man is the head of the home, he has a whip that he cracks. No, he is the head of the home, and God speaks to him as a leader just like God speaks to me as the leader of this church. It doesn’t make me any better a person than anyone sitting in the pew. God just made me the leader. It doesn’t make me a better person than my wife because I’m the man. Again, I stress it doesn’t mean that you take advantage of her. The Bible says that we are to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. By the way, wives, that’s what you should do, too. That is what makes a happy marriage. You are not always thinking, “Well, you got your way last time. You watched what you wanted to watch last night; I get to watch what I want to watch tonight.” No, no, no. You won’t be happy. You are always giving. God gave freely of Himself.
Titus 2:13 says, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” He gave Himself, and what are we supposed to do then? We are supposed to give ourselves to Him. And in giving ourselves, “…purify unto himself a peculiar people.” It doesn’t mean that we look, smell, and talk like the world. No, a peculiar, different people, “…zealous of good works.” He gave Himself. He died for us. The Bible says we are not our own; we are bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus Christ. So what do we do? We give ourselves to Him; and in giving ourselves to Him, we give ourselves to others. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you want to know what Christianity is about, it’s about loving. You want to know what loving is about? Giving. I heard a story many years ago about a preacher who was going to take a long flight. He took his seat next to a lady who seemed to be of some means, but at the same time was disheveled. When the plane took off, he went to sleep. At an intermediate stop, as the tires touched the runway, he woke up. The lady said, “How can you do that?” He thought, “What in the world? Was I snoring?” She said, “You were sleeping, and we went through a terrible flight. The plane was rocking and falling. We were all scared to death, and you were sleeping. How could you do that?” He said, “Well, I was tired.” Then he thought of a way to witness. “Also, my father owns the airline, and so I feel pretty comfortable.” She said, “Your father? Who is your father? What is his name?” He said, “My heavenly Father.” He was able to tell her how to be saved. She told him a story about how even though she could have gone through college, she stayed out of school and worked her husband through school. He became a successful manager, but then he was ashamed of her. Just that day he said he was going to divorce her, and she tried to kill herself. Her friends put her on the plane to go to her sister’s house. Then she started crying, and she said, “Does your God love me?” That is a question, whether they say it with their lips or not, that people ask all around the world when going through pain. They try to cover it. I can’t prove it because I’ve never drank or taken drugs, but I’m convinced that it’s the only reason people would. They can’t have fun otherwise. “Does your God love me?” Of course, he could say, “yes” and lead her to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The point is we need to love. The Bible says we are to love one another. If we are the right type of Christian, we love the unsaved. Turn to John 13. There’s probably nothing more mixed up than the idea of love. I’ve heard guys say, “Oh, she’s beautiful. I love her.” They really think love is sex, or looks, or that somebody is so sweet. No, that’s not love. In John 13:35 we are told exactly what love is. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” If we’re Christians, we should show our love toward one another. Real happiness is not receiving, but giving. Of course, it is better to give than to receive, the Bible says. We should be loving. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Now let that sink in. How do I know you are saved? By your fundamental stand? That’s not what the Bible says. By your doctrine? How do I know you are saved? By how much you put in the offering plate? That’s not what the Bible says. “…if ye have love one to another.”
Sometime a person might be walking down the hallway and he doesn’t see you. He just walks by. What’s your response? Some of you would say, “What’s wrong with him? He doesn’t care for me. I knew it—he doesn’t like me.” What’s your response if you have love? “He’s probably got a real heartache. He probably has something on his mind, and he didn’t see me. I need to pray for him.” Is it not true? You see, love ought to be in us. The happiest people, and the people whose happiness is most secure are those who find their joy in loving. If people would only understand the Bible, they would find out what happiness is. Happiness does not come with money. You say, “Oh, it would make me happy!” Maybe for a while. But why do so many rich and famous people kill themselves? I saw a Christian periodical a list of all the rock musicians who had killed themselves. How many were there? Page after page of rock musicians who had killed themselves. They were rich. They were famous. People screamed and yelled for them, but they killed themselves. Why? Why do rich people, not just rock musicians— the Marilyn Monroes and Elvis Presleys—why do they live the kind of life they do? Because they are not happy. In this day, when people are seeking happiness, if they would only look to God they would find it. Yet I see Christians who are so inward. “Why did you do that to me?” They are just worrying about themselves all the time. That’s the most miserable person on the face of this earth. You may ask, “How can I be happy?” Love. Will you listen to me this morning? It works. Love.
How can you love somebody or increase your love? Do something for them. Do you remember when you were a kid and you made something for your parents for Christmas? Do you remember that? Or, if you have children, they made you something. Aren’t they excited? It might not be anything much, just a card, nothing of any value. But aren’t they excited? Why are they excited? Because they are giving something. They are showing their love. Then you get to the age when you don’t have much thought about what you will get for Christmas. I don’t wonder, “Ooh! What’s my wife going to get me? What color will the tie be?” But rather, “What am I going to get for my kids?” You get excited about what you are going to give to them, don’t you? If you are normal, you do. I think everybody does that. I learned this many, many years ago. If you want someone to like you, ask them to do something for you. If you want to love somebody, do something for them. That’s why our church is so healthy now. Generally, preachers hate building programs. They will resign just because they have to get a loan and because there are financial problems when they are building. Preachers of all stripes say, “Never build your own building. You will destroy your church.” I’ve always believed the opposite. You people are giving more than you have ever given. Most of you are working on the building, and our church is healthier than it has ever been. Why? Because it is good to give.
It’s like the bus ministry. The average independent Baptist will look and say, “He’s asking too much.” Well, I don’t make anybody do anything. They volunteer. They say, “I want to be a bus worker,” and they work for the better part of Saturday and Sunday. They give of themselves. As a group, no one is happier than they are. The person who is not happy is the person who says, “I believe I should do this, but I’m not going to because I don’t want to give up my time.” Love gives. I heard an illustration of a guy knocking on doors soulwinning. A man answered the door and said, “I’m so glad you are here!” Now that’s a different reaction. “Come on in. I want to show you my car?” He was all excited. The soulwinners thought, “This must be quite a car.” He took them out to the back yard, and there was a car under a tarp. It had different color fenders and doors. The man said, “I built this car over the past few years. I went to the junkyard, and I got parts. I put this together. Isn’t this beautiful?” The soulwinner said, “Well, it is a car.” Now the man had a beautiful car in the garage, but he loved that car. Tell me, why did he love that car? He loved that car because he put himself into that car. That’s what the Bible teaches. Do you want joy and happiness? Don’t sit around waiting for somebody to love you. You love people.
You’ll never know what a church is until you love others. That’s why you need to be a part of it. Give yourself to others. Do things for others. Think more of others. Sacrifice for others. And not for just the lovely, sweet, and nice. If we do things for people because they are sweet, we will stop doing it when they become sour, and that’s when they need it the most. Jesus loved the unlovely, didn’t He? We all think we are so lovable. Your wife would tell you otherwise. Jesus loved the unkind and the unlovely. If we are going to be like Him, we must do likewise. I can’t make anybody love me, but they can’t keep me from loving them.
Remember part of this is making reconciliation. The weak person usually cannot make reconciliation. He may go through the motions to look good or to salve the conscience. It’s up to us to show love. You say, “You would not believe what he did to me!” Okay. I know it hurt. Do you want to have a happy life? Be loving. Don’t work on being loved. You won’t find happiness trying to be loved. That’s selfishness. We should work on gaining enjoyment by loving. That is fun. That’s enjoyable, it really is. You’ve all experienced it to some extent, but I want you to experience it in a more real way. Love those guys on the job. Care for those guys on the job. God will give you people who will love you. Don’t go looking for them; God will give them to you.
We should express our love, too. We should not be afraid to let people know we care for them. If we don’t, we’ll miss out on so much joy and happiness. We cannot be in God’s will without this. Love. Especially love toward Christians, love for souls. You’re not truly living a Christian life without love. That’s how the world knows we’re Christians. If we’re married, we have wedding rings. My wife gave this to me. I don’t like jewelry. My father was of the era when men did not wear rings. He was a machinist. I didn’t want to wear a ring, but my wife was pretty strong. I don’t remember the words, but basically it was, “You wear it, or else!” I understood. It was the insignia that I was married. I’m hers. Maybe they don’t do it anymore, but guys have letterman jackets. If you are on a team, you wear it in pride. Soldiers wear uniforms to show that they are soldiers. God has given Christians an insignia, a symbol, to show that they are saved. And this verse, John 13:35, is it. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” What is that talking about? Other Christians, first of all. We’re supposed to love souls also. I think a lot of Christians just grit their teeth and run around with a black cloud over their heads. They think it is their job to throw poison. They think it is their job to be nasty.
We are supposed to love one another. God is love. God is good to mankind. And He says in Acts 14:17, “…and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” Man, through sin, brought into the world greed, oppression, pride, and agony. God is good, isn’t He? Even to the unsaved. The Bible points out that He gives the rain and sunshine. Turn to Psalm 103. He gives—even to the unsaved—families, mountains, and oceans. Oh, how I love those things! I love the mountains and oceans. It makes me feel good just to see them and be around them. God gave that to us. What person in tune with God could look at the orchards blossoming in the springtime or heavy with fruit in the fall, or the fields of grain, and not praise God? God is good. We ought to have gratitude. How a person could sit down at a table and not thank God for the good food He gives us, I cannot understand.
God is merciful. In Psalm 103:8, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” Aren’t you glad He is merciful? Some people are always trying to make themselves look like they are sinless. But if we walk with God, we know we are sinners, and we’re so thankful that He is merciful. If it was not for His mercy, we would go to hell. I believe if it was not for His mercy, He would strike us dead right now, just like a bug. Look at verse 17. “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.” People always think about the sin going to the children’s children. Because of His mercy upon those who fear Him and are trying to be right with God his righteousness passes unto children’s children. That’s what my prayer is. God is good. What a miserable mess man has made. What suffering and heartache we brought into the world! But God is merciful. God is good. All we will have to do as Christians meditate on our failures and sins, our spiritual coldness, how we let God down. And we find our soul is swelling up with praise and gratitude for God. Just think of the sin, just think of the rottenness in this country. Our country still has some of the remnants of the Christianity it was founded on. I don’t want to get into this, but this is a Christian country. It’s not a Muslim country. It was founded as a Christian country. People get mad because a prayer is prayed in Jesus Christ’s name. They want to defend the Muslims. This is a Christian country, but we have taken God and pushed Him aside.
But God’s love is gracious. God is merciful and gracious. Ephesians 2:8 and 9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Praise God, aren’t you glad He is merciful, good, and gracious? It was God’s grace that reached down to an undeserving world and provided a Savior. God’s grace has made it possible for us to have a heavenly standing, to have a heavenly citizenship. Through faith in Christ, you can experience the grace of God. Through faith, you can experience peace in your heart and mind. You can know that God loves you. Any person in here can experience God’s grace. I go back to that simple verse everybody knows, if they know any verse in the Bible. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That’s God’s grace. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” You can’t buy salvation. It doesn’t come through church membership. You can join every church in the state, and it won’t get you to heaven. It doesn’t come from baptism, whether you were sprinkled, poured, or dunked. It doesn’t come from communion. I believe you ought to join a church, and we do have communion, and you know I believe in baptism, but that has nothing to do with salvation. It’s grace. It’s not how much you give, or only those who have a lot of money could get to heaven. It’s not what you do. It’s not how smart you are. It’s grace. If you would just understand we are all sinners. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” and, “The wages of sin is death….” We don’t think we are anything. The first thing we’ll say is that we deserve death and hell. That’s what the Bible teaches. But Jesus died for us.
Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We are sinners. We deserve hell. But Christ died for us. He was God. He’s the only One who could die for us. He was the God-man. Because of that, He could die for the entire world. If you want to go to heaven, the Bible teaches so clearly, you must understand and admit, “I’m a sinner.” Repent from that sin. You’ll never be perfect, just like no one in this room is perfect. But repent of that sin. Hate that sin and turn to Christ for salvation, and you can know that you are on your way to heaven. You can be positive. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” You say, “Who are you to know you are saved?” I’m a sinner who believes God. And God says that if I believe in my heart and confess with my mouth, I will be saved. And I believe Him. I’m not anything. I believe Him. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”