1 John 4:7-16
Put fuel in the tank: Love others to express God’s love (vv. 7-10)
Put oil in the engine: Encourage others by living like Christ (vv. 11-12)
Tighten the lug nuts: Comfort others with the Holy Spirit when life gets uneasy (vv. 13-14)
Fix the leaks: Admonish one another to abide in love (vv. 15-16)
Watch the message here:
More sermons and info on GraceChapel.org
Cars—especially in the suburbs—are one of those necessary evils, in my opinion. We need them to work, live and play but we also end up spending a lot of our work money on them to keep them running, or buy them or take care of them.
About 257 million cars were registered last year. It is a 270-billion-dollar industry with all sorts of subsidies like car mechanics, gas stations, tire shops, car washes, websites and more banking off of that already very expensive and lucrative business. Raise your hand if you have a car. See—we as a church are supporting the industry well.
I drive a 2002 Toyota Corolla. For those of you who know cars, you know it doesn’t get much more plain-vanilla than that. It is reliable, it is affordable and it is not that complicated. However, I don’t know much about cars, so when that little treat has caused me problems, I usually have to take it to someone who know cars better than me—as simple as mine may be. I am the guy at the mechanic’s counter that says, “Hi, I am here to get my car worked on…” “What is wrong with it?” they ask. I have to answer something like, “I am not sure, but it sounds like this? (dial-up modem sounds). “One guy over at a shop off Broadway said to me once, “That sounds serious! By the sounds of it, I think it may be trying to get on the internet using a dial-up modem.” Very funny.
This is about the extent of what I know (using my TV): A car needs gas, a car needs oil and a car needs tires. If it has those things, I am assuming it is all good to go.
While that may be a simple view of a car, it is mostly true. Now let me explain how the church works, at least in the simplest of terms. It is like a car: We need fuel to keep us going, we need encouragement in our relationships, and we need a foundation to keep us moving. (that work). In today’s passage, I want to show you how, like a car, the church can be understood as God’s unstoppable force if all of the key parts are working right.
Open your Bibles with me to 1 John 4:7-16 on page 1023 and in the Bible app. Follow along with my outline on the bulletin and in the “Events” tab of the Bible app. Let’s read today’s passage in it’s entirety TOGETHER and then unpack it.
 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  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.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
 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.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in 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.
Let’s break it apart in a way that you will remember. This is one of the greatest passages in all of 1 John, yet alone the New Testament. This is the “HOW” behind the “WHAT.” The “what” is that we are to love God (believe) and love others. We’ve talked about how the Holy Spirit helps us do that. The “What is that we are to love—This is the car called the “Church.” This is the unstoppable force of God to the world.
The HOW we are to love, is exposed in the passage first. I call this the gas in the car. We are to put fuel in the tank. That fuel is the love of God. We are to to have love or show love [to] others to express God’s love [to the world].
Verse 7 says, love is from God, that is ALL love is from Him. He did not only create love, or express love, but He is love. It is more than an action; it is His very character. We know Jesus was His love manifest for us (1 John 4:8). The first fruit of the HS is love.
Twice in today’s passage the Apostle John stats that God is love (1 John 4:8,16). It is literally translated “Love is God.” Love is one of the warmest words in the English language, and that God is love is one of the most sublime, uplifting, and reassuring truths known to mankind. Love is His nature. It is not merely a friendly attitude He projects. It is the essence of His being. He is always going to act toward us in love because He cannot do otherwise. Love is the way He is.
Knowing God who is love will make us a more loving and giving person. Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. This carries the idea that if we love then we are doing so because we have:
- Providentially experienced God’s love. Through the loving kindness of God, we’ve received grace, mercy and acceptance (a judicial ruling) and been made right.
- Spiritually we’ve been awakened to God’s love. Without His love to call us to salvation and understanding of His kindness, we would be living in “darkness” and “Blind” to His love. Yet, he awakened us.
- Habitually we are receiving His love. His graciousness is given to us every single day in a million ways.
We must have a faithful expression of our belief in Jesus (2:23) but also have the fruits of love in our life. When we’ve experienced God’s love to the fullest providentially, spiritually and habitually, we will have the assurance of God’s love in our life.
The ultimate and truest experience of God’s love in our life is through the gift of Jesus Christ. John mentions that, not as a mere instance, but as the climax of all God’s love expressed to us. In this the love of God was manifest for us (underline that). He expressed love toward us by sending Jesus in to the world. There was nothing we did to earn this—the passage doesn’t say, “We were such good boys and girls that he sent His son…” but just that he loved us and sent His son.
An implication of what John is saying here is that we don’t have to sit around and wonder what it means for God to be love. It is not an abstract concept that requires group think, fancy words or helpful halusagens to aid us in viewing the unseen world. The love of God is tangible in the Cross of Christ. His some came so we might live. This is as real of an application of God’s love as you’re going to get—He sacrificially gave so you may live.
The Bible plain-out says, not that we have loved God first and therefore he loved us back. Rather, God loved us first, and because He loved us, He gave His Son as our “propitiation”—remember that word, meaning that He appeased His own wrath—so that we could be in a relationship with Him again.
Simply put: you were here, not loving God, even cold hearted to God. He didn’t see your love and say, ah, would you look at that, I should love Him back…
Rather, He saw you there and His wrath or judgment for your behavior was here—in the middle and in the way—so he Gave His son to over come it and make a way for you to be with Him and know His love. Without Him making a way, you would have never known true love.
His love in our life is now the fuel in the tank to love others. Without the true knowledge of His love, why would we care to love others? Be Honest—even the best people, who give and give and give, but do not believe in Jesus are simply giving because it feels good to them to give. We don’t just love and give because it feels good, we love and give because we want the world to know the God of love.
You can accuse Christians all day long of having motives to want to “Convert” people to believing in Christ. You know what, I’ll take that accusation. I do want to love so you can know Christ! Yes, I feel better by loving you, but this is not about me. I have a motive to make sure you and everyone else I can know this God of love that I know. I don’t want people to live without Him. You can call this an agenda, a secret mission, a plan to make converts—or whatever. Truth be told, I am on a mission to love so others can know love. The fuel in my tank to live a loving life is the love of God first showed to me!
John sees loving people as a way of life. Look at what he said in verse 11-12:
 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
With God’s love for us in our tank, then we should drive forward to loving others. Why? Because this is how we see God. God’s very design for the church was to see Christ (who is invisible to us know) visibly through the actions of others.
The Church is the tangible place for love to be lived out. God never intended for Christians to live in isolation. Rather, He expects us to love each other in such a way that brings God’s presence to the forefront of our minds. As we abide in Him we express His love to each other, making known the sweet fragrance of Christ. A lifestyle of love and support is what I call the oil in the car. Here is a point of application for us:
We need to put oil in the engine: Encourage others by living like Christ.
This week I had a call with a lady that came to our church for this last year. She attended Sunday school classes, our “New to Grace” event, the women’s retreat, women’s Bible studies, her husband came to a men’s event to meet others, yet they said they never were able to connect. Their interactions were cold; people were nice, but they all seemed to have enough friends already. After trying incessantly, they’ve decided to go to another church where they have already been welcomed, given responsibility and feel loved.
Can I be honest with you: it broke my heart. It was hard for me to hear about all the effort and interaction they had, yet they never felt loved or embraced. It also broke my heart because it wasn’t the first time I heard that. Others have told me about how they have tried to get plugged in here; just from some kind of relationship, and it is “So hard.” If we are living like Christ and have fuel in our tank and oil in our engine, love, relationship and encouragement should come easy here.
I have told you—I love the way our church is so close and has groups, Bible studies and classes that have been together for so long. If you all didn’t have a loyalty to one another, you wouldn’t have made it through some really hard years as a church. But if we don’t grow more Christ-like in our expression of love, we will be nothing more than a closed of click, not an unstoppable for the Gospel.
This means that we are constantly allowing God’s love to be perfected in us. We acknowledge where we are weak, we change where we need to change and we grow in areas that don’t exist. Not one of us should say—this is how I want my church to be… or our group is so unique, others just wouldn’t understand. At the end of the day, every believer abiding in Christ should be longing for every opportunity to present the love of God to someone else. Whether it is another believer, or a person without faith in Jesus… I show his love as often as I possibly can. Every interaction I have with others is to show them Christ!
Are we the only ones who love? This passage seems to indicated that love is only truly found in those who know Christ. Is that true? It this saying that nonbelievers in Jesus can’t truly love?
I am sure you and I can both come up with examples of great people—loving people—who give so much to others and express deep love, but who would not say that Jesus is their Lord. The love the give I believe is true, so then what is this passage saying?
A person who is not of God cannot give the same depth of love to other people that comes from God, because they do not know love Himself. While they may be able to love, their love is not from the eternal source of forgiveness, mercy, and grace that the love is from those who know God. It is God’s indwelling presence in the life of a believers that allows them to love at a level of depth that can only come from God.
His love perfected in us is the climax of this section. Perfected here means to be made whole or complete, lacking in nothing. This is the idea of coming to full maturity; not young love, naive love, or fickle love, but wholly mature love. This comes as our faith and walk with the Lord matures—James 1:4 conveys the same idea, look at this: “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Faithfulness to God’s purposes should have a maturing effect on us that allows our love to be made perfect; our interactions with others not lacking in anyway. As our faith in Jesus Christ grows, as our dependence on the Holy Spirit grows and as our love for God’s Word grows, we should see the love of God perfected in us.
So beside loving, accepting and encouraging others, how does this perfect love keep us moving as a church? Let me answer that this way—to ensure that we are moving forward as a church, abiding in God, we must tighten the lug nuts. Meaning that we Comfort others with the Holy Spirit when life gets unsteady.
Life does get unsteady. Trials come in every shape and size to every person on earth. The body of Christ has a duty to bring comfort others. Verses 13 and 14 of chapter 4 tell us that we have been given the Holy Spirit which is in us and we have Jesus Christ as the savior of the world. Therefore, the means of our comfort is more than tissue boxes, cards, flowers and chocolate—we have the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ to offer hope.
We comfort others by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the second time John
has talked about the Holy Spirit IN us. This presence of God was given to us to give us what we would not have otherwise. Without the Holy Spirit being the means to live and love, we would just continue to snap back into selfishness and lack of love for God and others. Not only does the Holy Spirit help us (1) believe and (2) love, but he gives us comfort in uneasy times. He is our comfort in chaos and assurance when the storm. Paul said, in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
The Holy Spirit gives us what we need so that we can give others what they need. What a sweet thought. Just as the love of God breeds love, so the comfort of God breeds comfort. The church should continually be looking for every opportunity to comfort those who are uneasy in their faith.
We do not have a “oh man, that stinks for you” attitude. Rather, we pick up on things and read between lines and hear when someone needs comfort and are quick to give it. We offer words of encouragement, prayers of support, Bible verse of truth and make the presence of God tangible in their lives. This week I had the opportunity to do that with a man who was discouraged about his kids teeth—I could have easily been like, “Sorry to hear that” or “I’ll be praying.” But I chose to step into the awkwardness to comfort, pray and provide hope. That is what those who have been comforted by Christ do!
We also comfort others by reminding them who is the savior of the world. This passage says that his son is the savior of the world. It doesn’t say might be or is the savior for some. He is the savior of all! We should be quick to say to others, especially those who believe, remember that Christ is ruling the world with His feet up! He’s not worried about how this will all turn out. We speak comfort to others from the truth of who Christ is and what He has done for us. We not only tell them to believe in Christ, but we encourage them to cling to Christ, which leads us to our last point today and that is, as a church we must:
Fix the leaks: Admonish one another to abide in love.
Look at verse 15 and 16 again with me, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in 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.”
The first part of this is where the word admonish is appropriate. When we admonish someone, we rebuke them or remind them of the truth. When it comes to living out our love with other Christians, we must remind them that Jesus is the son of God and He is in us. If they have already confessed that—meaning that they’ve stated they believe, then when they falter in this faith, we say “Hey, remember who you believe Jesus is! You told us!” this is why baptism and the public profession of faith is important. We can say, “I heard what you said… you believe… so live it out! Trust in Christ.”
This passage says that as we love out our faith, we will not just abide in God but abide in love. The hurricane of life may whirl around me, but I am safe in the shelter of His love. When you see someone in the family of God running to outside sources of comfort, you fix the leak—tell them to come back to the one true God who can give them the love and comfort they are seeking.
So how do we be the church God intended us to be?
- Put fuel in the tank: Love [to] others to express God’s love [to the world].
- Put oil in the engine: Encourage others by living like Christ.
- Tighten the lug nuts: Comfort others with the HS when life gets unsteady.
- Fix the leaks: Admonish one another to abide in love
Imagine if we really lived out the “one another” passages in the Bible. This would be a place both churched and unchurched people would want to attend. Parker, Castle Rock, South Denver, Highlands Ranch, Littleton would all be saying, have you been around those grace chapel people? Man, they love deeply and give generously. Get this… they actually live like they believe God is enough. Wouldn’t it be sweet if we saw God use us to love this city to show them His love? That is my prayer: that the Love of God in us and through us would make us an unstoppable force for His Kingdom.