Gospel of John [20:19]. Christ's Resurrection, part 36 (fellowship with Christ and the Father - Agape).
length: 65:19 - taught on Jun, 5 2015
Title: Gospel of John [20:19]. Christ's Resurrection, part 36 (fellowship with Christ and the Father - Agape).
How good do we have it today in America? We are often faced with disappointments and we have to handle them with the truth and the empowering Spirit. I wanted to give a bit of perspective from a recent study I have done on the Middle Ages. God could have put you in any time and in any place that He chose. Remember this age is a part of the church age.
The common man (90% of the population) was close to nature, struggling in marshes and forests. Bears, boars, stags, and wolves wandered everywhere, into the fields and towns. Hunting was necessary for meat and protection. Their food depended on unreliable harvest. Famine was common and would wipe out 10% of a community. Give us this day our daily bread was a very real and anxious prayer. The nights were darker and the cold was colder than we can imagine since there was no artificial light and the heating was rare and inefficient. Light was a luxury in huts where the only opening was the door. No one could afford glass. Homes were small and dark and cold and damp and smelly and often less comfortable than the fresh air outside. People kept warm by putting on more and more layers of clothes, usually wearing more inside than outside. As many as half the babies born would die before the age of one. Women died in child birth. Life expectancy for aristocrats was around 21. People for the most part were immature which makes for great instability. Adding to that instability was the frequent epidemics that struck over and over. Smallpox, dysentery, many respiratory diseases, malaria, skin diseases, and of course the black plague. Add to this the common place violence of everyday life you get people who were rough and rude and anxious, living a perpetually precarious existence.
How does your situation look now?
1JO 4:19 We love, because He first loved us.
1JO 4:20 If someone says, "I love God," [faith, hope, fellowship] and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
1JO 4:21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
Can unselfish fruit be gathered from a tree of selfishness? Can agape love for one's neighbor usher forth from man's love?
"For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart [God's grace gifts] brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil
If anyone would paint and aptly portray God, then he must draw a picture of pure love, as if the Divine nature were nothing but a furnace and fire of such love, which fills heaven and earth. And again, if it were possible to paint and picture love, we should have to make such a picture as would be not of works nor human, yea not of angels nor heavenly, but God Himself. [Luther]
Then He pours out not sun and moon, nor heaven and earth, but His own heart and His dearest Son, and even suffers Him to shed His blood and die the most shameful of all deaths for us shameful, wicked, ungrateful people. How can we here say anything else but that God is nothing but an abyss of eternal love? [Luther]
Human love is acquisitive love, and so is created by the desirable nature of its object. God's love is itself creative - i.e., it makes something of that which is nothing. [Luther]
When we love others we are not looking to receive anything but rather to impart God's goodness, mercy, gentleness, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, comfort, i.e., God's agape love. In contrast the law was obeyed out of fear of punishment and desire for reward and so it could never be obeyed from a source other than the human. In God's agape love we seek nothing other than the good of our neighbor and in that it is spontaneous as the law could never be. Instead of thinking, "I better do this so I don't get cursed and I get blessed," agape imparts the thinking of, "I do this because it is me." What was once extorted from man forcibly under the Mosaic Law has now transformed into the believer's free, spontaneous, willing action. Under the law man always secretly entertains in his heart a contrary wish, but under grace man is transformed into a being that fully agrees with God and fellowships with God and so he does God's good from a pure heart that is fully under divine influence.
And although it is often rejected and that the believer who loves with agape is often deceived and betrayed by others that is no reason for agape to become hesitant, timid, or reserved. It is the nature of agape to suffer betrayal as our Lord did.
As such agape can be considered a lost love in the way that it is lost on so many. Of the ten lepers only one returned to thank the Lord for His healing. How should agape fare better through me than it did through God and Christ? Though it is often lost it is not discouraged.
God's love sought out those who are sinners, evil, foolish, and weak, and demonstrated its creative power in them by making them righteous, good, wise, and strong.
For sinners are lovely because they are loved; they are not loved because they are lovely. [Luther]
The Christian is set between God and his neighbor. In faith he receives God's love, in love he passes it on to his neighbor. Christian love is an extension of God's love. The Christian is not an independent center of power alongside God. The love which he can give is only that which he has received from God. Christian love is through and through a divine work.
God has delivered us from egocentric action, though not, however, because all egocentric interests are thereby satisfied, but rather because they are overcome and destroyed.
To hate one's brother [fellow believer] is to proclaim one's kinship to Cain the murderer.
In this passage John is exclusively talking about love for the brethren.
1JO 3:10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of [not out from, i.e. not in fellowship] God, nor the one who does not love [agape] his brother.
1JO 3:11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning [upper room], that we should love one another;
1JO 3:12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother.
1JO 3:13 Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you.
1JO 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides [fellowships] in death.
1JO 3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer [mental attitude of Cain]; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding [fellowshipping] in him.
1JO 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1JO 3:17 But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
1JO 3:18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
He is not excluding words, but that the expression of God's love is not in words only. Christ stated that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and it didn't stop with His words alone, but the deed was done as well.
1JO 3:19 We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him,
1JO 3:20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
"condemns" - kataginw,skw[kataginosko] = literally: to know something against. It is to know something in my heart that is against God.
This is not the same word that is used for condemnation in ROM 8:1 that states there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. That word is katakrino which means to judge against. This word simply means identifying thoughts in the heart that are against God.
John states this because of the magnitude of the command to love as God loves. This awakens a condemnation in us that we have not loved in such a way. All of us, John included, feel the same way when faced with a command to love as God loves.
The reassurance may at first seem odd. It is that God is greater than our heart and in whatever our heart condemns us has been known to God for eternity.
The reassurance is twofold:
(1) The worst that is in us is known to God, and still He cares for us and desires us. Our discovery has been an open secret to Him all along.
God is not shocked. Not only has He seen any failure from eternity but He has judged His Son for all failures.
(2) He reads everything — sees the deepest things, and these are the real things.
God doesn't give us a superficial once over and ignore the deepest darkest parts of us.
HEB 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.