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THE CHRISTIAN KIND OF LOVE

We also have come to know and trust the love that God has for us.
God is love … .

The greatest love in time and in eternity is the love of God for us, “Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called the Children of God!“ (1 John 3:1, compilation). And of course, ““For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, EHV)

The love of God is a matter of Grace, that is to say, it is a love that we do not deserve. Justice, contrary to grace, demands that we get what we deserve00 to be cast off by God forever, “because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, EHV) But the glorious good news is that God has satisfied His own justice to save us. “That is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19, EHV)

This is what the world hates. The Christian is at war in the world because the unbelieving world is at war with the Christian, is at war with grace. The love of the world is conditional, and the alternative is vengeance. But not the Christian kind of love!

The sermon for the First Sunday after Trinity, June 6, 2021, Pastor Edward Bryant, Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.


1 John 4:16–21 (EHV)

16We also have come to know and trust the love that God has for us.

God is love. Whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. 17In this way his love has been brought to its goal among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are just like Jesus. 18There is no fear in love, but complete love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who continues to be afraid has not been brought to the goal in love.

19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar. For how can anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, love God, whom he has not seen? 21This then is the command we have from him: The one who loves God should also love his brother.

Dear fellow redeemed. With this Sunday we enter the “Non-festival” portion of the church year, in which we shift our focus to consider not only what God has done for us, but the way it plays out in our lives. For the next few weeks, we will study the letters to the church from the Apostles John and Peter. We will see how these Christ-appointed teachers of the church and eyewitnesses of the risen Christ brought that word to bear on the lives of Christians as we live in this world.  Here the cosmic war between Christ and Satan, Light and Darkness, Eternal Life and Eternal Death is played out.

So I am going to organize the next few sermons under the general theme, “The Christian Is at War in the World,” and we begin today with our Lord teaching us here that the Christian Lives in God’s Love.

The Christian Is at War in the World

THE CHRISTIAN LIVES IN GOD’S LOVE

  1. God’s Love
  2. The Love of Christian Brothers and Sisters
  1.  God’s Love

Those two things surely seem contrary to each other. The Christian is at war in the world and at the same time lives in God’s love? It shouldn’t surprise us, for Jesus taught his disciples, If the world hates you, you know that it hated me first.” (John 15:18, EHV) and “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”” (Luke 10:16, EHV)

“World” as John uses the term, (KOSMOS) means “everything in the world opposed to God. So, the reality is that the world hates the God of love. And as our text says, 16We also have come to know and trust the love that God has for us.

God is love … .

The greatest love in time and in eternity is the love of God for us, “Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called the Children of God!“ (1 John 3:1, compilation). And of course, ““For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, EHV)

The love of God is a matter of Grace, that is to say, it is a love that we do not deserve. Justice, contrary to grace, demands that we be cast off by God forever, “because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, EHV) But the glorious good news is that God has satisfied His own justice to save us. “That is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19, EHV)

This is what the world hates. The Christian is at war in the world because the unbelieving world is at war with the Christian, is at war with grace. It is obvious for all to see. This world will not tolerate grace, and we have three examples:

Cancel culture: Many who hold unpopular views  are not to be heard. They lose their job. They lose their reputation. Credit card companies won’t process their sales. Banks won’t provide their services. Studios won’t make movies where they might benefit. Sports organizations won’t hold events in their communities. Specifically, two teachers were recently fired because they objected to holding all people of one race guilty for sins of the past. The world hates Grace.

Targeting Christians: The world doesn’t distinguish politics from religion, and so Christians are targeted politically for their religious faith. While Jesus said we are to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s, the world confuses Caesar with God. In their mind, everything belongs to “Caesar.” Therefore when Jesus says, “Haven’t you read that from the beginning their Maker ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4–5, EHV), the world says that the nature of men, women, marriage, and family are Caesar’s to determine, not God’s. This is why cancel culture doesn’t just deal with politics.

Re-education: Nor can the world abide it when Christians simply choose to practice Christian love as Scripture teaches. Critical Theory is being required by law in some schools, notably Oregon and Washington, so children are being held responsible for knowing it. It is like evolution, a false religion taught as a secular truth. Critical theory erases the concept of forgiveness and demands instead that those born in a certain class or race be treated as guilty and without moral authority

By contrast, penitent Christians live in the confidence of God’s love. We don’t fear punishment, rejection, cancellation, or condemnation from God, because in love, He has made satisfaction for our sins and given us the righteousness of Christ. (as our text says) 16We also have come to know and trust the love that God has for us.

God is love. Whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. 17In this way his love has been brought to its goal among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are just like Jesus. 18There is no fear in love, but complete love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who continues to be afraid has not been brought to the goal in love.

   2.   The Love of Christian Brothers and Sisters

The love of God has invaded this world in the person of Jesus Christ and is displayed in the love of Christ in the lives of His people. 19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar. For how can anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, love God, whom he has not seen? 21This then is the command we have from him: The one who loves God should also love his brother.

The love that John speaks of here isn’t the same kind of love that the world treasures. We love not because we overlook wrongs, but because “God first loved us.” His love isn’t approval of sin, but forgiveness of sin at the terrible cost of His only Son.

Christian love is qualitatively different. It is a matter of loving someone you might not even like, of seeing your enemy as someone redeemed by the Lamb of God, of knowing that when at the last God turns his back on the impenitent, damned in his own sins, that it is with sorrow and tears.

It is a matter of knowing that there is mercy in a world that wants compliance, or it will resort to rejection, there is repentance and forgiveness in a world that wants approval rather than forgiveness.

[Ironically, we see this in “Gay Pride.” While the Christian is called to love everyone “in Christ,” both the repentant and the impenitent, the world loves only the impenitent, and hatefully condemns those who repent of their perverse practices.

It’s that We love because he first loved us and put it into practice as it is written, “Get rid of every kind of bitterness, rage, anger, quarreling, and slander, along with every kind of malice. Instead, be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven us.” (Ephesians 4:31–32, EHV)

As Christians in this world, the Image of God, the spiritual life and understanding lost in the Fall is being restored, as by God’s grace through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit we … “put on the new self, which is continually being renewed in knowledge, according to the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:10, EHV)

It is by this new, spiritual life of faith that we know the love of God, for it is a life created and nourished by the word of Christ, who says, (paraphrasing) “As you live in this world, you will be hated and rejected as I was hated and rejected.  You will be hated and rejected because of your faith in my love for you, for I have redeemed you and say to you, ‘Rejoice, your sins are forgiven, and there is no condemnation for you.’ Be at peace.”

Amen.  This is most certainly true.