Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 5 2020 - 1 John 4:1-21 – We live through him

The gospel, indeed, the whole of Scripture, centres in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not surprising then that those who wish to undermine the gospel frequently deny key truths about the Lord Jesus. John warns his readers about “false prophets” who were travelling around the churches seeking to gain a hearing and a following for their own views. You can spot these false teachers, says John, by their denial of the incarnation; they deny that Jesus was God become man.

There may have been some who claimed that Jesus was divine but denied that he was really a human being (a form of early Gnosticism). Perhaps they claimed to be more ‘spiritual’ than orthodox teachers by asserting that the Son of God from heaven was a spirit who simply appeared in human form – perhaps entering Jesus at the time of his baptism and leaving just before his crucifixion. Such people, says John, are not spiritual at all for the Spirit of God testifies to the Lord Jesus Christ as God come in the flesh.

Maybe there were others who taught that Jesus was a wonderful man – maybe the wisest of men and greatest of the prophets, come to point us to God – but he was no more than a man. These too are condemned by John for denying Jesus’ divine origin.

Why is all of this so important? Isn’t it just so much theology? Well yes, it is. It is theology in the true sense of the word; it is talking about and knowing God. God has revealed himself in the Lord Jesus Christ in all his glory, humility and grace. To fail to recognise God in Christ is to fail to know God.

Secondly, God has revealed himself in the Lord Jesus that the life of God and love of God displayed in him might be displayed in our lives also. John writes, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). We need to live in this love (4:16). This means confidently basking in the gracious embrace of God’s love towards us in Christ – a love that will never let us go. But it also means that we must be willing to embrace others in their need. The love of God cannot be contained within us, it must flow from us and embrace even those who seem unlovely and unlovable – for that is how God has loved us.

And this is what the world needs. In 4:12 John writes, "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." The implication is that when we love one another we reflect the character of God and make him visible to the watching world. God's love has appeared in Christ so that, as we live in him, God's love is made visible through us also (see again 4:9).

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God" (4:7). It’s a word of encouragement that we need to hear again and again. The life of God that became incarnate in the Lord Jesus is to become incarnate and visible in us as we live in Christ.

Lord Jesus, remind me ever afresh of your great love for me. You have shown me the inestimable love of God. Help me to reflect that love in my attitude towards and care of others that they may see something of the life and character of the living God and feel the wonder of your love.

Peter Misselbrook