Love Made Perfect

Bible Book: 1 John  4 : 13-16
Subject: Love, Godly
Series: 1 John

A young lady came by our home a number of years ago and asked if she might speak with me. I knew her and her family, and recalled that they were members of a Catholic church in another town. She began by stating that she was getting married to a man who was a member of our church and she wanted to convert. She wanted to become a Baptist. When I began to ask questions, it was obvious that she did not have any idea what it meant to be saved, to be born again, to have a personal experience with the Lord. I shared (a good Baptist term!) some Scripture with her and carefully explained that she needed to come to know the Lord in a personal relationship before she was ready to make any other decision. She did not understand, so as she left I encouraged her to read the Gospels over and over until she understood what the Lord wanted her to do.

Later she told me she was reading what I asked her to read and she found it interesting. Hesitantly, she added, “But there seems to be a lot of repetition there.” I talked with her about the four Gospels, pointing out the similarities and differences. The next time I saw her she was excited. A truck driver had visited the place where she was working part-time while pursuing a degree in criminal justice. He visited young people at t he center as often as possibly. On this occasion he was share his testimony with her and she was saved. She was still excited when she told me about her new relationship with the Lord.

This young lady had made a statement that any student of the Bible has observed: There is a lot of repetition in the Bible. However, there is no repetition without purpose. There a few central themes that run throughout the Bible, one dominant theme that may be followed from beginning to end. The Bible reveals the existence of God and His various attributes, as well as His nature and character. Then there is the one central them, whether we call it God’s plan of salvation or the revelation of God’s redemptive love, or give it some other designation. W. A. Criswell used to preach and write about “The Scarlet Thread” that runs throughout the Bible. The scarlet thread to which he meant the blood of Jesus Christ.

Yes, there is a lot of repetition in the Bible, but none because God ran out of something to say! It is there for the purpose of reiteration - He wants us to get the message. At the same time, Paul would write to the Corinthians, who loved great oratory, that he had professed to know nothing among them but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That should be the central theme of all preaching. It may be an over simplification, but there are two themes that run throughout the New Testament and we should never stray very far from them. First, the lost are told how to be saved. Second, the saved are told how they should live.

In the Gospel that bears his name, John tells us how to be saved. In the First Epistle of John, he was inspired to tell us how we can be saved, and know we are saved, and then he tells us how God wants His children to live. The emphasis in the fourth chapter of this epistle is not on doing as much as it is on being. When the Holy Spirit is permitted to work in the hearts of believers, He will conform us into the image of our Savior (Romans 8:29). We are never more like our Lord than when we love Him as He loves us, and when we love others as He loves them. Now, Let us look at 1 John 4:13-16.


“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world (13-14).”

A. God Wants Us to Know that We Know Him, 4:13.

1. “By this” implies the emphasis God places on our assurance of salvation.

2. We can know that “we abide in Him.”

3. We can know that He abides in us.

4. We know it “because He has given us His Spirit.”

At the point of your salvation, God places His Holy Spirit in your heart. This is the indwelling of the Spirit, or the baptism of the Spirit. He places His Spirit in your heart for a purpose, and that purpose is not passive. No one is saved apart from the redemptive ministry of the Holy Spirit, and no one is sanctified apart from the active ministry of the Holy Spirit in his life. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit once for all time, but we need the daily filling of the Spirit if we are to grow in His grace and knowledge.

The Holy Spirit inspired John to provide us with numerous proofs by which we can know we are saved. Now, get this: The Holy Spirit miraculously inspired the writing of all Scripture, He has miraculously preserved it, and He miraculously illuminates the minds of the believer to enable him to understand the Scripture and make an application of it in his daily life.

Paul affirms this in Romans 8:16-17: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” The Holy Spirit, the divine Author of every word of Scripture, is instrumental in our salvation. He convicts the lost of sin, of righteousness, and the judgment to come. He indwells the believer to empower, guide, convict, and bless. Our Lord wants us to come to know His Son as Savior and honor Him as Lord, and His Spirit has been sent to accomplish His purpose.

B. We Have Seen and Do Testify That the Father Sent the Son to Be the Savior, 4:14.

1. “And” denotes the work of the Spirit in our understanding.

2. Through the Holy Spirit “we have seen” that God sent His Son to be our Savior.

3. “Do testify” means that we profess Him and confess Him.

4. We know and testify that Jesus is the Savior.

I well remember the day Dr. J. Hardee Kennedy, that great Hebrew and Old Testament scholar, taught us a special lesson from the first chapter of Isaiah 1:3: “An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master's manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” Dr. Kennedy explained that the first use of the word “know” means that the ox recognizes its master. The second use of the word means to know by experience. They knew the various names for God, they knew their history and could recite stories of God’s dealings with His chosen people, but they did not know Him through a personal experience.

We are given the amazing opportunity to know the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer personally! That is more than my mind can comprehend. Just think what it means for a holy God to permit a fallen sinner to call him “Father”! Only those who have been born again know the Father; only the believer knows Jesus as Savior. Only those who dwell in God - those in whom He dwells - can “bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (vs. 15).


“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

A. True Believers Confess Jesus Christ, 4:15.

1. “Whosoever Confess Jesus Is the Son of God.”

When I started out in the ministry if you had asked the average lost person in a rural community in the south if he believed in God you could be almost certain he would answer in the affirmative. As a matter of fact, I often asked people, “Do you believe in God?”, anticipating that the answer would be, “Yes.” I might ask, “Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” When he said that he did, I would then show him my Bible and ask, “Do you believe this is the Word of God?” I do not remember anyone at the time who said no to either question, in church, in an home, in a cotton field, in the Hinds County Jail, or the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

Does that mean that all those people were “the sons of God”? Of course not! They had grown up in a Christian environment and they knew the jargon, whether they had been born again or not. They heard the Bible read at home and at school. They went to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School when they were children, and when they were in their teens they went where teens went - at to some, that meant “going to church”, so they identified themselves with the church. There were fewer cars, very little Sunday entertainment, almost no Sunday shopping, no malls, and since television was still on the drawing board when they were younger, they had gone to church because that is where other young people were.

These people professed a belief that there is a God and they knew the Bible stories. Some of them understood that they were lost and needed to be saved, but others wanted to say anything I wanted to hear to get rid of me - they had been through it many times before. Some of them gave all the right responses until you asked them to pray to receive Jesus Christ and then they pulled out the same old excuses that they had used for years. Others brought up the hypocrites in the church - hypocrites they didn’t mind working with, shopping with, going to the Doctor’s office with, or fishing and hunting with them. The only place hypocrites kept them away from was the Lord’s services.

Now, let me stress this as clearly as I can: there are a lot of people who have made a profession of faith who have never really confessed Jesus Christ. If I might paraphrase Martin Luther - the original one - “If you do not confess Christ at the point of attack, you have denied Him, no matter how loudly you have professed Him.”

I am convinced that many people have made “a public profession of faith” when they when they came under conviction of sin - that is, under conviction of sin they walked down the aisle and “gave the preacher their hand”, nodding to anything he asked them, without ever repenting. They were baptized and attended for a few weeks and then began missing, and finally dropped out all together. Some have been manipulated down the aisle by a master manipulator - and there have been some experts through the years, especially in getting children and young people to “walk the aisles.”

I helped with a city-wide crusade which was led by outstanding men, who did nothing that I questioned. They were totally committed to reaching young people for the Lord. When the invitation was given, we received large numbers of young people who came forward making professions of faith. I spoke with a teenager I knew and she told me she was making a rededication. Later she told me she was standing with a lot of teenaged girls and most of them had no idea why they had come to the front.

“Why did you come down here?”

“I don’t know, I just followed her.”

“Why did you come?”

“I was with her and didn’t want to get lost.”

Let me stress here that we must not stop preaching evangelistic messages, and we must not stop giving invitations. What we must avoid is manipulating people. An evangelist once asked me to schedule a hotdog supper for children. After the meal he took the children into a room away from adults and talked with them. They were then asked to sit in a particular section near the front. He preached and then gave the invitation. No children came, even though he had told me that a lot of them had made a profession of faith when he talked with them after the hotdog supper. After a few minutes the well known evangelist came down and whispered to me, “You are going to have to go out there and get those kids started coming down the aisle.” He was expecting about thirty children to come forward. I refused to do it. Most of those children who had held up their hands back in the fellowship room were visitors, many of them were there for the first time.

Now, let me tell you how the Holy Spirit works when we do not get in His way. Dr. Leo Eddleman was scheduled to preach a revival for me in Bastrop, Louisiana around 1973. Cecil Gregory, pastor of Cherry Ridge Baptist at the time, told me he really wished his people could hear Dr, Eddleman. I suggested that we might hold the morning services at his church and the evening services at our church. We scheduled the morning service at a time when the Cherry Ridge Christian School could attend the services. Following the Monday morning service Dr. Eddleman told asked me if I thought he was communicating with the children - it had been a long time since he had spoken to children. I offered one suggestion: “Why don’t you begin the service tomorrow by saying something to them in Hebrew.” He did and he had their interest. Before the week was over 102 children who had listened to the simple message of salvation made a profession of faith and Brother Gregory followed up on all of them and found that 93 of those children were baptized in various churches. You can believe the news got around and some other pastors came to see what was happening in those services. I remember that Dr. Eddleman asked visiting pastors to come down and help counsel with the children. Brother Gregory and I have talked about that revival from time to time over the years. Neither he nor I baptized a one of those 93 children, but of the 102 who made professions of faith, various pastors baptized those they were convinced understood at the time. Some of the others may have been baptized later.

This great harvest of souls was all the work of the Holy Spirit. There was absolutely no promotion of the morning services within the school, other than scheduling a break so they could attend the service. There were no games or gimmicks to get the children to attend. There was no manipulation on the part of the evangelist. The invitation was very simple and totally without any human pressure. What we saw was the mighty moving of the Holy Spirit.

A few years before John wrote this epistle, he was inspired to write, “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31). God wants us to know Him, and to know Him is to profess Him and to confess Him.

2. To confess Jesus in this context is a serious matter.

Paul wrote, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10). You cannot confess Jesus as Savior and Lord if you do not believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins and that God raised Him from the dead.

3. God dwells in those who confess Him.

Actually, there is a mutual indwelling here. We dwell in Him and He dwells in us. Is that not absolutely amazing? To think that God would indwell me. And that He would permit me to dwell in Him! Only true children of God can confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This confession is based on what one knows in his mind, that of which he is convinced of in his heart. This is a total commitment: intellect, emotions, and volition (mind, feelings, will).

B. True Believers Know the Love of God, 4:16.

1. Believers have come to know the love which God has for us.

2. We have believed God loves us.

In all the history of the world it has never been expressed more clearly than in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

3. God is love.

As John has already written, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (4:8).
I would challenge anyone to make a careful study of the attributes of God and then review that study from time to time. God is Omnipotent (all powerful). He is Omnipresent (everywhere present at the same time. He is Omniscient (all knowing). He is holy. And thank God, He is love. William Barlcay was once asked what was the greatest thought he had ever had after years of studying the Bible. His answer: “Jesus loves me.”

4. The one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.


How can we read these words without praising our great God and our glorious Savior? God is love. He loves us. He loved us while we were still in sin. He gave His Son to die for us and raised him on the third day. He gives us the privilege of a personal relationship with Him. He saves all who trust in Him and when. When he saves us He dwells in us and permits us to dwell in Him. Why would anyone turn down such a Savior?

I walked back from the grave side and got into my car. It was a sad situation. The individual was lost and most of the people still standing around the grave were lost. Before I could drive off the funeral director walked over to my car and spoke. I commented, “I don’t see how anyone could sit through the funeral service and then the grave side service without asking the Lord to save them, do you? He said, “I don’t know. I am not a Christian myself.” This man had heard the message of salvation many times, but still did not know the Lord. I would appeal to you today to be sure that you know him before you leave this service. If you need help, please come forward and let me pray with you.