I John 4:7-21

I John 4: Part 2.  “ What the World Needs Now…”

‘What the world needs now- is love, sweet love; it’s the only thing that there is just too little of” Burt Baccarach, circa 1960’s song.

“When I fall in love- it will be forever. In a restless world like this is- love is over before it begins”

Those songs capture some of the truths about love- which is one of the main themes of the Bible- God’s amazing love for us.

The verses of I John 4:7-21 contain some of the great verses in the Bible regarding God’s love.

For example:  “God is love. (16b)  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives(casts) out fear. (18) We love Him because He first loved us.(19) “   These familiar verses tell us of the love of God and the love God has for us.

It is a perfect love.

It is a true love. It is , (if you think about it) a crazy love. Why crazy? Because: “God so loved the world He sent His only begotten son, that whosoever should believe in Him, should not perish but have eternal life.” ( John 3:16)  “ This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ( I John 4: 10)  That’s crazy to me- that God Almighty loved me while I was yet a sinner and sent His only Son to die for me- that I might have eternal life.

And Jesus on the night of the last supper, after washing the feet of the disciples as act of His love for them- told them and us- ‘ a new commandment I give unto you- to love one another as I have loved you.

In Luke 10, the Lord Jesus in an exchange with a lawyer- confirms that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. Furthermore in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who spitefully use us.

These verses and many more give us an insight into what has to be one of God’s greatest attributes- love.  We could study for the rest of our lives about the attributes of God for they are many and amazing. Consider that God has all knowledge, all wisdom and is all powerful. Combine that with the fact that He is good, sovereign, Holy, just and faithful. But it is obvious that God is love and that means He loves everyone- and He loves unconditionally. John said ‘how great is this love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God. And that is what we are.’ ( I John 3:1) This love is the source of amazing grace, mercy and pity.  In fact, it is this love that connects us to God. We love Him, because He first loved us.

But I must agree with the lyrics of Burt Baccarach’s song- What the World Needs Now is love, sweet love- and it is obviously what there is too little of. Love is the quest of every human being in some form or other. It is the lack of love that causes most of the trouble in the world. Love is the subject of the Bible, it is the motivation for which we are told God sent His Son to die for us. It has been the subject and object of poems, stories, novels, movies, and songs. So here are three facts regarding love, as Chip Ingram writes about in his book “ God: As He Longs for You to see Him.”

  1. Everyone is looking for love. Doesn’t matter what country you are from, what language you speak, or what your religious background might be. We are all looking for love. It is universal in its quest. Why? Because God is love and He made man in His image so God has woven love into our DNA in our mother’s womb. We literally came out of the womb looking for love.
  2. Just as there is a universal quest for love- there is a universal source and answer to that quest. Unfortunately we are prone to look for love in all the wrong places. And many songs have been written about that quest. Only God can meet the love everyone is looking for- which is the kind of love that only God can provide. Agape love- which is unconditional love.
  3. Here in lies the problem. There is a universal source of love found in a personal relationship with God. Only God has the limitless resource of unconditional love that can satisfy the whole world. Here on the one hand is this source of love, a source plentiful enough to satisfy the world and there is a separation between God’s hand of supply and hand of need. The connection between the need and the supply is not realized. Guess what ?  We are called upon by God to connect them by demonstrating His love toward others. What did Jesus say: “ By this will men know you are my disciples that you love one another. We ( believers) are the connectors.

Why does this problem exist?  The reasons are  many- but remember some have looked for love in the wrong places. Their minds have been veiled by the enemy and they look for love in the world and the things of this world. Money, fame, success, popularity, power- the love of another person or persons.(Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life.) That is why John warns us not to love the things of this world. Others believe God loves them- but it is conditionally and they are always trying to perform in such a way that they will please God and He will love them more.

Sadly there are those who have not heard about the love of God. They have also never had anyone show them God’s love. The god they worship may be a god they have been taught is an angry god, a god of vengeance and wrath. They so desire to be accepted by this god they are willing to kill themselves while killing others because they believe this will make them acceptable.

A  word about connecting. How does one connect with another? There are three components of connection: Intellectual; Emotional; and Volitional. What we know, feel and do. So to understand how we ‘connect’, one must understand how we disconnect. If we know but do not feel- we are impassive- no feelings. Our message of God’s love will not connect with another without passion. God deserves a fiery love. If we know but do not do- we are theoretical. James says it this way: What good is it if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? I John 3:18- tells us to not love with just word but with actions. If we feel but do not know-that is unfounded. We must always guard against acting on feelings alone. That is why Paul urges us to study, that is why he tells us time and time again—know ye not. If we feel but do not take action- that is hypocritical. Again James addresses this in James 2 where he speaks of the hypocrisy of one who sees another in want or need and says go, I wish you well be warm and well fed- but does nothing. You cannot connect when you do but do not feel- that is mechanical. It is the difference between one who plays a musical instrument with passion or without passion. Even the audience knows the difference.  And you cannot connect when you do but do not know what or how to do.That is presumption.

We connect when there is knowledge combined with passion that results in action.

Now let us consider some of God’s other attributes- His Wisdom, for He has all knowledge and all wisdom. Now think about what happens when you combine wisdom based on complete knowledge allied with omnipotence ( all power). His wisdom, His power, His Holiness, His Righteousness, His Perfection combined with His unconditional love allows God to always choose the best and highest goals with the best means of attaining it.( Packer, Knowing God)

In other words, God’s plans are made in complete knowledge and control which extend to all things past, present and future. There are no sudden emergencies or unexpected developments in God’s plans which were set out in eternity past.  Can you not see why we rejoice that if God is for us- who can be against us?  The Lord is my light and my salvation of whom or what shall I be afraid.

This means God will always bring about the best  possible results by the best possible means for the most people possible for the longest period of time. His love combined with His other attributes will not allow Him to do otherwise.  If there was a better way, a quicker way to get the best possible result- God in His Wisdom and Power would do it.

God’s love compels Him to express His unconditional love and selective correction( for whom the Lord loves, He disciplines) to provide us with the highest quality of existence, both now and forever for the object of His love. (Romans 8:28  is about this truth)

Let’s look further into this perfect, true, crazy love called AGAPE love.  God’s agape-love is defined and characterized by : being universal; forgiving, sacrificial, unconditional and boundless in its abundance.

Now against that definition look at the most well known verse in the New Testament, John 3:16 and you will see how it fits:  “ For God so LOVED(AGAPE) the world, He GAVE His one and only Son, that WHOSOEVER should believe in Him, should not perish but have EVERLASTING  life.”  Do you see each characteristic of this perfect, true, crazy love?  He gave sacrificially for God gave His One and Only Son.  He gave unconditionally it was for ‘whosoever’ and it was universal for the’world’ not just our sins but for the sins of the world and it was boundless abundance- everlasting, eternal life. God wants to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His Power that is at work within us. See how His Power is combined with His Love for His Glory and our good?!

His love is filled with goodness, mercy, longsuffering, and grace. These fall on the just and the unjust for God loves everyone.

We are told in Psalms 139: “ How precious to me are your thoughts O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” When you love some one you think of them constantly.  Especially when you are first falling in love with them. And remember the Lord Jesus told us to return to our first love. Have you ever wondered what those thoughts are that God has toward to you?  Listen to what God says about His thoughts toward you:  “ I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

God desires to be your friend. Listen again as the Lord Jesus tells us:  “ My command is this: to love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants…, instead I have called you friends.” (John 15)  Can you sing that simple song- my best friend is Jesus, Jesus.  Did you know God sings over you?  “He will rejoice over you with singing.” ( Zephaniah 3:17b) Do you know why he is singing? Because you are a joy to Him.

Because God loves us so much- He hurts when we hurt. What concerns us- concerns Him.  Did not Jesus weep with his friends Martha and Mary at the death of Lazarus? He was touched by their sorrow. Did you know you can grieve God- do you think you may have made our Lord cry over you?

In spite of our sins, our rebellion and disobedience- God’s love is unconditional. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me more or less. The Lord is not going to seek a divorce from us, His Bride, even though He may have just cause and grounds for a divorce.

To know and experience God’s love in ever increasing measure is a foretaste of heaven divine. So Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit writes : “ the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” ( Romans 5:5) When we get saved, the Holy Spirit comes into our life and seals us and becomes our teacher and guide in truth. But also this verse means the Holy Spirit gives us a knowledge of God’s love for us.

Shed abroad carries with it the connotation of a flood. It is a word that describes an outpouring of a large flow that like the rivers of living water continues to flow.

This statement is past tense- meaning this has already been accomplished. Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 was that we might grasp what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ, and to know this love which surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God.  When you experience this love in this fashion that Paul is praying for us to experience, I believe it is then a person experiences the beginning of personal revival!

What is the evidence of this Great Love – this perfect, true and crazy love that God has for each of us:

  1. Creation. God revealed  His love for us through creation. Realize that God created us in His image to rule and reign with Him. We were and are created to represent Him and His love to the world. We were created by Him to love and we were created for Him.
  2. Providence. God’s general kindness to everyone reveals His loving nature. He bestows us daily with benefits. He gives us life and breath. He did this Paul said that we might seek Him and reach out to Him and find Him, though He is not far from any of us. ( Acts 17)
  3. Incarnation. God’s  greatest revelation of His love was through the incarnation. God the Son became flesh and dwelt among us that we might behold Him and His glory. He not only loves us- he taught and showed us how to love in the manner that He loved us and gave himself for us. Jesus told Phillip and us- if you have seen me- you have seen the Father and we have seen this amazing love.
  4. Discipline. Whom God loves He disciplines. ( Hebrews 12) God disciplines His children just as an earthly father does. He does this for our good and to prevent us from loving the wrong things that will harm us. This discipline is proof of a loving Father.
  5. The Holy Spirit. God has given us His Spirit who seals us and guarantees that He who has begun a good work will complete it. God has come to make His home with us in our hearts.

How can one experience and ever increasing awareness of this love that God has for us?  Well this is one of the most precious ministries the Holy Spirit has in our lives. As mentioned earlier- the Holy Spirit sheds abroad in our hearts the love of God. This verse means the Holy Spirit gives us understanding and knowledge of this  perfect, true, crazy love that God, Creator of the universe has for you and me. Here are some practical steps and action you can take to better and more fully grasp the depths, heights and width of the love of Christ:

  1. Saturate your minds with the truth of God’s love for us. Go to your concordance and began to look up the verses regarding the love of God for us.
  2. Ask God to help you grasp His love. Whenever you asks anything according to God’s will. He hears us and grants our request.  God will certainly love to answer this request.
  3. Refuse to let the ‘things of this world’ turn your head. We use the word love so differently we can become confused what real love is. We love our new car, our big house, our fine clothes, good food, our new technology.  I understand what we mean when we use this word love to describe our affection and enjoyment. But God is the only one from whom good gifts come and all good gifts come from Him.
  4. Learn to give love away. You cannot save it or hoard it anyway and He wants you give it to others. What did Jesus say- His last commandment- to love one another as I have loved you. The more of God’s love we give away , the more He supplies. Go back and read I John 3:16-18.  “ this is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. We ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children let us not love with words or tongues but with actions and in truth.” Give and it will given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measure to you.” (Luke 6)  Give by the teaspoon full of love and you are going to get a teaspoon back. Give in large quantities and you will receive in large quantities- but do not give to get, unless it is to get more to give away more. Remember you cannot take it with you—and so it must makes sense do you giving while you’re living- so you are knowing where it is going   Because guess what- what the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the ONLY THING THAT THERE IS JUST TOO LITTLE OF!
Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14