Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Letters Of The Apostle John. Day 14, Perfect Love Drives Out Fear/The Day Of Judgment

John is continuing with the theme of love. It might seem like he's spending a lot of time and putting a lot of emphasis on this subject, but what greater thing can we really do with our lives than to love others in the way God would have us love them? As we studied yesterday, if we have been changed by the transforming power of Christ, we will even be able to love those who are unlovable. This type of love in our hearts proves to us and to those around us that we have been made into new creatures by Christ. This type of love gives us the assurance in our hearts that we don't have to face the judgment with fear. Instead we face that day with the confidence that our hearts are right with the Lord.

Who guides our lives and teaches us about love? It's the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent to believers when He ascended to the Father. Through the Holy Spirit, we have Christ residing in our hearts. And where Christ is, there is love. "This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit." (1 John 4:13)

John was an eyewitness of the life, death, and burial of Christ. He was an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ. So were the other disciples and many followers of Jesus. Just as he did in the beginning of this letter, John gives his testimony about what he has seen and heard. His testimony is a fact, and he has based his entire life (and has entrusted his immortal soul) on what he knows to be a fact. "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God." (1 John 4:14-15)

If we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, how can we help believing that God loves us? True love is unselfish and sacrificial. "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us." (1 John 4:16a) This confidence should be the bedrock of our lives. God loves us! God unselfishly and sacrificially did everything it took to save us. Not only can we depend on His love, but we can also depend on His help. God is going to help us in every way to live the lives He has called us to live, as the Apostle Paul so beautifully put it: "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all---how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)

Because God poured out so much love on us, we who are His children ought to display a heart like His. Remember, if we don't look like our Father, it is doubtful that we belong to Him at all. "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them." (1 John 4:16b)

If we know that we are the sons and daughters of the living God through the Lord Jesus Christ, then we need not fear the day of judgment. We have studied today two ways in which we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we belong to Him: if we have the Holy Spirit, and if we love others with a heart like the Lord's. "This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:17-18)

John isn't saying that we won't ever make mistakes while we live in the flesh on this earth. What he's saying is that, if we have been regenerated and remade by our faith in Christ, we don't have to be afraid of meeting God face to face. I'll give you an example from my own life that may help to illustrate John's point. In April I had to have a medical test done that required me to be under general anesthesia. I'd never had general anesthesia and I was terrified of the very idea of it. I was afraid something might go wrong and I wouldn't wake up. Fear of death is a natural instinct that's built into every living creature; if it wasn't, we'd do abnormally reckless things that would get us killed at a young age. So I was naturally nervous about the risks associated with going under anesthesia. But you know what I wasn't afraid of? Going to meet my Maker. Not once during the month I waited for my upcoming test did I toss and turn in fear during the night wondering what terrible judgment lay ahead of me if I died. Not one time did I doubt that the Lord Jesus Christ had saved my soul. I didn't spend a single second in anxiety over whether I'd spend eternity with my Lord. This is because, like John, I know something to be a fact: Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, and He died for my sins, and He rose from the grave to prove that everything He said about Himself was true, and my faith in who He is and what He did for me on the cross has saved my eternal soul. Amen! Amen! It's natural to feel apprehensive about the death of our bodies, but we don't have to feel apprehensive about the eternal destination of our souls! Christ has made it possible for us to face the day of judgment without fear.

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