We Love Because

February 1, 2019 Preacher: Gareth Franks Series: Letters of John - Knowing, Walking & Living the Truth

Topic: The Gospel Scripture: 1 John 4:19–21

Home Group Study - Sermon Date: 01 February 2019

Text: 1 John 4:19-21


Opening Discussion: Whenever we perform a thoughtful action towards someone else, it is always a joy to watch their response. Generally, what is your response? Examine and discuss whether our responses are always centered on God’s glory or something else.

Observation - What does God’s word say?

When we consider love from its origin or source, love defies human definition. Before we existed, love existed because God is love. More than a feeling, love displays action. Love became tangible, visible, and was manifested in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And John writes that love continues through us by the power of the Holy Spirit, as we love our Christian brothers and sisters. John writes one of the richer descriptions of love for his readers to discern false prophets. How will they test the intentions of their teachers? By their love for other Christians. Only because God loves us can we ever love him back and love others. The hymn is true: “They will know we are Christians by our love.”

What are your observations? 


  • 1 John 4:19-21
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
  • Galatians 5:14

Meaning - What does God’s word mean?

As we’ve seen, John repeats three tests of authentic Christianity: the moral test of obedience to God’s commands; the social test of love for others; and, the doctrinal test of believing the truth about Jesus Christ. John knows that in the matter of loving others, it’s easy to be hypocrites. In case we become proud in thinking that we can love others on our own, John goes on to show (4:19) that God is the source of all love. In case we fall into the hypocrisy of saying that we love God, when in fact we do not practice love for one another, John shows (4:20) that the test of whether we truly love God is our love for one another. He concludes (4:21) by showing that such love, the love that gives us confidence on the Day of Judgment, is not just a nice suggestion. Rather, it is God’s commandment.

John Stott points out; the apostle uses the word liar with reference to each of the three tests. With regard to the moral test, he said (2:4), “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” With regard to the doctrinal test, he said (2:22), “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?” Here, he applies it to the social test of love. Stott concludes, “However loudly we may affirm ourselves to be Christian, our habitual sin, denial of Christ and selfish hatred expose us as the liars we are.” If you don’t practice sacrificial, committed love for others, you are revealing that you do not really love God. John’s argument is that we cannot separate the two great commandments. It is easier to say, “I love God,” because God is invisible and love for Him may be difficult to observe. But Jesus said (John 14:15), “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” His main commandment is that we love one another (John 13:34; 15:12). So John is saying that genuine love for God will ALWAYS show itself in observable love for others.

Read:  Matthew 22:34-40                                                                                                         What are your observations from these verses?

Application - How must I change?

  • Is there a Truth to be believed?

In 1 John 4:20–21, circle every mention of God and brother. What does the interchange of these words in the passage tell us about love for God and love for fellow Christians?

  • Is there an Attitude to be fostered?

Jesus yokes love for God and love for neighbor as the greatest commandments (Matt. 22:36–40; Luke 10:27). Love for God is mentioned first as the source of love for others. Jesus then describes love for people as a commandment, like love for God. How is your love for your brother, as mentioned in 1 John 4:20, not like your love for God? How do you limit your love for God, and what impact does that have on your love for others? What does this reveal about your understanding of God’s love for you?

  • Is there a Behavior to be changed?

Is it possible to be a believer and still live life with a flawed understanding of God’s love, which expresses itself in a lack of love for others?


John reminds us in our text, that God's commandment to Christians is to love God and the brethren. God's own word of command indicates that to love Him and to love the brethren should not be separated. Love, you see, is not a suggestion in God's economy. It's not an option. It's not something you do if you feel like doing it. It is a divine command. It's an obligation for the Christian. Everyone who loves God loves his brothers and sisters in Christ. John Stott is surely right when he says, “Every claim to love God is a delusion if it is not accompanied by unselfish and practical love for our brethren.


Prayer Points:

  1. Pray that NLC would practically love in deeds and not just words, by sacrificially denying ourselves for the sake of others and lay down our lives the way Christ laid down his life.
  2. Pray for those who lack the power to love, that they would look to the cross of Christ and let the love of God for sinners fill them with hope. 3. Pray that we would all get to the point in our walk with the Lord,  where the commandments of God are not a burden but a joy, and our faith in the character of God will overcome the lies of the world.

More in Letters of John - Knowing, Walking & Living the Truth

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