I think that, from time to time, every Christian faces the challenge of assurance in their relationship with God. Circumstances in our lives might lead us to wonder about our closeness to Him and question whether we are indeed maturing in our faith. This is one of the reasons that 1 John was written. Notice how many times the phrase “by this we know…” is included. There are specific things at which we can look to truly assess our relationship with Him.
This part of 1 John 4 includes an opportunity to assess our relationship with Him. This is the passage I want to consider:
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:12-16 (NKJV)
It might seem a little strange that this passage starts off with a statement that no one has seen God. That seems obvious. The point is that the nature of God, the essence of His love, is seen in the lives of those who are living His love. This is evidence of Him working in us. “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us,…” Evidence of this relationship with God is also seen in our confession of who Jesus is. This is not just a mental assent of the existence of Jesus, but a life that is changed by a living faith in who He is.
If we are His, we embrace and are profoundly changed by the love God has shown for us in all of its wonder and glory. This is a process that will be maturing in us as we grow in Him.
We again run into the statement that “God is love.” It is His nature. If we are in Him, His love will be growing and becoming more visible in us. This is evidence and assurance of our relationship with Him.
To look for evidence of a growing love in our lives and those of our brethren, we need to understand what this love is. Love is a concept that is confused and perverted in our culture all around us. We need a clear picture of what this agape love is. That is what makes passages like 1 Corinthians 13 so important. In that chapter, descriptions of the aspects of this love are collected together. Look at earlier posts, such as this one and several that followed it, to see discussions about the nature of this love.
In summary, this passage has both an assurance and a challenge for us. It is a way to know that our relationship with God is maturing, as we see these aspects of love showing up more and more visibly in our lives. It will take some level of courage to look at passages like 1 Corinthians 13 as a mirror for our lives. What do I see in my life? Am I seeing these aspects of love becoming more apparent in my relationships with others?
Again we see the inseparability of our relationship with God and our love for others.
What do you think about these things? When you read this passage, do you feel assured?
There is more about love in this chapter of 1 John. I plan on discussing the next several verses in the next post
Until next time…