Perfected Love (1 John 4:12-21)
“Perfect love is God’s love in us that produces love for one another. The blessings that flow from perfect love are present assurance and future confidence.”
I. God’s Love for Us
God’s love for us is magnanimous (vv. 7-10). Too often, we love only those we find attractive, but God loved us when we were vile and offensive. This is what Paul means when he writes in Romans: “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). Because of our rebellion against our good King we deserved to be loathed by God, but God loved us and gave His only begotten Son to save us. What wondrous love this is! This is the marvelous, amazing, astounding manifestation of the love of God!
God’s love is revealed in the gospel and the Holy Spirit now pours the love of God into our hearts, convincing us of the love that God has for us and thereby winning our affections to Him (Romans 5:5). This love that God has for us creates in us a love for Him and for the church. In other words, God’s love for us and in us bears the fruit of love. Perfected love is a love that has been brought to its intended goal.
II. Perfected Love Produces Present Assurance (verses 12-16)
Our assurance is that if we “if we love one another [i.e. if God’s love is perfected in us], God abides in us.” Not only are we assured that God abides in us, but if His love is perfected in us, then we also know that “we abide in Him.” When we love one another, it gives evidence to the fact that we have the Holy Spirit. We do not love one another in order to gain the Spirit, but rather it is the Spirit dwelling in us who produces a love for God and for one another. It is the Holy Spirit, also, who convinces us of the truth and hope of the gospel.
III. Perfected Love Produced Future Confidence (verses 17-21)
At His return, Christ will come in flaming skies and all nations will be gathered before His throne. As Jude puts it, “The Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 14-15). The sword of justice will be unsheathed and satisfied in the eternal destruction of all unbelievers. In that day there will be terror, dread, phobia. Hell is where the fire is not quenched and all hope is vanquished (Revelation 6:14-17; 20:11-15).
But the perfected love of God in us gives us future confidence even in that day! It assures us that Christ is our refuge and we have no need to fear death or condemnation. We will be hidden in Him, and will be revealed together with him in glory (Colossians 3:4).
Consider the words of the hymn:
When wicked men His wrath shall see, Where shall you be?
And to the rocks and mountains flee, shall you be?
When hills and mountains flee away, Where shall you be?
When all the works of man decay, Where shall you be?
When all the saints redeemed shall stand, Where shall you be?
Forever blest at God’s right hand, Where shall you be?