Meditations in 1 John : 58 : The Love Flow
1 John 5:1-2 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.
Verses 1 to 5 start and finish with belief in Jesus, that he is the Christ and that he is the Son of God. ‘Belief’ for John is not merely acknowledging some truth but committing your life to it, so someone who gives casual assent to the truth about Jesus hasn’t actually believed it because when you do genuinely believe that Jesus is the Christ, the One sent by God to die for our sins, we will bow before God and be born again.
But it may be that there are people who say, “Oh, I believe in Jesus but I haven’t been born again.” Well belief and being born again are the two sides of the equation and you don’t have one without the other. If you genuinely belief and have been convicted by this truth, you will come to a place of acknowledgement that you need Jesus as your saviour and will confess it and surrender to God. When you genuinely do that you will have an encounter with God and God will place His Holy Spirit within you and you will be in Jesus’ words (Jn 3:3-8) ‘born again’, you will be given a new Spirit-empowered life. This is the clear teaching of the New Testament and it doesn’t matter what anyone claims about their life, unless they have surrendered to God and trusted in the finished work of Christ on the Cross, and received His Holy Spirit, you are not what the New Testament calls a Christian.
Now earlier (4:7) John had written, “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God,” and we considered similar things then: when you have genuine love as we have defined it previously, an unrestrained, self-sacrificial desire for the well-being of others, that can only come by encounter with God and being born again so it is the Spirit of love, the Holy Spirit, who lives that love in us. That in itself is a sign of being born again. Subtly John is again and again pointing out the characteristics or marks of true believers, true Christians, because he lived in a time, we saw previously, where there were those who “went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.” (2:19) Then, as now, and as there has always been, were those who purported to be believers but the marks of a true believer were missing. John is concerned, and has already expressed it a number of times, that we be discerning and recognize who is and who isn’t a true believer, and to do that we look for the marks of a person having been born again. Some parts of the church today may play this down but it is as important now as it was in John’s day.
But of course, as we saw in the previous meditation, John is still talking about love and so now he adds, “everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.” He has appealed to us to love one another (and because we saw that again in the previous study we won’t repeat the verses here) and so really all he is doing here is to give us yet another reason why we WILL love one another if we are true believers. If we do truly love God our heavenly Father, then we must love the other members of His family as well – because He does. We won’t simply do it because we’re told to, but if we are truly submitted to Him and allowing His Spirit to flow in and through us, then we will do it naturally, as His Spirit loves through us for, as we’ve seen, God is love.
John is utterly persistent in this and so he hammers it home: “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.” He turns it right round. You’re not quite sure how to love other believers? Right, you start by loving God. You do that? Very well an expression of that love is obeying what the Father says. John covered that early on in the letter: “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.” (1 Jn 2:3) and then “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them.” (1 Jn 3:24) Obedience is an expression of love. Now if you are obedient to God then a) you will obey His commands to love one another and b) you will obey the prompting of His Holy Spirit within you as He seeks to reach out to others and love them through you. When you do thee two things you will be loving other believers.
However, as we’ve commented before, when you look and listen to what goes on in the Christian world, it does make you doubt the state of people when you hear criticisms and judgmental talk of other believers, when there is acrimonious disharmony in church meetings and when there are acrimonious splits and divisions. These things should not be and John has hammered in the nails of the coffin of this sort of thing. Don’t ever be a part of such things.