1 John 4:7-8, “7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Has the gospel changed you? That’s a question the Apostle John wants his readers to ask themselves. Throughout 1 John, the apostle testifies to various truths of the gospel and the subsequent changes it has on our lives. The gospel is more than just something we believe in when we come to faith in Christ. It’s more than a truth we assent to. The gospel of Jesus’ saving grace for us in his life, death, and resurrection, does something to us; it changes us. Because we are united to Christ by faith and have the Holy Spirit living within us, we are no longer the same. We are transformed. And one of the ways the gospel transforms us is in our love for one another.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
Four Truths from 1 John 4:7-8
Love is from God: Love originates in our Triune God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have lived together in perfect and mutual love, joy, honor, and unity, from all eternity past (John 17:24). Jesus prayed in John 17 that those who believe in him would share in that love, “I have made known them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them”(John 17:26). We are united to Christ through faith and now share in the love of the Triune God. What an amazing thing to consider! The same love the God-head has for each other is in us!
Love is a fruit: The love we have for others does not originate in us. Rather, our love is a fruit, a consequence, of being born of God. When the Spirit awakens our dead hearts and breathes in us the breath of life so that we know God and have faith in Christ, we are born of God. If someone has not been born of God and changed by the gospel, he cannot truly love others. This means the love we have for one another is an evidence of God at work within us. When people see our love, they will know we are Christians. As Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
God is Love: To know God is to know his love. Love is such an integral part of his character that all he does is out of love; he always seeks the best of others. The Apostle Paul clearly described what God’s love looks like in 1 Corinthians 13. Sometimes this statement in 1 John, “God is love,” can be misread as love and God are the same things. God is not only love. He has other characteristics essential to who he is such as: holiness, truth, righteousness, mercy, wisdom, and justice. The ultimate act of God’s love was seen on the cross where the Son of God gave his life as a ransom for many.
Let us love one another: Because love is a fruit of the gospel’s work in us, and because we have love and fellowship with God through our union with Christ, we ought to love one another. The love of God—the same love that sent his one and only Son into the world to live and die for us—is in us. It ought to overflow into our relationships with one another. We ought to love one another as God has loved us. We ought to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). We ought to serve one another, meet each other’s needs, walk with one another through suffering, encourage one another in the gospel, and spur one another forward in the faith.
Many of us wonder from time to time about our faith. We may wonder, are we truly God’s children? John makes it clear in this passage that one of the evidences of the gospel’s work in us is our love for one another. If we know God, we will love others. We can’t help but do so, for the love of God compels us.
The question remains, “Has the gospel changed you?”