First John 4.10



1.   Turn to Romans 3.24-26.  When you find that passage, read along with me:

24     Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 

25     Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

26     To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”


2.   If you were here last week, you will remember that I dealt with this concept found in the Bible called “propitiation.”  I mentioned that “propitiation” was the means whereby God could justify sinners while being just.  If “propitiation” refers to that which serves to render favorable, then it is important to recognize how “propitiation” and “justification” compliment each other in the plan and purpose of God.

3.   God is just and righteous.  Righteousness and justice require that penalties for sin be meted out, that the one who is the offender pay the penalty for his crimes.  Propitiation, on the other hand, speaks to that which satisfies God’s righteous and just demands that sin be punished.

4.   So, when we speak of justification, whereby God pronounces the sinner righteous in the sight of God because he receives the benefit of someone else’s righteousness, propitiation is that satisfaction that God righteously demands and righteously deserves because the penalty for sins has been paid . . . by someone.

5.   The sorrowful sinner, acknowledging his sin to God and trusting Jesus as His substitutionary sacrifice for sin, relying on Jesus as the propitiation for his sins to God, is both forgiven and is given the standing of a righteous man because Jesus has paid the penalty for him.  “The just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God,” is how Peter describes it in First Peter 3.18.

6.   But notice that our examination of justification and propitiation last week centered on the righteousness and justice of God.  To put it another way, last week we focused on what God had to have in order to justify sinners; what demands God’s nature insisted upon in order to declare sinners just in His sight, without violating His nature, without being inconsistent with Who and what He is.

7.   So you see, the reason for the Lord Jesus Christ’s brutal crucifixion on Calvary’s rugged and cruel cross was to suffer the wrath of God for sins, so that He might be the propitiation that God the Father required to acquit sinners and forgive them.  Someone had to pay for sins, so Jesus paid for the sins of all believers.

8.   The question that remains is Why?  We will address that question after brother Isenberger comes to lead us.  Please stand at this time. 


1.   My text for this morning is First John 4.10.  But do not turn there right away.  Allow me to make several comments about several stops in First John along the way.

2.   There are several very important themes that run through this first of John’s epistles.  I would like to direct your attention to one that surfaces in chapter two and continues throughout the epistle.  So, looking at a number of verses on our way to First John 4.10, let me read and comment on several passages.

3.   The important theme I speak of is love, one of the most pivotal themes found anywhere in God’s Word.  I direct your attention first to First John 2.3-5:

3      And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

4      He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

5      But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 

4.   What better place to begin with the subject of love than with “the love of God perfected.”  Those John was writing to were troubled about several things, and were not mature in their love for God.  Here John reminds them that their love for God is perfected, is matured, by their obedience to Him.  So many professing Christians think that when they love God more perfectly they will then serve Him.  But John shows here that it is the other way around.  If you keep His commandments, if you “keep his word,” your love for God will be perfected and your personal assurance of salvation will also be strengthened.  So, obedience precedes the perfection of your love for God, rather than following it.  Jesus said, in John 10.27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  How very important obedience is.  It matures a Christian’s love.

5.   First John 2.15 comes next:  “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

6.   One should not think that immature and erring Christians do not love.  They do love, though their love is wrong-headed, tending to think that real love is always inclusive.  But the verse I have just read shows that real love is somewhat exclusive in certain respects.  There are things you cannot love and at the same time love God.  You cannot love the world and the things that are in the world and have the love of the Father in you.

7.   Switching from the Christian’s love for God and the warning that the Christian should not love the world, we now have introduced to us the love the Father has bestowed upon those of us who are believers.  First John 3.1 reads, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”

8.   How inconsistent it is for the professing Christian to love the world, what with the world not knowing us, and considering the world’s antagonism toward God, Who we love with less devotion than we should.  Consider the essence and the quality of the Father’s love bestowed upon us.  We are the sons of God!

9.   So, first there was our love for God.  Next, there was our love for the world, which should not be.  How wrong it is to love that which is so opposed to the plan and purpose of God, so antagonistic toward God.  Then, there was God’s love for us.  Now, in First John 3.11, mention is made of a Christian’s love for other Christians:  “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”

10. Throughout the rest of First John chapter 3 the theme of love is pursued.  Read along with me:

14     We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.  He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

16     Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

17     But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

18     My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

23     And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 

11. Life, spiritual life, is shown by our love for one another.  Love is shown by our sacrifice for others.  Love is shown more by deeds than by words.  It is also asserted that faith in Jesus Christ and love for one another is a matched set.  If the one commodity is present it is because the other is present.  If the one is absent, say faith, the other, love, will invariably show up missing, as well.  And this is no surprise, since Jesus said, in John 13.35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

12. Moving on to First John chapter 4, where love is mentioned 19 times in 21 verses, we begin with the first occurrence of the word “love,” verse 7, and read down through verse 10:

7      Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

8      He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

9      In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10     Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 

13. Again, we see the relationship that exists between love for one another and really having genuine spiritual life.  If you do not love other Christians you do not know God.  Why?  God is love.  Not that God loves, though He certainly does love.  But God is love!

14. Since we do not have the time to address each mention of love in First John, let me finally direct your attention to our text, verse 10.  Please stand and read along silently while I read aloud:  “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

15. Four comments upon reflection about our text: 


1B.    John, the man God used to record the words of Jesus in John 3.16, “For God so loved the world,” writes here concerning God, “he loved us.”  Have you ever wondered why God loves us?  Ever think about where that love comes from?

2B.    Let me tell you where God’s love does not come from.  It does not come from you . . . or me.  There is nothing in you or in me that is in any way lovely, that in any way commends us to God.  Quite the contrary.  Because of our sinfulness, because of our depravity, because of our weakness, because there is nothing deserving of love in any of us, God’s love does not arise from anything you or I possess.  We have no qualities or attainments that are lovable to God.

3B.    Paul recognized that in his flesh dwelt no good thing.[1]  Job saw himself as God saw him, and abhorred himself.[2]  Yet, there was nothing about either of these men that was worse than other men.  Indeed, the scriptural record reveals that they were far better than most men.  But they were, nevertheless, unlovely in the sight of God in and in their own sight.

4B.    Job 15.16 describes man as being filthy, and drinking iniquity like water.  Psalm 14.3 and 53.3 make the observation that all men are filthy and that not a one of us does good.  So you see, since God is holy and man is sinful and wicked, there is nothing in and of ourselves that would persuade God to love us.  Yet He does love us! 


1B.    If God’s love for us does not come from within us, has nothing to do with our deeds or any inherent goodness that we have (because we don’t have any inherent goodness to commend us to God), then it has to come from God, Himself.  And this stands to reason, because John twice tells us that “God is love,” in First John 4.8 and in First John 4.16.

2B.    But what does it mean, “God is love”?  It means that love is one of God’s attributes.  It is one of those components of His being that makes Him Who He is.  Just as God is holy, and if He were not holy He would not be God, and just as He is sovereign, and apart from being sovereign He would not be God, so He is love.  Love, then, is not only what God does (and He does love very well), it is also what He is.

3B.    So, because God is love He, therefore, chooses creatures of His making to be the objects of His love.  For example:  He does not love Satan, yet Satan is a creature of His making.  But He does love you, and He has expressed that love toward you in a myriad of ways throughout the course of your life, from the sun shining to give you warmth, to the air that fills your lungs with oxygen, to all of the other blessings of life that you are experiencing right now.

4B.    Of course, some of you may be thinking that God does not show any particular love to you, because certain discomforts have befallen you and you are suffering some profound heartaches.  But I would remind you that such things are no indication that God does not love you.

1C.   Joseph’s rejection by his brothers, and his slavery and imprisonment in Egypt, were no direct indication that God did not love him, but we know that God did profoundly love him.

2C.   What about Daniel?  Taken into Babylonian captivity, being in the charge of eunuchs almost certainly because he was made a eunuch himself, persecuted and oppressed for no other reason than his love and commitment to God, can anyone deny that Daniel was one of God’s most beloved children?

3C.   We could look at the hardships of Ruth, the martyrdom of John the Baptist, the terrible sufferings of John and Paul and Peter and the rest of the apostles on their way to martyrdom.  Then there is that most famous of all sufferers, Job.

4C.   Yet, my friends, in each instance there is proof aplenty in God’s Word that shows each one mentioned to be one of God’s choicest, most favorite, and most beloved children.

5B.    What we refer to as life is a vastly more complicated affair than we will ever realize.  That being the case, the ups and downs of life, the hurts and aches, the trials and temptations, the mountain tops and valleys that are a part of each person’s life should never be used to evaluate whether or not God loves you.  He does love you.  He loves you more than you will ever know.  If the truth be known, the knocks that each of us suffers in this life are as much the result of God’s love for us as anything else.

6B.    Look beyond your limited sphere of reference to evaluate the reality of God’s love for you.  Look beyond what you see and feel and hear and taste and smell.  Look beyond the pathetic comparisons that are made between your experiences and the experiences of others.  As Paul wrote in Second Corinthians 10.12, “they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”  Be a wiser man or woman.

7B.    Come to realize that what is important is what God says . . . and what God does.  So, what does God say?  He speaks to us in His Word.  First John 4.10 tells me, “he loved us.”  What is the reason for God’s love?  I know that the reason for His love lies not within me.  I know that the reason for His love lies within His Own bosom.  Beyond that, I do not know why God loves me.  I am just so very glad that He does. 


1B.    My friends, it is one thing to tell someone you love her.  It is quite another thing to show your love.  I have always wondered why men are so oftentimes reluctant to tell their wives that they love them.  Foolish, in my opinion.  Have you noticed how willing a guy is to tell his girlfriend that he loves her, but once he marries her he becomes reluctant to tell her he loves her?

2B.    God not only tell us in His Word that He loves us, but He also shows His love in a million different ways.  Although He shows us in a variety of ways that He loves us, there is no way more compelling, more profound, or more costly, than by sending His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

3B.    It should be thought rather unremarkable, in the grand scheme of things, when all things are considered, to love God.  Think about it.  What has God done for you?  How has He blessed you?  Who would not love someone who has done so much for you as God has done?  Not to mention that He is terrible in majesty, glorious beyond comprehension, possessing the most perfect of all perfections.  God is lovely.  It is, therefore, only right and proper and reasonable to love God.  Anyone who does not love God is irrational and unreasonable, and very wicked.

4B.    But what about God’s love for us?  His love for us is so profound, with such depth and nobility, that He sent His Own Son to be punished for our sins.  Consider that for a moment.  Romans 5.8 declares, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Then there is Romans 8.32:  “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”  What Paul means by this is, what will God withhold from someone He has already given His Son for?

5B.    No wonder Paul exulted in Romans 8.38-39.  Please turn there and read along with me.

38     For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39     Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

6B.    Paul begins verse 38, “For I am persuaded.”  In other words, something convinced Paul.  Somehow, it was proven to him, in an undeniable way, that God loved us so much (“shall be able to separate us” he writes in verse 39) that both our safety and our security are assured. What persuaded him?  I am convinced that what persuaded him is what John declared was God’s ultimate demonstration of love, sending His Son to suffer and bleed and die on Calvary’s cross. 


1B.    As touched on briefly before, we saw last week that God’s justice demanded that the Lord Jesus Christ be the propitiation for our sins, to declare His righteousness.  Though God’s righteousness demanded satisfaction so that Jesus could be the atoning Substitute for our sins, showing us what was demanded by God to justify sinners, there remained the question of why.  Why would God want to offer up His Son, His Own Son?  Why would He put Him through the agonies of the garden, the injustices of the trials before Caiaphas, the high priest, Pilate, the Roman governor, and Herod?  And especially, why would God pour out His wrath on His sinless and undefiled Son?

2B.    The answer, my friends, is love.  Propitiation is all about satisfaction, meeting the demands, paying what is due, fulfilling righteousness.  If justice ordered the way in which propitiation was provided, love was the motive behind it all.  That love was God’s love.  How powerful was God’s love toward us?  How powerful must God’s love be to send His Son through the agony of the cross, the humiliation of the cross, the torture of the cross?  Yet it was not God’s love for His Son that sent Jesus to the cross to satisfy God’s demands for payment, but God’s love for us. 


1.   Consider this, my friend.  God the Father loves you so deeply, so profoundly, so perfectly, so surpassingly, so sacrificially, that He was willing to not only send His Own Son to the cross, but at the cross to pour out His own full bowl of wrath and fury upon His Son to pay the high price for punishing sin.

2.   Do you think your sins, which so overwhelm you that they will drag your soul into Hell, cannot in turn be overwhelmed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ?  Would God put His Son through all that to come up empty-handed?

3.   Would God’s love for you, and would His love for His Own Son, exercise such futility that after the cross of Christ your saving and keeping could not be guaranteed?

4.   When love makes such demands as God’s love has made, when love pays so high a price as God’s love has paid, when love causes such pain as God’s love for you has caused His beloved Son, do you honestly think failure will be tolerated?

5.   Stop believing the lies.  Stop deceiving yourself.  Stop avoiding the truth.  With such undeniable proof of God’s love for you as the death of Christ provides, there can be no doubt that should you respond to God’s love in Christ by coming to Jesus, He will surely save you and keep you.

6.   Has the Law of God not made you tremble?  Has the righteousness of God not convinced you of the necessity?  Then perhaps the love of God will melt your heart.  Come now to the risen Savior, Who was moved by His Father’s love to suffer and bleed and die for your sins.  Come now to Jesus and find forgiveness of your sins and peace with God.

[1] Romans 7.18

[2] Job 42.6

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