1 John 4: 13-16 - He has given us of his Spirit
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By this we know that we abide in him and he in us because he has given us of his Spirit. 1 John 4:13.
Before he came to theological college to train for ordination, Yakubu* spent several years as an evangelist in an area that had very few Christians. His task was to preach the gospel among the population, in the marketplaces and outlying settlements. It was hard work and Yakubu often walked long distances to reach the villages. However, his preaching met with little success. People were resistant to the message about Jesus. Eventually, the time came for Yakubu to leave and start his theological training. Thinking that his work had been in vain, Yakubu was packing up with a heavy heart when he looked up and saw a delegation of tribal elders standing at the door. “We have come to ask you to stay with us,” they explained. Yakubu looked puzzled. “But you have not accepted the message about Jesus,” he replied. Looking earnest, they responded, “We don’t want you to go because we have seen Jesus in your love for us and now, we have decided that we want to know him.” *name changed.
The evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit exhibited as love in Yakubu’s life pointed the people to his relationship with Jesus. It was so powerful that they felt that they had met Jesus through Yakubu. Calvin explains that through the Spirit, “God is so united to us by faith and love, that he really dwells in us and renders himself in a manner visible by the effect of his power” (p. 243).
In this section, John reminds the church that the reason they can be sure that they are abiding in God and he in them is because they have the Spirit of God (v.13). This is not anything of their own doing, it is the gift of God in his grace, bringing them into fellowship with him and one another and enabling them to display love.
He reminds them that this kind of love is not a feeling, such as we think of human love. Rather, it is a sacrificial love that is based on historical truth (v.14). That truth is that God sent his only Son to save the world from sin and restore us to right relationship with him. He reminds them that the Apostles were eyewitnesses of this (1 John 1:1-3). They lived with Jesus, heard him, saw his miracles, touched him, and witnessed his crucifixion and resurrection. The love of God for the world is real because the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of God, is a historical truth.
There is, therefore, an objective basis for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. It is based in the confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (v.15; 1 John 4:2). This is the doctrine of the incarnation, that the Son of God took on human flesh and suffered and died on our behalf without in any way undermining his divinity. He alone is able to save completely (Heb. 7:25) and bring us back into fellowship with God.
The truth, therefore, brings assurance. Through the Spirit, believers have both head and heart knowledge of the love of God (v.16). We know that God is love and that love is the primary characteristic of those who abide in him.
Let us put our hearts at rest today. We can be certain of God’s love for us because of the internal witness of the Spirit to the truth that God sent his Son to save us and our experience of the love of God in our hearts that bears fruit in our love for others.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth (John 15:13).
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth and sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts. Help us, this day, to abide in you in the power of the Spirit, to be confident in your love that is manifest to us in the sending of your Son into the world and to display your love in the way we love others.
We ask this in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
At the beginning of July, the United Kingdom Parliament debated a proposal which would have allowed abortion up to birth. Thank God that the proposal was withdrawn, and that many MP's spoke against it.
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