Impartial Grace: 1 John 4

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God. He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love. By this God’s love was revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love has been perfected in us.

By this we know that we remain in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God. We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother.

(1 John 4:7-21, emphasis added)

There is much to be gleaned from this chapter from God’s Holy Word. Foremost and doubtless is the precept that God is love. We, as believers, should, at least, love all other believers with the kind of love that the Father has for us. His love is an agape love. We should always pray for others, even those who may not know Him. We should always have their interests above our own. After all the Father set aside His best interest when He created each of us and then He gave the life of His Son, Christ Jesus, for the atonement for our sin.

Scholars often conclude from verses of this chapter that God only loves those who believe in Christ Jesus. But is that the truth? God’s love is pure. His love is not tainted with fleshly concerns.

He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love.

(1 John 4:8, emphasis added)

It takes an honest personal assessment of ourselves to confirm that we know God in the same way He loves His creation. Without love we cannot know God, “…God is love.” Something less than love cannot know God. I have been honest with myself and my assessment of myself with regard to love is bleak. I miss the target badly. Without the corrective force of God’s love I could never know Him. Without the corrective force of God’s love Paul would have carried out terror on “The Way.” God’s love is manifested in Christ Jesus. He is the corrective force applied to His creation. “…Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father.” The corrective force of Christ’s presence will bring about repentance even repentance by wretched men like Paul, like me. We live with Christ in us. We live with the love of God in us! Why?

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

(1 John 4:10, emphasis added)

Christ Jesus is God’s love. Christ Jesus is God’s Judgment! Christ Jesus loved us before we ever knew Him. He created us from before the foundation of the world. He loves us the moment He creates us. He loves us through all that is good and through all that is not. He loves us through trials. He tests us to fortify His love in us. Christ Jesus so loved the world that He gave His life as the Holy and Final atonement for the sin of the whole world. Who in His creation can be excluded from His love? The doctrine of universal reconciliation preaches no person can forever reject Christ. Christ’s love overcomes the world. His power is not of this world. The corrective force of His love changes the hearts of all men.

Because God’s love is within us we should love one another. We should love even our enemies. We should give them food to eat and living water to drink. We should consider our enemy our brother. “There is no love greater than the love of a brother who gives his life for another.” When we love one another the power of God lives in us and His power sustains us. There is nothing to fear in love. He lives in us and we need not fear in His love. The world cannot overcome us. Jesus is the Son of God. One day every person will be judged. Until that day we live in this world, but we should not fear our life in it.

We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world.

(1 John 4:14, emphasis added)

We are admonished in this letter written by John to seek the Holy Spirit and test everything being learned to confirm “they are from God….” There are people in every corner of the world making claims to have supernatural power and authority. There are men and women bearing theological doctorates and professional standing espousing doctrines that are questionable, at least, false doctrine, at worst. They teach us spiritual things and we accept what they teach without questioning them or even questioning their motives.

We are warned that false prophets are in the world. They are many. Their intent is not Truth, but something far less than that. John describes how we can discern the true from the false. He tells us to test them, challenge them to prove they are from God. John encourages us to be confident in our position in Christ Jesus. The Light of Christ within us overcomes the darkness of the world. His Power in us is living and courageous. It is greater Power than any other in the world.

Our hearts are not in this world even though we live in it for a short time. John understands not everyone is going to listen to what he and the others are preaching. Those who listen have the Spirit of God within them. Those who do not listen have fear and terror in Its place.

We love him,because he first loved us.

(1 John 4:19, emphasis added)

God loves all. John writes that we lie when we say “I love God,” but hate our brother. It is not congruent. God is love and in us. God in us does not hate. God from His Throne does not hate. Any man saying he loves God must also love his brother.

Universal reconciliation embraces these verses to be literally true. Other doctrines, particularly the doctrine of eternal conscious torment, require God’s love be only partial. Those doctrines declare God must possess a vengeful wrath that hates His children. They claim God must maintain tormenting fires that punish the rebellious creation for eternity.

Universal reconciliation teaches God is love and He will be “all in all.” Christ Jesus lovingly obeyed His Father. To His glory the whole of creation is subjected to Him. He in turn subjects all to the Father. God is all in all. This is Impartial Grace.