2394. Love’s Climax

by on

No. 2394-41:1. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, January 30, 1887, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, January 6, 1895.

Here is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. {1Jo 4:10}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1707, “Herein is Love” 1708}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2394, “Love’s Climax” 2395}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2448, “Herein is Love” 2449}
   Exposition on 1Jo 4 Php 4:1-9 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2394, “Love’s Climax” 2395 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on 1Jo 4:9-21 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2256, “Daniel’s Band” 2257 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on 1Jo 4 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2383, “Seeing and Testifying” 2384 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on 1Jo 4 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2730, “Secret of Love For God, The” 2731 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ac 25; 26; 1Jo 4 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3153, “Paul Cheered in Prison by His Lord” 3154 @@ "Exposition"}

1. To find love, you need to send a lover; one whose soul is full of love is the most likely to discover it. John, with love in his heart, soars aloft, and using his eagle eye, looks over all history, and all space, and at last he poises himself over one place, for he has found what he was looking for, and he says, “Here* is love.” There is love in a thousand places, like the scattered drops of spray on the leaves of the forest; but as for the ocean, that is in one place, and when we reach it, we say, “Here is water.” There is love in many places, like wandering beams of light; but as for the sun, it is in one part of the heavens, and as we look at it, we say, “Here is light.” So, “Here,” said the apostle, as he looked toward the Lord Jehovah himself, “Here is love.” He did not point to his own heart, and say, “Here is love,” for that was only a little pool filled from the great sea of love, he did not look at the Church of God, and say of all the myriads who did not count their lives dear to them, “Here is love,” for their love was only the reflected brightness of the great sun of love; but he looked to God the Father, in the splendour of his condescension in giving his only Son to die for us, and he said “Here is love,” as if all love were here, love at its utmost height, love at its climax, love outdoing itself: “Here is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

2. I have no time for an elaborate discourse, and I have no desire to preach in such a way; but I want to get at your hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. There seems to me to be four things in the text, each of which tends to bring out the greatness of divine love. First, here is, love for the loveless:“ Here is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” Secondly, here is, love for the sinful:“ God loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Thirdly, here is, love providing a propitiation, not passing by sin without atonement, but making a propitiation for sin. And, lastly, here is, love surrendering the Only-Begotten:“ God loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

3. I. First, then, dear friends, so that we may see the love of God in its fulness, I invite you to think of his LOVE FOR THE LOVELESS: “Here is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.”

4. Now, if man had loved God, God would not have had to love man. If all of us from our earliest childhood had loved our God, it would have somewhat lessened the wonder that he should love us. I can understand that we should marvel at God’s loving us, even if we had always loved him, for we are so insignificant that what little love we can give to him can never deserve that he should fix his heart of love on us. If an ant were in love with an angel, it would not therefore follow that the angel ought to be in love with the ant; yet there is no difference between an ant and an angel compared with the difference between us and God. We are just nothing, and he is all in all.

5. Yet I admit that, if from our youth up we had always loved God, it would not have seemed so extraordinary a thing, knowing what we do about God, that he should have loved us; but this is the startling word in our text: “Not that we loved God.” There is a negative put there, and the positive assertion is that God did love us, even though there is also the negative that we did not love him. It is very easy for us to love those who love us. It is hard, sometimes, to love those who do not love us, especially if they are under great obligation to us; and I am sure that was our case with regard to God. We were deeply in debt to him, and we ought to have loved him with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength; but we did nothing of the kind, yet, notwithstanding all that, he loved us. While we were his enemies, he loved us, and sent his Son to save us.

6. Furthermore, let me remark that, when man does love God, it is no very great wonder. If you and I do love God, — and I hope that we do, — if we do love him with all the fervour of which our hearts are capable, is there anything, after all, very extraordinary in such affection? Why, brethren, not to love the Lord our God, is detestable! To love him is, in one sense, commendable; but yet it can never be considered meritorious. Who can help loving a kind father who has cared for him all his days? Who can help loving one who has saved him from death? Who can help loving one who has laid down his life for him? Surely, if we are in a right state of heart, we cannot help loving God because he first loved us. When we do love him, it is not at all amazing; it would be little enough return for the great love with which he has loved us if we gave to him all the love that we can ever bestow on anyone.

    Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all!

and, if God’s love gets all that it demands, it is even then only a poor return that we have made for love so magnificent as his.

7. But, beloved, I have been only supposing something, which is not true, for I have been supposing that we loved God. The fact is otherwise, according to the text, for the apostle says, “Not that we loved God.” Let us think a little of that terrible fact; I do not want to preach to you, but I do wish you to preach to yourselves, or rather, that the Holy Spirit may preach to you from this passage: “Not that we loved God.” For many a year we were indifferent to God. He came across our path in many ways; but we did not want to see him, or to hear about him. Some of us were favoured by a godly training; yet we did our best to miss the blessing of it. We tried, as men say, to “sow our wild oats.” We did not care to do what God would have us do, we were totally indifferent to his claims; yet now, with the tears in our eyes, we can truthfully say that, “He loved us.” We know that the Lord loved us even when we were indifferent to him.

8. Worse than that, there were some who were even insulting to God. I mean that they spoke bad words about him, and about his grace, his day, his people, his cause, his Word. Some spoke very proudly, and exalted themselves against the Lord; yet he loved them. Oh, how it wrings the heart of a penitent sinner to think that God loved him when he was a blasphemer, loved him when he imprecated a curse on himself, loved him when God himself could not see anything in him that was lovable, loved him when there was not a spot of merit as big as a pin’s point on which love could have rested if it had needed to rest on merit at all! Oh, wonder of wonders! “Here is love, not that we loved God,” but that we were indifferent to him, and some even insulting to him.

9. And oh, what rebellion against God there was in some of our hearts! How we kicked and struggled against the idea of yielding to him! Are there not numbers of you who never think of God at all? You go to your daily work, or to your business, and God is not in all your thoughts. If there were no God, it would make no difference to some of you, except that you would feel a little more comfortable, and you would then be glad that there would be no judgment day. But, oh sirs, this is a sad, a miserable state to be in! If there were no hereafter, and I had to die like a dog, I would choose to love my God, for I find a peace, a strength, a joy in it that makes life worth the living; but there is nothing here on earth that is worth a man’s pursuit except his God. If he once knew the love of God, life would wear sunbeams about it; but apart from that it is a drudgery. To the unbeliever, existence in this world is a horrible slavery.

10. But, brethren, it is very amazing that God should love us when we try our hardest to be rid of him, when we are at enmity against him, when we are opposed even to his love, and will not listen to the gospel of his grace. Yet so he did, he loved us even in this condition. Perhaps some of you do not feel that there is anything very remarkable in this love of the Lord for the loveless. I should like you to try if you could love someone who has nothing about him that is at all lovable. I hope, dear Christian people, that you do this; but if you learn to love the wicked, the ungodly, the injurious, the deceivers, if you even love those who vilify you, those who slander you every day, those who despise you and deride you, and those who are ungrateful to you, if you do this, then you will get into some kind of sympathy with God, and you will begin to understand a little of what his great love must be. But there are some men who will never know what such an experience as that is until God’s grace renews them, for if anyone says half a word against them, their fist is soon in his eye; if anyone does them the slightest injury, they will remember it and resent it as long as they ever live. Indeed, and I am afraid that there are some who call themselves Christians, who are of this spirit, and will not forgive. I heard of a man who was driving a coach, and who was beating one of the horses, but he never hit the other; and someone on the box said to him, “Why do not you whip the other horse?” “Oh!” he answered, “I never touch him, for if I did, when I put him up at night, he would kick me like a Christian.” When I heard that, I supposed that there must be some so-called Christians who know how to kick when they feel a crack of the whip; and I am afraid that there are. But, if you can forgive to seventy times seven, and still continue to forgive, even then you have only done what you ought to do, for this is what the Lord Jesus commanded his disciples to do; and this is what God did, though he was under no obligation to do anything of the kind. Instead of bearing any resentment, he was full of almighty love; and there are some here tonight who, as they remember the years in which they lived without loving God, must feel that “here is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.”

11. II. But now, secondly, it greatly enhances the love of God that it is LOVE FOR THE SINFUL.

12. Remember that all sins are offences against God. Yet it is clear, from our text, that the Lord loves those who have offended against him. There are multitudes who have lived a life full of opposition to God, yet he has loved them all the while, and saved them after all.

13. Remember, too, that God has a very keen appreciation of what sin is. It shocks him, it disgusts him, he cannot bear it. He calls it, “this abominable thing which I hate.” You and I are often callous to sin; but God abhors it, his holy soul is stirred to indignation against it. Yet notwithstanding that, —

    God loved the world of sinners lost
       And ruined by the Fall;

and sent his Son into the world to deliver men from sin, the sin which he loathed and hated, for he determined to save them from the sin itself, and from all its terrible results. Well might the hymn writer I just quoted go on to sing, —

    Oh, ’twas love, ’twas wondrous love,
       The love of God to me!
    It brought my Saviour from above,
       To die on Calvary.

14. Do not forget, also, that many sins are committed especially against God’s love; that is to say, there are some who even dare to sin all the more because God is merciful. There are, no doubt, many who have become hardened in their lives of sin, — though it is a shocking thing that it should be so, — by the very fact that they believe God is ready to forgive them. If such is the condition of your hearts, my hearers, let me assure you that it has also been the case with many others, and yet notwithstanding such an enormity of guilt, they have been saved from their sins. Truly, “here is love.”

15. In the case of some people, these sins have been persisted in and aggravated. There are many whom God has loved with an everlasting love, and whom Christ has redeemed with his precious blood, who have lived twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy years, up to their necks in sin, and that against light and knowledge. Some have gone on sinning with a high hand more and more, yet almighty love has come in, and saved even them. Never let it be thought that any sinner is beyond the reach of divine mercy as long as he is in the land of the living. I stand here to preach illimitable love, unbounded grace, to the vilest of the vile, to those who have nothing in those who can deserve consideration from God, men who ought to be swept into the bottomless pit at once if justice meted out to them their just deserts. Even such sinners as these, in multitudes of cases, have been washed and made clean through the blood of Jesus Christ: “Here is love.”

16. I do not see how God ever could have shown his love to the same extent as it is now displayed if there had never been any sin in the world. I would not dare to say, as Augustine boldly did concerning Adam’s sin, “Beata culpa!” — “Happy fault!” — because it gave an opportunity for divine love to prove itself to an extraordinary degree; but I will say this, — if God had made ten thousand worlds, and lit them up with all his wisdom and power, I do not see how he could have revealed his matchless love even then as he displays it now in the fact that he has loved sinful men and women, and loved them so as to make them his sons and daughters, and bring them to dwell with him at his right hand through Jesus Christ his Son.

    He gave his Son, his only Son,
       To ransom rebel worms;
    ’Tis here he makes his goodness known
       In its diviner forms.

17. I have spoken to you, therefore, of two things that enhance God’s love; it is love for the loveless, and love for the sinful. I wish that some poor soul could creep in through the door of God’s mercy to which I have pointed, and get a part and lot in these precious matters.

18. III. But now, thirdly, one of the things that make God’s love seem very amazing is that it is LOVE PROVIDING A PROPITIATION.

19. I have heard it asked, “Why did God not just wipe out human sin, and say to the guilty, ‘There, there, you have done wrong, but I have forgiven you?’ ” Now, if he had done that, what inference would you have drawn from such action on his part? Certainly, you would not have been able to say, “Here is love,” in the sense in which you can now say it.

20. If the Lord had passed by sin like this, sin would have seemed little, and divine loves little. Many would have said, “Oh, well, sin was nothing very great, after all; it was an offence against God, and he blotted it out, and there is an end of it!” Is not everyone here quite certain that we should have spoken like that? We should have concluded that sin was a very trivial matter, nothing to worry about, or God would not have passed it by so readily. But, look, it was such an awful evil that he could not pass it by. In his wisdom, whose judgment is infallible, sin was not pardonable except through a propitiatory sacrifice. It was not possible that offences against the divine majesty should be wiped out without expiation. God was the best judge of that question; and now, when he says, “There must be a propitiation, but I will provide it; there must be an atonement, but I will arrange it,” “Here is love,” love seen at a greater height than it could have been seen in any other way.

21. Besides, dear friends, by any other method of removing sin, love would not have been seen so predominant over all other attributes. Suppose that the Lord had simply said, “Well, though these people have offended, I forgive them, and there is an end of the quarrel”; there could not have been exhibited that wondrous sight which we now see. In the death of Christ, the great Propitiation, we see divine wisdom planning the way, exercising itself to the full to devise a method by which God might be just, and yet “the Justifier of him who believes in Jesus.” Then we see divine justice coming in fully satisfied by the death of Christ, and bowing a glad assent to the pardon of the sinner, who is as justly forgiven as he would, on the other hand, have been righteously punished. In the vicarious atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, we see all the attributes of God sitting at the feet of love; all looking up and saying to love, “We will do your bidding, all of us will co-act and co-work until the whole Godhead shall be seen exerting its omniscience, and putting forth its omnipotence, in order that there might be a propitiation for sin.” “Here is love.”

22. Again, I do not see, dear friends, if God had pardoned us without expiation, how we ever could have felt the security of love that we feel now. I feel at this moment, — I do not know how every believer here feels, — but I feel that I am absolutely safe. I am a sinner; but there is no reason on earth, or under the earth, or in heaven itself, why I should be sent to hell. My sin has been forgiven me; but, what is much more than that, my Lord Jesus Christ has made such a complete atonement for all my guilt that it does not even exist as a charge against me. The debt is paid, and the receipt is nailed to his cross; and this gives me such perfect peace, such absolute rest, as I do not think I could have had if I had merely read in the Scriptures that God had passed by the sin without a propitiation. He has not passed by the sin, he has exacted the full penalty for it; but the penalty having been paid, the atonement having been offered, who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Our dead sins are buried, Christ himself has put them away, and they can never rise against us in judgment any more. Looking up to our Lord, we can say, with Toplady, —

    Complete atonement thou hast made,
    And to the utmost farthing paid
       Whate’er thy people owed:
    Nor can his wrath on me take place,
    If shelter’d in thy righteousness,
       And sprinkled with thy blood.

23. And once more, the stoop of love could never have seemed so great without expiation; for, see, if God had pardoned sin without atonement, he would have sat in the serene majesty of heaven, and we should have thought that sin was a trifling thing, altogether beneath his notice. But now he who made all things, and by whom all things consist, takes off the robes of his splendour, and comes down to earth. What can he be going to do? Blessed spirits, who have waited around his throne for ages, what is he doing? He is going to the earth to unite the nature of fallen humanity with his own perfect Deity. He who is God is also to be man. What a wonder! What a marvel! But there is something more extraordinary to follow. Being found in the form of a man, the time comes when man’s sin is laid on him. What! did he bear sin? Listen: “Who himself” — that is, Christ, whom angels worship, the incarnate Wisdom, without whom was not anything made that was made, — “who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’ ” Why, do you know, sometimes, when I am thinking about this wondrous stoop of love, I wish that I could jump into this pulpit immediately, and tell you what I feel about it? Sometimes, at the dead of night, I sit up in bed, lost in wonder at the amazing love of God in the gift of his dear Son. That I should commit a sin, and that God himself should bear its punishment; that my guilt should make a propitiation necessary, and that the Divine Son of God should suffer in my room, and place, and stead, that the necessary expiation should be made, this surely is the greatest wonder of earth or heaven. It is the greatest marvel that ever shall be, that he, wile is God over all, blessed for ever, yet stoops so low as this. I can understand his stooping to poverty, and being a carpenter; I can understand his stooping to hunger, and to thirst; I can understand his stooping even to death; but that he should bear our sins, this is the greatest stoop of all, and “here is love.” Oh blessed Lord Jesus, how must you have loved us when you did not disdain to bear even the enormous burden of our sin! Oh, that these lips had language, that I could tell this old, old story as my heart often tells it to herself! But I must leave each one of you to think it over, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, until you also feel, “Here is love,”

24. IV. The last thing on which I am to speak at this time is, LOVE SURRENDERING THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN.

25. I have shown you why God’s love excels all other loves, it is love for the loveless, love for the sinful, love providing a propitiation; now here is the climax of the love of God in giving up his only-begotten Son: “He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

26. You do not need for me to say much about this part of our subject. Will you kindly recall the story of Abraham and his son Isaac going to the mount in the land of Moriah? Put the Lord God and his well-beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the place of the patriarch and his son, and you can see the picture of the atonement drawn to the life before your eyes. You remember how the Lord said to Abraham, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will show you.” Jesus was God’s Son, his only-begotten Son, whom he loved more than any of you can ever love your sons or daughters, for the love of God towards him is ineffable, immeasurable. It is not possible for me to tell you how much God loved his Son; but that Son, who had always given him delight, in whom he was well pleased, that Son must endure shame, and agony, and death, if sinners were ever to be saved. How could the Father give up his Son for such a purpose? I have felt sometimes as if I could almost rush in, and say, “No; it must not be, the price is too high to be paid for the rescue of such worthless worms as we are.” Yet, to ransom any one of us, the Son of God must be sacrificed, and sacrificed, as it were, by his Father, for so is it written, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief.” So, there is one point of resemblance between the offering of Isaac and the propitiatory sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, it was the father who had to offer up his son whom he loved so dearly; but there are many more similarities between these two offerings.

27. In the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Genesis, we read that “Abraham rose up early in the morning.” God also rose early to make this great propitiation for our sins. In the everlasting covenant, before the earth ever was, he ordained the sacrifice which should tear his heart. God himself had done as Abraham did, when he split the wood for the burnt offering; that is, the Lord prepared everything for the coming, and the life, and the death of his Son. All that went before in the arrangements of providence was like the chopping of the wood, and the laying of it in order; even from eternity the great Father contemplated the sacrifice on Calvary, and went on with all that was necessary for its completion.

28. Then there was the lifting of the sacrificial knife: “Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to kill his son.” That lifting of the knife in the case of Jesus was, first, when in Gethsemane’s garden, the Father permitted his Son to sweat as it were great drops of blood, and next, when on the cross he allowed him to say, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This was the knife for the sacrificing of the Son. Then came the crushing of our Redeemer’s soul beneath the mass of human sin. The great upper and lower millstones of almighty wrath pressed and bruised the heart of the Son of God. Omnipotence exerted all its power to deal out the vengeance due to sin. It cried to justice to be stern, sterner even than ever: “Awake, oh sword”; not, “Let me use the sword,” but, “ ‘Awake, oh sword, against my shepherd, and against the man who is my companion’, says the Lord of hosts”; and into the very dust of death the well-beloved Son of God was crushed.

29. Remember also that touching little sentence about Abraham and Isaac: “Both of them went together.” This was true of Jesus and his Father, Jesus a willing sacrifice, and God as willingly surrendering his dear Son for our sakes. Never forget the Father’s love in giving up his Son. It used to be laid down in theology that God “has no feeling, neither parts nor passions.” Others may worship a dead, unfeeling God, if they wish; but I do not. The God whom I worship can feel far more than any of his creatures can; and what he felt when he gave up his Son to die, it is not for human lips to tell. This is among the things which it would be unlawful, and impossible, for a man to utter. Just what you would have felt if you had given your only son, just what you would have felt if you had been Abraham, and you had offered up your beloved Isaac, just that, multiplied by infinity, did the Eternal Father feel when he gave his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. “Here is love.” Rightly did we sing just now, —

    Oh love of God, how strong and true!
    Eternal, and yet ever new,
    Uncomprehended and unbought,
    Beyond all knowledge and all thought.
    We read thee best in him who came
    To bear for us the cross of shame;
    Sent by the Father from on high,
    Our life to live, our death to die.

When you get home, sit down, say nothing to anyone, but just try, if you can, to comprehend that God did actually give up his only-begotten Son that you might live through him. If you are a believer in that dear Son of God, and you do live through him, if he did bear your grief’s, and carry your sorrows, if he was wounded for your transgressions, and bruised for your iniquities, if he did put away all your sin, then fall down at his dear feet, and weep yourself away, no, rise, and sing yourself away; and when you have done that, come back again, and go out to work for him with all your might, and try to love your fellow men at something like the rate at which God loved you. You will never reach that climax of love; but aim at getting as near it as you can, and may God bless you in the effort!

30. It seems to me so sad that there should be anyone in the world who does not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and very sad that there should be any poor sinner here who does not lay hold on eternal life as it is presented in the gospel. You self-righteous people, you who never did any wrong, I do not expect you to take any notice of this discourse; you are so wretchedly wrapped up in yourselves that you care nothing for my blessed Master. You are like the self-made man, of whom I have heard, who used to adore his own maker, — his maker being himself; but you who are poor and needy, burdened with sin, and full of guilt, this is the God for you, this is the Christ for you, come and have him, come and trust him, and then sing with all of us who have believed in him, “Here is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

31. May his blessing rest on you all, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {1Jo 4 Php 4:1-9}

1. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

If John had need to say that in the early morning of Christianity, I am sure we ought to say it with greater emphasis today. It is certainly true in these days that “many false prophets are gone out into the world,” therefore we also must “try the spirits whether they are of God.”

2. Hereby know you the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

If the doctrine of the incarnation of God in Christ is denied, as it was by the first heretics, we may conclude that the Spirit of God is not in such teaching. Any doctrine which dishonours Christ, — whether in his person, or his offices, or his atonement, or in any other way, — you may at once conclude is not of God, for what comes from the Spirit of God glorifies Christ. Did not our Lord himself say, concerning the Holy Spirit, “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it to you?”

3. And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, of which you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

The devil is up early at his evil work; we may sleep, but he never does. This is that spirit of antichrist, of which “you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”

4. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them:

How? By argument? No; but —

4. Because greater is he who is in you, than he who is in the world.

If God’s own Spirit be in you, you need not fear any of these enemies “Greater is he who is in you, than he who is in the world.” If it were a conflict between you and others who had the Spirit of God within them, the conflict would be grievous, and the issue of it would be doubtful; but now that the struggle is between the Spirit of God who is in you and the spirit of error that is in the world, you need have no question about the ultimate result of the battle.

5, 6. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God: he who knows God hears us; he who is not of God hears not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

If apostolic teaching be denied, those who deny it are not of God, for the Spirit of God was in the apostles, as he is also in all the Lord’s true children. By this test we may try many of the spirits of the present day: “He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God hears not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

The apostle now gives us another infallible test by which we may “try the spirits.”

7, 8. Beloved, let us love each other: for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who loves not knows not God; for God is love.

Where there is the spirit of enmity, of envy, of pride, of contention, there is not the Spirit of God. What makes towards love, we may depend on it came forth from love; but what makes towards division, contention, emulation, and strife, is not of God, “for God is love.”

9-12. in this was revealed the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that some might live through him. Here* is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love each other. No man has seen God at any time. If we love each other, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us.

We cannot see God, but we can love God; and love, therefore, takes the place of eyes to us. When we love God, it is because he dwells in us. That is better than seeing him, — to have him resident within our spirit, although he is not discernible by these mortal eyes.

13-16. Hereby know we who we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he who dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.

These words are very simple, but the lesson they convey is a very deep one. Most of them are monosyllables; but, oh, what marvels of meaning the Holy Spirit enabled the apostle John to put into them!

17, 18. Here* is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment.

That is a servile fear, of course, for there is a fear which has no torment in it, that holy fear which even angels feel when they veil their faces in the presence of the Most high. There is no torment in that reverent awe; and the more we have of love towards God, the more of that filial fear shall we have; but that slavish dread, that awful terror which begets within itself dislike, cannot live where true love is planted within the soul:

    Perfect love casteth out fear.

18-20. He who fears is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a has: for he who loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can h love God whom he has not seen

God looked on us with an eye that saw all our sin and misery, yet he loved us; and he wants us to have a love which, while it sees all the imperfection and all the undesert in our fellow men, yet loves them notwithstanding all. If we do not love those whom we see, the apostle says that we do but lie when we talk of loving God whom we have not seen.

21. And this commandment have we from him, That he who loves God love his brother also.

Now let us read what another apostle has to say, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, on this subject of Christian love. Turn to Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, the fourth chapter.

1. Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

It is a great joy to a minister, as it was to the apostle Paul, to have converts; but that joy is greatly diminished when they do not stand fast: then, indeed, every supposed joy becomes a sorrow, and instead of the roses which yield a sweet perfume to the Lord’s servant, thorns begin to prick and wound his heart.

2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

Only two women, and we do not know who they were; yet Paul gives them a “beseech” each: “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.” If there are only two of the most obscure sisters in the church who are quarrelling, their differences ought to be brought to an end at once. There should be no disagreements among Christians, love should reign, peace should predominate. If there is anything contrary to such a state as that, God grant that it may soon be brought to an end!

3. And I entreat you also, true yoke-fellow help, those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life.

Brother, do all the good you can to help everyone else to do good. Help those whose names are in the book of life, even if they are not known anywhere else. Also help the “Clement” whose name is known; be sure to help him; indeed, help everyone. There is an office, in the Church of Christ, which we do not sufficiently recognise; but which ought to be abundantly filled. Paul mentions it in writing to the Corinthians. He says, “And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” It is the office of certain Christians to be “helps.” May we always have many such “helps” among us! Did you ever notice that, almost every time that Bartholomew is mentioned in Scripture, we read, “and Bartholomew?” He is never spoken of alone; but it is written, “Philip, and Bartholomew,” or “Bartholomew, and Matthew.” It is good to have some Bartholomews who are always helping someone else, so that, when there is any good work to be done, Bartholomew is always ready to share in it; for he shall also have a part in the reward at the last.

4. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

The very word “rejoice,” seems to imply a reduplication; it is joy, and re-joy, joy over again; but here, you see, it is a fourfold rejoicing; joy, and re-joy; and again I say, joy, and re-joy; and this is to be the Christian’s continual experience, for the apostle says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

5, 6. Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Have no care, but much prayer. Prayer is the cure for care. If you are in trouble, “Let your requests be made known,” not to your neighbours, but “to God.”

7, 8. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.

Be on the side of everything that is good and right, everything that helps on true human progress, everything that increases virtue and purity. As a Christian man, take an interest in everything that helps to make men true, honest, just, pure, and lovely.

9. Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you.

May the Lord fulfil that gracious word to all of us, “The God of peace shall be with you!” Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Attributes of God — Goodness Of God” 199}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — The Unsearchable Love Of God” 782}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death — The Cleansing Fountain” 288}

God the Father, Attributes of God
199 — Goodness Of God
1 Ye humble souls, approach your God
   With songs of sacred praise,
   For he is good, immensely good,
   And kind are all his ways.
2 All nature owns his guardian care,
   In him we live and move;
   But nobler benefits declare
   The wonders of his love.
3 He gave his Son, his only Son,
   To ransom rebel worms;
   ‘Tis here he makes his goodness known
   In its diviner forms.
4 To this dear refuge, Lord, we come;
   ‘Tis here our hope relies:
   A safe defence, a peaceful home,
   When storms of trouble rise.
5 Thine eye beholds with kind regard
   The soul that thrusts in thee;
   Their humble hope thou wilt reward
   With bliss divinely free.
6 Great God, to thy almighty love,
   What honours shall we raise?
   Not all the raptured songs above
   Can render equal praise.
                           Anne Steele, 1760.

The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
782 — The Unsearchable Love Of God
1 Oh Love of God, how strong and true!
   Eternal, and yet ever new,
   Uncomprehended and unbought,
   When every human heart is thine.
2 We read thee best in him who came
   To bear for us the cross of shame;
   Sent by the Father from on high,
   Our life to live, our death to die.
3 We read thy power to bless and save,
   Even in the darkness of the grave;
   Still more in resurrection light,
   We read the fulness of thy might.
4 Oh love of God, our shield and stay,
   Through all the perils of our way;
   Eternal love, in thee we rest,
   For ever safe, for ever blest!
                        Horatius Bonar, 1861.

Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death
288 — The Cleansing Fountain
1 There is a fountain fill’d with blood,
   Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
   And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
   Lose all their guilty stains.
2 The dying thief rejoiced to see
   That fountain in his day;
   Oh may I there, though vile as he,
   Wash all my sins away!
3 Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood
   Shall never lose its power,
   Till all the ransom’d church of God
   Be saved to sin no more.
4 E’er since by faith I saw the stream
   Thy flowing wounds supply,
   Redeeming love has been my theme,
   And shall be till I die.
5 Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
   I’ll sing thy power to save,
   When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
   Lies silent in the grave.
                     William Cowper, 1779.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

Spurgeon Sermon Updates

Email me when new sermons are posted:

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390