To Know Divine Love (2)
To care for the saints
as God desires means we
sacrifice ourselves so
others can partake of
the divine life of
God in Christ
John 3:16 tells how God loved us by giving up His one and only Son for us; then 1 John 3:16 shows us what it means to know God’s love:
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
It does not mean we merely have some kind of feeling towards God; it means that, in response to how He loved us, we also lay down our life for the brothers, just as He did for us. (See)
But in what way should we lay ourselves down?
We can answer this question very directly by looking again at John 3:16 and allowing this famous verse to speak for itself:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.”
This is such a well-known statement, but many who read it miss its central meaning, due to their concept about salvation. That is, they believe Jesus died so our sins could be forgiven and we could live forever, and they assume that is what this verse is talking about.
And that is certainly part of the reason for His death, and part of what this verse is saying as well. Look again, however, at what it actually says: God gave up His Son so we could have eternal life. That is what is really on His heart.
God does not merely want to forgive your sins so you can live forever. Rather, according to John 3:16, He wants to give you His own divine, eternal life to make you a child of God.
And this is the theme not only of this verse, but of the entire Gospel of John as well. At the beginning of this Gospel, in its introduction, we read:
As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
— John 1:12-13
And at the end of the Gospel, after Jesus was resurrected, it tells us how He imparted His life to the disciples:
He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
— John 20:22
So, God sacrificed His Son so we could receive His divine life and thus become His genuine (not adopted) children.
And that means that if we care for the saints in the same way the Lord gave Himself up to care for us, it is not simply that we help them with their practical needs (though no doubt it will often include that). Rather, at its deepest level, it means that we give ourselves up, even sacrifice ourselves, so the saints can be brought into the experience of the divine life.
And we see this not only in the life of Jesus Himself; it is also demonstrated in the life of the Apostle Paul, and in so many other servants of the Lord as well.
That is what we will consider in the next Note in this series.
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— 24 June 2023 —