LOVE, According to John
by Danny Douglas
“True love” is an oft-repeated expression, because there are so many things parading as love which are counterfeit. “True love” is what we find in the Bible. It is that which God and Christ have for man. It is that which Jesus displayed and taught in His earthly life, and that which He enjoins upon us: “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment even O I do. ARise, let us go hence.” “As the Father hath loved me, I have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Fathers commandments, and abide in his love” (John ; 15:9-10). The Lord Jesus Christ proved His love for the Father and for mankind when He gave Himself according to the Father’s will: “Who gave himself for our sins, that he night deliver us from This present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Galatians1:4-5). Truly, we are to follow the love of God (Mark -31; John ; -35; Revelation 1:5; Ephesians 5:1-2). God is imminently qualified to teach us about love, and He teaches us through the inspired men who wrote the Bible (2 Timothy -17; John ). One of those men is John, often called “the apostle of love,” be cause he wrote so much about it. Let us learn from him about love.
True Love is Expressed in Action
Whether it be our love for God or for other people, love is proven by the proper action. For example, John condemns mere lip service without action, when he states:
“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. But whoso hath this worlds goods and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John -18).
Likewise, our love to God is expressed by obedience to His commandments: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).
A False Concept of Love
From some men in the brotherhood today we would get the impression that to oppose a false teacher, or to refuse fellowship to those who are involved in error, is to be lacking in love and to be filled with envy and strife. However, the “apostle of love” declares that we must so do:
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Ch hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11).
We often convey a message by what we do not say. Earlier this year a well-known preacher wrote an article entitled, The “Apostle of Love” on Love. It was lacking any warning from John against false doctrine and false brethren, or the example of Jesus in doing so (Matthew -20; Matthew 23-24; Mark. 7:1-13). Surely, gospel preachers and others ought to be able to see the urgent need to emphasize that love demands warning and the condemnation of that which is contrary to the doctrine of Christ (Colossians 1:28; 2:8, 16-23; Acts 20:29-31), especially in these perilous times (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:3-4)! Yes, we are to love one another, even to the point of laying “down our lives for the brethren” (1 John. -18). Yet, how can we love our brethren, if we are unwilling to warn them against darkness, as John did (1 John. 1:5-6)?
One of the strongest warnings anywhere in the Bible are those writ ten by John against “antichrist”. He did this in four passages: 1 John ; ; 4:3; 2 John 7. To think that he would actually write such things, according to some, is out of character for the “apostle of love.” Nonetheless, he did so in no uncertain terms. For example: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22). What negative language from the “apostle of love”!
John not only warned against false doctrine, but against those in the church who persist in sins of the character, such as Diotrophes. Sadly, the Lord’s work in many places has been left in ruins because of men like Diotrophes, who: “…loveth to have the preeminence…” (3 John 9-10) among the brethren. As with false teachers, such individuals cannot be fellowshipped unless they truly repent. John was not afraid to oppose evil doers with the truth, and neither should we be today! True love means that we will imitate good and not evil (3 John 11).
Love Is Serious
“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8). One cannot love God, who does not love his brother (1 John -21). One does not love God, who does not keep God’s commandments (1 John 5:3). One does not have true love, who is unwilling to fight against those who oppose the truth (2 John 7-11). Indeed, true love is to stand for Christ, to oppose evil, and to do good to others. This may be summed up as walking in truth: ”I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). Are you walking in truth, and therefore, the kind of love that John wrote about?