The Love Of God

Bible Book: 1 John  3 : 1
Subject: Love; Love of God


Let's open our Bibles this morning to 1 John chapter 3, and I want to focus primarily upon twenty words from verse number 1.

In my study time yesterday, I went through the Bible and found some of the occasions when we are told that "God is" something. For example...

In Deuteronomy 4:24, we find that "God is a consuming fire." In Deuteronomy 4:31, we find that "God is a merciful God."  In Job 36:5, we find that "God is mighty."

In Job 36:26, we find that "God is great."

In Psalms 46:1, we find that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." In Psalms 73:1, we find that "God is good."

In the New Testament, in both 1 Corinthians 1:9 and 1 Corinthians 10:13, we find that "God is faithful."

In 2 Corinthians 1:18, we find that "God is true." In 1 John 1:5, we find that "God is light."

We also learn in 1 John that "God is love." In fact, love is such an inseparable part of the divine personality of God that twice in 1 John chapter 4, both in verse 8 and in verse 16, John says, "God is love."

I'm glad tonight that our God is a merciful God, that He is mighty, and great, and good, and faithful, and true, and that He is light. But I am so thankful tonight that our God is love, that He is the very embodiment of love, that everything that true and pure love is, that's what God is. And I'm glad He has manifested that love to us.

The author of our text, the apostle John, was very aware of God's love for him. On at least four occasions in the Gospel of John, John referred to himself as the disciple "whom Jesus loved."

(John 13:23, 20:2, 21:7, 20)

With that in mind, it's on my heart this morning to magnify "The love of God." Usually, my procedure is to deal with a subject in as thorough and as comprehensive a way as I possibly can, but it is absolutely impossible to deal comprehensively with the subject of God's love in a single service. In fact, I don't believe it would be possible to exhaust the subject of God's love in a lifetime of preaching.

In Ephesians 3:18&19, Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers that they would "be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." The songwriter Frederick Lehman must have had Paul's words in mind when he wrote the chorus, "O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!" But Paul reminds us that this subject surpasses our human understanding - it "passeth knowledge," but he wanted God's people to comprehend it, at least to some extent, and maybe get just a glimpse of the bigness of His love.

But even to deal with this subject of God's love by confining our thoughts to the first few verses of 1 John 3 is to travel into vast territories of truth. In fact, Adam Clarke said, "Whole volumes might be written upon (1 John 3:1) and the two following verses, without exhausting the extraordinary subject contained in them, namely, the love of God to man."

If anybody could adequately and capably describe and discuss the subject of God's love, it would be John. But John must have felt so overwhelmed by the bigness of God's love that instead of saying, "Learn about it," or, "Know the logistics of it," all he could say was, "Look at it" - "Behold what manner of love..." He seemed to say, "The love of God is so great, you've got to see it for yourself."

It's as if John has stopped along the way at this scenic overlook, and he is encouraging us to do likewise. And as he views this vista of Divine love, he highlights the fact that the new birth was a direct result of God's love for us. In 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul said, "by the grace of God I am what I am." John's approach is that it is by the love of God that I am what I am.

In his contemplation of climactic compassion...

I. John Says, I Am Aware Of God's Love

A. Perceptive Observation Of God's Love

We can be aware of God's love as we become the perceptive observer of it. "Behold"

He is calling us to behold it, to look at it, to contemplate it. The love of God is a subject for the minds of God's saints to contemplate. They may well behold, survey, and take a view of it, by faith.

(S. E. Pierce from The Biblical Illustrator)

1. This Is A Wonderful Sight

The Thayer's Greek Lexicon says that this word "Behold" means to see, to turn the eyes, the mind, or the attention to something, or as Matthew Henry says, "to observe." But the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary goes a bit further and suggests that it means "calling attention to something wonderful."

"Admire, O sanctified intelligences, that God should do this for unworthy sons of Adam!" (Charles Spurgeon)

2. This Is A Widespread Sight

Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament indicates that one thing that makes this particular word rather unique is that John is calling upon many to behold this love. Vincent's says it could literally be translated, "behold ye."

And if you want to southernize it, you could say it like this: "I want all of yuns to looky here."

B. Personal Object Of God's Love

We can be aware of God's love, as we become the personal object of it upon us.

We read in 1 John 3:1, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."

1. Notice The Rendering Of This Love

Evidently, the word that has been translated as "upon us," could also be translated "to us," or "for us." Either way, God has given and lavished and "bestowed" His love in our direction.

One language tool called The Interlinear Bible indicates that the phrase "upon us" is translated from a single Greek term (hemin [2254]).

2. Notice The Recipients Of This Love

We may gain another measure of the greatness of this love if we put an emphasis on one word, and think of the love given to "us," such creatures as we are.

(Alexander Maclaren, from The Biblical Illustrator)

God's love has been given to us. In 1 John 4:16, John said, "We have known and believed the love that God hath to us."

In 1860, Anna Warner gave us one of the most profound lines of poetry in human expression when she wrote, "Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so."

That great hymn writer Philip Bliss put it like this, "I am so glad that our Father in heav'n tells of His love in the Book He has giv'n; Wonderful things in the Bible I see - This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me."

I'm glad He loves me. But John was very specific in saying that God has bestowed His love upon "us." The interesting thing about this is that it is the plural form of the personal pronoun "I" or "me," which is actually the Greek word (1473) "ego." God's love is bigger than your ego, and it's bigger than my ego, because He has given His love to us.

John used to say, 'I am the disciple whom Jesus loves.' But after a lifetime of observing others and ministering to others, John realized he wasn't the only one.

II. John Says, I Am Amazed By God's Love

A. Amazed By The Significant Greatness Of His Love

"what manner of love"

1. Notice The Great Manner Of This Love

(1 John 3:1) Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

Here, you notice, that although St. John had been learning more and more about the love of God all his days, he does not trust himself to characterize it. I believe throughout eternity we shall never find the right word for it. Even if we think that we have made some such grand discovery as to present it to us in an altogether new light, we shall still go on discovering that there is more to be said about it. (A.

M. H. Aitken from The Biblical Illustrator) 1 John 3:1

The word ("manner") is of infrequent occurrence in the New Testament. Originally it means "from what country or race;" then, "of what sort or quality." (From Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament)

It Is So Great That We Ask, "What Kind Is It?"

It Is So Great That We Ask, "Where Did It Come From?"

2. Notice The Great Meaning Of This Love

(1 John 3:1) Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

Of course the word that John uses is a word that is found more frequently in this epistle than in any other book in the New Testament. Fourteen times John uses this word "agape," which means love, affection, or benevolence. It is also translated in the New Testament as "dear." The Strong's Concordance suggests that it is derived from either the word "agan," which means "much," or from the word "agab," which means to breathe after. Either way, this word has a great meaning. When we think of God's love, we think how "much" there is of it. We know that we ought to have a heart that pants after God, but we know that He has a heart that pants after (or breathes after) us.

Cf. (Psalms 42:1) As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

B. Amazed By The Selfless Giving Of His Love

"the Father hath bestowed"

1. His Love Is A Commended Love

(Romans 5:8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

"commendeth" - means to set together, to introduce (favorably), to exhibit; to constitute. God introduced love. He constituted it. His love is the benchmark and the standard of love by which all other loves must be measured.

2. His Love Is A Complete Love

This word "bestowed" suggests that this love originated with God (see Thayer's). A. T. Robertson said that word indicates that God's love has reached a state of completion. In other words, it is the full form of His love.

The question comes, "How much does God love the world?" And Jesus spread his arms out upon the cross and said, "This much." But it didn't stop there. God loved us so much that He not only "gave His only begotten Son" to die for us, to pay the penalty for our sin, but He loved us so much that He embraced us as His sons.

You see, John not only says "I am Aware of God's Love," and he not only says, "I am Amazed at God's Love," but then...

III. John Finally Says, I Am Affected By God's Love

A. His Love Affected My Family Experience

"that we should be called the sons of God"

1. Because Of God's Love, We Have The Father Who Is Notable

(1 John 3:1) Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

"father" - Greek 3962. pater, pat-ayr'; appar. a prim. word; a "father": -- parent.

2. Because Of God's Love, We Have The Family Name

(1 John 3:1) Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

The Thayer's Greek Lexicon says that this word "called" means to bear a name or title.

"It is," says Dr. Goodwin, "but a title which is here expressed." "Yet," says Mr. Romaine, "God bestows no empty titles." He gives all contained in it. Therefore the greatness of the love of God is contained herein.

(S. E. Pierce from The Biblical Illustrator)

"sons" suggests the born ones of God; those that have been born into the family of God

"sons" - Greek 5043. teknon, tek'-non; from the base of G5088; a child (as produced):--child, daughter.

B. His Love Affected My Future Existence vs. 2

(1 John 3:2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

God's love for us does not stop with the new birth. It continues throughout our lives and takes us right up to the return of Jesus Christ! When our Lord appears, all true believers will see Him and will become like Him. (Warren Wiersbe)

1. John Mentions Our Favorable Position

beloved - Greek 27. agapetos, ag-ap-ay-tos'; from G25; beloved:--(dearly, well) beloved, dear.

I can imagine John talking like J. Vernon McGee when he says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God."

"now are we the sons of God"

2. John Mentions Our Future Prospects

What's it going to be like when all God's children get to Heaven? If we were to southernize what John said here, we would have to say it like this, "They's no telling!"


I mentioned earlier a phrase from the song, "The Love Of God." It was back in 1917, in Pasadena, California, that God was magnifying His love to a man named Frederick Lehman. Frederick said, "One day, during short intervals of inattention to our work, (I) picked up a scrap of paper and, seated upon an empty lemon box pushed against the wall, with a stub pencil," wrote the first two stanzas and the chorus to a song. He already had the words for the third stanza.

Almost 900 years earlier in Germany, a Jewish music leader named Meier Ben Isaac Nehorai wrote a poem called Haddamut. The words of the poem have been translated into at least 18 languages.

Many years ago, a man adapted the third stanza of Meier's poem and wrote them across the wall of his small room. His writing was not found until after he died and had been carried out to his grave.

Here's what that poor soul had scribbled on his wall, and these are the words that Frederick Lehman included in his song...

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade, To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry.

Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.

And Lehman's chorus says...

You see, the man was a patient in an insane asylum, and the general opinion was that the only shred of sanity that he had found in this world was when he considered the greatness of God's love. This was the only thing that made any sense to him.

Can I say to some heart this morning that the only true shred of sanity you are going to find in this world is when you experience the bestowing of God's indescribable love upon you so that you are called a child of God!