"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." - 1 John 4: 7-8 (NKJV)
Over 500 years ago, Thomas A' Kempis wrote his beloved devotional,
"The Imitation of Christ." Therein, in the 3rd book called On Inward Consolation, the 5th chapter subtitled "On the wonderful effect of divine love,"
He reminds us of these truths:
Love is a mighty power, a great and complete good; Love alone lightens every burden and makes the rough places smooth.
Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing wider, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth; for love is born of God, and can rest only in God, above all created things.
Love flies, runs, and leaps for joy; it is free and unrestrained. Love gives all for all, resting in One who is highest above all things, from whom every good flows and proceeds.
Going back to the book of 1John, the author gives us a clear marker by which we can all test our profession of faith in Christ. Children of God should emulate their Father. Since He is love, His children should demonstrate His love.
To never demonstrate love indicates that one is not a possessor but a pretender. Be aware that some commentaries say precisely the opposite of what John is saying -- they make statements such as, "it is possible to be saved and not love." They try to rationalize this wrong interpretation by saying such a person is saved, but they are just not mature. Others say the lack of love is because the person does not have intimate fellowship with God, and so they are not "connecting with the nature of God's love." While a genuine believer may not always manifest divine love to other believers, to never demonstrate such love John says is to explain that one does not know God.
As John MacArthur says "Those whose lives are not characterized by love for others are not Christians, no matter what they claim. The Jewish religionists (scribes, Pharisees, and other leaders) of Jesus’ day, as well as the false teachers in the church of John’s day, knew a lot about God, but they did not really know Him (cf. 1Ti 6:20; 2Ti 3:7-note). The absence of God’s love in their lives revealed their unregenerate condition as conclusively as did their aberrant theology."
Hiebert agrees writing that "The negative with the present-tense participle (ho mē agapōn) pictures one who is unloving in attitude and practice. Again John’s picture includes all those so characterized. The absence of love in the life of any individual proves that he “knoweth not God” (out egnō ton theon); he has never come to know God personally. The aorist tense apparently refers back to the time of his professed conversion. Not knowing this distinctive love reveals that he is still a stranger to God. The absence of this God-given love in his heart and life disqualifies such an individual as a trustworthy representative and interpreter of God because of the nature of God as love."
Does not love does - This is an impossibility. Unbelievers cannot love with agape love for they do not have the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), do not know the Divine Source (God) and do not possess the Divine Power (Spirit).
Does… Love (agapao) is an active, dynamic verb (not an emotional feeling per se) and here is in the present tense calling for this to be one's lifestyle (none of us will ever achieve "perfection," but it should be our "general direction!").
A T Robertson adds that "Present active articular participle of agapaō = “keeps on not loving.” Considering that this agape love is divine love implies that it must have a supernatural source, the indwelling Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). So if a man loves with this quality of love, it is clear indication he has the Spirit of Christ. On the other hand, the failure to demonstrate agape love is a clear indication that this person lacks the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible speaks about God’s love in at least five different ways:
(1) The peculiar love of the Father for the Son, and of the Son for the Father (John 3:35; 5:20; 14:31; 17:24).
(2) God’s providential love over al that he has made. He cares for all of His creation, so that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without His permission.
(3) God’s salvific stance toward his fallen world. God so loved the world that he gave His Son (John 3:16). Carson argues (p. 17, correctly, I think), “On this axis, God’s love for the world cannot be collapsed into his love for the elect.”
(4) God’s particular, effective, selecting love toward his elect. Many passages in both the Old and New Testaments affirm this aspect of His love (Deut. 7:7-8; Ro 9:13-note).
(5) God’s love is sometimes said to be directed toward his own people in a provisional or conditional way³ conditioned, that is, on obedience. Jesus tells us (John 14:21), “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
Conclusion: At all times during all adversity, we must remember this that love is the most powerful source of goodness for all and its source lies within the Holy Trinity of Godhead; The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
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GOD BLESS YOU.
Authors: Jeff D. Kooistra and Dr. J Hutchinson. Verse selection by Jeff D. Kooistra. References: (MacArthur, John: 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Moody Press or Logos)
Others highlighted and linked in the inline texts with author bio links.