Because He First Loved Us from Charles Spurgeon
Charles Spurgeon was a man who preached the whole counsel of God’s Word, and was careful to not excessively repeat himself in any one area. Yet, he preached five remarkable sermons on these eight words alone.
The reason for our love to Jesus
“We love Him because He first loved us”. 1 John 4:19
A. —We love Him:
In this great statement, John begins by declaring the heart of every true follower of Jesus Christ. Simply and boldly put, we love Him.
i. This is a fact for every true follower of Jesus. “There is no exception to this rule; if a man loves not God, neither is he born of God. Show me a fire without heat, then show me regeneration that does not produce love to God.” (Spurgeon)
ii. It is something that every Christian should be unafraid to proclaim: “I love Him; I love Jesus.” Can you say that? Are you embarrassed to say it? Can you say, “I love Jesus”?
iii. “I cannot imagine a true man saying, ‘I love Christ, but I do not want others to know that I love him, lest they should laugh at me.’ That is a reason to be laughed at, or rather, to be wept over. Afraid of being laughed at? Oh sir, this is indeed a cowardly fear!” (Spurgeon)
iv. “Look through all the pages of history, and put to the noblest men and women, who seem to still live, this question, ‘Who loves Christ?’ and, at once, up from dark dungeons and cruel racks there rises the confessors’ cry, ‘We love him;’ and from the fiery stake, where they clapped their hands as they were being burned to death, the same answer comes, ‘We love him.’ If you could walk through the miles of catacombs at Rome, and if the holy dead, whose dust lies there, could suddenly wake up, they would all shout, ‘We love him.’ The best and the bravest of men, the noblest and purest of women, have all been in this glorious company; so, surely, you are not ashamed to come forward and say, ‘Put my name down among them.’ ” (Spurgeon)
v. “Be out-and-out for him; unfurl your colours, never hide them, but nail them to the mast, and say to all who ridicule the saints, ‘If you have any ill words for the followers of Christ, pour them out upon me…. but know this – ye shall hear it whether you like it or not, – “I love Christ.” ‘ ” (Spurgeon)
B.– He first loved us:
This verse not only declares our love for Jesus, it also tells us when He loved us. Some people imagine that Jesus loved us because He knew we would love Him and come to faith in Him. But He loved us before that, and even before the worlds were created, when our only existence was in the mind and heart of God, Jesus loved us.
i. He loved us when we were still sinners: “Every man that ever was saved had to come to God not as a lover of God, but as a sinner, and then believe in God’s love to him as a sinner.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “Jesus loved you when you lived carelessly, when you neglected his Word, when the knee was unbent in prayer. Ah! He loved some of you when you were in the dancing saloon, when you were in the playhouse, ay, even when you were in the brothel. He loved you when you were at hell’s gate, and drank damnation at every draught. He loved you when you could not have been worse or further from him than you were. Marvellous, O Christ, is thy strange love!” (Spurgeon)
C. –We love Him because He first loved us:
This verse tells us where our love for Jesus comes from. It comes from Him. Our love for God is always in response to His love for us; He initiates, and we respond. We never have to draw God to us; instead, He draws us to Himself.
i. “1. We love him because we find he has loved us. 2. We love him from a sense of obligation and gratitude. 3. We love him from the influence of his own love; from his love shed abroad in our hearts our love to him proceeds. It is the seed whence our love springs.” (Clarke)
ii. “His is the fountain love, ours but the stream: his love the inducement, the pattern, and the effective cause of ours. He that is first in love, loves freely; the other therefore loves under obligation.” (Poole)
iii. “I have sometimes noticed that, in addressing Sunday-school children, it is not uncommon to tell them that the way to be saved is to love Jesus, which is not true. The way to be saved for man, woman, or child is to trust Jesus for the pardon of sin, and then, trusting Jesus, love comes as a fruit. Love is by no means the root. Faith alone occupies that place.” (Spurgeon)
D.–We love Him because He first loved us:
This verse tells us why we love Jesus, and how we can love Him more.
i. “Love believed is the mother of love returned.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “Yet we must not try to make ourselves love our Lord, but look to Christ’s love first, for his love to us will beget in us love to him. I know that some of you are greatly distressed because you cannot love Christ as much as you would like to do, and you keep on fretting because it is so. Now, just forget your own love to him, and think of his great love to you; and then, immediately, your love will come to something more like that which you would desire it to be.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Now remember, we never make ourselves love Christ more by flogging ourselves for not loving him more. We come to love those better whom we love by knowing them better… If you want to love Christ more, think more of him, think more of what you have received from him.” (Spurgeon)
E. —He first loved us:
This means that it is true that He loves us now. Do you believe it? “Oh, if you do really believe that he has loved you so, sit down, and turn the subject over in your mind, and say to yourself, ‘Jesus loves me; Jesus chose me; Jesus redeemed me; Jesus called me; Jesus has pardoned me; Jesus has taken me into union with himself.’ ” (Spurgeon)
The commandment to love.
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we seen from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. If someone says, “I love God”, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him; that who loves God must love his brother also.
A. If someone says, “I love God”:
It is often easier for someone to proclaim his love for God, because that regards a private relationship with an invisible God. But John rightly insists that our claim of loving God is false if we do not also love our brother, and that this love must be seen.
i. One may be a spiritual dwarf because one lacks love. One may know the Word, may never miss a service, may pray fervently, and may demonstrate gifts of the Spirit. Yet in it all, that one may be like Cain, offering to God the fruit of his hands and not the fruit of the Spirit.
B. —If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar: By this crucial measure, Jesus said the world could measure our status as disciples by the measure of our love for one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).
i. There is a difference between the love of man, and divine love. “These verses are the equivalent of saying that a person cannot practice agape-love unless he can first practice philia-love.” (Boice)
C. –And this commandment we have from Him: We have a commandment to love. Though love springs forth from our abiding relationship with God and comes from our being born of Him, there is also an essential aspect of our will involved. We are therefore commanded to love our brother in Christ.
i. Being born of God and abiding with Him give us the ability to love; but it is a choice of our will to draw upon that resource and give it out to others. Therefore we are given a command to love, that he who loves God must love his brother also.
ii. Because of this, the excuse “I just can’t love that person” (or other such excuses) is invalid. If we are born of Him and are abiding in Him then the resources for love are there. It is up to us to respond to His command with our will and whole being.
D. –He who loves God must love his brother also: We can also learn how to love God by loving people. One might say, “I want to love God more; I want to grow in my love for Him. But how can I love a God who is invisible?” God would say to us, “Learn to love Me, Whom you cannot see, by loving My children, whom you can see.”
i. Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-24, Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. God is more pleased when you get it right with your brother, than if you bring Him a sacrifice of praise or resources.