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1 John 4:7-21

In term 1, we laid the foundation of our Overflow theme for the year by exploring the bountiful goodness of God that we can 'Draw Deeply' from...

  • the Love of the Father

  • the Life of our Saviour

  • our New Identity

  • the Ministry of the Holy Spirit

  • the God who Truly Satisfies

  • Time in the Secret Place

This term, we are exploring what comes 'out of the overflow', beginning with love.

The bible describes God as loving - it is arguably his most central attribute. Yet many people find it hard to believe that God is loving.

  • Why do you think this is?

  • What would you say to a person sceptical about God's love?

First, John lays the foundation: "Love comes from God":

Read 1 John 4:7-12

  • How do we know about God's love?

  • How have you experienced God's love in your own life?

  • What do you think John means when he says, "God is love"? [1]

  • How should God's love overflow from us into our relationships with others? (you might like to pay special attention to verse 12 here)

Read 1 John 4:13-21

  • John begins this paragraph with the phrase, "this is how we know..." How does love assure us that we have God living in us by His Holy Spirit?

  • What if we lack love? What if someone is particularly difficult to love? How do we understand verses 20-21 in that situation?

  • How can we be enabled or empowered to love like God has loved us?

Spend some time in quiet reflection: what does it mean to you that God is love, and that He has loved you so much?

Spend some time praying for one another, that God would fill us up to overflow his love into the lives of others.

[1] David Jackman explains this profound 3-word sentence beautifully:

Everything else in the splendour of these verses circles around this one supreme reality: ‘God is love.’ John is not identifying a quality which God possesses; he is making a statement about the essence of God’s being. It is not simply that God loves, but that he is love. We are helped to understand this when we remember that God is revealed in Scripture as the holy Trinity, three persons in one God. We shall never be able to comprehend the full meaning of this with our finite minds, but at least we can grasp that at the heart of the deity there is a dynamic inter-relationship of love. Love flows between the three persons in a constant interaction, so that every activity expresses the love which is the divine nature. The Father loves the Son; the Son loves the Father; the Spirit loves the Son, and so on. This is not just a static description, but a living, active dynamism. God loves, within his own being, because his nature is to love. Therefore, to imagine that God does not love us is to deny his true nature, to repudiate his character. It is to distort the free grace of God into something much less worthy, a conditional ‘love’ that depends on the attractiveness or worthiness of the object for it to be exercised. Divine love (agapē) is utterly different. It cannot be earned; it cannot be deserved. God loves us because that is his nature.

David Jackman, Letters of John, Bible Speaks Today, p.117


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