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A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.
Sunday, June 03, 2001

23 - Divine Impersonal Love

1 John 2:7-11 by Robert Dean
Series:1st John (2000)
Duration:49 mins 17 secs

Divine Impersonal Love; 1 John 2:7-11

God loves us because of what Christ did on the cross, not because of who or what we are. That is the pattern for impersonal love, as we see in John 3:16 NASB "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son..." His love is the model, the archetype, the prototype.

Impersonal love is impossible, but God doesn't mandate the impossible without providing the means of accomplishment. That is the Holy Spirit, He is the one who produces that fruit in us. Impersonal love is the hallmark of the believer, it is that above all else that distinguishes the believer who is truly maturing and following doctrine from the unbeliever. It is the basis for solving problems in human relationships. Human relationships will never be what they can be because we are always involved with somebody else who is an arrogant self-absorbed sinner just like we are. The only way to get past the natural inclination and drive of the sin nature to be arrogant and self-absorbed is to have a standard outside of us that calls us to a higher standard and gives us the ability to fulfil that mandate. Impersonal love is the ability to accept all people as they are, despite all their problems, all their difficulties, all their blemishes. It is not merely the absence of mental attitude sins and the absence of prejudice but it is the presence of a genuine concern, a compassion, kindness, gentleness, a regard and a solicitousness for even those who may be treating us the worst. Impersonal love will have no strength or stability without grace orientation or doctrinal orientation, so for a baby believer it is going to vacillate a lot when he is struggling to learn these things and apply them. But it is through impersonal love and spiritual maturity that we develop the capacity for life, love and happiness in every dimension of life.

We are to love one another as Christ loved the church, and that brings us to some important observations.

a)  Love is objective, not subjective, and it has an objective model. It is not based on our perceptions, our feelings, or the circumstances of the moment; it is based on an objective model that is available to all and we all look to that model to understand what love is.

b)  Love is not something that is represented by symbols.

c)  It is not emotion. When we look at the command to love one another as Christ loved us, Jesus didn't just come down with a bunch of goo and cry all over us. It is not sentimentality or sone feeling of warm fuzzies. It has to do with action, integrity and virtue.

d)  It is based on character. It is based on virtue and integrity that goes beyond anything that can be produced in the normal human realm. It is developed through walking by the Holy Spirit and based upon the example of God's love for fallen, rebellious mankind.

e)  The commandment to love one another challenges the unbeliever. The unbeliever can't do it.

f)  John 13:35 indicates that the world knows, that they have an inherent understanding of that, and when they see this kind of love operational in a believer it strikes a chord in their soul and they respond to it. They might react to it if they are in negative volition, but if they are positive they will respond to it. it is the greatest evidence of Christianity that there is.

g)  This is the highest apologetic, a demonstration of the veracity of Christianity.

John 15:12 NASB "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. [13] Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." That brings in a sacrificial element, that one is willing to put one's personal life, personal agenda, personal ambitions aside and do that which is best for another person. [14] "You are My friends if you do what I command you." That is not legalism, it is simply showing that there is a closer relationship there than simply impersonal love. Obedience to God is the evidence of our love for Him. [15] "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. [16] You did not choose Me but I chose you…" This is not referring to the doctrine of election but the choice of these eleven as His disciples. "… and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and {that} your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. [17] This I command you, that you love one another." This is an astounding concept in the New Testament.

The starting point is always the cross, so we have to look at the characteristics demonstrated at the cross if we are going to begin to understand the kind of love that should characterise our lives.

  1. It is an initiating love, it is not a love that waits for the other person to initiate. God the Father's love for us began in eternity past before God created any creature. 1 John 4:19 NASB "We love, because He first loved us."
  2. It is an aggressive love. God seeks us out. He asserts His love with boldness and confidence in human history. He doesn't operate from a position of weakness that is trying to curry favour or generate approbation. It is a love that is directed toward achieving an object, and that object is not merely salvation of the lost but also conforming us to the image of His Son and removing every vestige of sin and the curse of sin from mankind.
  3. It is a love that is humble. It is not an arrogant, self-seeking love. He is not seeking his own personal glory. Jesus Christ said He came not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many. It is a love that is seeking to serve its object with what is best for the object, not a love that is seeking self-glorification.
  4. It is a love that is intense; it is not a superficial or shallow love. It is a zealous determination to achieve the goal of salvation despite all obstacles, even so much that when Jesus and the disciples left the upper room to go the garden of Gethsemane Jesus told the disciples to bring a couple of swords with them. He wanted His disciples armed. He wanted to makes sure that no matter what Satan did nothing could stop Him from dying the kind of death He had to die on the cross.
  5. It is a love that is consecrated. Jesus Christ set Himself apart to a task and He was not going to be distracted from that task. 
  6. It is a love that is characterised by dedication. Jesus Christ committed Himself to the task of service, sacrifice, salvation, and our sanctification. He lived His life based on the filling of the Holy Spirit in order to be the prototype for our spiritual life in the church age.
  7. It is a devoted love. Devotion means to give or apply one's time, attention and self to a task. He gave of Himself one hundred per cent to the task of our salvation.

If these characteristics were part of His impersonal love for us then they are to be a part of our impersonal love for those who do not deserve it, those who may be hostile to us, and those who hate us.