Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Jesus Christ, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 44 – “God Is Love”

  1. Manifestations of Heavenly Father’s love for us

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.

 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.

‘Christ, our Prototype, has attained oneness with his Father. Paul’s associate apostle John takes the next step and applies the same principle to all who by faith become the sons of God. “Now are we the sons of God,” he wrote, meaning that here and now while in mortality we have been adopted into the family of Deity and have become joint-heirs with his natural Son. “And it doth not yet appear what we shall be,” he continues, meaning that no mortal man can conceive of the glory and dominion which shall be heaped upon those who reign on thrones in the exalted realms.’ (Bruce R McConkie, The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 134.)

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

‘God is love.—In the early part of the Epistle St. John had defined God as light, and the thoughts had been grouped round and in relation to that central idea. It would of course be impossible ever to exhaust all the definitions of God; but just as our nature may be roughly classified as intellectual and moral, mind and heart, thought and emotion, so, when we have thought of God as Light (embracing all such attributes as truth, knowledge, purity, health, power, and justice), we shall not have traversed in outline all that we can know of His nature, or all that concerns us to know, until we have also thought of Him as Love, the author and source of all true affection, kindness, pity, friendliness, rejoicing in the creation of infinite life for the sake of its infinite happiness, and offering eternal bliss to all His human family, that He may be for ever surrounded by inexhaustible illustrations of the joy and glory of perfection.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

I John 4: 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

‘The scriptures teach us that our God is a God of love.  It is the greatest thing God can give us and the greatest thing we can give him. The true measure of loving God is to love him without measure. His love toward us was manifested when he sent his Only Begotten Son into the world that we might live through him.

A degree of the love between the Eternal Father and his Only Begotten Son has existed between other fathers and sons. We should not feel that such love is beyond our ability to receive and to give. We may not be able to match the perfect love shown to us by the Savior, because Christ is the epitome of this God-given quality, but it is a goal toward which all of us should strive.’ (Delbert L Stapley, General Conference, October 1970)

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1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

This was the highest manifestation of God’s love for us.

 1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

‘In comparison of this wonderful love of his, in sending his Son to be a sacrifice for sins, our love to him is not worthy the name of love.’ (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

 1 John 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

“What is our indication that we are on course? How do we know we are in the gospel harness? ‘Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit’ (1 John 4:13). The presence of God’s Spirit is the attestation, the divine assurance that we are headed in the right direction. It is God’s seal, his anointing, his unction (1 John 2:20) to us that our lives are in order. ‘A seal is a mark of ownership . . . and God’s seal, by which he brands us as belonging forever to him, is the Holy Spirit himself. The Holy Spirit is the identity tag of the Christian’ (Stott, Authentic Christianity, 81).” (Robert L. Millet, Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 170.)

1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

‘”God is love.” What trials may we not bear, if we feel assured of that! What dark cloud that seems to hang over our way, and to involve all things in gloom, will not be bright, if from the depths of our souls we can always say, “God is love!” ‘(Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

One of the most effective secrets for happiness is contained in the fourth chapter of 1 John, verse 19. It is only eight words long-listen carefully: “We love him, because he first loved us.” This will cause a change to happen because it is right. Do you get the message? “He first loved us.” Your children will love you; your brothers and sisters will love you; your eternal companion will love you-because you first loved them. Now I don’t mean it will all happen in a day, a week, or a year. But it will happen if you do not give up. (H Burke Petersen, “The Daily Portion of Love,” Ensign, May 1977, 69)

I John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

‘It cannot be supposed that a mere intellectual acknowledgment of the proposition that Jesus is the Messiah is all that is meant, for that is not the proper meaning of the word believe in the Scriptures. That word, in its just sense, implies that the truth which is believed should make its fair and legitimate impression on the mind, or that we should feel and act as if it were true.‘ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

1 John 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

‘That God hath given to us eternal life – Has provided, through the Saviour, the means of obtaining eternal life.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

‘according to his will] This is the only limitation, and it is a very gracious limitation. His will is always for His children’s good, and therefore it is only when they ignorantly ask for what is not for their good that their prayers are denied.’ (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

 1 John 5:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

‘The point is not, that if God hears our prayers he grants them (as if we could ever pray to him without his being aware of it); but that if we know that he hears our prayers (i.e., trust him without reserve), we already have what we have asked in accordance with his will. It may be years before we perceive that our prayers have been answered: perhaps in this world we may never be able to see this; but we know that God has answered them. ‘ (Pulpit Commentary)

  1. Manifestations of the Savior’s love for us

 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

‘We have fellowship one with another – As we all partake of his feelings and views, we shall resemble each other. Loving the same God, embracing the same views of religion, and living for the same ends, we shall of course have much that is common to us all, and thus shall have fellowship with each other.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

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 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

‘One of the oft-told stories about the late President J. Golden Kimball concerns his witticism to the effect that “the Brethren cannot cut me off the Church I repent too often.” Here is a great lesson, if it is correctly interpreted. There is never a day in any man’s life when repentance is not essential to his well-being and eternal progress.

But when most of us think of repentance we tend to narrow our vision and view it as good only for our husbands, our wives, our parents, our children, our neighbors, our friends, the world anyone and everyone except ourselves. Similarly there is a prevalent, perhaps subconscious, feeling that the Lord designed repentance only for those who commit murder or adultery or theft or other heinous crimes. This is of course not so. If we are humble and desirous of living the gospel we will come to think of repentance as applying to everything we do in life, whether it be spiritual or temporal in nature. Repentance is for every soul who has not yet reached perfection.’ (Spencer W Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], Chapter 3)

1 John 1: 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

‘God’s promises are sure and certain. We can be forgiven of our sins and cleansed from all unrighteousness.  And if we continue to embrace and live true principles in our personal circumstances and in our families, we will ultimately arrive at a point where we “hunger no more, neither thirst any more. … For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed [us], and shall lead [us] unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes.” (Revelation 7:16-17)’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, April 2015)

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

‘When have an Advocate with the Father; one who has undertaken, and is fully able, to plead in behalf of every one who applies for pardon and salvation in his name, depending on his pleading for them. He is Jesus, the Saviour, and Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed. He alone is the Righteous One, who received his nature pure from sin, and as our Surety perfectly obeyed the law of God, and so fulfilled all righteousness. All men, in every land, and through successive generations, are invited to come to God through this all-sufficient atonement, and by this new and living way. The gospel, when rightly understood and received, sets the heart against all sin, and stops the allowed practice of it; at the same time it gives blessed relief to the wounded consciences of those who have sinned.’ (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

 1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

To propitiate means “to appease and render favorable… to conciliate.” (Webster’s New English Dictionary, Unabridged, 2nd ed.,[Springfield, Mass: G. & C. Merriam Co., 1945])

1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

‘To catch souls in his snares and then drag them down to hell is the plan and program of the devil. (D. & C. 10:26; Alma 30:60.) One of his latter-day wiles is to persuade men that there is neither a devil nor a hell and that the fear of eternal torment is baseless. (2 Ne. 28:21-23.) But Christ, who holds “the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:18), and can therefore control and abolish them, has power to save and redeem men from hell. (2 Ne. 33:6; Alma 19:29; 26:13-14.) This he does on conditions of repentance and obedience to his laws.’ (Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 351.)

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

‘Is it a coincidence that missionaries give a portion of their lives in behalf of others, then come home and testify of their great love for the people they have served? Is it any wonder that bishops and other priesthood and auxiliary leaders who sacrifice for others are filled with love for those who are recipients of their labors? Is there a greater love among mortals than that of a mother, who offers all for her child? Many who desire to have charity like Jesus attain it as he did.’ (C Max Caldwell, General Conference, October 1992)

  1. Showing our love for Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and others

1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

‘If all people walked as Christ walked, guided by the Holy Ghost, which is the spirit of truth, they would accept and follow his teachings and do the things which he did. This would unite them in one fold under the leadership of the true Shepherd, Christ our Lord.’ (Delbert L Stapley, General Conference, April 1958)

 1 John 2:9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

‘is in darkness even until now; he is in a state of nature and unregeneracy, which is a state of darkness and ignorance; he is under the power of darkness, and in the kingdom of Satan; who is the ruler of the darkness of this world;’ (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

1 John 2:11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

‘When you have ill feelings toward anyone, you have an uneasiness in his presence. You will go out of your way to avoid him. You become to a degree, mentally ill. A contentious spirit prevails within you. John stated it this way:

“But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes”

Often we think of forgiveness as a form of charity. We forget that the benefits extend both ways. It is as beneficial to forgive as to be forgiven.’ (Eldred G Smith, General Conference, April 1961)

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

‘Materialism, which gives priority to material needs and objects, is obviously the opposite of spirituality.’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, October 1985)

1 John 3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

‘Not merely in the beginning, but from the beginning; it was among the first announcements, and it had never ceased to be in force.’ (Pulpit Commentary)

1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

‘Some point the accusing finger at the sinner or the unfortunate and in derision say, “He has brought his condition upon himself.” Others exclaim, “Oh, he will never change. He has always been a bad one.” A few see beyond the outward appearance and recognize the true worth of a human soul. When they do, miracles occur… When we treat people merely as they are, they may remain as they are. When we treat them as if they were what they should be, they may become what they should be.’ (Thomas S Monson, “With Hand and Heart,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 4-5)

 1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

‘Love must be practical. It is easy to “lay down one’s life”: martyrdom is heroic and exhilarating; the difficulty lies in doing the little things, facing day by day the petty sacrifices and self-denials which no one notices and no one applauds. ‘ (Expositor’s Greek Testament)

1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

‘And this is his commandment – His commandment, by way of eminence; the leading, principal thing which he enjoins on us; the commandment which lies at the foundation of all true obedience.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

‘(1) Because he is so much exalted above us, and if he has loved those who were so inferior and so unworthy, we ought to love those who are on a level with us;

(2) because it is only in this way that we can show that we have his Spirit; and,

(3) because it is the nature of love to seek the happiness of all. There are much stronger reasons why we should love one another than there were why God should love us; and unless we do this, we can have no evidence that we are his children.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

1 John 4:20 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?

We can best exemplify our love for our God by living our religion. It is vain to profess a love for God while speaking evil of or doing wrong to His children. The sacred covenants we have made with Him strictly impose upon us the duties we owe to one another; and the great office of religion is to teach us how to perform those duties so as to produce the greatest happiness for ourselves and for our fellow-beings. When the obligations of our religion are observed, no words are spoken or acts are committed that would injure a neighbor. If the Latter-day Saints lived as they should do, and as their religion teaches them to do, there would be no feeling in any breast but that of brotherly and sisterly affection and love. Backbiting and evil-speaking would have no existence among us,; but peace and love and good will would reign in all our hearts and habitations and settlements. We would be the happiest people on the face of the earth, and the blessing and peace of Heaven would rest upon us and upon all that belongs to us. (Wilford Woodruff, James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 3: 146.)

1 John 4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

‘We are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father and, as such, are brothers and sisters. As we keep this truth in mind, loving all of God’s children will become easier.’ (Thomas S Monson, General Conference, April 2014)

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

‘When we love the Lord, obedience ceases to be a burden. Obedience becomes a delight. When we love the Lord, we seek less for things that benefit us and turn our hearts toward things that will bless and uplift others.’ (Joseph B Wirthlin, General Conference, October 2007)

2 John 1:4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

‘The Apostle has met with some of the elect lady’s children (or some members of the particular Church addressed), probably in one of his Apostolic visits to some Church in Asia Minor. Their Christian life delighted him and apparently prompted him to write this letter.’ (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

‘Cf. the story of R. Hillel: A mocking Gentile promised to become a proselyte if he would teach him the whole Law while he stood on one foot—a gibe at the multitudinous precepts, reckoned at 613. “What is hateful to thyself,” said the Rabbi, “do not to thy neighbour. This is the whole Law; the rest is commentary.” ‘ (Expositor’s Greek Testament)

3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

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‘While few human challenges are greater than that of being good parents, few opportunities offer greater potential for joy. Surely no more important work is to be done in this world than preparing our children to be God-fearing, happy, honorable, and productive adults. Parents will find no more fulfilling happiness than to have their children honor them and their teachings. That blessing is the glory of parenthood. John testified, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).

In my opinion, the teaching, rearing, and training of children requires more intelligence, intuitive understanding, humility, strength, wisdom, spirituality, perseverance, and hard work than any other challenge we might have in life. This is especially so when moral foundations of honor and decency are eroding around us. If we are to have successful homes, values must be taught. There must be rules, there must be standards, and there must be absolutes. Many societies give parents very little support in teaching and honoring moral values. A number of cultures are becoming essentially valueless, and many of the younger people in those societies are becoming moral cynics.

As societies as a whole have decayed and lost their moral identity and as so many homes are broken, the best hope is to turn greater attention and effort to the teaching of the next generation-our children. In order to do this, we must first reinforce the primary teachers of children. Chief among these are the parents and other family members, and the best environment for this teaching should be the home. Somehow, some way, we must try harder to make our homes stronger so that they will stand as sanctuaries against the unwholesome, pervasive moral dry rot around us. Harmony, happiness, peace, and love in the home can help give children the required inner strength to cope with life’s challenges.’ (James E Faust, Finding Light in a Dark World [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 90.)

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