Full Text for Sermon Study on 1 John 4, 9-11 (Text)

(tTnurnr~iu m~tnlngitul 6tut1Jly Continuing LEHRE UNO ~EHRE MAGAZIN FUER Ev.-LuTH. HOMILETIK THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY-THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY Vol. vm April, 1937 No.4 CONTENTS Page The Pastor and the Pastoral Cure of Souls. H. F. Wind ______________ Z41 Kleine Hesekielstudien. L. Fuerbrlnger _____ ______ ________________________________________ 252 Romanism, Calvinism, and Lutheranism on the Authority of Scripture. F. E. Mayer __________________ _________________ ______________________________________ 280 Sermon Study on 1 John 4,9-11. Theo. Laetsch __________________________________ 272 Outlines on the Eisenach Epistle Selections __________________________________ 281 Miscellanea ___________________________________________________ __ _ ___________________________ 291 Theological Observer. - Kircblich-Zeitgeschicbtlicbes ___________________ 300 Book Review. - Literatur _________________________________________ __ _ ________________________ 311 Ein Prediger muss nlcht alleln wei- den, also dass er die Schafe unter- weise, wie sie rechte Christen sollen seln, sondern auch daneben den Woel- ten tDeh,.en, dass sie die Schafe nlcht angreiten und mit falscher Lehre ver- tuehren und Irrtum einfuehren. Luthe1" Es 1st keln Ding, das die Leute mehr bel der Kirche behaelt denn die gute Predigt. - Apologie, Arl. 24 If the trumpet glve an uncertain sound who shall prepare himself to the battle? -1 C01'. 14, 8 Published for the Ev. Luth. Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States CONCORDIA PUBUSBING BOUSE, St. Louis, Mo. 272 Sermon Study on 1 John 4, 9-11 God will not give His Spirit except through the Word, i. e., through the Gospel and the Sacraments, or the "visible" Word. (Cf. Trigl., 494,4; 606,91; 732,7.8; 1084,71; etc.) Word and Sacraments are the means whereby both the soul and the body are saved; for when- ever the soul is saved, there the body, too, which can and does ap- prehend the elements, will live forever. (Trigl., 742, 44 fi.; 768, 68. Luther's Works, St. L., XX, 831.) Rome and Calvin approach the Scriptures with a material prin- ciple which is not found in the Scriptures, but which is super- imposed on them. Because the Lutheran's formal principle is sola Scriptura, his material principle must be the doctrine of justifica- tion, sola gratia. This article permeates Scripture and therefore directs and controls all true theological thinking. Every teaching which is not brought into proper relation with the article of justi- fication is eo ipso false. The true theological perspective can be maintained only if theology centers in justification.ll) According to the Lutheran Confessions the Gospel is God's gracious reve- lation to man, offering, containing, conveying to, and working in, him the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. (Trigl., 995, 62; 792, 6; etc.) Luther had been taught to read the Bible in such a manner as to find in the word righteousness nothing but his own righteousness, which must be procured through strict observance of his monastic order's regulations. At last the Holy Spirit removed these "Roman" glasses through the Gos- pel, and Luther learned that only aliena iustitia avails in the sight of God. "And now," says Luther (in the preface to the 1545 edition of his works), "I knew that I was born anew and that I had found a wide and open door to paradise itself. Now the dear Holy Scriptures appeared entirely differently to me." (St. L., XIV, 446 f.) Springfield, Ill. F. E. MAYER ••• Sermon Study on 1 John 4,9--11 Two facts must strike every careful reader of the First Epistle of John. The one is that, in appealing to his readers to practise Christian love, he is not satisfied with a bare demand, a simple exhortation. Each of the three admonitions (chap. 3, 9-11; 3,10- 18; 4,7-5, 2), as they grow in length, is in increasing measure saturated with indoctrination in the fundamentals of the Christian faith, the doctrines of the Trinity, of the deity of Christ, of the vicarious atonement. Moreover, each one is preceded by, and the 11) Luther: "In meinem Herzen herrscht allein dieser Artikel, naemlich der Glaube an Christum, aus welchem, durch welchen und zu welch em bei Tag und bei Nacht alle meine theologischen Gedanken fliessen und zurueckfliessen." (St. L., IX, 8; Vorrede zum Galaterbrief.) Sermon Study on 1 John 4, 9-11 273 entire epistle closes with, rather lengthy discussions of these basic truths of the Christian religion. The other fact is that the apostle of love does not hesitate to make use of polemics, and unsparing polemics, against all denials and deniers of Christian doctrines. Read chap. 1, 6. 8.10; 2,; 3,7; 4,1-6; 5,10-12.21. The three urgent exhortations to love are surrounded, enfolded, as it were, buttressed from within and without, by dogmatics and polemics. It is necessary to keep these two facts in mind especially in our day, when so many self-styled exponents of love and charity, who claim to follow in the footsteps of the apostle of love, positively and determinedly refuse to follow him in his insistence on clarity and purity of doctrine and in his use of polemics against every error and every errorist. Theirs is a charity, a love, which overlooks doctrinal differences as minor matters, which clamors for external union without internal unity of faith and doctrine, which is ready to shout with Schiller, Seid umschlungen, Millionen! Diesen Kuss der ganzen Weltf" at the same time being altogether unwilling to grant the kiss of brother- hood to such as have the audacity to stand up for purity of doctrine. Right there their charity, their love, comes to a sudden and abrupt end. Such love is toto caelo different from that of the apostle, as we shall see with increasing clarity in studying our text. Our lesson is part of the third and longest exhortation to love, extending from chap. 4, 7 to chap. 5, 3. In order to understand fully the import of this lesson, it will be well that the pastor, before preaching on this text, read the entire letter, paying special atten- tion to those passages where phrases and expressions very similar to those used in this text occur. See, e. g., chap. 2, 1-6. In the opening words of chap. 4, 1-6 the apostle had warned against error and errorists and had pointed to the vast difference between the children of the world and the children of God, the followers of error and the disciples of truth. Beginning with v. 7, he exhorts his readers to practise true love. They are of God, v. 6, and for that reason they must be followers of God, not only in opposing error and false doctrine, but just as truly in loving their fellow-followers of the truth, their brethren in faith. In order to make this admonition the more urgent, he adds a threefold reason, v.7: 1) Love is of God; 2) every one that loveth is born of God; 3) every one that loveth knoweth God. These three reasons are elaborated in chap. 4, 8-5, 3. The third reason is the first one taken up by the apostle. He proves, v. 8, that every one loving knows God, "for God is Love." If God is Love, then, naturally, every one that does not love shows by this very lack of love that he knows not God, who is Love. Conversely, every one that loves shows by that very love that he knows God, who is Love, and from that 18 274 Sermon Study on 1 John 4, 9-11 knowledge of God and His love he has learned, and learns ever better, to love his brethren. Before taking up his first and second reason, the apostle goes on to prove his last statement, that God indeed is Love, by pointing to that marvelous manifestation of God's love in the sending of His own Son, v.8. Thus he paves the way for the substantiation of the first two reasons, viz., that love is of God,an outflow from that well-spring of divine love, vv. 10, 11, and that everyone that loves is born of God, v. 12 to 5, 3. Throughout this entire passage John constantly reverts to, and unfolds, the thought that love and the lover owe their origin to the wondrous, unique, all-surpassing love of God, like an eagle soaring round and round about this central point and soaring ever higher and higher, without ever being able to scale the heights of this love which reaches to the very throne, the inmost heart, of Him whose being and whose love is beyond understanding. After this brief survey let us study in detail the lesson for Jubilate Sunday. May our hearts and souls be filled with grateful jubilation and may our joy become manifest in our love toward God and the brethren! V.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." The apostle briefly, but convincingly proves his statement that God is Love. The greatness of God's love is seen already in the very fact that He manifested it. God's love is not merely an emo- tional mood, an inactive sentiment, quiescent, hidden in His heart. It is a love toward us. The apostle does not use the preposition Et~, His love did not merely reach out in a general direction toward us, only to flee horrified and disgusted upon seeing nothing but unloveliness, wickedness, foulness, in mankind. No, thank God, His love is more than that. It is a love tv, on us, a love that in spite of our utter unworthiness not merely approached and dealt with us as from a distance, but, like a heavenly dove, lighted upon us and found on us its resting-place. In various ways God showed that His love rested upon man. The creation of the world, its preservation and government, God's appearing to the patriarchs and prophets of old, His speaking to Israel at sundry times and in' divers manners, all were manifesta- tions of His love. For John there is one manifestation of God's love overshadowing all others: "He sent His only-begotten Son." His Son He sent, not a creature, not a man, not an angel, but Him of whom He had said: Ps. 2, 7; who was very God of very God, Col. 1, 15-17; 2, 3. 9; Heb. 1, 2. 3. "Only-begotten." Note the repetition of the article in the original, whereby "both substantive Sermon Study on 1 John 4, 9-11 275 and adjective receive emphasis and the adjective is added as a sort of climax in apposition with a separate article." (Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p.776.) There is no other Son of God, but this one and only-begotten, the Son whom He loved with all the fulness of His divine love, John 3,35; 5,20. This Son God hath sent, WtEGwhEV, the perfect "implying the present, permanent, continuing effect of the mission of the Son of God." (The Bible Commentary.) This Son He sent off not to some heavenly region, there to confer with angels and archangels; no, into the world. Mark the emphatic position of the words in the original, which is to call to our attention once more who the Sender is, the true and only God, and to effect a sharp contrast between the Sender and the place whither He sent His Son. Picture to yourself the holy and righteous God, of "purer eyes than to behold evil," and then think of this world of sin, and vice, and crime, and hatred, and blasphemy. Is that a place into which the loving Father would gladly send His own Son? This world, the habitation of sorrow and lamentations and tears and heart- aches and sickness and death, is that an appropriate destination for Him whose home had been in the bosom of His Father, where joy and happiness alone are found and sorrow and sadness are not known? Yet the Father was willing to send His own beloved Son from the sinless purity and griefiess joy of His presence into the world of wickedness and woe. Why? His only motive was love, love that was concerned about mankind, that turned in com- plete unselfishness toward those creatures that had turned from their loving Creator, had in basest ingratitude found their delight in a life of sin and shame, had of their own volition chosen death rather than life. To this mankind He, the God of love and life, in love ineffable sent His only-begotten Son, Life of Life, in order that they "might live through Him." Cpo John 10,10. The life which Christ was to procure for us was indeed a life worthy of the name; it was not a life of bondage to sin and servitude to Satan and fear of death and finally everlasting damnation. The Son procured for us a life which is of God, which is lived by the faith of the Son of God (Gal. 2,20), which grows more and more into the likeness of Him who loved us unto death; a life that finds its delight in grateful and willing service of God and the fellow-men (Luke 1,74.75; Matt. 20, 25-28); the happy, content-ed life of the child of God, who knows Rom. 8, 28---39; a life which does not end with temporal death, which even in the face of death exclaims: Luke 2, 29 f.; 2 Tim. 4, 7. 8. This life we have through Him, lhu denoting mediate agency which comes "between" (IILU) and causes the act or state. If we would live, we must obtain life through the agency of Him who alone caused, procured, life for 276 Sermon Study on 1 John 4, 9-11 sinners doomed to death. Reject Him, and there is no life; accept Him, and life is yours. God's love indeed transcends all understanding. What a sacri- fice for a human parent to send his only son, reared in all the comforts of a loving home, into some distant country there to spend his lifetime among filth and dirt, fever and sickness, super- stition and misunderstanding, hatred and persecution! Yet that father is a human being sending a human being to other human beings. Here is God sending His own Son to creatures far beneath Him, into conditions far more revolting to His holiness and purity than to human nature contaminated with sin. A father may over- come his natural reluctance to send his son into such conditions by selfish motives - the hope of gain, of wealth, of honor, for himself and for his son. In God's sending of His Son there was not the slightest trace of selfishness. The welfare, the spiritual and eternal life, of His enemies was the sole motive of His love. A human father may send his son because he is under obligation to some one, to his government, to his God; God is under obliga- tion to no one. He owed it neither to man, who had deserved to die, nor to Himself, who would have remamed the ever Holy One, the unchanging Love, the blessed and blissful God, even if He had permitted all men to die without the hope of salvation. And still, of His own volition, according to the good pleasure of His will, He loved us and sent His Son, His Only-begotten, into the world. Who can fathom, who can sufficiently praise, the mani- festation of this love? It is a manifestation truly divine, which God alone can bring to pass, a manifestation which proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that God indeed is Love, v. 8. By His eulogy on the love of God the apostle has proved his statement that God is Love, v. 8 b. He now proceeds to show that love is indeed "of God," ihr. 'toil {twil, v.7. V.IO: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." The apostle does not say, "This is love," but, "In this is love," empha- sizing "is," EG'tLV. In this, love exists, has its being, its essence. For this use of d~t[ compare the phrase 0 &v xal 0 fiv, Rev. 1, 4. 8; 4, 8; 11, 7; 16, 5, the EG~EV of Acts 17, 28; etc. The love of which the apostle speaks has its being, exists, "not in this, that we loved God." Such love is not of human origin. If the existence of this love depended on our love to God, there would be no such love and no possibility of such love. Christian love, - and that includes not only love toward God, but according to the entire context our love toward the brethren, - this love would be a non ens, a nonentity, if our love toward God were to be the cause or condition of it. The carnal mind is enmity against God, Rom. 8, 7; Sermon Study on 1 John 4, 9-11 277 7,18f. How can love toward God dwell in such a mind? No; such love is altogether, from its very first beginning, throughout its entire course, until its final glorious consummation yonder, "of God," EX "tou itEou, v.7, flowing out of God as its only well-spring; in Him our love lives, moves, and has its being, v. 9. Moreover, the origin, continuance, and consummation of this love is due to that selfsame love of God whose glorious manifesta- tion the apostle has described in v.9: for he continues, God "loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Note that the apostle here changes from the perfect (v.9) to the aorist, "because the Incarnation is regarded as a distinct event, a historic landmark." (Expositor's Greek Testament.) As in the preceding verse, the apostle again is not satisfied with the bare statement that God loved us. Again he refers to the manifestation of this love in the sending of His Son and adds another detail in connection with the commissioning, which not merely brings out in a fuller measure what God's sending of the Son for our life involved, but at the same time proves that and why this commission was the only, but sure means of engendering love in our hearts. We read: "God loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." God sent His Son not to be merely the perfect example of love toward God and man nor only to be a teacher of ethics, to warn against the wickedness of sin, to point out its baneful consequences. That would not have helped the situation. Man, the slave of sin, Rom. 3, 23, knows all that by nature. His conscience rebukes him time and again; and if he succeeds in silencing its accusing voice, his own experience and the fate of his fellow-men ceaselessly and continuously din into his unwilling ears that sin is indeed a re- proach to any people, that bodily sickness and mental diseases and sorrow and self-contempt and despair and death are the dread consequences of sin. And in spite of all the slave of sin "goeth after his sin straightway, as an ox goeth to his slaughter." Cpo Provo 7, 22 ff. God knew that a mere teacher of morals, a mere example of ethical perfection, would not remedy man's ailment. What man needed was propitiation for his sins, and for the purpose of accomplishing a propitiation did God send His Son into the world. Just what is meant by the word "propitiation"? 'IAacr[,to;; means an appeasing of another person, a reconciling of a person to oneself. In this sense the term and related words are found quite frequently in profane Greek. In the New Testament it occurs only here and in chap. 2, 2.* It is found a number of times in the Septuagint in such contexts, or in translation of such terms, as cast an illumi- nating light upon the meaning of the Greek word as used in the * 'IAaa"tl)(lLOV is found Rom. 3, 25; Heb. 9,5; iAo.aXOi-LCU, Luke 18,13; Heb. 2, 17; tAEoo;;, Matt. 16, 22; Heb. 8, 12. 278 Sermon Study on 1 John 4, 9-11 religious terminology of the Jews. Ezek. 44, 27 ti..aO'!16~ is the trans- lation of nN~n, sin-offering. The ritual of the sin-offering, accord- ing to Le~.T4; consisted in laying the hand upon the sacrificial animal, thus transferring one's sins to the victim, which then was slain in place of the guilty sinner, who had deserved death. The purpose of the sin-offering was "to make an atonement" for him (Hebrew kipper, LXX E~LAacrXE