Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. "
Θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν. In other words, God is agape. The Greek word translated "love" does not mean a feeling, but a way of acting. Love in this sense is love that seeks the well-being of the loved one without reward.
This kind of love is an attribute of God. To love in this way is the will of God, or the Law, for us. The Ten Commandments do not say that it is not love. But the positive summary is we must love God and also love our neighbor as ourselves.
We know from both Testaments (Deuteronomy 6: 5 and Matthew 22:37) that love for God must be with all the heart, soul and mind. We also know that this love must exceed love for family and spouse, Matthew 10:37. However, by our own strength, we cannot fulfill this law of love. We cannot love God as he deserves, nor love our neighbor as ourselves. The law does not save us, it always condemns us.
“If anyone 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 we have this commandment from Him: That whoever loves God, love his brother also. " These words show that love of God and love of brother are inseparable. The main reason why love for God cannot exist without love for one's brothers is given in the words: And this commandment we have from Him: that whoever loves God, love his brother also. This is a clear command from our Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 22: 37-40. One commandment cannot exist without the other, because the Law of God is a unit, his will is only one. Therefore, true love towards God and correct love towards brothers are closely related and our obligation is clear.
It is relatively easy to love the people we see. Therefore, if we do not love or are indifferent towards someone we should love, that is, all our brothers, then all our pious protests about our love for God are vain and we are deceiving ourselves. This is the point of the parable of Luke 16: 19-31. This parable does not teach that riches are bad in themselves and lead the individual to hell. It is the love of money, not money itself, that is bad. As Luther wrote: “But this rich man is not reprimanded for having good food and splendid clothes, because many saints, kings and queens used to wear fine clothes, such as Solomon, Esther, David, Daniel and others; but as she put his heart into it, she sought, clung to him, chose him, had all his joy, desire, and pleasure in it, and made him his idol. "
Nor does this parable say that poverty, misery, and woe, by itself, leads to eternal life. Luke 6:20 makes a comparison between the repentant and suffering believer and the arrogant, selfish, and unrepentant unbeliever. Furthermore, what follows indicates the ignorance of the rich man, even in hell. He hadn't learned it yet. Abraham needs to remind him. "Remember, the things that you considered good, that were not yours and were not given to God." He should remember that he had received what he wanted, the good things in life, while he was still alive and in the world. "We love Him, because He first loved us." The Apology for the Augsburg Confession (Tappert 126.141) reads thus: It is impossible to separate faith from love of God, however small it may be. Because through Christ we come to the Father; and having received the forgiveness of sins, we make sure that we have a merciful God who cares for us, we invoke him, we thank him, we fear him and we love him.
So John teaches in 1 John 4:19: 'We love because he first loved us. that is, because he gave his Son for us and forgave us our sins. So it indicates that faith precedes while love follows. Therefore, it has been observed that love of God is essentially faith and trust in his Word. “By this is love perfected in us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; for as He is, so are we in this world. In love there is no fear; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear brings punishment. And he who fears has not been perfected in love. "
The Gospel brings love, the love of God in Christ for miserable and fearful sinners. This supreme love eliminates fear. This refers to the specific fear of Judgment Day, the greatest fear of all. John is speaking of the specific love (faith and trust) of the Christian that eliminates the specific fear of judgment. St. John had previously said that believers will stand before the Lord's judgment seat with boldness. Fear of punishment is never related to love. Every Christian who knows in faith that God loves him does not fear anger or condemnation, since he knows that all his sins are forgiven for the love of Jesus Christ. Thus, the love of God, as it is perfected in our hearts, casts out all that servile terror, since it proves to us that we no longer have any punishment to fear. The punishment has been endured and therefore fear simply cannot exist anymore. It is true, of course, that we will not reach this state of perfect confidence, of total fearlessness, as long as we live in this deadly frame. But the last vestige of the ancient fear of the Law will disappear from our hearts on the great day of the Lord's return. In this we have the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.
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