"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us" (1 John 4:11-12). Do you feel the weight of these words? It's as if John was tossing the baton to us. First, God told us. Then in Jesus, He showed us. Now it's our turn.
"No one has seen God at any time" (1 John 4:12). Many people wrongly believe that Moses saw the face of God. He did not. But he did get the closest of anyone recorded in the Bible. In Exodus 33, Moses said to the Lord, "Please, show me Your glory" (v. 18). And Lord responded, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live…. Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen" (vv. 20-23). No one can see God's face and live.
After this encounter, Scripture reveals that "the skin of [Moses'] face shone" (Exodus 34:30). Moses' face shone after being in the presence of the Lord—and it was only His back and only after He had passed by! Don't you want to shine with the glory of the Lord when you abide in Him? Don't you want to live brilliantly? I do! I hope you do, too.
In Matthew 5:16 Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." You are now the source of light. You are the vehicle through which God wants to bring light into the world. When your family, your friends, maybe even people you barely know have an encounter with you, do you shine? The only way the world will know you belong to Jesus is by your love.
Our study ends with one of John's favorite themes: abide. "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 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" (1 John 4:15-16). In the first day of our study, we learned that we can be sure of our salvation. I love that John underscored his message of assurance: "We have known and believed the love that God has for us."
The word abide is used five times in this little section near the end of chapter 4. Throughout the Old Testament, God made multiple attempts to abide with His people. God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and they enjoyed unhindered fellowship with the Lord until man's sin broke that fellowship (see Genesis 3). In Exodus 25, God again desired to fellowship with His people: "Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them" (v. 8). And so the tabernacle was built. But eventually, due to the Israelites' sin, God's glory departed the tabernacle. God dwelt in the camp of the children of Israel, but He did not dwell in their hearts. Much later when the nation of Israel was restored under Samuel and David and the temple was constructed in Jerusalem, God again dwelt among His people in the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. Again, He had to depart.
And then God's dwelling was no more. Between the Old and New Testaments, a huge amount of time passed during which God did not—could not—dwell among His people. Enter Jesus: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
For just a few decades, God's glory was present among humankind in the person of Jesus Christ. But Jesus, "the Lord of glory" (1 Corinthians 2:8), was crucified. Not long before Jesus' crucifixion, He told His disciples, "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). As followers of Jesus, we are the first people that His glory dwells in. Not on a mountaintop. Not in an object under a lid or behind a veil. God's glory is in us. He shines in you.
You make an invisible God visible to the world. You are His light. I want to challenge you to complete the greatest show-and-tell in the history of humankind: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel" (Mark 16:15). "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). As God's love is perfected in you, your good works deliver the message of His love to the world.
Lord, You have entrusted us with such a great treasure: Your glory shining through our broken humanity. Lord, I ask that Your Spirit would fill me so that Your light and Your love emanate from me. Help me to take every opportunity to do good works that demonstrate Your love. Help me not to miss one chance to show Your love and tell of Your love. Help me to walk in the light and to abide in You until You come again. In Jesus' name, amen.
We hope you enjoyed the Live Brilliantly reading plan. In the full Live Brilliantly Bible study, Lenya Heitzig will guide you through the entire book of 1st John. This rich yet accessible study will ignite you with a new passion for God, shutting out the darkness that threatens our spirit and our world - because God's Word is light everlasting. You can get more information about the book and sign up to receive free materials from David C Cook HERE.