God has, in and through Christ, completely restored our relationship with him. In this restored relationship, the purpose and goal of God’s love is accomplished: his love has achieved what his love set out to do. His love is made complete.

This is John’s point in 1John 4:16 – 18. When, as a result of the Gospel, the love of God has accomplished its purpose in us, four related things happen:

We know and rely on the love God has for us.
We have confidence on the day of judgement.
We are not afraid of God.
God’s perfect love has driven out our fear of punishment by God.

This incredible confidence in the presence of God is the out-flow from the multi-faceted salvation he accomplished for us and has given to us freely in Christ:

Everyone who believes in him has eternal life, life in his name – John 3:15; 20:31.

Those who believe are freely acquitted, credited with the perfect legal righteousness of Christ – Romans 3:21 – 24.

In Christ we have redemption/deliverance – the forgiveness of sins – Ephesians 1:7.

In Christ God has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light – Colossians 1:12.

Through Christ God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his Son – Colossians 1:13.

Through the death of Christ God has reconciled us to himself, making peace through his blood – Colossians 1:20.

In Christ God presents us holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – Colossians 1:22.

All of that, and more, is what the love of God accomplished in and through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. It is a massive salvation, so complete, so comprehensive, so extensive, that we will never comprehend its size or its power. We will continually be discovering more of its depth and length and height and breadth. But there it is, and it is ours. Freely given to us in Christ Jesus. If we have received Jesus Christ – if we have acknowledged him as God – then, whether we realize it or not, we have also received, in him, this complete salvation that he, in his infinite wisdom and understanding of our need and our inability, has freely lavished upon us (see Ephesians 1:6 – 8).

John in 4:16 – 18 encourages us to live in the reality of this incredible love. To live as though it is all true, because it actually is true. He is reminding us of what God did through his Son. He is telling us ‘we know and rely on the love God has for us’. If we really know and are really relying on that love, ‘we will have confidence on the day of judgement’. We will not fear the day of judgement – even if that day was today. We will not fear that God might reject or condemn us. Not because we think we have not sinned. Not because we think we have loved others enough. But because his love, if it has accomplished his saving purpose in us, casts out the fear of judgement. God’s love assures us that there is no judgement left for us to bear. There is no guilt left for us to carry. There are no sins that have not already been forgiven. There is no guilt of which we have not been acquitted. There are no sins left for which we must be punished. Christ has borne it all.

John’s question to us is:

Are you living (present tense - every moment) in that love?

Are you living every moment in the joy, the peace, the freedom from condemnation that God planned for you when he sent Jesus to die for you?

Are you resting in him and his love?

Or are you still living with fear and guilt in the presence of God, as if Jesus had not died for you? As if his atoning sacrifice did not atone? As if his advocacy is powerless and ineffective?

Let us actually believe God, not just believe in God. Let us believe him when he tells us that we have this absolutely complete salvation in Christ. And let us pray for ourselves and for each other, Paul’s prayer:

‘I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God’ – Ephesians 3:17 – 19.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2022