“God Is Love”
Lesson 44 – 1 John, 2 John, 3
What are some of the ways that parents show love for their children? How do children show love for their parents, brothers, and sisters? Aren’t we all members of the same family?
In addition to belonging to an earthly family, each of us is a spirit son or daughter of our Heavenly Father, who loves us and desires to bless us. In his epistles, John repeatedly emphasizes how the Father and the Son show their love for us and how we can show our love for them.
1 John 4:8, 16 When he used one word to describe Heavenly Father, John chose “love”. Love is an appropriate word because it is one of His primary attributes.
1 John 3:1-2; (see also Romans 8:14-17.) One manifestation of God’s love John mentioned in these verses was that God will call us his sons and make us like Christ—glorified, exalted, and joint-heirs with him.
1 John 2:28-29; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 5:1; Gal. 3:26-27; Mosiah 5:5-9; Moroni 7:48 all give us insight into what we must do to be called the sons of God—abide in the Lord, be righteous, love one another, believe that Jesus is the Christ, have faith, be baptized, covenant to obey God’s commandments and do his will, be born again spiritually, change through faith in Christ, and be like the Savior. While all of us are spirit children of God, the use of the words “sons of God” in 1 John 3:1-2 refers to those who take upon themselves the name of Christ through baptism and honor his name through faith and righteousness.
1 John 4:9-10; (See also John 3:16; 1 John 5:11; 2 Nephi 9:10) The manifestation of God’s love John mentioned in these verses is the atonement. The word propitiation in 1 John 4:10 refers to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Sending his Son to atone for our sins manifested Heavenly Father’s love for us so that we could return to Him through His Only Begotten Son.
1 John 4:13 John mentioned the gift of the Spirit as a manifestation of God’s love in this verse. Think about how the Spirit has been an important gift in your life.
1 John 5:14-15 John taught that Heavenly Father will answer our prayers if we ask according to His will. Ponder carefully how prayer has helped you feel Heavenly Father’s love. Remember that prayer is essential for us to become like our Father in Heaven because we need to develop a personal relationship with him to understand what he wants us to do and when, where, why, and how to do his will.
1 John 4:19 John taught that “we love [God], because he first loved us”. It should be easy for you to name some of the ways God has shown his love for you. Think about how you feel when you consider the ways God has shown his love for you as you read the following…
President Thomas S. Monson said: “Our Heavenly Father’s plan contains the ultimate expressions of true love. All that we hold dear—even our families, our friends, our joy, our knowledge, our testimonies—would vanish were it not for our Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. … The world has witnessed no greater gift, nor has it known more lasting love” (Ensign, May 1993, 62-63).
1 John 3:16 The atonement is the manifestation of the Savior’s love John mentioned in this verse.
1 John 1:7-9; 1 John 5:11-13; 2 Nephi 9:11-13; Alma 11:40-44 Blessings we receive because of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice include forgiveness, cleansing, redemption from the grave, and eternal life.
1 John 2:1-2 The Savior’s love is manifested by his service as our advocate before the Father. An advocate is one who pleads the cause of another.
D&C 45:3-5 Jesus, as our advocate, pleads for us to be forgiven and be given eternal life.
1 John 3:8 John taught that the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. The Savior’s life and teachings destroy the devil’s works by testifying of the truth, teaching us the plan of happiness, and giving us the opportunity to accept Jesus as our Redeemer. When we chose good over evil, we overcome any power or influence the devil could exert over us.
1 John 2:3-6; (See also John 14:15; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6.) We learn from these verses that we show our love for God by being obedient to his commandments.
2 John 1:4; 3 John 1:4 Our faithfulness and obedience brings joy to our Heavenly Father.
1 John 2:15-17 We learn from these verses that we show our love for God by loving God rather than worldly things. We show love for the world rather than love for God when we seek worldly rewards that will eventually pass away. Think about how you can overcome a love for worldly things.
1 John 4:7-8, 11; (See also 1 John 3:11, 23; 1 John 4:21.) We learn from these verses that when we love one another, we show our love for God.
1 John 2:9, 11; 1 John 3:14-15, 17; 1 John 4:20 John described those who claim to love God but do not “love one another” as being in darkness and being blinded. Our love for others is a measure of our love of God because 1) others are his children, 2) they are our siblings; and 3) He commanded us to love one another. It behooves each of us to consider how we can come to feel and demonstrate greater love for each other. In your thoughts about this, it helps to remember how you have been blessed by another person’s love for you.
Consider the blessings of living in a family whose members love each other and love God—then think about how we can help others enjoy those same blessings as part of the family of God.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have great love for us. Remember John’s teachings as you strive to show your love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and for other people.
“Walk in the light” (1 John 1:7)
1 John 1:6-7 To “walk in darkness” is to choose evil over good. To “walk in the light” is to be obedient and faithful in making and keeping covenants with the Lord.
In his epistles, John repeatedly warned the Saints to avoid anti-Christs.
1 John 2:22-23; 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 1:7 John said anti-Christs deny Christ and try to get us to do the same. The adversary tries to destroy our testimonies of the Savior so that his temptations to do evil will become attractive to us. To keep our testimonies strong we must study the scriptures, seek answers and guidance in prayer, live righteously, and maintain the companionship of the Spirit.
Elder M. Russell Ballard taught: “Individual, personal testimony of gospel truth, particularly of the divine life and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ, is essential to our eternal life. … Life eternal is predicated upon our own individual, personal knowledge of our Father in Heaven and His Holy Son. Simply knowing about them is not enough. We must have personal, spiritual experiences to anchor us. These come through seeking them in the same intense, single-minded way that a hungry person seeks food” (Ensign, May 1996, 80).
“No man hath seen God at any time” (1 John 4:12)
If you wonder whether 1 John 4:12 means that man cannot see God, refer to the corresponding verse in the Joseph Smith Translation, which reads, “No man hath seen God at any time, except them who believe” (1 John 4:12, footnote 12a). Exodus 33:9-11; John 6:46; Acts 7:55-56; Doctrine and Covenants D&C 67:10-12; Moses 1:1-2; Abraham 3:11; Joseph Smith—History 1:16-17 all confirm that many prophets have seen God.