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Agape Love

…we have come to know and trust the love that God has for us. God is love; and those who remain in this love remain united with God, and God remains united with them.  Here is how love has been brought to maturity with us: as the Messiah is, so are we in the world. This gives us confidence for the Day of Judgment.  There is no fear in love. On the contrary, love that has achieved its goal gets rid of fear, because fear has to do with punishment; the person who keeps fearing has not been brought to maturity in regard to love.  We ourselves love now because he loved us first. ~ 1 John 4:16-19, CJB

 

Anything that causes strong feelings of resistance, reluctance, hesitation, dislike, aversion, unwillingness, loatheness, disgust, hatred, insecurity, agitation, agony, anguish, foreboding, self-punishing, worry, uneasiness, humiliation, trepidation, distress, fright, dread, panic, or alarm, and etc., is the kind of fear the apostle John says involves punishment. This kind of fear is not the type that causes godly fear or reverence of God; this fear apostle John says is not in love is not the kind of fear that causes people to not want to offend God.

That’s why, unlike some of this world’s types of love, the God kind of Love doesn’t cause any of the already stated unpleasant feelings. For sure, the God kind of Love never torments (punishes) or distresses those individuals who receive His Love, even though God’s Love is self-sacrificing, patient, kind, compassionate, friendly, generous, good-natured, tender, gentle, calm, warm, sensitive, supportive, fearless, noble, hopeful, trustworthy, honest, easy-going, encouraging, accepting, unfailing, willing, cooperative, agreeable, likeable, fair, merciful, gracious, confident, bold, strong, determined, long-lasting, never-ending, and so forth.

Furthermore, the fear the apostle speaks of repels, but the love he talks about attracts. Even so, there are times when fear and love will coexist, especially when love has not been perfected—when love doesn’t have everything that is needed to make it full; isn’t complete; hasn’t fulfilled its purpose. Put differently, the kind of love that is not “perfect love” is the self-centered, self-absorbed, “me” first kind of love. In contrast, the “perfect” kind of love that has NO fear is pure, mature, and unselfish love.

When love is pure, mature, and unselfish, there absolutely is no fear in this type of love—fear positively cannot exist in pure, mature, and unselfish love. So then, the kind of love apostle John is referring to as “perfect love” is God’s agápe Love (God’s unconditional Love, which He gives to His sons and daughters [cf. Romans 5:5], AND the unconditional love His children give back to Him, as well as give to humanity). Of all of the types of love that are in this world, it is only the bold, confident agápe love (“perfect love”) that can drive out every kind of repellent fear, including the fear of Judgment Day.   

The reason why the Day of Judgment, and every day leading up to this day, does not cause the true believer in Christ Jesus to have fear is because God’s agápe Love inside of every believer’s spirit (heart) is fulfilling its purpose—is giving each believer everything he or she needs to become full or spiritually mature; is giving everything each believer needs to become like Christ Jesus (cf. 1 John 4:17). That’s why every believer can be boldly confident about having no fear of or having no anticipation of punishment (God’s wrath)—just “perfect love.” Put differently, no genuine believer in Christ Jesus will fear the wrath of God on Judgment Day, because God’s agápe Love (“perfect love”) will have been matured (fulfilled, brought to completion) within every born again, saved, justified, imputed righteousness, and sanctified believer. Without a doubt, long before Judgment Day begins, the “perfect love” in each true believer will have driven out all fear of being condemned on that Day of the Lord. Indeed, this Divine Truth is why the Scriptures declare that the “perfect love” in every believer lets each believer know that he or she has passed from death to life (cf. 1 John 3:14).

Now another Divine Truth is that the ones who will have fear of or have anticipation of Judgment Day’s punishment are those individuals who remain in death (cf. 1 John 3:14). They have not passed out of death into life, because the love within them has never been “perfect love.” As a result, they have not matured, spiritually speaking; they haven’t received everything they need to have a love that is full or complete, and their love hasn’t fulfilled the purpose “perfect love” fulfills.

Sadly, while many of these left-behinders might dread God’s wrath to the point that they stop sinning, unfortunately all of them will have failed to realize that their fear of God’s punishment will not and cannot lead them to salvation—their fear of God’s wrath will not and cannot rescue/deliver them from that end-time torment, if they have not been born again, saved, justified, imputed righteousness, and sanctified. Indeed, according to apostle John, it is God’s Love that eventually leads to salvation. John writes: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed” (John 3:16, CJB).

More to the point, without regeneration and salvation, there is no way that those who fear God’s punishment could have received God’s agápe Love in their unregenerate spirit. In their dead-to-God spiritual state, there is no way that they could be united with God and, more important, no way that He could unite with them!

The bottom line is that only born again, saved, justified, imputed righteousness, and being sanctified believers who have God’s agápe Love inside their individual heart (spirit) will positively be able to love God with all of their heart (spirit), soul, mind, and might, plus love their neighbors as they love themselves. For sure, because the “perfect love” inside genuine lovers of God and authentic believers in Christ Jesus will cause that good work begun in them to be completed (cf. Philippians 1:6), this Divine Truth is why their “perfect love” also will get rid of any fear of destruction and death they might have had and leave true believers with boldness and confidence about their salvation.

Even though “perfect love” is gentle, kind, teachable, and loving in how it pleads with believers to avoid sin (darkness) by coming to and remaining in the Light, unfortunately there will be many people who will remain in darkness. Many of them are those individuals who will continue to fear God’s punishment, because God’s agápe Love has not been made perfect in them. Sadly, this last fact means God’s unconditional Love isn’t (and never was) inside them.

A word to the wise should be sufficient. Amen!