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1 John 4:12

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

No man hath seen God at any time - The very words, with the change of ἑωρακε for τεθεαται, of this apostle in his gospel, John 1:18. We may feel him, though we cannot see him; and if we love one another he dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us - it has then its full accomplishment, having moulded us according to its own nature.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

No man hath seen God at any time - See the notes at John 1:18, where the same declaration occurs. The statement seems to be made here in order to introduce a remark to show in what way we may know that we have any true knowledge of God. The idea is, “He has never indeed been seen by mortal eyes. We are not, then, to expect to become acquainted with what he is in that way. But there is a method by which we may be assured that we have a true knowledge of him, and that is, by evidence that we love another, and by the presence of his Spirit in our hearts. We cannot become acquainted with him by sight, but we may by love.”

If we love one another, God dwelleth in us - Though we cannot see him, yet there is a way by which we may be assured that he is near us, and that he even dwells in us. That way is by the exercise of love. Compare the notes at John 14:23-24.

And his love is perfected in us - Is carried out to completion. That is, our love for each other is the proper exponent of love to him reigning in our hearts. The idea here is not that we are absolutely perfect, or even that our love is perfect, whatever may be true on those points, but that this love to others is the proper carrying out of our love toward him; that is, without this our love to him would not have accomplished what it was adapted and designed to do. Unless it produced this effect, it would be defective or incomplete. Compare 1 John 4:17. The general sense is this: “We claim to have the love of God in our hearts, or that we are influenced and controlled by love. But however high and exalted that may seem to be as exercised toward God, it would be defective; it would not exert a fair influence over us, unless it led us to love our Christian brethren. It would be like the love which we might profess to have for a father, if it did not lead us to love our brothers and sisters. True love will diffuse itself over all who come within its range, and will thus become complete and entire.” This passage, therefore, cannot be adduced to demonstrate the doctrine of sinless perfection, or to prove that Christians are ever absolutely perfect in this life. It proves only that love to God is not complete, or fully developed, unless it leads those who profess to have it to love each other. See the notes at Job 1:1. On the meaning of the Greek word here used, ( τελειόω teleioōsee the notes at Philemon 3:12. Compare the notes at Hebrews 2:10.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The Spirit of God is the Spirit of love. He that does not love the image of God in his people, has no saving knowledge of God. For it is God's nature to be kind, and to give happiness. The law of God is love; and all would have been perfectly happy, had all obeyed it. The provision of the gospel, for the forgiveness of sin, and the salvation of sinners, consistently with God's glory and justice, shows that God is love. Mystery and darkness rest upon many things yet. God has so shown himself to be love, that we cannot come short of eternal happiness, unless through unbelief and impenitence, although strict justice would condemn us to hopeless misery, because we break our Creator's laws. None of our words or thoughts can do justice to the free, astonishing love of a holy God towards sinners, who could not profit or harm him, whom he might justly crush in a moment, and whose deserving of his vengeance was shown in the method by which they were saved, though he could by his almighty Word have created other worlds, with more perfect beings, if he had seen fit. Search we the whole universe for love in its most glorious displays? It is to be found in the person and the cross of Christ. Does love exist between God and sinners? Here was the origin, not that we loved God, but that he freely loved us. His love could not be designed to be fruitless upon us, and when its proper end and issue are gained and produced, it may be said to be perfected. So faith is perfected by its works. Thus it will appear that God dwells in us by his new-creating Spirit. A loving Christian is a perfect Christian; set him to any good duty, and he is perfect to it, he is expert at it. Love oils the wheels of his affections, and sets him on that which is helpful to his brethren. A man that goes about a business with ill will, always does it badly. That God dwells in us and we in him, were words too high for mortals to use, had not God put them before us. But how may it be known whether the testimony to this does proceed from the Holy Ghost? Those who are truly persuaded that they are the sons of God, cannot but call him Abba, Father. From love to him, they hate sin, and whatever disagrees with his will, and they have a sound and hearty desire to do his will. Such testimony is the testimony of the Holy Ghost.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 94

This is the testimony that must go throughout the length and breadth of the world. It presents the law and the gospel, binding up the two in a perfect whole. (See Romans 5 and 1 John 3:9 to the close of the chapter.) These precious scriptures will be impressed upon every heart that is opened to receive them. “The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple”—those who are contrite in heart. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” These have not a mere nominal faith, a theory of truth, a legal religion, but they believe to a purpose, appropriating to themselves the richest gifts of God. They plead for the gift, that they may give to others. They can say, “Of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” TM 94.1

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.” TM 94.2

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Ellen G. White
Counsels on Diet and Foods, 210-1

The carrying of things to extremes is a matter to be dreaded. It always results in my being compelled to speak to prevent matters from being misunderstood, so that the world will not have cause to think that Seventh-day Adventists are a body of extremists. When we seek to pull people out of the fire on the one hand, the very words which then have to be spoken to correct evils are used to justify indulgence on the other hand. May the Lord keep us from human tests and extremes. CD 210.1

Let no one advance extreme views in regard to what we shall eat and what we shall drink. The Lord has given light. Let our people accept the light and walk in the light. There needs to be a great increase in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ. This knowledge is eternal life. An increase of piety, of good, humble, spiritual religion would place our people in a position where they could learn of the Great Teacher. CD 210.2

The time may come when it will not be safe to use milk. But if the cows are healthy and the milk thoroughly cooked, there is no necessity of creating a time of trouble beforehand. Let no one feel that he must bear a message as to what our people shall place on their tables in every particular. Those who take an extreme position will in the end see that the results are not what they thought they would be. The Lord will lead us by His own right hand, if we will be led. Love and purity—these are the fruits borne upon a good tree. Every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. CD 210.3

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 505

All this is but a fulfillment of the principle of the law,—the principle that is illustrated in the story of the good Samaritan, and made manifest in the life of Jesus. His character reveals the true significance of the law, and shows what is meant by loving our neighbor as ourselves. And when the children of God manifest mercy, kindness, and love toward all men, they also are witnessing to the character of the statutes of heaven. They are bearing testimony to the fact that “the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Psalm 19:7. And whoever fails to manifest this love is breaking the law which he professes to revere. For the spirit we manifest toward our brethren declares what is our spirit toward God. The love of God in the heart is the only spring of love toward our neighbor. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” Beloved, “if we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:20, 12. DA 505.1

This chapter is based on Luke 17:20-22.

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 181.5

Instead of finding fault with others, let us be critical with ourselves. Every one should inquire, Is my heart right before God? Am I glorifying my heavenly Father? If you have cherished a wrong spirit, banish it from the soul. Eradicate from your heart everything that is of a defiling nature. Pluck up every root of bitterness, lest others be contaminated by the baleful influence. Do not allow one poisonous plant to remain in the soil of your heart. Root it out this very hour, and cultivate in its stead the plant of love. Let Jesus be enshrined in the soul-temple.... “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12. OHC 181.5

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Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 73.1

If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12. RC 73.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 85

The teachers in our college should not conform to worldly customs or adopt worldly principles. The attributes which God prizes most are charity and purity. These attributes should be cherished by every Christian. “Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.” “We shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” 5T 85.1

God has been moving upon the hearts of young men to devote themselves to the ministry. They have come to our college in the hope of finding advantages there which they could obtain nowhere else. But the solemn convictions of the Spirit of God have been lightly regarded by teachers who know but little of the worth of souls and feel but little burden for their salvation, and they have endeavored to turn the youth from the path into which God had been seeking to lead them. 5T 85.2

The compensation of well-qualified teachers is much higher than that of our ministers, and the teacher does not labor nearly so hard or subject himself to so great inconvenience as the minister who gives himself wholly to the work. These things have been presented before the youth, and they have been encouraged to distrust God and disbelieve His promises. Many have chosen the easier course and have prepared themselves to teach the sciences or to engage in some other employment instead of preaching the truth. 5T 85.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 137

Those in positions of responsibility will need wisdom from on high in order to deal justly, to love mercy, and to show mercy, not only to a few, but to everyone with whom they come in contact. Christ identifies His interests with those of His people, no matter how poor and needy they may be. Missions must be opened for the colored people, and everyone should seek to do something and to do it now. 8T 137.1

There is need that institutions be established in different places, that men and women may be set at work to do their best in the fear of God. No one should lose sight of his mission and work. Everyone should aim to carry forward to a successful issue the work placed in his hands. All our institutions should keep this in mind and strive for success; but at the same time let them remember that their success will increase in proportion as they exercise disinterested liberality, sharing their abundance with institutions that are struggling for a foothold. Our prosperous institutions should help those institutions that God has said should live and prosper, but which are still struggling for an existence. There is among us a very limited amount of real, unselfish love. The Lord says: “Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:7, 8, 12. It is not pleasing to God to see man looking only upon his own things, closing his eyes to the interests of others. 8T 137.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 265

As a personal being, God has revealed Himself in His Son. Jesus, the outshining of the Father's glory, “and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3), was on earth found in fashion as a man. As a personal Saviour He came to the world. As a personal Saviour He ascended on high. As a personal Saviour He intercedes in the heavenly courts. Before the throne of God in our behalf ministers “One like unto the Son of man.” Revelation 1:13. 8T 265.1

Christ, the Light of the world, veiled the dazzling splendor of His divinity and came to live as a man among men, that they might, without being consumed, become acquainted with their Creator. No man has seen God at any time except as He is revealed through Christ. 8T 265.2

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