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1 John 4:9

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

In this was manifested the love of God - The mission of Jesus Christ was the fullest proof that God could give, or that man could receive, of his infinite love to the world.

That we might live through him - The whole world was sentenced to death because of sin; and every individual was dead in trespasses and sins; and Jesus came to die in the stead of the world, and to quicken every believer, that all might live to him who died for them and rose again. This is another strong allusion to John 3:16; : God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life; where the reader is requested to see the note on John 3:16.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

In this was manifested the love of God - That is, in an eminent manner, or this was a most signal proof of it. The apostle does not mean to say that it has been manifested in no other way, but that this was so prominent an instance of his love, that all the other manifestations of it seemed absorbed and lost in this.

Because that God sent his only begotten Son … - See the notes at John 3:16.

That we might live through him - He died that we might have eternal life through the merits of his sacrifice. The “measure” of that love, then, which was manifested in the gift of a Saviour, is to be found,

(1)in the worth of the soul;

(2)in its exposure to eternal death;

(3)in the greatness of the gift;

(4)in the greatness of his sorrows for us; and,

(5)in the immortal blessedness and joy to which he will raise us.

Who can estimate all this? All these things will magnify themselves as we draw near to eternity; and in that eternity to which we go, whether saved or lost, we shall have an ever-expanding view of the wonderful love of God.

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
The Acts of the Apostles, 548

But gradually a change came. The believers began to look for defects in others. Dwelling upon mistakes, giving place to unkind criticism, they lost sight of the Saviour and His love. They became more strict in regard to outward ceremonies, more particular about the theory than the practice of the faith. In their zeal to condemn others, they overlooked their own errors. They lost the brotherly love that Christ had enjoined, and, saddest of all, they were unconscious of their loss. They did not realize that happiness and joy were going out of their lives and that, having shut the love of God out of their hearts, they would soon walk in darkness. AA 548.1

John, realizing that brotherly love was waning in the church, urged upon believers the constant need of this love. His letters to the church are full of this thought. “Beloved, let us love one another,” he writes; “for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 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.” AA 548.2

Of the special sense in which this love should be manifested by believers, the apostle writes: “A new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” “This is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” AA 548.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 241-2

After the descent of the Holy Spirit the disciples went forth to proclaim a risen Saviour, their one desire the salvation of souls. They rejoiced in the sweetness of the communion with saints. They were tender, thoughtful, self-denying, willing to make any sacrifice for the truth's sake. In their daily association with one another they revealed the love that Christ had commanded them to reveal. By unselfish words and deeds they strove to kindle this love in other hearts. 8T 241.1

The believers were ever to cherish the love that filled the hearts of the apostles after the descent of the Holy Spirit. They were to go forward in willing obedience to the new commandment: “As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34. So closely were they to be united to Christ that they would be enabled to fulfill His requirements. The power of a Saviour who could justify them by His righteousness was to be magnified. 8T 241.2

But the early Christians began to look for defects in one another. Dwelling upon mistakes, giving place to unkind criticism, they lost sight of the Saviour and of the great love He had revealed for sinners. They became more strict in regard to outward ceremonies, more particular about the theory of the faith, more severe in their criticisms. In their zeal to condemn others they forgot their own errors. They forgot the lesson of brotherly love that Christ had taught. And, saddest of all, they were unconscious of their loss. They did not realize that happiness and joy were going out of their lives, and that soon they would walk in darkness, having shut the love of God out of their hearts. 8T 241.3

The apostle John realized that brotherly love was waning in the church, and he dwelt particularly upon this point. Up to the day of his death he urged upon believers the constant exercise of love for one another. His letters to the churches are filled with this thought. “Beloved, let us love one another,” he writes; for love is of God.... God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.... Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” 1 John 4:7-11. 8T 241.4

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Ellen G. White
Lift Him Up, 134.3

What is the Bible interpretation of God? “God is love.” By giving Christ to our world, God manifested His love for mankind. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Yes, “everlasting life.” This is the love which is the fulfilling of the law. Only he whose heart is filled with compassion for fallen man, who loves to a purpose, showing his love by the performance of Christlike deeds, will be able to endure the seeing of Him who is invisible. He only who loves his fellowmen to a purpose can know God. He who loves not those for whom the Father has done so much know not God. This is the reason there is so little genuine vitality in our churches. Theology is valueless unless it is saturated with the love of Christ. LHU 134.3

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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
In Heavenly Places, 14.1

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. 1 John 4:9. HP 14.1

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 311

In giving His only-begotten Son to die for sinners, God has manifested to fallen man love that is without a parallel. We have full faith in the scripture that says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8); and yet many have shamefully perverted this word, and have fallen into dangerous error because of a false interpretation of its meaning. God's holy law is the only standard by which we can estimate divine affection. If we do not accept the law of God as our standard, we set up a standard of our own. God has given us precious promises of His love, but we are not to ascribe to Jehovah a tenderness that will lead Him to pass over guilt and wink at iniquity. 1SM 311.1

The Creator loves His creatures, but he who loves sin more than righteousness, error more than truth, perpetuates the transgression that brought woe into our world, and cannot be regarded with favor by the God of truth. The way of truth and righteousness involves a cross. Many misinterpret the requirements of God, and make them mean anything that will not disturb their consciences or inconvenience them in their business relations; but truth is the only sanctifying medium. 1SM 311.2

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 319

Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord, and God revealed Himself to Him in his childhood and youth. We must labor far more for our children and for the youth; for God will accept them to do great things in His name in teaching the truth to those in foreign lands, to those who are in the darkness of error and superstition. If you indulge your children, gratifying their selfish wishes; if you encourage in them the love of dress, and develop vanity and pride, you will do a work that will disappoint Jesus, who has paid an infinite price for their redemption. He desires that the children shall serve Him with undivided affection. 1SM 319.1

Parents, there is a great work for you to do for Jesus, who has done everything for you. Take Him as your guide and helper. God has not withheld from you the very best gift He had to give—His only-begotten Son. Children and youth should not be hindered in coming to Jesus. Satan seeks to bind the children to himself as with bands of steel, and you can attain success in bringing them to Jesus only through determined personal effort. Children and youth should receive more earnest labor, for they are the hope of the church. Joseph, Daniel and his fellows, Samuel, David, John, and Timothy are shining examples that testify to the fact that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). 1SM 319.2

We must make more earnest, decided efforts, if we would have the Lord Jesus abide with us as a counselor and helper. The light that shines from the Son of God on Calvary can lead every wanderer home. There is power in Him to purify the heart and transform the character. Let every true Christian work for the children and youth, presenting before them the matchless loveliness of Jesus. Then the attractions and the illusions of the world will be eclipsed, and they will see no advantage to be gained in the path of disobedience. 1SM 319.3

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 323-4

As the sinner looks upon the Saviour dying on Calvary, and realizes that the sufferer is divine, he asks why this great sacrifice was made, and the cross points to the holy law of God which has been transgressed. The death of Christ is an unanswerable argument as to the immutability and righteousness of the law. In prophesying of Christ, Isaiah says, “He will magnify the law, and make it honourable” (Isaiah 42:21). The law has no power to pardon the evildoer. Its office is to point out his defects, that he may realize his need of One who is mighty to save, his need of One who will become his substitute, his surety, his righteousness. Jesus meets the need of the sinner; for He has taken upon Him the sins of the transgressor. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The Lord could have cut off the sinner, and utterly destroyed him; but the costlier plan was chosen. In His great love He provides hope for the hopeless, giving His only-begotten Son to bear the sins of the world. And since He has poured out all heaven in that one rich gift, He will withhold from man no needed aid that he may take the cup of salvation, and become an heir of God, joint heir with Christ. 1SM 323.1

Christ came to manifest the love of God to the world, to draw the hearts of all men to Himself. He said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). The first step toward salvation is to respond to the drawing of the love of Christ. God sends message after message to men, entreating them to repentance, that He may forgive, and write pardon against their names. Shall there be no repentance? Shall His appeals be unheeded? Shall His overtures of mercy be ignored, and His love utterly rejected? Oh, then man will cut himself off from the medium through which he may gain life eternal; for God only pardons the penitent! By the manifestation of His love, by the entreating of His Spirit, He woos men to repentance; for repentance is the gift of God, and whom He pardons He first makes penitent. The sweetest joy comes to man through his sincere repentance toward God for the transgression of His law, and through faith in Christ as the sinner's Redeemer and Advocate. It is that men may understand the joy of forgiveness, the peace of God, that Christ draws them through the manifestation of His love. If they respond to His drawing, yielding their hearts to His grace, He will lead them on step by step, to a full knowledge of Himself, and this is life eternal. 1SM 323.2

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 340

Justice demands that sin be not merely pardoned, but the death penalty must be executed. God, in the gift of His only-begotten Son, met both these requirements. By dying in man's stead, Christ exhausted the penalty and provided a pardon. 1SM 340.1

Man through sin has been severed from the life of God. His soul is palsied through the machinations of Satan, the author of sin. Of himself he is incapable of sensing sin, incapable of appreciating and appropriating the divine nature. Were it brought within his reach there is nothing in it that his natural heart would desire it. The bewitching power of Satan is upon him. All the ingenious subterfuges the devil can suggest are presented to his mind to prevent every good impulse. Every faculty and power given him of God has been used as a weapon against the divine Benefactor. So, although He loves him, God cannot safely impart to him the gifts and blessings He desires to bestow. 1SM 340.2

But God will not be defeated by Satan. He sent His Son into the world, that through His taking the human form and nature, humanity and divinity combined in Him would elevate man in the scale of moral value with God. 1SM 340.3

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 349

Christ was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5). 1SM 349.1

The grace of Christ and the law of God are inseparable. In Jesus mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. In His life and character He not only reveals the character of God, but the possibility of man. He was the representative of God and the exemplar of humanity. He presented to the world what humanity might become when united by faith with divinity. The only-begotten Son of God took upon Him the nature of man, and established His cross between earth and heaven. Through the cross, man was drawn to God, and God to man. Justice moved from its high and awful position, and the heavenly hosts, the armies of holiness, drew near to the cross, bowing with reverence; for at the cross justice was satisfied. Through the cross the sinner was drawn from the stronghold of sin, from the confederacy of evil, and at every approach to the cross his heart relents and in penitence he cries, “It was my sins that crucified the Son of God.” At the cross he leaves his sins, and through the grace of Christ his character is transformed. The Redeemer raises the sinner from the dust, and places him under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As the sinner looks upon the Redeemer, he finds hope, assurance, and joy. Faith takes hold of Christ in love. Faith works by love, and purifies the soul. 1SM 349.2

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 385

Look at the cross of Calvary. It is a standing pledge of the boundless love, the measureless mercy, of the heavenly Father. O that all might repent and do their first works. When the churches do this, they will love God supremely and their neighbors as themselves. Ephraim will not envy Judah, and Judah will not vex Ephraim. Divisions will then be healed, the harsh sounds of strife will no more be heard in the borders of Israel. Through the grace freely given them of God, all will seek to answer the prayer of Christ, that His disciples should be one, even as He and the Father are one. Peace, love, mercy, and benevolence will be the abiding principles of the soul. The love of Christ will be the theme of every tongue, and it will no more be said by the True Witness, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4). The people of God will be abiding in Christ, the love of Jesus will be revealed, and one Spirit will animate all hearts, regenerating and renewing all in the image of Christ, fashioning all hearts alike. As living branches of the True Vine, all will be united to Christ, the living head. Christ will abide in every heart, guiding, comforting, sanctifying, and presenting to the world the unity of the followers of Jesus, thus bearing testimony that the heavenly credentials are supplied to the remnant church. In the oneness of Christ's church it will be proved that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world. 1SM 385.1

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