1 John 3:14
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brothers. He that loves not his brother stays in death.
I. WHAT WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND BY DEATH AND LIFE.
II. WHAT WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND BY THE PRIVILEGE OF HAVING PASSED FROM DEATH TO LIFE.
1. This privilege implieth in it a change of covenant heads. The first Adam represented all his natural posterity. The second represented all given to Him by the Father.
2. This privilege implies a having passed from law death, to law life; or in other words, front a state of condemnation to a state of justification.
3. This privilege implies a having passed from spiritual death to spiritual life in regeneration; a having been released from the dominion and power of sin, to enjoy the happy reign and influence of grace. This change is not the product of nature, but wholly the work of God.
4. This privilege implies a coming or being taken into new relations — into a new covenant relation to God through Christ — taken into God's family.
III. THE FRUIT AND EVIDENCE OF THIS PRIVILEGE, VIZ., LOVE TO THE BRETHREN.
1. Whom we are to understand by brethren.
(1) By brethren we are to understand generally every man and woman — all mankind. All are generally God's offspring. All are sprung from one common root, Adam.
(2) But by brethren here we are specially to understand brethren in Christ, believers, those who belong to and have the image of Christ upon them. They are brethren by birth, by nature, by relation, and by love.
2. What love to the brethren is. In general it is a supernatural warmth, kindled in the hearts of believers to one another, begetting union of heart and soul, sympathy with, care for, and complacency and delight in and towards one another. Never before nor since was this more emphatically expressed than in the beautiful description in Acts 4:32.
(1) The rule by which this love of the brethren is to be regulated and directed, is that of God's Word. If our outward walk and conversation are to be regulated by it, sure no less is the exercise of the graces of the Spirit.
(2) This love of the brethren is not inconsistent with all that regard we owe to gospel truth and ordinances.
(3) Nor is this love to the brethren inconsistent with a proper regard to the maintenance of Church government and discipline — the reproofs, admonitions, and rebukes which the Lord in love has instituted, and appointed to be observed in His Church, and which He has promised to bless.
(4) Neither is this love to the brethren inconsistent with the discharge of all the duties of love they owe to one another — such as telling them of their faults, warning, admonishing, and testifying against their evils, as well as having compassion for, and exercising beneficence towards them.
3. Now this love of the brethren evidences an interest in the privilege of having passed from death to life. It is an immediate fruit of this privilege, and therefore a certain and infallible evidence of it.
(1) From its being an evidence of regeneration, in which the image of God is communicated — and love to the brethren is a prominent part of that image.
(2) From its being an undoubted evidence of justification. This supposeth and implieth access to God, by and through Jesus the Mediator; as well as access to a throne of grace.
(3) From its being an evidence of their having received the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
(4) From its being an evidence of their adoption (Romans 8:15).
(5) From its being an evidence of their union to Christ, and belonging to His mystical body; the members of which are all united to each other by bonds of the most endearing love and affection.
IV. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE PRIVILEGE AND THE FRUIT AND EVIDENCE OF IT, VIZ., LOVE TO THE BRETHREN.
1. This connection is founded in the purpose and promise of God.
2. It is founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ.
3. In the intercession of Christ.
4. In the order of things.
V. THE BELIEVER'S OWN KNOWLEDGE OF THIS, "WE KNOW." John did not know this as an apostle, but as a believer; and this may be, and is known by believers.
1. From experience of what passeth in their own souls.
2. From its fruits. "A tree is known by its fruits"; and the fruits of this love are such as pity, sympathy, kindness, and compassion, forgiveness, benevolence, beneficence.
3. From the regard they pay to the authority and testimony of God in His Word — as in the text. This knowledge is not left to rest on the testimony of people's own experience, but is based on the testimony of God in the Scriptures.Improvement:
1. From this doctrine we may learn that, although love to the brethren has been called one of the lowest marks of grace, yet it is a real and decisive one, and is attended by the highest authority.
2. We may see that real Christians are united in the firmest bonds of mutual love and affection.
3. We may see how little of this love appears among professed Christians.
4. From this doctrine we may learn that sin has unhinged the moral frame — has introduced a breach between heaven and earth.
5. We may learn that Christ is the uniting bond of peace, reconciliation, love, and fellowship.
Parallel VersesKJV: We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.