And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16—NIV)

Have you ever wondered what role love plays in assurance of salvation? There are many who suspect that you must be a "loving" person in order to get to heaven but they fail to define what this means. Our text fleshes out the idea in a way which meets God’s approval.

First, what is love? Here the term is "agapao", the Bible word for a love which goes well beyond emotion, to encompass the intellect and will as well. It is a deliberate, free act that is the decision of the subject rather than unbidden, overpowering emotion. It is a choice modeled after the choice of God, as John describes well in John 3:16. Love fully reaches its intended goal when it produces fruit and brings about tangible results.

Second, what has God’s love produced? The first phrase of our verse tells us that Christians are the objects of God’s love. The fullness of their life is achieved through the experience of, and reliance upon, His love. The knowledge John refers to is experiential acquaintance with the loving, kind acts of God toward His own. The belief is a consistent relying upon the very character of God, "God is love".

Third, what practical effect does this have on the believer? I believe that when a Christian remembers the nature of God and is ever mindful of His lovingkindnesses, then he behaves only in ways befitting the freedoms that acceptance before God brings. The believer is convinced he is loved and acts with boldness, fulfilling God’s purpose in him. He remains in that love of God, demonstrates that love to others, and, in doing this, shows that God is in him. In other words, this verse shows us what constitutes the reality of the Christian life.

As you place your head on your pillow at the end of your day does this verse faithfully express your reality? Do you know His undying, unflagging, unmitigating love? Are you faithfully representing that God-kind of love to a lost world?