Seeing God

In by Joel Webbon

This article is a part of an extended series of articles. If a particular statement seems to be lacking sufficient support or clarification, we encourage you to go back and read the previous articles, as well as commit to reading the following articles as they are published. Thank you for your patience.

12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

1 John 4:12-15


Notice that in verse 13 of our text John does not say that God “has given us his Spirit,” although that is true. Instead, John says that God “has given us OF his Spirit.” This means that God has imparted something particular to us FROM his Spirit. According to our text (and the beginning of the text from our next lesson), this “something” is: 1) Truth (1 John 4:14-15) and 2) Love (1 John 4:16). This only makes sense when we consider that the Holy Spirit is referred to in Scripture as both the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17) and the Spirit of Love (Galatians 5:22).

“The Holy Spirit is referred to as both the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17) and the Spirit of Love (Galatians 5:22).”


At first glance, verse 12 seems out of context. John has been discussing God’s love for us and our love for one another. Then he abruptly states, “No one has ever seen God.” So what does God’s invisibility have to do with John's discussion of love? John means that the invisible God, who was historically revealed in the incarnation of the Son, is now revealed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit through his people when they faithfully exercise biblical love for one another. People do not see God, but they see us. They see his church. John 13:35 says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”


John clearly states the apostolic testimony and witness about Christ in verse 14 of our text. Then in verse 15 of our text, John says, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” John is essentially saying that all those who agree with the apostolic testimony about Jesus abide in God. Biblical Christianity does not ultimately rest on the philosophic speculations of man. Neither does it rest on inner-personal impressions or mystical visions. Real Christianity is grounded in the historic, apostolic witness to the person and work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, to not confess the apostolic gospel is to not be Christian. 2 Peter 1:16 says, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”


So once again, John is encouraging us not to focus on our own subjective feelings. Instead, John urges us to look for objective evidences of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When we see them, we should have confidence that we abide in God and that God abides in us.

1) Do you possess a growing biblical love for Christ and his people motivating you to obey all of his commandments?

2) Do you personally believe and confess the biblical truth about the person and work of Jesus Christ?

3) If you answered yes to these first two questions, do you see this as a strong foundation for assurance of salvation? If you answered no to the first two questions, are you still attributing too much weight to your own subjective feelings and experiences? Why?

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