Belgian Christadelphians

Our Relationship with God, Jesus and each other



( Introductory talk by bro. Martin Rozestraten)

Relationships are more important than material wealth. Even if we weremulti-millionaires and yet had nobody who cared about us, we’d be thoroughly miserable.

Life without at least one good friend, and this isn’t necessarily a marriage partner, becomes lonely and pointless. This is generally recognized, even by humanists and atheists. Life without love is no life at all. A hermit might succeed in cutting himself off from the rest of society but whether he’s deeply happy is highly questionable.

The humanist places man in the centre. For him the relationship between two human beings is the highest possible one. But the Bible teaches us that man doesn’t exist without God. Human interaction isn’t really possible without our Creator. We read in Genesis:

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness´” (Gen.1:26). The deeper meaning is obvious: man is only man because he is made in God’s image! This truth implies a higher and more important Being than man, God!

The God in whom we believe and whom we worship is not a product of our own thinking, as atheists maintain. The opposite is true: we are products of God’s activity, the creation of His hands. God has made us in such a way that we actually or potentially resemble Him in certain aspects. We are as it were an extension of Our Maker; this is seen in the intellectual capacity to sort and name the animals, for example. The first man was given dominion over the earth, initially a small part of it but with responsibility for its upkeep. Nowadays man is capable of scientific research and that also brings responsibility. This truth is not impaired, even when men make faulty decisions: we are made in God’s image.

There is more to it, however! God’s intention is that those who trust in Him should become more like Him. He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so that we should eventually achieve this likeness. Not that the Bible is saying we shall become God, as some teach, but that our moral qualities will be equivalent to the spiritual attributes of God the Father!

A threefold relationship.

Our subject this evening is “our relationship with the Father, the Lord Jesus and each other.” In John’s first letter instead of ‘relationship’, we meet another word, rich in meaning: “fellowship” (Gk. koinoonia). “ And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Here we have the full riches of our fellowship encapsulated in a single sentence. But read carefully; this isn’t the fellowship of an individual with the Father and Son but of all believers with them. John says: our fellowship, and Jesus teaches us to call God “Our Father in heaven” (Matt.6:9). The body of believers is a family of brothers and sisters, whose relationship to God their Father is one of trust. Not only with the Father, but also with His Son Christ Jesus. We are brothers and sisters in Christ! We are united with each other only because we are united with Jesus Christ.

An instructive comparison.

It is interesting to compare the prologue to John’s Gospel with the witness in his first letter:

The Word was with God That eternal life which was with the Father

Most Christians interpret “Word” to mean the second person within the Godhead, and “God” as the first person. The expression ‘eternal life’ must then also refer to the second person, according to this interpretation.

The truth is, though, that “Word” is not referring to a separate person but to God’s self-expression and His creative activity. Likewise, “eternal life” refers not to a person but to that life, which only the life-giving God can give. God is the source of life and only He can give eternal life. That immortal life was first revealed when God raised Jesus from the dead.

What God first expressed in words became a physical reality 2,000 years ago: “The Word became flesh”. Eternal life in an impersonal sense was with the Father but when He immortalized Jesus three days after the crucifixion, that life was manifested in a personal sense. And so John can write: “ which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life” (1 John 1:1).

God is love.

The apostle John addresses his readers as ‘beloved’ and encourages them to love one another (1 John 4:7) on the basis that “love is of God”. The Bible is not concerned with a purely human form of love that has no connection with God. Nowadays many people say that if you strip the Bible of its outer layers, like peeling an onion, then you are left with just one basic thought: love. The consequence of this kind of thinking is that you don’t need to read the Bible as long as you understand that everything depends on love. And if that’s all there is to it, then you can leave God, Jesus, the crucifixion and resurrection on one side. The essence of the Bible, the Word made flesh, then becomes an unnecessary outer skin. This is the thinking of the world, which has permeated all levels of society and expresses itself in unbelief.

We can be thankful for the words of the apostle John in 1 John 4:1-3(read). Everyone who does not confess Jesus is not of God. Everyone who sees love as an independent quality divorced from the love that God has revealed in Jesus is therefore not of God.

May I come back for a moment to that statement of John’s: “God is love.” We find those words in 1 John 4:8 and 16. The Greek here reads: “The God love is” (ho theos agapen estin). Significantly, in grammatical terms, ‘God’ is here the subject and ‘love’ is the predicate; if we turn the sentence round to read “love is God” then the meaning changes.

That’s what the world does today, saying “love is the only thing.” But John says: GOD is love. Love is a quality or characteristic of God, but not identical with God Himself. God is more than love!

We can only know and experience true love in relationship with God the Father, who gave His Son for us. Jesus expressed it like this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Joh.3:16).

It starts with God. God possesses this quality called love. This love of God shows itself in the giving of His chosen Servant, His only begotten Son, Jesus. Faith in this Jesus guarantees eternal life.

The consequences of God’s love.

We might think that that’s all there is to say, but no! God gave His only Son to the world that we might believe in Him and have everlasting life. As John expresses it:

“In this the love of God was manifested towards us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him(1 John 4:9). This life in the Lord Jesus begins at our baptism: “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.6:11).

John concludes this section of his letter with these important words: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). And, a little further on, he says: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (verse 16).


  1. God is eternal. He is love. His plan is full of love.
  2. God reveals His love in a miraculous way by giving His Son, who began life 2,000 years ago.
  3. God in His grace has united us with His Son, who died for us.
  4. The love which radiates from Our Lord Jesus should also radiate from us.
  5. We ought to love one another with the same kind of love that comes from God the Father. That means that the interests of others should take priority in our lives.
  6. Our hope is to rise from the dead just as Our Saviour did, and to love one another eternally in a new nature in God’s Kingdom on earth.

Final word.

In this talk I have tried to give a simple, theoretical explanation. Tomorrow afternoon there will be workshops about the practical aspects of our love, e.g. within the family.

Humanists also love their families! Christians aren’t the only ones to have feelings! And how often can we learn lessons from the humanists about social and educational matters!

It is not my intention in this talk in any way to play down the love of such people. Our ultimate wish must be to welcome them as spiritual brothers and sisters and with open arms.

For we are here as a spiritual family, trying to get a finer grasp of the full extent of that love which is basically a gift from Our Maker! Only He can give us that wonderful meaning to our lives that comes from a love-filled union with Jesus!