Never-Ending Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13, ESV

Sermon Outline

1. The Deficit of Love. (1-3)

2. The Description of Love. (4-7)

3. The Destiny of Love. (8-13)

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Dear Lord, our Father, we are so thankful for your mercy and your love, according to which you gave your only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. We thank You, Lord, that Christ did not come into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved. Father, we pray through the reading and preaching of the Holy Scriptures now this morning, that we would hear again the gospel and then we would see your love for us in Jesus Christ, that you would fill our hearts with that love so that we may in turn, love one another as Christ has loved us. We pray this all in Jesus name, amen. First Corinthians, actually I’m gonna, I’m gonna back up a couple verses. Y’all started chapter 12, verse 27, started First Corinthians 12 verse 27. Now the reading of God’s word. Now you are the body of Christ, and individually members of it. God is appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping administration various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles, are all prophets are all teachers? Do all work miracles, do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues do all interpret, but eagerly desire the higher gifts and that will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy Gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge and I have all faith, as to remove mountains, but I have not love, I’m nothing. If I give away all I have if I deliver my body to be burn Have not love. Again nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away after tongues, they will cease. As for knowledge, it will pass away, For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I felt like a child I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face. face. Now I know in part then I shall know fully even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope and love abide these three, the greatest of these is love. This is the word of God. This is perhaps the most famous chapter on love in the Bible, the most famous and well known complete chapter. You may have seen this chapter, First Corinthians 13 on greeting cards, and stitchery and calligraphy. Most likely you’ve encountered this chapter at weddings commonly read at weddings. First Corinthians 13 is read on those special occasions where men and women are joined in holy matrimony. And that’s the most people associate chapter First Corinthians 1530 With is a the chapter about marriage. And they assume it’s describing the love between a husband and a wife. But the truth is, that’s not what Paul under the inspiration the Holy Spirit had in mind. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with reading this chapter, to Muse on love or at a wedding, that’s perfectly fine. I will likely read this chapter at weddings myself. It’s okay for that to encourage particular married people to love one another. That’s what love looks like. But those aren’t the original purpose for this chapter. There was a specific reason why Paul wrote this, wrote these words to the Corinthian church, and it was to correct the problems that were going on at the church. Right. It’s the first and that’s that’s the first and main purpose of First Corinthians 13. The first and main purpose is not that it’s a dissertation on the virtue of love or a general essay on the topic of love. Paul here is addressing a specific problem, a real problem in the church. Corinth, and he’s confronting the sinful attitudes and actions that have divided the church into factions. And his description of love hears to be interpreted in light of that particular situation. will look this morning as it naturally breaks apart of this chapter, it’s naturally arranged we’ll look at verses 123 the deficit of love. That is what love looks, what things look like with the absence of love, verses 123 the deficit of love. And then verses four to seven, we’ll look at the description of love that middle portion. And then verses eight to 13. We’ll look at the destiny of love, the destiny of love. As we’ve seen, as we’ve looked through these many weeks, First Corinthians, there was something there was problems going on at the Corinthian church, and there was something that they lacked something that was at the root of their problem, and that was that they lacked love. And the antidote to the problems that they were having in the church was just that it was love and the absence Of Love is what led to the problems of the in the church in the first place. they yearn to remember, or rather Paul yearns with them and he eagerly presses in on them to pursue love to earnestly chase after love above all else. And at the end of verse, chapter 12, verse 31, he says, eagerly desire, the higher gifts, and he’s speaking of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Remember, we just read about this in chapter 12. And it’s those things those spectacular gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Corinthians were captivated by. They were obsessed with those spiritual gifts. And they sought after those gifts. Particularly they sought out to the gifts that were spectacular, impressive that would set them apart above others, other ordinary Christians with boring and unimpressive unimpressive gifts. But Paul says, earnestly desire the higher gifts, and then he takes it a step farther and says, and that will show you still a more excellent way even in that and so the more excellent way That they should pursue is the way of love. It’s the way of love. And that is that the way of love, never ending love that Paul goes on to explain. Love, you see is more excellent than the gifts of the Spirit, the holy that they so desire. Love is better than that it’s better than the spiritual gifts. Remember chapters 12 and 14 talks about he’s answering this this issue of there’s about that centered on the gifts of the Spirit. Chapter 13 is not again merely a sidebar that’s disconnected from those chapters. It’s not a departure from the topic of the of the spiritual and spiritual gifts, but it’s rather a central part of what Paul is doing what he’s teaching about the spiritual gifts. So Paul’s talking about the spiritual things, spiritual gifts and he drops in chapter 13 right in the middle of that discussion, because that is the key to what he’s going to say. And it’s really wonderful the way that chapter 30 begins and ends. And we see this it’s begins and ends by there’s this contrast that Paul is making between that which is permanent, and now which is temporal what is temporary and eternal, right between the permanent nature and eternal value of love, contrasting that with the temporary nature in the temporary value of the gifts of the Spirit, and you see what he’s doing there eternal versus temporary. But let’s first walk through what our first heading there the deficit of love, and see what Paul is doing in the first three chat first three verses, the deficit of love. Paul starts here by arguing that without love, the gifts of the Spirit are nothing for nothing. And he speaks of himself theoretically to make a point. And he says if I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I’m a noisy Gong or a clanging cymbal. Right notice where he starts he starts with what gifts tongues right the gift of tongues. Why would he do that? Why would he start with the gift of tongues to put it in its place? Well, he specifically refers to this gift because this is the gift of the Corinthians were so obsessed with. It’s a gift that they were seeking after and using to divide the church. The Paul goes to the heart of that their error and says that if he could speak supernaturally in the tongues of men, and even angels, he says, if he has not love is nothing more than a clanging cymbal or a gong. And you can see how these words of Paul would have impacted shocked the Corinthians. At the church there, it’s because they were judging their spirituality, on the absence of presence. So that spectacular gift of speaking in tongues. It was shame them What a shame those who were doing this in the church would exalted themselves above others, because they had this gift. Paul uses himself again as a hypothetical example. But what he’s doing is He’s getting them to see themselves in that example. And he’s telling them that they think they’re really big stuff. If they think there’s something special because they can speak in tongues. He says if you don’t have love, if you don’t have love, you’re nothing. You’re nothing that has lasting value. You may have confused and convinced yourself, but by way of your former pagan pagan worldview, that you are top tier super spiritual Christian, but if you don’t have love, he says, You’re nothing more than a noisy Gong or a clanging, cymbal, temporal finite without lasting value. That’s what Paul’s doing in verse one. And then it goes on in verse two. And he says, If I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but I have not love nothing. I am nothing. See Paul here is giving a list again, of other sensational gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Corinthians were obsessed with. He mentioned this list earlier in chapter 12, verses eight to 10. And here he lists the gifts of prophecy, understanding all all mysteries and all knowledge. This is why I have all faith to work all miracles, miracle working faith, even if a person has all of those supernatural gifts of the Spirit in the greatest capacity, but he has not love. He’s nothing. those gifts are temporal. those gifts are temporary, they’re finite, they’re only for time. They are the sort that without love, they are nothing but what is love, love is permanent. Loves value is eternal, its nature is ongoing. And those gifts being lauded and sought after with such vigor, no matter the high status of the person who had them. That person is nothing in the estimation of God in the absence in the deficit of love. And it goes on in verse three. If I give away all that I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but I have not loved I gained nothing. Right What praiseworthy actions to win the acclaim of man, giving up everything, giving your body to be burned as a martyr. What a claim, this would have sought from others, I mean, would have given brought from others, but in the eyes of God without love, those things are what they count for nothing. We see that the point of verses 123 is that it is love and not the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the Praiseworthy acts of men. Giving all that I have extraordinary gifts, even giving the body to be burned. It is not these things Paul says Paul tells the Corinthians Paul tells the church, but rather love that gives lasting, eternal permanent value to the service and actions of the believer. We know this very thing. We think of other parts of Scripture. Matthew seven, where he says on that day Many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name and do mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you depart from me, workers of lawlessness. We think of someone else in the New Testament. So I’m not someone who of whom this to be the case. Someone who healed the sick, someone who performed miracles cast out demons, but failed to answer the kingdom to enter the kingdom of heaven. The not Judas Iscariot do these very things. He did. And that was the very, very point that Paul makes and verses 123 the deficit of love these leaves all else as nothing. And these verses function as a warning, a warning that Paul is giving to the church in Corinth. It’s a rebuke, it’s an admonition. First and foremost, That is what this chapter is about. It’s a Warren’s chapters a warning to them. It’s not primarily a good discourse on the subject of love for weddings or musing the musings of romantics. Again, I think it’s fine to be used as that describes love is what love looks like. But primarily, it’s a rebuke on the Corinthian church because they manifest it so grossly, that they have failed to love one another, the absence of love, the deficit of love and that church, they do not love each other as God in Christ had loved them. And it was grotesque to Paul, as it should be grotesque to us. You know, I’m not saying that you can’t read amuse upon this chapter, read it at weddings. But in the context that we find it, Paul is doing something much more than that. All the issues and problems at the church of Corinth recall what they were, and will catalog them but here comes Paul, right in the middle of talking about their problems, and he nails that he puts his finger on The root of the problem of theirs right there. They lack love for one another. They lack the love with which God in Christ had loved them. First Corinthians, First Corinthians 13. His point is to confront and correct those sinful selfish actions and attitudes in the church was a corrective to them from that gross sin. And as we move on to the next section, verses four to seven, we need to see the overall point of what Paul is doing. And perhaps you’ve never looked at first Corinthians 13 in this way, but I think if you do, you will see with new eyes, that this chapter is lot what it’s really about and how it fits in to what Paul is doing. And this is Section two, the description of love, beginning and first for Love is patient. Love is kind. Right the eyeball So Paul begins the description of love with positive descriptions, loving people. Patience. Love is patient and kind. Those are descriptions of God Himself. Those are two of God’s attributes. God is patient. God is kind. Right? How often Can you remember reading the Old Testament reading the scriptures? And how often have are we reminded in our own lives of the long suffering patients of our patient, long suffering, God is merciful. He suffers long. He’s patient, he is good. He’s merciful. He’s tender. He loves he is gracious. That’s our God. He’s patient. He’s kind. We see what Paul is doing here. He’s not just describing love, as an abstract moral virtue to be sought after. Paul defines love in terms of the character of God Himself. Why would he do that? Why would he do that? Why would Paul The inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Do that. As he goes to God, as the source and standard of love, the love with which we are to love one another. To love someone is to reflect the love of God to them, reflect the character of God towards them. To love someone is to treat them as God treats them for the sake of Jesus Christ. It is the love of God, that is in Christ Jesus. We read this elsewhere Romans 838 says similar something similar. Romans 838 for ensure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, or things present or things to come nor powers, nor height, nor depth, or anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Right there it is. The love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Isn’t that wonderful love? Isn’t that glorious truth brothers and sisters? Isn’t that the very thing we need to stir our often cold hearts at the love of God for us in Christ Jesus. That’s the love of God for us the love of God, most excellently shown and manifested in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. And that love Paul says in Romans eight, it’s, it’s from that love that we can never be separated as a glorious truth, glorious truth if you belong to Him. So this is both the source and the standard of love for one another for you and me, God is right in the same way. I loved you. So you love one another. He says elsewhere. It is Christ Jesus, of course, who makes that love of God known to us and brings that love of God to us. It is that love which fills our hearts with love for one another. Again, it is the motive. This is the motive and the The model and the means we are unable to love by the Holy Spirit working in us. So Paul says, Love is patient. I’m sure you would affirm with me. God is patient with you and your Christian. He’s patient with you. He’s long suffering with you love us to extend that patience that God is extended to you, towards others. And then a lot of his time, someone said that patience and kindness represent the passive and active qualities of God’s love towards us for the sake of Jesus Christ. And I like that. I think that that good description, patience and kindness. They represent the passive and active qualities of God’s love towards us for the sake of Jesus Christ. patience and kindness. God is patient with us, but he’s also kind towards us. And these two, patience and kindness are the two qualities of the love of God and Jesus, from which we can never be separated. you grasp that you see the magnitude of what Paul was saying. It is mind blowing is remarkable is wonderful. And as we have received his love, were to extend that love towards each other. Love is patient. Love is kind. all starts with these two positive attributes these two positive characteristics, characteristics of God Himself. And when he moves from those to this long list of negatives, explaining what love is not like definition by negation. We continue with the description of love and verse, verse four after Love is patient was kind then he says, Love does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way it is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Right Love is not selfish. It was not self focused or self obsessed, loving. is not self seeking, which manifests these qualities boastful arrogance rude, right in the verse six it says it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Right and see that there’s a contrast between the truth and wrongdoing. And this doesn’t mean just agreeing with the truth, but love rejoices with the truth. And so we look at this list of these negative statements and we ask, why, why this list of negative statements about love white again to the Holy Spirit and inspire the Apostle Paul to define by negation. Describing Love is not like these two positive statements and then these eight negatives. Well, the answer is that if you get what Paul is doing here, then you understand that he is correcting the sinful attitudes and actions of the Corinthians of the Christians at the Corinthian church. Paul’s giving a list of their attitudes. Give me a list of their actions and behaviors. Paul’s admonishing them for what they have been doing and how they’ve been acting. And that’s it right? They they have been acting evany is they have been envious and boastful and arrogant and rude. They have sought after their own way. They were resentful, they were irritable. And you remember in chapter five regarding the adulterous relationship with the man’s mother in law, but what did it say there? they rejoice at wrongdoing. It says they boasted in it. They boasted in it. So Paul’s telling them things that characterize their lifestyle are not with love is characterized by and that’s clear if we just read the read them into the descriptions, right. The Corinthians were envious. They were boastful. They were arrogant, the Corinthians were rude, they were arrogant, they were resentful and wrongdoing. Those are all problems at the Corinthian church. And these are the kind of things that Paul in been addressing from the beginning of this ladder. That’s why love is described negatively, by what love is not. It’s a rebuke upon them for not living according to the love of God, which was God showed them in Christ. They were not loving one another in that way. They were not being who they are. Right? They were not living. They were living at cross purposes with who they actually were new creations and dwelt by the Holy Spirit’s. They hadn’t been caring for another. They hadn’t been building one another up. They hadn’t been edifying one another. They’ve been divided, dividing one another, they’ve been envious of each other. That’s not how love is. That’s not what love looks like. Love does not boast, it is not arrogant, is not proud is not envious. It is not self centered, it does not insist. etc. And then in verse eight, per se to First Corinthians 13 says Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, believes all things. This is reference to the character of love that believers in God, and it never fails to have faith in God and never fails to believe in the Lord. It hopes all things love hopes, all. But this is not some pollyannish description, or pollyannish optimism. What it means is that the love, that love never fails to hope. It never fails to hope and the promises of God. God is able to preserve you through all the trials that that that he allows you to go through whatever it is that we face, it says love endures all things, all things. And see the climax of Paul’s statement there at the beginning of verse eight. Beginning of this list, he says Love never ends, never ends and there it is again, right? There’s that contrast to the permanent and the temporary loving doors. Love abides, loving doers abides forever. It is eternal and never ends. Its value is eternal. Loves nature is eternal. Now listen, this characteristic of love that it is never ending, Paul began with and reap returns here at. It isn’t just to say that love abides forever, but that it belongs to the eternal state which we are going right. It abides forever, and we’re going there. Right and in other words, Paul’s point in this next section verses eight to 13 is that love is not only our duty, but it’s our destiny. Right It’s our destiny describes what glory will be like. It comes from the power of the Holy Spirit residing in our hearts in which he pours the Father’s love. Right Romans five five said, a beautiful one of my favorite pictures and all scripture how glorious a beautiful what a mind blowing Truth. Isn’t that helpful in your own lives? Isn’t it helpful to know that God the Holy Spirit was residing within your heart and that he is pouring the love of God the Father into that very heart so that you can begin to love as he desires. Love is a duty it’s our it’s our destiny but it’s also a derived love it comes from the Lord is not ours. Brothers and sisters, we are headed towards the state of perfection in love. And love is characteristic of that state of perfection. And when Christ comes again, he will usher in that state. In the continent God derived love is to characterize the lives of those who belong to that world to come. You see that? That perfect continent state glory itself is our true homeland. It is there that we are citizens we are citizens of that place. And that love is the ethic of the heavens. realm. And we being citizens there are to live that ethic out, even now, even now in this world, in this earthly temporal place, this finite place we are to live that heavenly ethic even now, because that’s who you are. Right? That’s who you are. If you belong to Jesus, you see who you are, and be who you are, be who you are. That’s what Paul is telling them. That love is characterized, it is to characterize our lives. We continue in verse eight Love never ends, is permanent, is never ending. And with Paul, returning to this contrast, the temporary in the permanent, contrasting in the eternal nature and value of love with a temporary nature and value of the gifts of the Spirit, there’s a planned obsolescence in those gifts. Right? Not with love, there’s no ending of love. Right again, it says here speaking the gifts of the Spirit as for profit seas, they will pass away. As for tongues, they will cease. As for knowledge it will pass away. And he takes these things that were some of these things that are so important to them and says they’re gonna, they’re temporary, they will pass away they will be gone. That is why without them without love, they are nothing even here. He says the word he says knowledge he means the word of knowledge, right the gift of the word of knowledge that we read about in chapter 12. The gifts of prophecy and tongue the word of knowledge, these these gifts, Spanish, scenic, spectacular and valuable. Again they will all pass away There is nothing without love. You Corinthians are using these things. You’re judging other people by them, he says based on that which is transitory and temporary. That which will not last you’re judging the rest of the church church on. Paul says they have the lasting value but love love abides forever love is eternal. That’s lasting value its character. It is the characteristic of our true homeland of glory, love. look at verses nine and 10. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. He says, When perfect comes to reference to that state of perfection, that state of completion, which Christ will bring when he returns, the partial, then will pass away, and the knowledge that we have now, which is merely partial, it will pass away and will be replaced with the complete knowledge. I probably gives this illustration of verse 11 of this to show what it will be like when Christ returns. He says in verse 11, when I was a child, I spoke like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man. I gave childish ways, Christ returns it will be like maturing and growing from a child into an adult, a fully mature adults. The verse 12 explains this. For now I seen a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part then I shall know fully human as I have been fully known. What’s it like now? What is it? What is it like in this, this this temporary earth the world that we live in Paul? It’s like seeing in a mirror dimly says we only see dim reflections murky reflections. But in the constant state with crumbling Christ returns it’s in that state of perfection. Then we’ll we’ll see God face to face. What glory now I know in part then I’ll show the shall know fully, even as I haven’t fully known it completely contemplate these things. Brothers and sisters. We’re Paul when Paul says elsewhere to whatever is noble and lovely and truth. Beautiful. Think upon these things. What’s more glorious and beautiful in London than this? Right First Corinthians 13 you fill your hearts and your minds and souls with the beauty and glory of the truth of God’s Word and His promises to you. Right? That’s my question to you. Because I promise you brothers and sisters, if you aren’t filling them with something, someone else is going to fill it. So take time to fill your heart and your mind and consideration of the state and things that are eternal. The love of God, in Christ Jesus extended to you will give you joy and delight, and you will feel small before your mighty king, as you should, but you will be overjoyed you’ll begin to comprehend the mighty and marvelous love of God in Christ. Profound, profound indeed. Of course, even then we will not be omniscient, knowing everything Paul’s not saying that will still be finite creatures. Nevertheless, we will know God in a new way. Right? different way than we know him now. It’s not amazing. We have to look forward to in glory a whole new way of knowing or knowledge of God will be a direct knowledge face to face. It says beautifully that’s the contrast between now and then the policymaking our knowledge of God now versus what knowledge will be like when he returns. He says, Now I know full I will know will know fully, even as I have been fully known. Well, let’s wrap this up a look at the last verse, verse 13. Verse 13, says so now faith, hope and love abide these three but the greatest of these is love. The greatest of these races, these this faith, hope and love, says Paul is love. Right, his greatest faith is his greatest hope is love is even greater. Faith abides now What in the world to come? We will see how face to face he just said, Now we walk by faith, not by sight. Hope abides now but hope is that for which we don’t have now currently, hope is for things unseen. And it says it’s for things that we don’t possess, but in the world to gum will possess all. So the greatest of these faith, hope and love is love. Paul says, its nature, its value is eternal. Because all three of these, this is the only one that that is the case. Therefore, love is the greatest of all. It’s more than anything else. You’re Christian, the most excellent ways to pursue love. And that’s Paul’s inspired message to the church in Corinth. And it’s the same message to us even at the church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We always more than any of these pursue love and our pursuit Christ Jesus, we come to find out it was him who pursued us first and loved us while we were yet sinners. Let us live that faith even now you’re Christian, and made the world see this weird, peculiar people loving one another and realize that that’s the very thing that is wrong and missing from their lives, the love of God in Christ. We live our lives knowing that the only way that we can love it all is because Christ loved us. Amen.