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The Basic Need Outline

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THE BASIC NEED -- OUTLINE

OUTLINE

TEXT: 1 CORINTHIANS 13
TOPIC: WHAT MATTERS MOST IN LIFE IS LOVE.

INTRODUCTION

·         ILLUSTRATION: ROBINSON USES A LINE FROM A T.S. ELLIOTT POEM TO ASK THIS PENETRATING QUESTION: BETWEEN WHAT MATTERS AND WHAT SEEMS TO MATTER, HOW DO YOU DECIDE?

·         THIS QUESTION IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU MARRIAGE, YOU CHILDREN, YOUR JOB, YOUR MINISTRY, YOUR LIFE.

o    ILLUSTRATION: BEGINNING IN THE INTRODUCTION AND THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THE SERMON, ROBINSON ALSO POINTS OUT HOW THIS QUESTION IS IMPORTANT FOR AN ACADEMIC INSTITUTION LIKE GORDON-CONWELL (WHERE HE SERVES AS A PROFESSOR AND SERVED AS INTERIM PRESIDENT AT THE TIME OF THIS SERMON).

HOW DO YOU DECIDE BETWEEN WHAT MATTERS AND WHAT REALLY MATTERS?

·         THERE'S A SIMILAR QUESTION THAT'S MUCH DEEPER: BETWEEN WHAT MATTERS AND WHAT REALLY MATTERS, HOW DO YOU DECIDE?

·         ALL KINDS OF THINGS TAKE PLACE ON THIS CAMPUS, AND THEY MATTER.

o    ILLUSTRATION: ROBINSON LIST ALL THE DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS OF GORDON-CONWELL, POINTING OUT HOW LANGUAGE MATTERS TO PROFESSORS IN EXEGESIS, HOW IDEAS MATTER TO THOSE IN THE WORLD OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT, HOW PREACHING MATTERS TO THE PREACHING FACULTY, ETC.

·         THEY'RE ALL RIGHT. IT ALL MATTERS. SO THE QUESTION ISN'T: DOES IT MATTER? THE QUESTION IS: WHAT MATTERS MOST?

·         THERE'S A WORKABLE LEAD TO THAT QUESTION IN PAUL'S FIRST LETTER IN HIS CORINTHIAN CORRESPONDENCE.

·         IN CHAPTER 12, HE'S BEEN TALKING ABOUT SPIRITUAL GIFTS, AND PAUL WAS NO MAN TO DOWNGRADE SPIRITUAL ABILITIES. IT'S THE GIFTS THE SPIRIT GIVES THAT ENABLE THE CHURCH TO THRIVE.

·         BUT THEN AT THE END OF CHAPTER 12 HE SAYS, "BUT I SHOW YOU A MORE EXCELLENT WAY": THE WAY OF LOVE.

·         TO PAUL, LOVE REALLY MATTERS.

MANY GIFTS ARE GOOD, BUT THEY ARE WORTHLESS IF DONE WITHOUT LOVE.

·         PAUL LAYS OUT THE IMPORTANCE OF LOVE IN THE FIRST STANZA OF THIS GREAT HYMN TO LOVE IN 1 CORINTHIANS 13: "IF I SPEAK IN THE TONGUES OF HUMANS AND OF ANGELS, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I AM ONLY A RESOUNDING GONG OR A CLANGING CYMBAL."

·         THE WORD USED FOR "GONG" IS THE GREEK WORD CHALKŎS—A REFERENCE TO THE HUGE GONG THAT WAS USUALLY PLACED IN PAGAN TEMPLES.

·         THE GONG AND THE CYMBALS HAD ONE THING IN COMMON: THERE WAS NO MUSIC IN THEM. ALL THEY MADE WAS A LOUD, SENSELESS DIN.

·         PAUL IS SAYING THAT WITHOUT LOVE, THE GIFT OF LANGUAGES OR ELOQUENCE IS JUST NOISE.

o    ILLUSTRATION: A LONG-TIME MEMBER OF A CONGREGATION PASTORED BY A WELL-KNOWN PREACHER SAID, "WHEN HE'S IN THE PULPIT AND WE LISTEN TO HIM PREACH, WE WISH HE'D NEVER LEAVE. BUT WHEN HE'S OUT OF THE PULPIT AND WE FEEL THE CAUSTIC NATURE OF HIS LIFE, WE WISH HE'D NEVER GET INTO THE PULPIT AGAIN."

o    ILLUSTRATION: JONATHAN EDWARDS RESOLVED EARLY IN HIS LIFE: "I'M DETERMINED TO PREACH NO SERMON OR EVEN TO WRITE ONE UNLESS I AM MOTIVATED BY THE GLORY OF GOD AND LOVE FOR THE PEOPLE TO WHOM I SPEAK."

·         HEAR IT WELL: WITHOUT LOVE, OUR GIFTS ACCOMPLISH NOTHING.

·         PAUL THEN TURNS FROM THE GIFT OF TONGUES TO A GIFT HE APPRECIATES: PROPHECY.

o    ILLUSTRATION: ROBINSON POINTS OUT THE COLLECTIVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE STAFF AT GORDON-CONWELL—KNOWLEDGE ABOUT PREACHING, THE WORD, CERTAIN MYSTERIES, ESCHATOLOGY, ETC—AND HOW THE STAFF CAN SPEAK OF THESE THINGS PROPHETICALLY TO A STUDENT BODY AND A CONGREGATION. ROBINSON ALSO POINTS OUT THE PERSON WHO HAS THE ABILITY TO START A SEMINARY, FOUND A MISSIONS MOVEMENT, START A CHURCH, ETC.

·         PAUL SAYS THAT IF SUCH PEOPLE OF KNOWLEDGE AND ABILITY DON'T HAVE LOVE, THEY ACTUALLY HAVE NOTHING.

·         ILLUSTRATION: ROBINSON COMPARES THIS PERSON TO A COUNTERFEIT $50 BILL: IT MIGHT HAVE DONE A LOT OF GOOD THINGS, BUT IN THE END A BANK TELLER WILL FIND THAT IT'S WORTHLESS.

·         IT'S POSSIBLE TO MINISTER THE GIFTS GOD GIVES YOU, DO ALL KINDS OF THINGS WITH IT, BUT WHEN WE STAND BEFORE GOD WITH WHOM ONLY REAL VALUES COUNT, IF WE HAVE NOT MINISTERED WITH LOVE, WE OURSELVES ARE NOTHING.

·         PAUL TAKES THIS A STEP FURTHER, SAYING, "IF I GIVE ALL I POSSESS TO THE POOR AND SURRENDER MY BODY TO THE FLAMES BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I GAIN NOTHING."

·         IF WE GIVE OURSELVES TO THE KIND OF SACRIFICE THAT DRAINS OUR BANK ACCOUNTS OR COSTS US OUR LIVES, BUT WE DON'T HAVE LOVE, WE GAIN NOTHING.

LOVE MATTERS MOST.

·         PAUL'S POINT IS CLEAR, ISN'T IT? AMONG THE THINGS THAT MATTER, LOVE REALLY MATTERS. IF YOU DON'T HAVE LOVE, ALL OF YOUR CHRISTIAN SERVICE COMES TO NOTHING.

·         IN OUR SEMINARIES, CHURCHES, AND MOVEMENTS, WE PUT A GREAT DEAL OF EMPHASIS ON SACRIFICE AND SERVICE AND THE USE OF OUR GIFTS. BUT THEY CAN BE A KIND OF SERVICE FROM WHICH ALL LOVE HAS BEEN SQUEEZED, A SACRIFICE THAT IS SIMPLY A NEUROTIC RESPONSE TO FEELING THAT YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING IF YOU HURT.

·         WE HAVE A KIND OF SERVICE THAT IS JUST SELF-ADVERTISING: I'LL GIVE TO THE POOR IF YOU NAME THE MISSION AFTER ME.

·         BUT PAUL SAYS THAT OF ALL THE THINGS THAT MATTER, LOVE REALLY MATTERS.

o    ILLUSTRATION: ROBINSON ENCOURAGES HIS AUDIENCE TO FILL A PIECE OF PAPER WITH ZEROES. NO MATTER HOW MANY YOU ADD, IT AMOUNTS TO NOTHING. BUT IF YOU PUT A "ONE" IN FRONT OF IT, SUDDENLY THE VALUE SKY ROCKETS. THIS IS THE POWER OF LOVE.

·         USE ALL YOUR GIFTS WITHOUT LOVE AND IT ADDS UP TO NOTHING; TAKE THE SMALLEST GIFT AND MINISTER IT IN LOVE, AND IT COUNTS.

CONCLUSION

·         IF YOU'RE A CHRISTIAN, YOU ARE BETTER AT LOVING THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE.

·         THE SAME GOD WHO HAS GIVEN YOU GIFTS IS THE SAME GOD WHOSE LOVE IS SHED ABROAD IN YOUR HEART.

·         I'M IN AWE OF THE GIFTS YOU HAVE, BUT GOD HAS ALSO ENABLED YOU TO LOVE THROUGH THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT. SO, LOVE HIM AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER, BECAUSE OF ALL THE THINGS THAT MATTER, LOVE MATTERS MOST.

ONE COMMENTATOR SUGGESTS THAT IN THE ANCIENT WORLD CHRISTIANS WOULD BE IN SLAVERY,

AND A BROTHER WHO WAS FREE WOULD SELL HIMSELF INTO SLAVERY,

HAVE THE MARK BURNED INTO HIS HAND,

AND HIS BROTHER WOULD BE FREE TO SERVE THE CHURCH.

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