Sermon 1 Cor 13

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Power for Living:  The Work of the Spirit Today

Work of the Holy Spirit in the Individual -  Person – Partner – Power by which we live

We have looked at the importance of the gifts of the Spirit in the church. 

            We are all different yet we all have our place in the church –

            They are many gifts but they our all given by the same Spirit

            We must be hungry for the things of God

Today we are going to pursue the most excellent way.    

1 Cor 12:31  But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.

I.  The Importance of Love

1 Cor 13:1  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

1 Cor 13:2  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

1 Cor 13:3  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Look at the contrasts that are drawn here in the this passage

            1.  Speaking in tongues of men and angels – human and spiritual language

            But have not LOVE – I am just making noise

I learned a new chorus while on vacation - bang the cymbal

            Then sing “It’s a small world” 

Gongs and cymbals – make noise but no melody.

            Tongues without love is just noise

The Church becomes beautiful music when the gifts of the Spirit operating in a spirit of love

2.  Gift of prophecy -  can fathom all mysteries and knowledge – faith to move mountains

            Without love – I am nothing

            Knowledge without love just puffs up

1 Cor 8:1  Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

            3.  If I give everything I have away or offer my body to be burned

                        Without love I gain nothing in God’s sight

                                    The outward action must have the right motivation

                                    Love transforms the action into something supernatural

                                    Lack of love renders the service useless

Next Paul goes on to Identify what love is…

II.  Identifying what love is

1 Cor 13:4  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

1 Cor 13:5  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

1 Cor 13:6  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

1 Cor 13:7  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Cor 13:8  Love never fails.

In relation to the SAINTS of God - 

  • Patient – enduring of personal injury without the thought of retaliation. 
  • It is part of the fruit of the Spirit.

o       2 Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

  • Kind – patience is inward – kindness is outward. 
  • Does not envy – Jealousy

In relation to SELF

  • Does not boast – behave as a braggart, windbag
  • Is not proud – arrogance – puffed up – conceited
  • Is not rude – does not behave disgracefully, dishonorably, indecently
  • Putting oneself ahead of others – what I have to say is more important than what you have to say

Is not self-seeking – insisting on one’s own way or being selfish

In relation to SIN

  • Is not easily angered – hypersensitivity or irritability
  • Keeps no records of wrongs – love does not maintain a list of personal injuries inflicted by other people in order to repay them
  • Does not delight in evil – love is not judgmental with respect to the wrongdoing of others, nor will it self-righteously place on above the wicked
  • Rejoices with the truth – joins others in rejoicing in the truth of Christ who is Truth

In relation to Situations

  • Always protects – love that throws a cloak of silence over what is displeasing in another person. 
  • Always trusts – love believes the best, not the worst in others– always give Christians the benefit of the doubt

  • Always hopes – love is optimistic that such person will ultimately overcome their deficiencies.  Faith in the future
  • Always perseveres – Actively enduring circumstances – patience is with other people, perseverance is with circumstances.

Not only is love Important

Not only is love Identified

Now we see that love is Indestructible

III.  Love is Indestructible

1 Cor 13.8 Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Cor 13:9  For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

1 Cor 13:10  but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

1 Cor 13:11  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

1 Cor 13:12  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Love is permanent

            Prophecies – will stop

            Tongues will stop

            Knowledge will pass away

            Love is complete

                        Childs thoughts are different than adults

                                    We were watching a game show called Match Game

It went something like this:  The people knew the Godfather had just walked by because there was ___________ all over the streets.

            Lindsey said -  fairy dust

We were like  what?  She said – you know the godfather – like the fairy godmother – so he must have spread fairy dust

When I was a child I thought like a child, reasoned as a child

When I became a man I put childish ways behind me. 

The gifts of the spirit are not a sign of maturity.

The gifts of the Spirit operating in a spirit of love are a sign of maturity

1 Cor 13:12  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.

            Mirrors were made of polished metal

            They were imperfect because they had imperfections.

            They were imperfect because they showed the reverse of the person or object being seen in it.

            But someday we will see face to face.

v.  12 -  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

            God knows Paul completely, Paul’s full knowledge of God is in the future.

Knowledge and prophecy are useful as lamps in the darkness, but they will be useless when the eternal Day has dawned. 

1 John 3:2  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

IV.  The Invincibility of Love

1 Cor 13:13  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

            Faith in God – trusting in the Lord

            Hope – confidence in the future

            Love – greatest of all

Faith will one day turn to sight

Hope will be fulfilled when Jesus comes again

Love will last forever and ever. 


While we wait – we must be open to the gifts of the spirit.

We must operate the gifts of the Spirit in an attitude of love.

The gifts are important in the church today because perfection has not yet come.

            We need to hear from God

            We need to know and understand

            We need to build one another up

They are essential in the building up to the body of Christ.

And  Love is the cement that holds everything together. 

What is the source of this love? 

It is from God Himself.

He showed his love for us that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

The love of which we speak today flows from the cross of Jesus Christ. 

            His love was sacrificial – He gave up the glories of heaven to die

            His love was substitutionary – He took out place – our sin – my sin

            His love is     substantial -  It is enough – nothing can be added to the cross

                        We don’t add anything to the free gift of Grace. 

A story is told of the last pope John Paul.   Right after Christmas one year he went to visit the worst prison in Rome.  It had been 90 years since a pope had visited a prison. 

These were his words.  You could not come to me,  I came to you.

What a perfect picture of what Jesus did for us.

We were in prison – locked in sin, stubbornness and shame.

We couldn’t get to him no matter how hard we tried. 

He came to us. 

To save us, to unlock the doors of sins prison and to set us free.

It is this we celebrate at the Lord’s Table Today.

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