Matters of Worship: Part 4 

The place of love in our worship and lives 

First Corinthians 13 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • May 8, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2019 

  1. 13.1–3 | Love Is More Excellent than All Gifts

    1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
    1. What had Paul just written about? 
      1. He wrote about spiritual or miraculous gifts and the order of those gifts. 
      2. He had urged the Corinthians to desire the best gifts. 
        1. Then he stated that he would show them a more excellent way. 
        2. This was is more excellent than what? 
          1. It is something that is more excellent than doing miracles. 
          2. How could something possibly be greater than miracles? 
            1. That is what he then set out to demonstrate. 
            2. There is something that excels miracles in every way. 
    2. What is excellent speech, whether of Holy Spirit-inspired speech or just someone who speaks well, without love? 
      1. He who speaks in with excellent speech but has no love for the people to whom he speaks loves only himself. 
      2. Such a speaker has become like a noisy instrument. 
    3. Knowledge and faith are good, but what are they without love? 
    4. How much do you gain through sacrificing if you do not have love? 
    5. Why would someone have knowledge, faith, and make great sacrifices without love? 
  2. 13.4–7 | The Excellency of Love

    4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
    1. Do any of these qualities of love picture miracles? 
      1. No, and this is why love is a more excellent way. 
      2. Miracles simply got people’s attention so that a preacher could authenticate his message and the people would be more inclined to believe. 
    2. Were miracles ever intended to last forever? 
      1. No, they only had a temporary place and once they fulfilled their duty, there was no longer a need for them. 
      2. What was the purpose of miracles? 
        1. Mark 16.20 
        2. Hebrews 2.1–4 
    3. What would happen to the effect of miracles, if they were performed multiple times daily? 
    4. What happens to the effect of love when it is multiplied every day? 
    5. At the Judgment, will God be questioning us about miracles we did or whether or not we showed love? 
  3. 13.8–13 | Spiritual Gifts Would Cease

    8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
    1. Does love fail? 
      1. Did miracles fail? 
      2. Yes, that is why you do not see the nine miraculous gifts of First Corinthians 12.7–10; 28–30 anymore. 
    2. What did Paul mean that prophecies, tongues, and knowledge would fail, cease, and vanish away? 
      1. Was he saying that there would be a time no more languages would exist and that there would be no knowledge at all? 
      2. What is the context? 
        1. Why is Paul talking about love? 
        2. Remember he had said that he would show a more excellent way? 
          1. What was that excellent way? 
          2. That excellent way is love. 
    3. Love is a more excellent way, but it is more excellent than what? 
      1. It is more excellent than miracles. 
      2. It does things that miracles could not do. 
        1. Note what some of the miracles were: 
          1. The word of wisdom 
          2. The word of knowledge 
          3. Prophecy 
          4. Tongues 
        2. The miraculous manifestation or the miraculous deliverance of these things would fail, cease, and vanish. 
        3. Here is how we know this to be the case. 
    4. Concerning the prophesying and the knowledge, what did Paul say about them in verse 8? 
      1. They shall fail and vanish away. 
      2. Did anyone in the first century, or in any previous century, have all the truth? 
        1. No, but various prophets and apostles had prophecy or knowledge in part. 
        2. The time would arrive when all prophecy and all knowledge would be available to everyone. 
    5. When would that which was in part be done away? (v. 10) 
      1. That which was in part would vanish, cease, and fail when that which is perfect has come. 
      2. The question is: What is that which is perfect? 
        1. The miraculous deliverance of prophecy and knowledge would stop. 
        2. It would stop because all the prophecy and knowledge that God wanted delivered will have been delivered. 
          1. That is that which is perfect, or a better word in this context would be “complete.” 
          2. When people do not consider the context, they often conclude that heaven or Jesus is that which is perfect. 
            1. Jesus and heaven are certainly perfect, but we have to keep in mind the context. 
            2. The context is miraculous gifts, especially as they were used in worship services. 
              1. Paul was showing that miraculous gifts were only temporary, whereas love is more excellent because it is permanent. 
              2. Love also has qualities (v. 4–7), that miracles do not possess. 
              3. The rest of the chapter further affirms this argument. 
      3. What then would the perfect or complete be? 
        1. He prophesied of the full revelation of God’s word. 
        2. He foretold of the time that the Scriptures would be complete. 
          1. Once that had happened, the miraculous delivery of prophecy and knowledge would stop. 
          2. Has that time arrived? 
    6. How does the illustration of verse 11 make Paul’s point about the temporary nature of the miraculous delivery of prophecy and knowledge, and the permanent nature of the completion of God’s word? 
      1. Can anything make God’s word in the world go away? 
      2. Have miracles of any kind ceased? 
        1. Yes, they have and what people claim are miracles just simply do not qualify as biblical miracles. 
        2. For example, the conception, development, and birth of a baby is amazing, but it is not miraculous, it is a perfectly natural event that God put in order. 
      3. In verse 11, to what does Paul compare miracles? 
      4. What happened when he became a man? 
        1. Childhood and the things of childhood are designed to bring a child to maturity as a man or a woman. 
        2. Once adulthood has been reached, is there still a need for the things of childhood? 
    7. According to verse 12, did they in the first century see clearly the whole truth? 
      1. No, it was like looking into a dim mirror. 
      2. When that which is perfect arrived, then it would be like looking face to face, everything is there to be seen. 
        1. At that time, Paul said he only knew in part, but when that which is perfect had arrived, he would know just as he had been known. 
        2. In other words, he would have the ability to have full knowledge. 
          1. See First Peter 1.2–4. 
          2. Note that “knowledge” in this passage is from the Greek word: e˙pignw¿sei. 
            1. This means “Full Knowledge.” 
            2. That full knowledge is now available through the complete revelation of God’s word. 
    8. To drive home his point that love is permanent, to what two other great spiritual qualities did Paul compare love? 
      1. He compared them to faith and hope. 
      2. All three of them abide for now. 
        1. However, love is the greatest of the three. 
        2. Why is love the greatest of all three? 
          1. Think of what Paul had been arguing. 
          2. He argued that the miraculous delivery of knowledge is permanent. 
            1. In part knowledge would be replaced by perfect or complete knowledge. 
            2. Love is greater than miracles of any kind. 
              1. Shall we have hope in heaven? 
              2. Shall we have faith in heaven? 
                1. Both of these are things we exercise now in anticipation of heaven. 
                2. Do you think love will continue after the full revelation of knowledge and after we have entered God’s presence?