Thursday, November 8, 2018

2018.11.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 13

Questions for Littles: What kind of authenticating sign would Paul be, if he had tongues signs even more than actually existed, but was missing the love sign (v1)? If he has prophecy, and understands it all completely and believes it, but does not love, what is he (v2)? If he performs great acts of self-sacrifice, what might he still not have? And what will it profit him (v3)? What does love do (4a)? What does love be (4b)? What two things does love not do (4c-d)? What is love not (4e)? How does love not behave (v5)? What does it not seek? How does it not respond to offenses? What does it not think/calculate? What does love not rejoice in (v6)? What does love rejoice in? What does love bear (v7)? What does love believe? What does love hope? What does love endure? Which of the authenticating signs will never end (v8)? What were currently partial at the time that Paul wrote (v9)? Did God’s revelation remain incomplete? When the completion arrived what happened to partial words of prophecy and knowledge (v10)? How does v11 describe the age of partial revelation? How does v12 describe the age of partial revelation? What three things outlast the age of partial revelation (v13)? Which is the greatest of the three? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we continued hearing about the spiritual aspect of our lives. Last week, in chapter 12, we learned that the whole point of having God’s Word spoken and authenticated to us was the fact that this Word is what the Holy Spirit uses to work faith in each of us, and to make every one of us a necessary and effective instrument of God in the lives of the other members of the congregation.

This is why prophecy in a known tongue is going to get such a hearty recommendation in chapter 14. It’s what God uses to build us up. But here, in chapter 13, the focus is upon what that building up looks like.

There were spiritual gifts that were authenticating signs for the delivery of God’s Word during the age of partial revelation. But even at that time, those signs did not compare with love. Love was not only a sign that the effective Word was being spoken; it was a sign that the authentic Word had taken its effect.

Now, there is much that we could say about love here, but that section from the middle of v5 to the end of v7 doesn’t get nearly enough consideration. Love is most easily identifiable when it is being mistreated. How does love react then?

It is not provoked—love refuses to take offense. It doesn’t calculate wrongs—there’s no keeping of score here. It has eyes not so much for what ill has been done because it is busy delighting in what has been true.

It bears all things—love doesn’t say, “I’ve had it” or “I’m done.” It believes all things—if there’s a possible explanation with a good intention, that’s the one that love chooses to believe. It hopes all things—love doesn’t say, “this will never get better” but rather “it’s worth giving him another chance.” It endures all things—love says, “It’s worth it for me to carry the pain in order to continue in this relationship.”

“NO ONE loves like that, when they are mistreated!!” Exactly. Well, not exactly. Real Christians do. That’s why it works as a sign. Here is the authentication of the fact that the Holy Spirit has done real work in someone by His real Word: that person has come to love like 1 Corinthians 13 describes!
When have you felt mistreated lately? How is this an opportunity to show true Christian love?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

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