Message 16 The greatest of these is charity (love)
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Remember as we read this letter that Paul was correcting the church for the division they caused through their love of themselves instead of loving God and then through His love, loving one another. As we know, the issue of divisions in the church did not affect only the Corinthian church. Paul also told the Ephesians and Colossians about this new life in the Lord Jesus Christ –
Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Colossians 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Single minded in our walk with the Lord, do not confuse people!
We have carefully examined the definition of love and the truth that love abides forever, as we have learned, God is love and those in God have His love in them, also forever. Paul stated in verse 13 that charity abides forever, as well as faith and hope. We need to continue our examination of this verse and find the application to our lives.
We must see that –
3). The attributes as part of the believer’s new nature result in a man of – faith, hope, and love.
Love provides devotion, Faith provides direction and action, Hope provides dedication.
Love not only has God as its object, but remember that love is also an attribute of the nature of God. Another attribute of God that is founded in His love is that “God is faithful” and will always remain so. If time will be measured in Heaven, in ten trillion years, God will not cast us out. From the very moment we were saved, the faithfulness of God was known in a practical way in our lives – our everlasting life with the Lord began and it will never end. Why? Because God is faithful!
God is not only love and God is not only faithful – God is the foundation of hope. All hope is dependent on Him. If it could be phrased in such a way, we can declare that “God is hope”.
Hope is like faithfulness, it is founded in God’s love. This is why Paul states that the greatest of these is charity (love). It is the very essence of God’s nature.
As believers, faith and hope are to be as real and genuine in our lives as love is.
With faith, God is the object of that faith –
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Our faith is in Him and should be complete in Him (beginning and ending in the Lord Jesus Christ)!
Now, what is a man of –
a). Faith Those that have trusted God for –
The beginning of our life with Him –
Romans 10:9-14 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
We begin our eternal life, saved, through faith, but there is more –
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
(2). Live by faith. Hebrews 11
-”by faith Noah…prepared an Ark to the saving of his house.”
-”By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed…”
-”By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter, Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season..”
Faith leads to action! Faith and action are vitally connected. Remember James addressed this in his letter –
James 2:14-18 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Jesus illustrated the proof of words is in works –
John 14:10-11 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
That which is on the same level as love, that which abides forever – can be seen now and must be seen in our lives!
As with faith –
Hope also has God as its object.
1 Peter 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
Romans 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Paul stated that faith abides, and continues in us as does –
b). Hope. Those that keep their focus on God.
Hebrews 6:18-20 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
(1). Hope keeps us prepared for the journey.
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
(2). Hope gives us patience in the journey –
Colossians 1:3-6 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
(3). Hope abides with us forever because we see the fulfilment of it in the Lord –
Remember as we preached through the first letter to –
1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
that – Paul encouraged Timothy in the truth of hope that which is found only in God. Paul explained that which he had declared that God is “…our hope…” Our expected end – what to look forward to along the way:
Every time we see Jesus throughout all eternity, we will remember that He is faithful, that He is hope and we know that He is Love.
With faith and hope, we are reminded that love is the greatest of these three because they grow up out of love!
In conclusion –
How do I know as a believer if my life has changed and I now am a man that has his faith and hope and love in the Lord?
– Do you want to spend time with God. Reading God’s Word and prayer?
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
– Do you want to obey God in everything?
John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
Peter could have argued that he was just a fisherman, not a preacher. Jesus asked Peter who he loved more, Peter the fisherman or Jesus the Lord? “Lovest thou me more than these (the fish)?
– Do you want the whole world to know what the Lord has done for them? Does your life show this –
In Word – “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”
In Deed – Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Has there been a change in your life since you have been saved?