II. Instruction for order in the church services.
As we preached through chapters one through eleven, we saw that Paul acknowledged the ministry of the Holy Spirit through them, but we need to be reminded again that divisions were seen in their –
–Allegiance (Paul, Apollos, Cephas, Christ)
–Attitudes (Disdain for the poor)
–Actions – (Misuse of the spiritual gifts)
He corrected their misunderstanding of the ministry and he continued to instruct them in the –
A. Purpose of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:4-31
B. Power in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
C. Practice of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 14:1-40
Last week we ended chapter 12 dealing with the Purpose of the ministry of the Holy Spirit with the words of the Apostle Paul – “…and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” This morning we begin with that in mind.
B. Power in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Paul wrote to the Corinthians of the Pharisaical attitude of the people who were promoting themselves through their ministry in the church. It is sad that this was happening among men that professed to know and serve God before the church was established –
Luke 18:9,10,13 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican…..And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
– and continued among some in the churches at that time, and has continued until our day due to the sinful desires and actions of some in the church. Refer to –
3 John 9-10 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
Men and women sometimes forget that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of His church such as this Diotrephes did, and others from his time until the present. They begin to believe that the Lord has given them the leadership in the church, not as servants of the Lord, but as Heads of the church, displacing Him from His position. They reject the clear instruction from His Word and choose their own way to lead, serving themselves.
Know that nothing is wrong with the enthusiastic proclamation of the truth, the excitement generated from knowing that God, the Creator of all things, the Sustainer for all time and eternity, is in our midst. He loves us and works among us enabling us to fulfil His will –
Ephesians 2:8-10 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
When we love and serve the Lord, the focus will not be on the individual but on the Lord. When the messenger is thanked for the message, he should simply say “thank you” believing that he has done his best for the Lord and for the good of others.
The Lord reminded the Jews of God’s command –
Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
And at a later time the Lord increased the responsibility of those that claim to honour God –
John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Paul, following the example of the Lord and through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, explained to them that ministry must be motivated by love. Without love, the ministry had no power.
Love is –
1. Prerequisite. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 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, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
a. People’s estimation –
1). The Greeks focus was on what men knew (Intellect) wisdom of the world
2). The Romans focus was on what men could do (Power)
b. God’s estimation – Paul’s focus was on what men were (Character)
1). The gifts from God were real.
2). The motives of the men were wrong.
1 x 0 = 0; 1million x 0 = 0 and –
Spiritual gifts exercised with fleshly motives = 0
c. Prerequisite is love!
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
Note that serving the Lord never has been about the servant, but always has been about the Saviour!
Leviticus 1:9 But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
Amos 5:22-23 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
The works were not motivated by nor presented in love! They were not selfless! Behind the gift was the thought – “I am going to get something in return for this, you should thank me”. The recipient certainly should be thankful, but this should not be one’s motive to give, to love!
You see, when God gave us the gift of His Son to give Himself for our sins, God did not receive anything from the giving of the Gift. He did not become more gracious, more worthy, more loving, more just, more holy…..God cannot be added to or detracted from. He is perfect and unchangeable and in giving His gift, He revealed His infinite love.
Love is required, it is the prerequisite to all ministry unto the Lord. Love is also –
2. Pure The explanation. Love –
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
How do we measure up when we compare ourselves with this definition of Love? Does our pride get in the way?