Preaching Outline 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 Permanent and Provisional Gifts

Message 15   1 Corinthians 13:8-13

We have learned in this chapter what God has determined is a prerequisite, and that is charity or, as it is also translated, love.  We also learned in verses 4 through 7 the definition of charity and saw God’s love is pure, as ours should be. 

Today we begin by learning that God, in His infinite power and wisdom, determined what would be permanent and what would be provisional (temporary or transitional, used for a time and then set aside) in the establishment and ministry of His church.

1 Corinthians 13:8-13  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Notice first that which is –

    3. Permanent. 13:8a   Paul declared unto them –

      a. The permanence of love.

1 Corinthians 13:8a   “Charity never faileth….”

We shall make two statements from Scripture which are foundational to this verse –

First –

1 John 4:16  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love….

We see here that Love will abide as long as God exists.  God is love!

Second –

“… and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

Love will abide as long as the believer is in God –

Now remember the promises of God dealing with this truth –

John 10:27-30  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.

John 6:37  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

1 John 5:11-13  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Being that God is eternal and that the believer is in God forever, love will be forever – eternal – everlasting.   “…charity never faileth…”. 

Compare with the statement in chapter 1 Corinthians 13:13 

“…now abideth faith, hope, charity….”

Love never fails – love always abides (remains, dwells, abides)

Now that this truth is settled, we turn to –


      b. The provisional nature of the gifts.  (Temporary, transitional)

1 Corinthians 13:8b-12  …..but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

We will find help in understanding the difference between the permanent and the provisional by –

        1).  Reviewing the gifts given to men to use for the building up of the church as they were listed in Chapter 12.

          a). The word of wisdom – the right decision.

          b). The word of knowledge – the right information.
          c). Faith – the encouragement to act.
          d). Power – healing, miracles – confirmation of the truth.
          e). Prophesy – proclaiming God’s Word, written or personally revealed (gift of knowledge)
          f). Discernment – knowing and verifying proclamation.
          g). Tongues – languages, Preaching to the foreigners.
          h). Interpretation – making known to all what foreigners were saying.

The church members were given these special tools to use in the church for the good of the church and evangelization of the world.  This was God’s working through men in the church to accomplish His will –

        2).  Reminding ourselves of the purpose of God in this work –

          a).  Establish His church

Matthew 16:16-18  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

          b).  Evangelize the world

Matthew 28:18-20  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

We learn that these gifts were to be used only for a short time.  Then –

        3).  Realizing the fulfilment of the promise stated by Paul in the following verses –

          a).  The Provision of truth from God.

1 Corinthians 13:9-12  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

The New Testament was written over a period of about 50 years.  God revealed to the writers what He would have them to tell the world.  This first letter to the Corinthians was written about 40 years before the final letter of the New Testament was written – The Revelation of Jesus Christ as given to John the Apostle.  From the time of the writing of the first Gospel to the completion of the Revelation “…we know in part, and we prophesy in part…”.  As the Lord was revealing His Word to those He would have to write, the churches needed to know His will.  He revealed truth to them through the ministry of the Holy Spirit until the Word, “…that which is perfect…” was completed.  At the completion of the writing of His Word, the gifts were no longer necessary.  The people had His Word to preach and to teach.

          b).  The Promotion from partial information to perfect, or complete, information.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

We can understand what Paul is writing with this simple illustration.  When you began your formal education at school, you received books to aid in learning.  Each year as you progressed, you put away the books of that year and received books which built upon what you have learned.  Each book was a step up, a promotion, to the next on the staircase of education.  Now, why would you return to your first books, the beginning point of knowledge when you have gained that which you need to accomplish your purpose in life?  You have grown beyond the old books and the old toys and have no need of them any longer.

Paul explained to the church that the gifts were for the education of the entire church in the will of God and not for the promotion of self.  These gifts were only temporary and they should use them as directed by God.  They, as well as we, needed to focus on –


      c. The presence of eternal attributes.

1 Corinthians 13:13  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

In conclusion –

        1. The gifts of God were provisions for service, to be used by the believer (recipient).
        2. The attributes (faith, hope and love), are part of the believer’s nature, defining who he is.


Unbelievers do not have this love.

John 5:39-42  Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.

The adversaries are not always as obvious as were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes.  Remember Judas, a man who served without love!  Many go through the motions because of the expectation of immediate reward, whether in prestige, power, or purse.

          a). The believer was to exercise the gifts through the attributes of his nature.
          b). The Corinthians had a new nature,

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 but they were not living accordingly. They were living as they were not even saved, according to the flesh.

Do you argue about the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Do you admit that what has been stated in this message is true, BUT you still claim your experience is more important than God’s Word?

Why don’t we read Peter’s confession dealing with his personal experience while in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:17-21  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Remember –

2 Timothy 3:16-17  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

I submit to you today based on the clear instruction of the Word of God that the gifts set forth in

1 Corinthians 13:8b-12  …..but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

– are not for the church since the completion of the Word of God before the end of the first century AD.

They were not lost, but they were not loving.  What about you?  If you have been wrong about prophesy and speaking in tongues for today’s church, will you turn to God in repentance and faith, as a believer asking the Lord to forgive you for believing the excitement of the flesh over the truth of His Word?

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

About sjbjburke

I am an evangelist that enjoys Bible study and I look forward to posting outlines and receiving helpful comments. My wife and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary in 2010 and we enjoy serving the Lord together.
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