The Greatest is Love
1 Cor. 13:8-13
We continue our topic about love. I was a teen ager when the song “Love Conquers All” by Seals and Croft became popular. Another song entitled “Endless love” also became popular years later. Though in both songs, the lyrics are not biblical, the title reflected the reality that love never ends, and love is great. Love goes on forever, its everlasting, that is why the greatest is love.
Illustration 1: Miracle on The River Kwai
In The Christian Leader, Don Ratzlaff retells a story Vernon Grounds came across in Ernest Gordon’s Miracle on the River Kwai. The Scottish soldiers, forced by their Japanese captors to labor on a jungle railroad, had degenerated to barbarous behavior, but one afternoon something happened.
A shovel was missing. The officer in charge became enraged. He demanded that the missing shovel be produced, or else. When nobody in the squadron budged, the officer got his gun and threatened to kill them all on the spot . . . It was obvious the officer meant what he had said. Then, finally, one man stepped forward. The officer put away his gun, picked up a shovel, and beat the man to death.
When it was over, the survivors picked up the bloody corpse and carried it with them to the second tool check. This time, no shovel was missing. Indeed, there had been a miscount at the first check point.
The word spread like wildfire through the whole camp. An innocent man had been willing to die to save the others! . . . The incident had a profound effect. . . The men began to treat each other like brothers.
When the victorious Allies swept in, the survivors, human skeletons, lined up in front of their captors. (and instead of attacking their captors) insisted: ‘No more hatred. No more killing. Now what we need is forgiveness.’ The Christian Leader, Don Ratzlaff
I. Prophecies, tongues, knowledge, will end (1 Cor. 13:8).
A. “Love never faileth…” (1 Cor. 13:8): Love survives everything, it does not end. It is immortal.
B. Our text tells us that “…prophecies, they shall fail”, “…tongues, they shall cease”,“…knowledge, it shall vanish away”.
C. The Greek for the word “fail” and “vanish away” is “katargeo”. It means to “become useless” become of no effect, fail, loose, bring to nought, put away, vanish away, make void.
D. The word “cease” is “pauo” in Greek from which means to stop, restrain, quit, desist, come to an end.
E. For this reason, we can conclude that these three spiritual gifts would eventually become useless and it would cease or in simple word, it would end.
F. The knowledge we are talking about that will vanish away is not intelligence. This is knowledge in the sense of illumination. It is knowledge as a gift of discernment,
When the written word, the Bible, came into being and form, the need for this
special illumination ceased.
G. This happened when the canon of the Bible was completed.
II. Know in part (1 Cor. 13:9)
A. “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part” (I Cor. 13:9): The gift of knowledge and prophecy at that time had conveyed only a part of God’s intended revelation to His people. This is the reason why these gifts should pass away.
B. All of us only know in part, none of us know everything there is to know. Our knowledge is now only partial, and the prophecy only gives small part. These are all imperfect and fragmentary and hence must give way to something better.
Illustration 2: Danger of a Little Learning
An astronomer who was on his way to give a lecture discovered that his seatmate on the airplane was a preacher. Early in the conversation he assured the clergyman that he knew everything about religion he needed to know. The preacher expressed delight and asked where the scientist had studied religion and how much he had read the Bible.
“Oh, no,” the astronomer replied, “I’ve never studied theology, and I don’t read the Bible, but I know the Golden Rule, and I figure that’s enough religion for me.”
“Well, on that basis,” declared the preacher, “I guess I know all about astronomy.”
The scientist scoffed and asked the pastor what he knew about the cosmos, to which the man of the cloth replied gravely, “Twinkle, twinkle little star; how I wonder what you are.” A Treasury of Bible Illustrations.
III. The Perfect (1 Cor. 13:10)
A. “That which is perfect” can not refer to Christ as some are teaching. The word perfect is an adjective, used as a noun in this verse, is in the neuter gender. Therefore, we can conclude that it is a reference to the finished (perfect) or completed Word of God.
B. If it referred to Christ, it would be in the masculine gender.
C. When the New Testament was completed, prophecy, tongues, and knowledge, were no longer needed.
Illustration 3: The Mind of God
An unknown writer said, “This Book is the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding; its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.
Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s character. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory
of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. Follow its precepts and it will lead you to Calvary, to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ; yes, to glory itself, for eternity. Anonymous
IV. Faith, hope, charity (1 Cor. 13:13)
A. Faith – Faith is a gift of God. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is the knowledge that God is in absolute control of all the circumstances of life and that He is working in everything, all the time, Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11.
There is only one life that pleases the Lord and it is the life lived in faith, Heb. 11:6; Rom. 14:23. The secret to experiencing and enjoying God’s best is to let go of your life, place it in His hands and live it His way.
It takes faith to stand alone for something you know were right! It takes faith to serve God even your life is in danger. It takes faith to follow God into an unknown future, believing that He will work all things for your good and His glory!
B. Hope – A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety. Biblical hope is, “A confident expectation which rests upon the promises of God.” In other words, Hope is believing that God’s Word is true and can be believed. Genuine hope is not wishful thinking, but a confident expectation that God will do as He has promised.
C. Love – God alone as the source of love. Love does not originate within us. We love as a result of God ‘s love for us. Seven Bible Facts about Love:
1. Love is God’s nature (1 Jn. 4:8,16).
2. Godly love is giving, sacrificial love (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 4:9; 3:16-17).
3. Love is the greatest thing (1 Cor. 13:13).
4. Love is an evidence of being Christ’s disciple (J 13:35).
5. Love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22).
6. Love is the first thing the Apostle mentioned concerning Christian living
7. True Christian love cannot be separated from truth and holiness and
obedience (Ph. 1:9; 1 Jn. 5:3; 2 Jn. 1:1-13; 3 Jn. 1:1-4).
D. Why love is greater than faith and hope
1. Love is the root of faith and hope
2. It is for others while faith and hope are largely personal
3. It is the very essence of God Himself.
Prophecies, tongues, and knowledge will all cease but not love. Do not spend your time pursuing temporal things but focus on loving God by obeying His commandments. Because of His love, He died for you and the whole world. Because of His love, you will be with Him in heaven. His love for you and all of us never ends. No love is greater than this. God is love and that is why among God’s graces, love is the greatest.