Today: [1 Corinthians 13:] The Fail Safe Love of God! In 1 Corinthians 13, we have the loftiest sentiments ever penned by human hand. The Apostle Paul, a brutal, former persecutor of the faith now reveals the deepest and most profound revelation of the love of God revealed on earth and extended to you and me as a commendation of our Father’s matchless and spotless character.
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[1Co 13:1-13 KJV] 1 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. 2 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. 3 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. 4 Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 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. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 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. 12 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. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.
1 Corinthians 13 is the most sublime passage of literature in human history. It is penned by the Apostle Paul, a former persecutor of the faith who willingly and wantonly delivered men, woman, and children to torture and death for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. After Paul’s encounter on the Damascus road, a despotic veritable serial killer becomes the man whose life and testimony shaped and influenced what the Christian faith was to become. The man who hated beyond any depth that decency could plumb becomes the man who understands the love that was showered upon him and he can do no other than show that love to others and to commend that love to the generations who came after him. Of all the gainsaying of the bible as a whole, this passage above all others stands unassailable even by the most virulent opponent of the faith.
We will keep in mind that the previous chapter was a treatise advocating for the consideration of the need for and primacy of the operation of the gifts of the Spirit in the early Christian community. Gifts are to be accepted, allowed and cultivated by all believers on an apostolic foundation of order and liberty. Chapter 12 establishes the need for the gifts and chapter 13 continues the discussion making a case for what the character of the outworking of the gifts of the Spirit should be – that of unconditional love. How many times have you seen people allegedly operating in the gifts of the Spirit (particularly prophecy and discernment of spirits) and show forth anything but love? Take notice that when someone deigns to move in the gifts and speak or act in a manner contradictory to 1 Corinthians 13 – you may safely disregard them as immature at best, deceived entirely at worst.
In verses, 1-2 Paul says it matters not what gift a person might bring if it does not reflect the love of God it is as NOTHING. It doesn’t matter how profoundly someone articulates the mysteries and knowledge of God if a demonstration of the love of God is not the result then nothing godly has been communicated. Again the understanding must be gained that not all things that are spiritual are godly. It is a significant problem in the Pentecostal/Charismatic community that those who claim to be the most fluent in operating in the gifts are commonly those who show forth anything but the love of God as portrayed in 1 Cor. 13. It doesn’t matter what faith a person moves in to work miracles or what great sacrifice they make of their lives – if love, as demonstrated in 1 Corinthians 13, is not the result they are NOTHING and should be disregarded.
Some time ago Kitty and I attended a conference that we went to great lengths to register for because we needed the opportunity to be ministered to and to soak in the presence of God. The person ministering in the conference is very well known with a reputation for deep and profound insights into the things of God and a prophetic gift that beggars description in its magnitude and power. We drove hundreds of miles to get to the conference in very inclement weather and the day after settling into our hotel we made our way to the conference venue. As soon as the speaker took the platform we were shocked at his words:
“God prepares a designer hell for every one of his children by which means He accomplishes his will for them….”
“God doesn’t love everybody … only those who are unimpeachably righteous, and the remainder He hates…”
“God sometimes loves you so much that He kills you and takes you to heaven early…”
We were astounded at this man’s words and even more shocked by the resounding applause, laughter, standing ovations, and approval the entire audience gave to these horrible and twisted statements that the man made USING THE ANOINTING GOD GAVE HIM to spew some of the most contaminated words I have ever heard. It was nauseating, and we quickly made our exit after less than 30 minutes, checked out of the hotel and drove home. This man for all his stellar reputation as a sincere and powerfully anointed man of God was on that day nothing more than a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. This day he was as NOTHING because his words were the absolute antithesis of the God portrayed for us in 1 Corinthians 13.
I wanted to stand and ask him “are you volunteering? Would you being evil subject your own children or grandchildren to the despicable abuse and mistreatment you are accusing God of?” The scripture tells us that Satan is the originator of such things. The theological definition of blasphemy is attributing the works of God to the devil. What these words constituted was the other side of that damnable coin – attributing the works of the devil to God. Sadly this man is not the exception but the rule. Every week in pulpits around the world people ascribe to God what the scripture plainly asserts can only originate with Satan himself and the congregations nod approvingly at the alleged wisdom of the pulpiteer who maligns and blasphemes the love of God with his words.
Beginning in verse 4 Paul elaborates for us the character of God’s love. Love is long-suffering and kind. Love knows no envy at the blessings enjoyed by others. Love does not become indignant when it is overlooked or treated in a dismissive way. Love never conducts itself in an improper way. It can be provoked yes for there is anger even in the character of God – but not easily so. Love thinks no evil and does not rejoice in iniquity but instead revels in the truth who is Jesus in His person.
Love bears up under all things and endures all things – never acting out in contempt or high-mindedness. Love never fails. Do you hear what that says? Love NEVER fails. Do you enjoy failure? No? Then never step out of love. Why would we ever step out of love if a step out of love is a step INTO failure? Is it true that prophecies do fail? Why? Prophecies fail because prophets get it wrong at times. Prophecies fail because people have handled the holy things and words from God like they were psychic readings rather than words from on high. Do you judge the rebellious spirit of the people by the prophet or do you judge the prophet by the rebellious spirit of the people? Likewise tongues fail, and knowledge fails. Many use these verses to claim they predict the end of the gifts of the spirit. I ask you has knowledge failed? The same people who speak against the prophets prophesy themselves predicting the doom of the prophets they claim have no more place in the earth. It would be laughable if it weren’t for the millions of shipwrecked lives who have been bereft of anointed and called men and woman of God who are in the earth to help the masses in Christ hear the Father’s voice and prosper thereby.
In verse 11 Paul calls for childishness to be put away from us. What is childish? Children in their most fundamental nature are selfish and self-centered. Are you a mature person in Christ? Your love will demonstrate your maturity. Love as defined by 1 Corinthias 13 is the plumbline of Christian growth and maturity and NOTHING ELSE. Revelation will pass away. Profound wisdom will one day no longer be needed. Anointings and glories as we know them will be transmuted into something whose glories we can only vaguely glimpse but love – the love of God, the love that God is in His person will never fail!
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