The Resurrection brings life; without it we are still dead
The physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus is one of the mostly fervently assaulted doctrines and beliefs of Christian Faith. Only the Creation story is attacked as strongly. Why is this so? That answer is simple; if there is no resurrection, there is no true Christian faith. If we serve a dead Savior, then we serve nothing. The resurrection of Jesus was a history changing event and it is a life changing one as well.
Contrary to what the doubters try to tell you friends, the resurrection of Jesus is one of the most well documented events in the first century. Here Paul makes an astounding claim. Not only did more than 500 people see the resurrected Jesus, but most of them were still around at the time Paul wrote this letter to the church at Corinth! In effect, Paul was issuing a challenge to the scoffers here: “Hey, if you don’t believe me go ask them; they saw it too!” To my knowledge, no one came forth to challenge Paul’s assertion.
A defense of the Resurrection is not really the point here today. Friends the point today is that the Resurrection of Jesus is one of the greatest encouragements we have in our walks of faith. Because Jesus died, we have also died to sin and our old selves. Because Jesus lives, we also live free from the penalty of our sin and in our new selves. Finally, because Jesus will live into all eternity in glory, so will we!
The short answer to the above question is: For the believer death has no pain to offer us, and the grave will never have victory over us. The death rate in this life is 100%. All who live will ultimately die, in the sense that our physical lives will end someday. Death in itself is often painful, and it seems very final. Death divides families and leaves the remaining living in despondence. For many, death represents the end of existence.
Believers certainly are not exempt from the death which will finally claim us all. Back in the Garden of Eden, the actions of Adam and Eve brought sin to creation, and death along with it. When Jesus died on that cross He paid the penalty for all of the sin of humankind; when He rose from that grave, he defeated sin and death both; however, there is a caveat to this. For those who reject what Jesus did, our sin and the resulting death will claim us forever. Even though Jesus has attained victory over both, those who reject will not participate in the victory, and sin and death will win. Is anything sadder than that?
For those who believe, however, physical death does not mark the end! Sin and death, and those who die in them will be cast into the lake of fire. Those who believe will “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” be raised and changed forever. Is anything more joyous than that?
Today will be our final recap from the Devotional series on 1 Corinthians 13
1 Corinthians 13
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. 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. 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.1 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.
Love doesn’t behave itself unseemly. Love is not rude. Love is not ill mannered. That seems fairly simple, right? Why would rudeness or being ill mannered exhibit a lack of love? If we conduct ourselves in a rude manner, we are simply saying in effect, “I don’t even care enough about you to consider how my actions might affect you.”
Love seeketh not her own. Love is not selfish. Biblical love should be seeking the best for others, and that sometimes is not going to be what is best for us.
These two could be summed up by simply stating that true Biblical love gives up what we would consider “personal rights.”
Jesus surrendered ALL of His personal rights for us, therefore setting the example for us in this matter? What exactly did He give up? What did He do?
Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
How’s that for an example?
Love is not easily provoked; love doesn’t get angry. Many at this point may be saying, “What about righteous anger?” Okay, true, but how many of us are really out there tipping over the tables of the money changers in the Temple?
Most of our anger is NOT righteous anger. Most of it is simply because we are not getting things our way. Trust me, I know this very, very well! When we are angry because we don’t get our way, we are saying simply that we do not love the other person. Why? Because at that point we are saying our needs are more important than their needs. Part of true Biblical love is putting the needs of others first. If we are angry because of solely what has been done to us, we are in violation of Paul’s teaching here.
Again, Jesus set the example here. Of course, The Bible teaches cases of Jesus being angry. He was angry at the money changers, sin and the false teachers of the time. But did you ever notice that not once did Jesus ever get angry at someone for what they were doing to Him? He didn’t even get angry at those who placed Him on that cross.
Love thinketh no evil. That statement needs some explanation, really. It’s not that we don’t think evil thoughts. This has to do with keeping track. This means we aren’t keeping an accounting, or a ledger of the wrongs another person has done to us.
The previous devotion showed us how we are not to react in anger at the moment a wrong is done to us; this one is about how we likewise should not hold a grudge over wrongs done to us. In other words, forgive and forget. Of course, we can’t always literally forget wrongs, so what does this mean in reality? As with all things love, this one is a factor of our actions and not necessarily our minds. We may remember wrongs, but we need to not let them change the way we behave towards another.
The word used for the accounting in this passage is the same word for accounting used to refer to God’s forgiveness. He does not keep an accounting of our sins once they are forgiven. Do we look at the transgressions of others the way God looks at ours?
Love doesn’t take joy, or rejoice, in iniquity; That is, unrighteousness or sin. How does this happen? Well, there are probably a couple of ways this happens.
One is rejoicing in our own sin. Yes, that is correct; even believing Christians sometimes rejoice in our own sins. How? Well, perhaps by continuing to purposely sin because we know we are forgiven. We may claim we are just rejoicing in Christian freedom, but we are actually rejoicing in our sin.
The other, and very common way we rejoice is to rejoice in the sins and iniquities of other people. The list of how we do this could be long, so we will talk about a couple.
We gossip. We TALK about the sins of others. Sometimes we even gossip through our prayers! If we aren’t talking to that person about their sin, then we don’t need to be talking about their sin. Just in case you think I’m talking about you, that statement was VERY convicting to me personally.
Why would we rejoice in another person’s sin? Well, it is probably not because we are happy for their fun! We are probably doing it because it makes us feel that we are somewhat, if not vastly, better than they are. I can only speak for myself, however. What about you?
There are so many possible lessons here it would take pages to cover them, so we will just sum up a few.
Love is honest, especially with other people. We should deal with people in all of our dealings honestly. Tell the truth; don’t lie; don’t flatter to get your way.
Love shares the truth of the Gospel. If we don’t share with our fellow humans salvation through Jesus Christ, we are basically not being truthful with them about their eternity.
Love shares the truth of scripture. We have to teach what the Bible teaches in love but also with truth. We do not show love to anybody by watering down the truths the Bible teaches.
Paul begins wrapping up the description of love given to him by the Holy Spirit here. All things…repeated four times in this verse. Really, we can just see here how Paul is more or less saying that love is all things. Does that sound familiar? Remember all the law and prophets hanging on love?
Love bears all things. Not that love just puts up with things and gets shoved around. Love bears all the transgressions of others OUT of love.
Love believes all things. Love is not gullible. Love looks for the best in people. Of course we are all sinners, but we don’t need to be looking for the sin. Trust and believe people.
Love hopes all things. As long as the tie that binds us to Jesus Christ is present, and it always is once there…then there is hope for every person. Jesus never gives up on us and we do not need to give up on our brothers and sisters.
Love endures all things. Even when all of the above have disappointed us, we keep on keeping on. Why do we do that? Because in the end, love never fails. Why does it not? God is love; God never fails.
What we have there is simply the greatest description of love ever written. It is as full and complete a description of love, and what it is, as can be found anywhere. Actually, since it is God’s description, I think we need to say it IS the best description.
Dr. Phil, of the daytime talk show, does a rather neat thing in his show quite often. As they run off to a commercial for the last break, he says something like this: “When we come back, I am going to put verbs in my sentences and tell you what I think and what I think you need to to.” All he is really saying is that it is time to move from talking and feeling to doing.
In the above passage, Paul has put verbs in his sentences. I am as far from a Greek scholar as East is from the West, so look this up for yourself; what we have here is not a lot of adjectives describing love. What we see in that passage is nothing but verbs describing what love does.
Does this all sound familiar? Biblical love is NOT primarily a feeling; Biblical love is primarily a set of actions. We have to put legs on our love and let it walk around, or it is meaningless. In upcoming Devotions, we are going to dig into some of the ways Paul has taught us that our love can actually be expressed.
Now we begin a study of what Paul taught us are some things we can do to put our love in action.
Love is patient; Charity suffereth long. This is not a description of how Christians should be patient or long suffering in regards to their lives and the challenges they face; this is referring to our patience with people. Specifically, this refers to our ability to not get angry with people, no matter the provocation. It could have been written, “love doesn’t get angry.”
This is purely a Christian trait, especially in the context of the Greek culture of the time. In Greek culture, this kind of love would not have been considered a virtue, but rather a weakness. Here is how Aristotle described the greatest virtue: “Refusal to tolerate any insult, any injury and readiness to strike back at any hurt.”
Aren’t we glad God has set the example of this for us? If God Himself had not shown us this great virtue where would we be? We sometimes react in anger because, “Well, they deserve it!” What if God had just given us what we deserve? We all know the answer to that question, don’t we?
Despite our sin, God revealed the following to us in His Word:
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
That should make us all very happy, and it should make us want to deal with other people in the same way God has dealt with us.
Love is kind. It is useful to take that statement and start from the base of the previous one. Despite all the wrongs we may have been subjected to, our love should still be kind. We should look at it that way; it is part of the same sentence in fact. The two thoughts are physically linked!
Kindness, like Biblical love, is not just some fuzzy feeling we have towards another; it is more than just being nice, although that is certainly important. The implication of this word, “kind” is usefulness to another, or deeds of kindness. This is in spite of what they may have given to us.
Aren’t we glad God has been kind to us? Again, aren’t we glad God didn’t react in a way that we deserved? Despite our actions, He has displayed the ultimate in kindness to us, in the form of His Son Jesus Christ.
As we have covered earlier, Paul wrote to the Corinthians to address some very serious problems in that church. As we covered, the church at Corinth was blessed with an exceeding blessing of spiritual gifts. One of the problems was that their gifts had turned from blessing which should have unified them to cursings which were dividing them!
Why was this occurring? Simply put, jealousy. Instead of rejoicing in the gifts of others, they were becoming upset that they didn’t have the same gifts. Not having a particular gift was taking away their ability to be the center of things.
If we are honest, we have all been guilty of this offense. I certainly have. I love to sing, but on my best day I am quite average. On the other hand, others have voices like angels and people are just so inspired by hearing them. I have to admit looking upon that and wishing it was me so that those folks would be telling ME those good things. That hurts to say, but it is true.
I am hardly alone, though, am I? We have all done something like that at some point. When we do that, who has the gift come to be about? That’s right: when we do that we make our gifts, or the gifts of others about us rather than God.
Love, however, is not jealous. Our focus should always be how an activity edifies and builds up God and our church, not about how it builds US up.
This is the final devotion in Verse 4 of our text. Love does not brag, boast of it’s accomplishments; love is not an arrogant blowhard.
The church at Corinth was full of this as well. Those with the more popular gifts were using these gifts to lord it over other believers in some misguided air of superiority.
How do we not become this way? The same way we do not become jealous. We just remember who and for what we are given particular abilities. They are not for our own aggrandizement and selfish ambition, they are for the honor and glory of God and the building up of His body of believers.
For the next several weeks, our Saturday Devotional Recaps will cover the Devotional Series from 1 Corinthians 13
1 Corinthians 13
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. 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. 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.
1 Corinthians 13:1
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
1 John 4:7
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
I am going to stir up a spot of trouble right away today. I am a King James Bible guy. After you all throw things at me, please hear me out. I also like lots of other translations and find them useful. I have numerous translations as well as numerous Study Bibles by different Bible teachers. It’s all good. I, however, do all of my reading from the King James Bible and that is what I use in this Blog. The main reason I do that is simple: those King James translators knew how to use some English! King James English is often difficult, but it is also often very accurately descriptive as well. We have a great case of that descriptiveness in the verses above.
1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4 are the two biggest descriptions of love found in the Bible and a verse from each is included in this article. See anything that arouses your interest? Of course you do! In 1 John the translators consistently used the word “love” to describe love; it is used some 27 times. In 1 Corinthians, they translators used the word “charity” to describe love; there is is used 9 times. What we have to understand is that the original word in all cases is some form of “agape”
Sometimes when we read 1 Corinthians 13, we tend to dismiss the word use by simply saying, “Oh, that just means love there.” Is it possible that there is more meaning there? Let’s look at that quickly. The King James translators were not stupid, they surely knew they could have just used our word “love” in each case; they didn’t just become confused. Additionally, language translation is sometimes both art and science and word for word translations do not always work. Translators sometimes have to look at the original intent of meaning they see in the original language and put the same meaning in the new language.
Let’s look briefly at the English language usage of the words, “Love” and “Charity.” I think in most of our minds a difference would come to mind immediately; it does in mine. The use of the word “Charity” seems to imply an action; it seems to apply that something is happening versus something simply being felt. Does that sound familiar?
We often talk about 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 as, “The Love Chapter.” We treat it as some disembodied dissertation of brotherly love; when we do that we are somewhat misapplying it, to tell the truth. Paul had a point, other than just talking about brotherly love. Paul was addressing some very real problems in the Corinthian church, with very real ramifications.
In an earlier devotional we covered how Jesus said that all of God’s commandments hang on love: love for God and love for our fellow man. In other words, if we love correctly, we will do the other things as a natural outflow of that love; conversely if we do not love we cannot really do those other things.
Paul was addressing a group of people who were actually doing things; the church at Corinth was wonderfully blessed with an overflow of spiritual gifts. They had them all and they had them in abundance. So, this chapter has to be taken in it’s context to really reap the full meaning.
What was the problem in the Corinthian church? It wasn’t their doctrine; Paul hardly even talked to them about doctrine. It wasn’t gifts; they were overflowing with spiritual gifts. So, the church was full of good doctrine and full of gifts of The Spirit; the problem was that they were empty of love. They were thinking and doing, but not loving.
The point is, nothing we might do is worth anything without the right motivation. The wrong motivation is to be doing great things under the power of our flesh. The right motivation is to be doing things under the power of the Holy Spirit, as the fruits of the Spirit. One, of the fruits of the Spirit, perhaps the biggest one, is love.
We already discussed the very major issue in the church at Corinth. This church was fairly straight doctrinally and full to overflowing with spiritual gifts, but seriously lacking in love. All that they were doing, they were doing for the wrong motivations.
Paul uses the first few verses in 1 Corinthians 13 to clearly establish where love ranks in the hierarchy of spiritual gifts. And without a doubt, he placed it clearly in the number one position as the most important thing.
It’s interesting how Paul did this. He takes some of his words to extremes to illustrate how useless any amount of gifts is without love. What we see here is Paul using hyperbole to illustrate his point. He exaggerates the potential level of gifts to show just how useless those gifts are if not done in love.
We aren’t going to have some theological discussion about tongues here; if you allow that Paul was using exaggeration to make his point, it seems that Paul is simply referring to someone who could speak numerous languages with skill and eloquence. This would be skill and eloquence far above the greatest of orators.
What Paul is saying here is that no matter how high the level of verbal skill a person has, if this skill is not used with love, it might as well somebody beating a gong or clanging cymbals for all the good it does.
Additionally, some of the pagan rituals going on at the time, many right in the city of Corinth, involved ecstatic rituals that used speaking in tongues, smashing gongs, cymbals and trumpets. The believers would have gotten this point as well: If you can say the most wonderful and important words on the planet, but do not say them with love, then it is no better than some pagan ritual.
All mysteries and all knowledge. That is a lot of information to be in possession of. Let’ take a look at that briefly. We are continuing in with the idea that Paul was using some exaggeration to make his point here.
By mysteries, Paul may very well be referring to all the divine mysteries revealed and unrevealed. We all know there are things God has not shared with us in His Word. We all know there are things that, even though they are in His Word, are still mysteries. Paul is saying that even if he had complete knowledge and understanding of all of them, without love they would be nothing.
By knowledge, we are going to approach it from the standpoint of factual human knowledge. Paul is saying that even if he understood to the smallest detail all the facts of creation, and knew every knowable fact, he would still be nothing.
If Paul is saying that even with all that immense understanding and knowledge and no love we are nothing, then how much closer to nothing are we with our very limited understanding and knowledge if not fueled by love?
This is the final discussion of the position of love as the primary spiritual gift. Paul closes this section with some more very graphic references to the importance of love.
Paul is just continuing on using what I believe to be some exaggeration to make his point. Apparently his reference to bestowing all of his goods to the poor is more than simply giving some stuff away. I’m no Greek scholar, but the consensus seems to be that that sentence is not just describing a person writing his monthly check to the feed the kids charity. It is a person systematically, piece by piece, giving away his fortune until he has nothing left. That is some serious giving there.
As far as giving oneself away to be burned? It could mean several things, one of which would be literally giving oneself as a martyr. Continuing in the thought of Paul’s writing here, that makes sense.
So, we could give away all of our assets, bit by bit until we are broke, then throw ourselves on a fire to be martyred and if done for the wrong motivation it would still be useless. The Corinthians were guilty of using their wonderful spiritual gifts for their own selfish motives; that rendered them useless because they were not done out of love.
If such major sacrifices such as Paul described are useless without love as the motivation, how useless are the fairly small and insignificant ones we make without it?