Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 7. What's love got to do with it? . No 03 Super Christian or not (Part 2)

. No 03 Super Christian or not (Part 2)

What’s love got to do with it?

SUPER CHRISTIAN OR NOT? (PART 2)

Introduction.

Two sermons ago we started looking at the whole issue of love within the body of Christ which is the true identifying mark of a disciple of Christ. So for that purpose we looked at John 13:34-35 where Christ says that He has given us a new commandment by which all people will know that we are His disciples. Last week we turned our focus to 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul in the midst of all the problems of the Corinthian church, says to them that while they eagerly desire to embrace the greater gifts, he will show them a more excellent way which is the way of love. Paul then breaks into his discussion of the gifts in chapter 12 and how to apply them orderly in chapter 14, with this tremendous chapter on love. Paul in essence is agreeing with us that love has everything to do with true Christianity. He sets himself up hypothetically as a Super Christian with ‘if’ statements and then says that ‘if’ he could do and be all those things and he does not have love, he is useless and all of his activities are useless and benefits no one, not even himself. There are eight characteristics of a Super Christian, but 8-1 = 0.

As we saw last week Paul starts with ‘tongues’ or ‘languages’ and says that if he was able to speak with tongues of men and of angels and he does not have love, he is nothing but a irritable and a noisy person. The tongues of men could mean to simply know various languages, or it may in the context of 1 Corinthians 12 be the actual gift of tongues as seen on the day of Pentecost. Whatever it is, if it is spoken without love it is a noisy gong and a clanging symbol. And even if Paul was as great as to speak in the tongues of angels which there is no record of in Scripture as ever been done by man, and he does not have love he is still a noisy gong and a clanging symbol.

Secondly, prophecy without love is nothing,

1 Corinthians 13:2 (ESV) 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

There are three characteristics of this supposed Super Christian that Paul gives here which minus love means you are actually nothing. So tongues without love you are just a loud sounding gong and a clanging symbol, but with the next three without love you are nothing, a zero, unimportant and of no value to the body, a nil on a contract.

Well, first of all Paul mentions the gift of prophecy. “If I have prophetic powers…” People, this is the greatest gift that one can pursue according to Paul. It far outshines tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:1 (ESV) 1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” You know what the gift of prophecy is. It is simply to speak on behalf of God to the body. It is not simply foretelling and seeing visions about somebody else’s life. If you want an excellent definition of prophecy in action it is right here in 1 Corinthians 14:3 (ESV)3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their up building and encouragement and consolation” Prophecy comes from the Greek word . propheteuo {prof-ate-yoo'-o} Meaning: 1) to prophesy, to be a prophet, speak forth by divine inspirations which can include foretelling as seen throughout Scripture. Paul however does not see that as the goal here in the body.

 

Why is it the supreme gift? I believe simply because it is understood and it exemplifies what the gifts are for and that is for the building up of the body. If you look at it in contrast to tongues we read in 1 Corinthians 14:23 (ESV) 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?” BUT 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 (ESV) 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.”

So prophecy is on top of Paul’s list, 1 Corinthians 14:39 (ESV) 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.” So, don’t forbid the languages if the Spirit of God has a place for them, but the top of the list is to prophesy. So rather prophecy, rather speak before the people, plainly, clearly and in an understandable language, rather proclaim the truth of God, rather interpret life in the light of Scripture, rather bring the word of heaven to earth, rather  move the mysteries of the past into time, rather make Christ live on the pages of the gospels, rather make the arguments of the Apostle Paul understandable, rather make the teaching of the prophets and the fathers of the Old Testament clear and understandable, because all of this will benefit the body. This is the gift of prophecy.

But though you have the gift of prophecy, if you do not have love, you’re nothing. And Paul puts it again in the first person. “I am nothing.”

So languages without love is nothing and preaching without love is nothing.

So, what’s love got to do with it? Everything!

Thirdly,  “Knowledge and understanding of all mysteries without love is nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:2 (ESV)2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

So Paul continues in his hypothesis. This is really a hyperbole or an exaggeration as there is nobody in this world that understands all mysteries or has all knowledge, except me ofcourse. What are mysteries? Things that are unknown to man, hidden until revealed by God. If you understood all the hidden mysteries, if you had all knowledge. Now we know that Paul says in Ephesians 3 that part of his task is to proclaim the mysteries to the  body, but by using the personal pronoun ‘I’ in the context of a hyperbole, Paul is surely not claiming to understand all things as he himself says we only know in part and understand in part.

So, what person, what theologian, what preacher, what prophet, what scholar, what wise man can  ever know all the mysteries in God’s mind, and all God’s plans and all other truths in the universe? No one, of course. That’s the hyperbole of the whole section. This is his point. If I spoke it all and I proclaimed like no one else could, and I knew everything there was to know, if I had millions of facts and could correlate them all and had not love, I’m what? Zero, absolutely zero.

There are people who are highly educated, who are very wise, very knowledgeable and gifted communicators, but they are self-satisfied and self-promoting and distant from people and seemingly indifferent and uncaring and in God’s view they’re nothing.  Paul even says in 1 Corinthians 8:1 (ESV) “… we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.” Sadly, there are many churches where there is so much emphasis on knowledge, and the leaders pretend they understand all mysteries, where they actually lead people down the road of legalism which is not love. Romans 14 bears me up on this, and the central issue to the Romans 14 scenario is an ungraciousness where you do not allow somebody else to be convicted by the Holy Spirit in areas of his life, but you judge him on your own conviction and knowledge. That is simply loveless.

Again we have to say: ‘what’s love got to do with it?’ Everything!

Fourthly, faith without love is nothing.

The next statement in the hyperbole has to do with faith. Oh, how do we not see Christians today competing on the level of faith? We are so quick to judge the other person’s faith, as if we had more. 1 Corinthians 13:2 (ESV) 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

Now we all remember the statement of Jesus in Matthew 17:20 and Matthew 21:21 where Christ says that if you have faith like a mustard seed you can say to the mountain be removed. That is not big faith is it? A mustard seed is small. So, can small faith move mountains? I believe Christ is using the mountain issue as an illustration because He is simply saying that it is not the size of your faith that will move mountains but the focus of your faith in a big God, as God the creator of the universe is the only one who can move mountains. So it is your faith in God and God’s willingness to release His power on the basis of your faith in Him and your request to Him that will cause Him to do that. It is Christ’s way of saying, believe in God, believe in God, believe in God, focus on Him, with God – nothing is impossible.

Now, even if you had that kind of faith, and you do not have love you are still nothing. I think most of us still have to cry out, ‘Lord, help me in my unbelief’.

So prophecy, understanding all mysteries, having all knowledge and all faith means nothing. You are nothing. Just under these two last points 4 - 1 = 0.

So, what’s love got to do with it? Everything!

Fifthly. Generosity without love is nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:3 (ESV) 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Some translations actually say a little more.  For example:  1 Corinthians 13:3 (NASB) 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. This sounds like a deed of love to the highest degree doesn’t it? This is true benevolence, kindness and altruism, but even this can be done without love. This is an interesting statement by Paul. ‘To feed’ comes from  psomizo {pso-mid'-zo}  which means: to feed by putting a bit or crumb (of food) into the mouths of infants or young animals etc. This is not writing a cheque to some hunger fund and allowing others to do the feeding. This means that you give away everything you have to feed others one bite at a time. The idea here is that every single granting of the gift is done by the person himself. This would be tantamount to taking your entire fortune and turning it into Ten Rand bills and passing out every one of them yourself to every person you see. There’s an aorist verb here that indicates a sweeping gesture, the man liquidates everything and then bit by bit by bit by bit gives it to people who need it.

 

Now, that’s the highest degree of generosity, isn’t it? But Paul is also saying that if it is driven by a guilty conscience, or motivated by self-glory, or motivated by pride, or motivated by what you think people are going to think about you when they see that then it is not love and we are no more than the Pharisees who always did things for the wrong reasons. You will be nothing more than what we read about in Matthew 6:1-4 where Jesus says: 1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”.

So Christian, you can either give with love, or you can give without love. You can give without a love obligation. You can give because you think you’re earning your way into heaven. You can give for personal recognition. You can give because of peer pressure. You can give because you really like to shed your guilt. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s absolutely meaningless unless it’s motivated totally and solely by love, sheer love. So giving without love, produces no reward, Paul says that you gain nothing.

What’s love got to do with it? Everything.

Sixthly: Martyrdom without love is nothing.

Paul gives us one last example that makes up the 8. So let’s say hypothetically he adds to the other 7 and gives up not only what he has but gives up himself. This is the ultimate sacrifice. 1 Corinthians 13:3 (ESV) again:3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Now in some cultures, so called Christians crucify themselves, stick fish hooks into themselves, and have themselves beaten till the blood runs, all in seeking some spiritual reward. Muslims, participate in Jihad thinking they will receive 70 virgins in return. Paul however looks at the greatest sacrifice a Christian could make and that is giving your body up to be burned. There is no self-glory here, no self-delusion, no self-deception. Have we not got the example of Christ that He gave up His life for us, which is the greatest demonstration of love?

However, you can give up your life in the same way, and if you are not motivated by love, you gain nothing. Even if you gave it in a good cause, your martyrdom would be meaningless. You gain nothing. There is no reward.

What’s love got to do with it? Everything!

Summary.

So we have looked at 8 virtues of a Super Christian. Six points as we put tongues of men and angels together and knowledge and understanding all mysteries together. So Paul shows us clearly that 8 minus 1 equals 0. Super Christian without love means zippo.

So when I say, what has love got to do with it? We say everything, and I do not believe that it is an exaggeration. It is not a second hand emotion, no it is what Christianity is all about as this is how people will be able to tell who the real Disciples of Christ are.

So what you have here in 1 Corinthians 13 is a very solemn testimony to the importance of love. The loveless person, verse 1 says, produces nothing of value. Verse 2 says the loveless person is himself of no value. And verse 3 says the loveless person receives nothing of value. It was John Calvin who said, “Where love is wanting, the beauty of all virtue is mere tinsel, empty sound, not worth a straw. Nay more,” said Calvin, “it is offensive and disgusting.”

Whatever the outside of any deed is, however great, however sacrificial, however significant, it is the inside of that deed that our Lord is concerned about. And the inside must be love.

So, what has love got to do with it? Everything. Next time we start defining this love seeing to we now know that a Super Christian minus love = 0. So, don’t miss it!

Amen!

.Logos Community Church:- 03 November 2013