. The permanence of love (Part 2)

The supremacy of Love (Part 12)

The permanence of Love (Part 2)

Today we are moving on to sermon number 12 which is our last one in this series, and number 2 in the part entitled ‘the permanence of love.’

Last week we saw that ‘love does not end’ or ‘fail’ or ‘fall’ like a dead leaf to the ground. In plain and simple terms, love is permanent and therefore has to take priority over those things that do not last. There are many things in the body of Christ that are good, but they are simply not the best. Love which is the best, simply outlasts those things that are good. Even us as pastors who minister the word of God are gift to you and are good for you now, but there comes a day when you will not need us, and you will not need our preaching, but the sad news for you is this, that this side of glory you are stuck with us.

We would do well to examine ourselves today and ask ourselves a critical question.

Go home and take a long look in the mirror and say: “myself, am I like the Corinthian church who had their priorities wrong? Am I living for those things that are temporary, or am I living for that which lasts? Am I spending all my energy on concerns that are temporal and perishing and simply ignoring the things that are eternal? Now, myself, I know that the Word of God does not teach me that temporal concerns are not concerns and that I must simply ignore them, but in short have they started to overshadow the eternal in my life?” And then your final words to the mirror: “Good night handsome, or beautiful”, depending which gender you are. And then you can go and dream about your priorities.

Now in the text before us, Paul addresses something that became of utmost importance to the Corinthian church which are the spiritual gifts, but sadly these gifts of grace were not driven by love. I want to spend the rest of my time this morning to look at two things. Firstly the passing gifts and secondly the lasting graces.

Point 1. The passing gifts.

Now we know that we all have spiritual gifts according to Romans 12:6 (ESV) 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;…” But, now Paul, says that they will pass. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (ESV) “8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

Let’s start with the back end of these verse namely verse 10. but when the PERFECT comes, the partial will pass away. Paul here tells us that the spiritual gifts will be made obsolete when the perfect comes.

There is a lot of controversy around the meaning of the word ‘perfect’. Some theologians say that the word ‘perfect’ refers to the coming of the completed Scriptures which we call the Bible. So when the Bible came there was no more need of prophecies, tongues or knowledge, because the final witness of it all would be contained in Scripture. Other theologians say that the ‘perfect’ refers to the perfection or maturing of the church. So when the church was in its infant stage, it needed all that, but now that the church is mature, it no longer needs these gifts referred to here.

You can crucify me this morning if either of those views is your view. I just simply do not agree with that. I believe that these interpretations are ignoring verse 12 that says: “12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” I believe the ‘perfect’ is here equated with ‘full knowledge’ and ‘seeing face to face’. This verse fits very closely with that which John tells us in 1 John 3:2 (ESV) “2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” I believe we shall see face to face when Jesus appears, when we all as believers are gathered to Him. So when Paul says that these gifts shall cease he is saying that it will happen when the perfect one comes, to bring into finality the perfect age when our lives will be perfected in the glorious perfections of the throne room of heaven. I believe it is self-evident that in the perfect age that the gifts will be obsolete. Let’s spend a short time looking at the three gifts.

1.1 The gift of prophecy and knowledge.

Paul says in verse 8: 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,…”

I don’t want to spend too much time on the gifts as the emphasis here is upon love. Paul’s comment about the more excellent way is neatly tucked in between 1 Corinthians 12 & 14 where Paul deals with the issue of gifts, what they mean, how they function in the Corinthian church and how they should function. In verse 8 now we deal with this statement that says that prophecies will pass away and knowledge will pass away. So I want to handle the two together. Tongues he says ‘will cease’ and ‘not pass away’, which we will look at later.

Now when you think about knowledge and prophecies, what possible purpose can they have in heaven? Paul likens them to little toy cars and Barbie dolls, or it is like a lady sitting in front of a mirror dating back to Paul’s day and age. You cannot blame her if she did a bad job as she could only see herself dimly, as the mirrors in their days were a far cry from our day and age. They were simply made out of polished metals. You only saw in part.

Look again at verse 9: “9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,…”. And then 1 Corinthians 13:10-12 (ESV) 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” So, according to verse 9: “…we know in part and we prophesy in part,…” and then Paul starts with the critical joiner or primary particle ‘but’ in verse 10 and then likens these two gifts to childish talk, childish thinking, childish reasoning summed up as childish ways. He likens it to seeing a dim picture of ourselves in the mirror and even a dim picture of Christ.

So it is with the gifts of prophecy and knowledge. They were given for a temporary, earthly purpose, but at their very best they were partial and incomplete. When glory comes, listen carefully, when glory comes you will not need it just as much as you do not need toy cars or a Barbie doll as an adult. Man, I am looking forward to glory, because when glory dawns we shall have a complete and exhaustive knowledge of heavenly things and shall no longer be in need of any dim mirrors of prophecy or knowledge. No longer will God speak to man through man, or even the Bible. We shall see Him face to face and everything will be first hand. No more errors, no false prophecies, no bad teachings. Guess what, you will not need me or any of our other qualified pastors here to teach you any longer. Bad news though, the services are going to be much longer, as you spend day by day before the throne.

1.2 The gift of tongues.

Neither will there be any need for tongues. Now, I did a whole study on this which is on our website where we worked from Acts 2 all the way to 1 Corinthians 14 and we covered every verse that deals with tongues. We tried to be as honest with Scripture as possible, and did not consult any man’s experience or any man’s lack of experience, as experience or the lack thereof is not our final authority. Scripture is our final authority for our total faith and conduct. Now, you can study it on the website or you can buy the booklet and please do show me if you feel I in any way enforced my personal opinions or prejudices onto the text. But before you do that, make sure that you have not forced your personal opinions or prejudices onto the text. Church family, we have one aim, and that is to be the church that Jesus intended it to be. We will be fools to go against Scripture. I still firmly stand with the words of John Calvin when he said: “even if every bone in my body cries against it, if God said so, so let it be.”

Now let me just say this. There was a real gift of tongues which we read about in the book of Acts, and then Scripture is silent about tongues until you get to 1 Corinthians 12. In the church of Corinth there is definitely evidence of real tongues and there is evidence of counterfeit tongues which according to Paul sounds like the language of Barbarians. The main purpose of tongues by the way is recorded in 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 (ESV) which says:21 In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers.” In the Old Testament we know that God sought to make the gentiles jealous in His election of Israel, as they looked in and saw the grace of God upon a nation who did not even deserve His grace. In the New Testament here God seeks to make Israel jealous as He now speaks to His people Israel, by the conversion of men of strange tongues. You can study Romans 11 on this as well. Therefore tongues is a sign not for believers, but for unbelievers. Listen carefully, and I do not want to get into it to deep. Tongues is not a sign that you are born again or that you have received the Holy Spirit. You cannot be born again without receiving the Holy Spirit. That will be a contradiction in terms. But here it is a sign for the unbelieving Israel as they behold God’s grace upon the gentiles, and guess what, they will still not listen.

The bottom line this morning is that no matter what your view is of tongues, it will cease. It will no longer be needed as we all will be speaking Afrikaans in heaven, as it is my native language, right?

1.3 How will the gifts end?

I thought it will be helpful just to make a few comments about the way that prophecies, knowledge and tongues will come to an end.

When you look at prophecies and knowledge coming to an end Paul uses the Greek word ‘(katargeo)’ which means ‘to bring to an end’, or ‘to render inoperative’, ‘to pass away’ or ‘to abolish’. That is why Paul says here in the ESV that prophecies and knowledge will pass away, or if you have an NIV it says prophecies will ‘cease’ and knowledge will ‘pass away’. The KJV says that prophecies will ‘fail’ and knowledge will ‘vanish’. It is also interesting to note that  (katargeo) is in the passive voice which is a clear indication that somebody or something will stop them.


However, when he talks about tongues he does not say that tongues will  (katargeo). He uses the word pauo {pow'-o}  which in its normal sense will mean ‘to make to cease or desist, to stop, to come to an end.’ However of interest here is that Paul uses the middle voice or reflexive voice with pauo {pow'-o}. Now why is this important? The middle voice indicates a voluntary action one performs upon oneself, or to say it differently, it is a self-causing action, like throwing yourself to the ground. It simply means that tongues at a point in history will self-implode or self-destruct. When the perfect comes the partial, namely to know in part and to prophecy in part will pass away, but somewhere between Acts 2 and glory tongues will have burn out, as its limits have been reached. I love the way Dr John Mac Arthur puts it. He says: ‘God gave the gift of tongues a built in stopping place …. When its limits were reached, its activity automatically ended.’ Now, I am not brave enough to tell you when that ‘is are has being’.


My personal opinion, and you pick it up in my notes is that tongues is the supernatural ability God by His Spirit gives to a person to speak a language that is not his own, for purposes that will convict unbelievers, build up the church and glorify God. I therefore believe that God can still use it today. So, based on a proper understanding of tongues, its ending will not be with the coming of the perfect but somewhere in history before that, tongues will simply go ‘kaboom’, and it will be no more. Prophecy and knowledge will remain, till that glorious day when we see Him face to face.


  1. 4 The abiding graces.

We end this two-part sermon today as well as the series by looking at 1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV) 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

In my last sermon I made the claim that ultimately faith will disappear as we appear in glory, because then we will see everything as it truly is, hope will disappear as we taste it’s fulfilment but love will remain as we are eternally embraced by the love of God. Does verse 13 actually imply that faith and hope will continue after the perfect age appears?

I believe the solution is found in the word ‘now’, which comes from the Greek word nuni, nuni {noo-nee'} which simply means ‘now’ or ‘at this very moment.’ Paul is not talking about them as future graces, or graces needed into eternity, but they are ‘abiding’ graces. The Greek word for ‘abiding’ is me,nw meno {men'-o} which means that they will literally be your sojourners on your journey to heaven. They will abide with you. Without them you are not going to make it.


I will say more in a moment, but I just want you to see where Paul is going in all this as there is a logical follow up in his argument. Let me try and speak Pauline for a moment: “Okay Corinthian church, you guys desire gifts, well that’s okay, desire it, but even if you desire the greater ones, I will show you something more excellent that you need to focus on, and that is love. Now you can have all the gifts but if you do not love they mean nothing, and you are nothing. Guess what? Even those gifts like prophecy and knowledge which are surely greater gifts will be done away with when the perfect comes. And then that gift of tongues that you all so eagerly desire, guess what? It will self-destruct, somewhere along the line it will implode. So don’t put all your hope there. God has given you graces that will carry you on your journey, and whether you have particular gifts or not, that is not the main issue, the main issue is that you focus on your three sojourners, and that is faith, hope and love. Now love will not end, while gifts will, but listen, of these three sojourners, the greatest is love. So do you get it? Love is more excellent, because it outlasts the gifts, and it is greater, more important and more excellent than even faith and hope.” End of Pauline.


Now, many theologians will disagree with me and say that faith and hope alongside love will abide all the way into heaven after the perfect age has come. Now I have already said that I believe faith will disappear as we appear in glory, because then we will see everything as it truly is, hope will disappear as we taste its fulfilment. Let me say this. I will accept the argument that faith and hope will continue to be our sojourners in heaven, but only if we see faith as our continuous dependence on God to provide for our every need. I just cannot fathom how we will sit around in heaven hoping. Well maybe if God in heaven is promising us new and exciting things all the time. Sure, I believe that God’s treasures are inexhaustible, and I do not believe that we will get bored in heaven. Sure it is possible that there are new treasures to anticipate daily even in heaven. But hope just seems to be farfetched as it is filled with a measure of uncertainty until that which we hope for is accomplished. Whether or not it continues in some sense in heaven, the real issue is ‘now’. Now there are abiding graces.

But let’s not miss the main point as we draw this series of 12 sermons to a close.

Here’s the deal. At that day when the perfect age comes only one thing will be left, what will it be? Love. Love is the most exalted human emotion, is it not? There are more songs written about love than any other emotion. Humanity is in love with the idea of love, even on a superficial level. But WOW, do you realise that we will enter into the glory of heaven and forever live in perfect supernatural love? So love is permanent, and love is the most excellent way through and through, even greater that faith and hope. Faith will be replaced by sight. Hope will be replaced by reality, but love will never be replaced by anything. Your gifts, temporary. Your abilities, temporary. Your talents, temporary. Your relationships, temporary. Your ministries, your possessions, even your faith, even your hope, temporary.

Love links you to eternity, and that is why Paul starts chapter 14:1 with these words: “pursue love”. Are you willing? If we at Logos can take this series serious, we are bound to be the church that Jesus intended us to be.

So, what’s love got to do with it? Everything! To the Tina Turners of this world we want to say, turn to Christ and you will find out that love is not just ‘a second hand emotion’. It is the more excellent way.


Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church:- 20 October 2019