. No 11 The Permenance of love (Part 1)

What’s love got to do with it?



Today’s sermon is really just an introduction to the sermon the permanence of love which will hopefully be a two part sermon, or maybe three at most.

Over the weeks we have spent 10 sermons on the whole issue of love. It is important to again just tell you where we came from.

We did an introductory sermon on the New Commandment and came to understand the value of love from Christ’s perspective. In John 13:34 (ESV) Jesus said: 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

Then we did two sermons looking at the downside of being a Super Christian without love. We saw that a person who speaks with the tongues of men and angels but who does not have love is just a noisy gong, or a clanging cymbal. We saw that a person who prophecies, has all knowledge, understands all mysteries and has the greatest amount of faith anybody can have, but if that person does not love they are nothing. They are a zero on a contract. Then we also saw that a person who sells everything and gives his money to the poor and even gives his body up to martyrdom gains nothing if he does not love. A Super Christian minus love equals zero. In short all 8 attributes of a Super Christian minus love is naught.

So what does love mean? What is the more excellent way that Paul speaks about in 1 Corinthians 12:31? To discover this we did 7 sermons on the 15 facets of love as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 when he presents the Corinthian church with the more excellent way. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV) 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

So today we get to one more important issue regarding this more excellent way that put’s the cherry on the top of this whole deal, and that is the permanence of love. So love does not just have a preeminent virtue, but it has a permanent virtue.

1 Corinthians 13:8 (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.

Now we have already seen last week that love endures. But Paul now cranks up the heat a few more degrees with a bold statement. Loves does not only endure, but ‘love never ends’. Or as some translations put it ‘love never fails’.

How can love ever end, if we understand that God is love, God is eternal, so if eternal is that which is true to God then love must be eternal? For love to die, it means that God died. Because love is one of the central attributes of God and it is the key attribute of Christians.

The Corinthian church were so focussed on the temporary. And now Paul is driving them and driving them to get a new appreciation about love. I pray that somehow this is becoming our mind-set here at Logos. Don’t we at times just like the Corinthian church undervalue the importance of love? May I remind you again of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:14 (ESV) 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;” Any person in Christ is a new creation, and he simply does not love like the world, because he died with Christ and was risen with Christ and now it is the love of Christ that constrains us.

The Corinthian church however were marked by materialism, contention, antagonism, competition, worldliness, selfishness, hatred, sexual immorality, conceit, individualism and so I can go on and on highlighting their errors.  Their behaviour was carnal and not spiritual. They even went as far as counterfeiting spiritual gifts. In short their behaviour was Godless and that is why it was loveless. Instead of the church evangelising the city of Corinth it seems like the city of Corinth evangelised them to the point that their behaviour at times was worse than the pagans. They were a church that behaved in a loveless manner.

Sadly in our day and age while we might claim that our roads are dustless, our coffee caffeine less, margarine fatless and sweets sugarless so much of Christianity has become Godless and loveless. Obviously not all of it. You simply have to visit church meetings to see the amount of division in the body of Christ and the amount of focus on materialism. Christians in our day, and even pastors are competing instead of loving. That is why so many churches become nothing but businesses. We have lost our focus. We are majoring on the minors and minoring on the majors, and love is one of those majors.

Now all of this nonsense, all of this rubbish is all based on that which is temporary. Did you know that even the radiant image around the face of Moses that shined because he entered the presence of God faded? But love lasts.

So let’s look at what verse 8 – 12 tells us about the permanence of love. It begins with the statement, “Love never ends.” Sometimes you read it translated, “Love never fails or never falls.” And it could be translated that way. What it means is it never collapses into decay. It never disintegrates. It will never be abolished. The literal meaning could be, “Love never falls to the ground,” like the petals of a dead flower fall because there’s no life left, only decay. Love never does that because there’s no decay in love. Love will outlast everything.

Again I need to share a little bit of Greek with you, not just for the sake of giving you the Greek, but it helps us to understand it better. Firstly, there is a time word  oudepote {oo-dep'-ot-eh} which is translated ‘never’ which means, ‘neither at any time’, or simply ‘never’. But then the critical word is   ekpipto {ek-pip'-to} which is from the root word ‘to fall’ or ‘to fall down’, or ‘to fall to the ground’ like a leaf, or to fall from position. None of this will happen to love throughout all ages.


There is coming a day, when all that we put our hope in would have fallen, but love will still be there. That is why Paul can say in verse 8 that “As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” That is why he can say in verse 13: 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Why is love the greatest? It is because it has eternality attached to it.

Did you know that 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.

Now, there are a few misunderstandings that I need to rectify this morning regarding this statement that ‘love never ends’ or ‘never fails’ or ‘never falls’.

Does love always triumph over trouble, does love always resolve issues, does love always win the other person over? I think we must be truthful and acknowledge that no matter how much love you pour out onto others, some will disappoint you and others will throw love into your face.

You might remember the story of David Wilkerson the pastor and the gangster Nicky Cruise in Cross and the Switchblade how David’s expression of love was continually thrown back into his face. Actually at a point when David told Nicky that he loves him, Nicky’s response was: ‘if you say again that you love me, I will take my flick knife and cut you into a thousand pieces.’ David responded boldly, that Nicky can cut him into a thousand pieces and each piece will cry out ‘I love you’. Nicky came around and turned his life over to the Lord, so in his case love triumphed, or to be more accurate God triumphed, but not all the gangsters that David Wilkerson ministered to turned to the Lord. Paul’s point is not that love will always succeed in its goal. I have loved some people just in ministry, reached out to them, helped them physically, financially, walked with them through the shadow of death, carried their burdens and exhibited utter patience, and in the end they just trample your love and walk their own way, when they are through sucking you dry on every level.

That is not what Paul is saying when he says that love ‘will not fail’, or ‘will not end’.  I am sure that Paul saw love fail many, many times. Surely like most of us he has seen love fail in marriages, where one spouse will cry out a thousand times that they love the other, just to hear the sad words ‘I have never loved you.’ He saw love fail in the church as even in the church of Corinth people turned against him because he was not a super apostle as far as they were concerned.

I am stunned on a daily basis to see people who claim to be Christians, people who have embraced the name of Christ who have embraced the love of God in Christ, who have had the love of Christ shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost and they become enemies of the very bride of Christ that they claim to be part of. They fight one another, they fight pastors and they even go as far as destroying each other and one another’s integrity in the vey Name of Jesus who gave His life for the church.  Sure we will have to conclude that love has failed in those cases.

But my friend, take note of this. Not even the Lord’s love always triumphs. His love for Israel, His love for the sick and the dying and the hungry and the poor and the needy and the demon possessed didn’t always triumph over their love of sin, over their carnality over their selfishness. They spurned it, walked out of His presence into the darkness of an eternally loveless existence. They crucified love. Love didn’t work with Judas right? The very kiss of love that Judas gave Christ was a kiss of betrayal.

Many a husband or wife can bear testimony to the failure of love. Many a mom and dad could bear testimony to the failure of love, having poured out love to their children and having their children turn on them, rebel against them, shun them and embrace everything they warned them against, severing the family, sometimes permanently. Many a parent has watched how their children pour out their unconditional love to another person with the hope of marriage, just to watch that love trampled on. Sadly many times the words ‘I love you’ means nothing else but ‘I love me and I want you because you benefit me’. ‘Let’s make love’ has become the new way of saying ‘let’s have sex’.

True Christian love is a wonderful thing but it doesn’t always succeed. Sure, Christian love has hope for success. It’s the best thing. If anything can triumph, it’s love. But it doesn’t always because it can be spurned and rejected. Now after all of these statements and examples, I actually have a simple statement to make. Paul is simply saying that love as a reality lasts forever, not that it always wins, not that it always triumphs, but rather that it will never disappear in contrast to other things that will disappear. And in order to make that contrast clear, he picked some very, very important things.

Look again at verse 8 but this time through to 10:  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.”

Now remember, the Corinthian church were into their gifts. We said enough about it in the past. Now, there were many gifts given by the Holy Spirit to the body. Why?  1 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV) “7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. The next question is, how did the Holy Spirit distribute the gifts? The answer is clear when you look at 1 Corinthians 12:11 (ESV) 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills”.

Sadly the Corinthian church wanted the showy gifts, the public gifts, the gifts that make them stand out. They were drawn to that which was supernatural, that which was according to divine revelation and divine power, that which would make them look special and that which would make them stand out head and shoulders above the rest. They would even go so far as to counterfeit the gifts as you saw with something like tongues.

Now, what Paul is saying to them in this section is that he will show them a more excellent way which is the way of love. And then – which is where we are today he will show them that love is not only the more excellent way, but it is the permanent way.

As far as the gifts are concerned Paul wants to show them that the gifts are simply temporal and they are partial but love is eternal and will be perfected when we see Him face to face.

So, we will look at that next week. But to end this sermon today. Church family, are you starting to realise just how important love is. Surely these 11 sermons so far should have convinced you.

May I remind you again as I have often said? The church is the church and not a club, the church is a body and not a business, the church is a bride and not a building and the church is an organism and not an organization. If the church to you is a club, a business, a building and an organization, well, then you do not have to love, because then God and His people are really insignificant to you, and should simply slot in to compete with the rest of your affections like money and other material things.

But, if you see the church as the church that Jesus loved and gave His life for, if you see yourself as part of the church as the bride of Christ along with the rest of His bride, when you see the church as a living organism that is being built up into a living temple, if you see the church as the body of Christ, then you need to love one another according to the flawless attributes of love, then we need to care for one another unconditionally as the love of God constrains us.

Sadly many churches have become nothing but an organization, a club, a building and a business, and sadly ‘when a body becomes a business it is nothing but a prostitute’. Prostitutes, make love without love. Our love for one another has to be vibrant, intense and self-sacrificing for the sake of the Bridegroom who loves us with an everlasting love. Surely we do not want to be seen as a body that became a business. Well, if not let’s start making love our primary responsibility in this part of the body of Christ.

So for today, love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. Love still stands when all has fallen.

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



Logos Community Church: 23 February 2014


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