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February 16, 2021 3:00 am
As Christians we realize will never perfection here on planet Earth, but we still ought to be growing in spiritual maturity. That's the evidence that God is in fact at work in our lives today on Truth for Life.
Alastair beg uncovers the signs of genuine Christian growth were in first Corinthians chapter 13. Just this week in reading around the subject matter. I cannot cross a common by Leon Morris, who, having written his comments on first Corinthians 13 and commenting on the totality of the chapter.
He then concludes his very very helpful comments by saying that he feels as though in his case quotes clumsy hands have touched a thing of exquisite beauty and holiness here. What is true of all Scripture is true and special measure that no comment can be adequate enough for such a great thing as an expression of his own humility because Isaac is currently is profoundly useful.
I did, I think we can all identify with that, both in trying to teach it and certainly in listening to it.
We sense as though we've held in our hands something of exquisite beauty which we seem somehow or another to the mockup just by the holding off. I certainly feel as though we would be well served by having another go at chapter 13 I think I could study it better. I think I could probably teach it more usefully. I want you to know for your encouragement. I'm not going to do that. Nevertheless, that is a genuine expression of how I feel now. As we noted at the outset of our study of the chapter the 13th chapter of Corinthian staffers from on the one hand, and over familiarity and on the other hand, a form of virtual cluelessness so that we are tempted to believe that because first Corinthians 13 pops up on now on wedding invitations and on doilies and on little plaques that people give to their grannie that somehow or another we all know first Corinthians 13, or on the other hand, that we come to it with an approach which in the way in which we apply it shows that we really have very little idea tall. I hope that all of us who have gone through these course of studies are in no doubt whatsoever about the essential place which chapter 13 as in the development of Paul's argument in the totality of the book of first Corinthians. I hope none of us have any notion of the idea that Paul has essentially had a fairly tough section in chapter 12. He knows that he's going to have a really tough one.
In chapter 14 and so he paused for a moment or two and he said to himself.
Now, what's a nice thing that I could stick into the middle of this nanny so I know that thing I preached her over in the Colossae Valley and where did I put that many women founded and slotted it in between 12 and 14 so that the people would get a break between the rigors of 12, and the challenges 14 not so.
Indeed, it is only set where it is that it can be understood and carefully applying and we need to realize that chapter 13 of first Corinthians is as applicable to the peculiar circumstances of the church in Corinth, as is the rest of the Lancer and we spent a considerable time in verses 4 to 7. All of these characteristics of Christian love.
As we refer to them and I like to summarize them for you.
I listen to a tape by my good friend Dick Lucas and digging summarize them for screenings 4 to 7. Unfortunately, I only heard the tape. I too late for it to be of help to me or of help to you because he managed to preach these four verses in the space of 32 minutes, whereas I never managed to complete them in a tremendous number of minutes probably are too many but if this is a summary of verses 4 to 7, which is helpful to those of you who weren't here and will perhaps also be an encouragement to those who were he gives these four summary statements. He says in verses 4 to 7. First of all, Paul has in mind the bad features of the Corinthian Christians when he writes these verses.
He is writing them in such a way as to point out, by contrast, what Corinth is really like their problem is that there lacking in patients that lacking in kindness that lacking in any expressions of humility and contentedness. And so, in describing the nature of love. He actually hits on these bad features in the Corinthian church, and that's why we ought not to be on Julie squirming in our seats.
As we've gone through these characteristics because they had their first and most direct application to a real problem church in Corinth.
Secondly, he said that Paul in writing these verses had in mind the characteristic hallmarks of immaturity. There's a sense in which this is saying the same thing as a bad features in Corinth were due to immaturity, and therefore he addresses the issue of immaturity. Corinth was a sizzling church. It was a dynamic church.
It was a lively church. It was a singing church or praying church but it was full of showoffs and full of babies.
Thirdly, he pointed out that Paul had in mind the kind of qualities that build up the church. These tremendous characteristics are the kind of things that we would all like to discover and we would certainly like to see increasingly displayed at Parkside church.
Fourthly, in summary, he said Paul is thinking about the qualities which are unconquerable example verse seven.
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, never fails. These he said are unconquerable characteristics now that was just his little summary.
I thought you might appreciate that.
I certainly found it helpful. Another characteristics that we have just been studying together take is out of the realm of what are merely human qualities.
Rather, what we have been discovering and what we trust fully finalize this evening. Our divine evidences of an increasing spiritual maturity.
This is the very heart of this final paragraph, Paul is establishing here the fact that the real evidences of God being at work in somebody's life or in the life of a church are actually to be found in the divine triad which he introduces in verse 13 and God willing, which we will reach in a moment or two from now I want to ask you the question.
Do you think it is sufficient to assume that all that is being said here in this final paragraph is this the gifts of the spirit are in use for this age but love is in use for eternity.
Virtually everything that I read. That's all it says it says in verses 8 to 13 saying one thing, the gifts of the spirit are in use now and love goes on forever. I said to myself I don't know if it's just that straightforward.
I don't know if it's that simple. Because from this viewpoint, look at what they do.
In verse 11.
As you find them when the human verse 11 is the is the say that what Paul is saying is that childhood equals this world, and eternity equals maturity is I myself know Paul is so much to say about maturity. Now everybody knows that you will finally be complete in heaven, but I think you must be saying something else. How then do you try meaningfully to come to a reasonable interpretation and application of verses like these will what you have to keep doing and what I tried to do was to step back from it and put the whole thing. The paragraph in the chapter.
The chapter in the surrounding chapters. The surrounding chapter in the whole book in the whole book going back to basics to try and remind myself of what Paul was dealing with yet to be a little bit of a sleuth if you're going to interpret the Bible properly, you have the spirit of the son of Agatha Christie and you to be as searching out to see who done it, and if you go back to chapter 1, which I invite you to do for just a moment, let me remind you that Paul was writing to a church that was really blessed in verse seven he writes to them of chapter 1 and he says you do not like any spiritual gift as you eagerly await for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed is quite a church. All gifts are operative in the church and as they are in operation in the church. They are eagerly awaiting the return of the gift giver. Even Jesus himself, but after those opening common D3 paragraphs you will perhaps also recall that when Paul is on to develop his letter he recognizes and addresses the fact that although this is a church that is really blessed and is manifesting all of these gifts. It's also a group of people that have a problem with trying it's a group of people who have begun to clean that whatever may be true of other churches then in the Corinthian church have entered into a kind of spiritual fullness which they believe is almost unique to them. I spiritual dimension that others do not know and, especially, it would seem. Their focus is as a result of all of these gifts that are being manifested and so they had made the equation something like this, Jesus is present. We know because we have all these gifts because we have all these gifts we are living in fullness because these gifts are the evidence of spiritual totality, and in particular the preoccupation, which they had with the gift of tongues know what they were talking about as though they had this spiritual totality was something which will actually only be ours in heaven because when Paul and you need to stay with me for a moment here, we will get to this incurred first Corinthians 4 addressing this problem of prying and the fact that even got it all now. He says to them sarcastically in verse eight of chapter 4 already, you have all you want already you have become right. She says you and become kings and that without eyes if he were saying to one another.
We are really the church. After all, it couldn't possibly be that we could all of all of this going on without that it was not evidence of the kind of spiritual fullness and totality that God intend so Paul in writing the letter makes it clear to them that he cannot claim to have a perfection which will only be theirs in heaven, and indeed they must face the fact of their immaturity and they must understand and to this he comes now. What are the genuine marks of true Christian experience is maybe quite a surprise to some of us tonight.
Let me try to summarize the paragraph under three simple headings. First of all Paul says in this final paragraph you check this for yourselves are sensible people. The gifts of the spirit are not signs of final perfection. The gifts of the spirit are not signs of final perfection as I'm suggesting to you. The Corinthian's and fallen into the trap of believing that these gifts where the indication of the fact that they are truly awry in the it probably begun to say to one another because we have these gifts perfection must surely have come. No says Paul in this paragraph when perfection comes, these things that you equate with perfection going out the door.
The things that you are using is the touchstones for the spiritual totality are actually going to disappear whether they are times he says or whether they are the abilities to speak the word of God with boldness. Whether it is the ability to understand ministries to express knowledge in all of its fullness. All of this will disappear. The gifts are for now and they are imperfect where there are prophecies that are going to cease where the returns they will be stilled, where there is knowledge, it will pass away because now we know only in part. Our best is a grasping. Now we prophesy only in part, and when perfection comes heaven then all that is imperfect will disappear. Are you testing this out in relationship to spiritual gifts. It makes perfect sense.
Take for example the claims that are made for the gifts of healing, even in the circumstance of the Corinthian church is at best imperfect. When we recognize and allow that God may silently choose to heal, to intervene at certain times in people's lives at best. It is imperfect separately against the standard established by Jesus himself when Jesus healed people.
The healing was instantaneous. It was effective and it was radically life transforming the man with a shriveled hand put forth his hand. It was healed. Everybody knew it was heal even then have to go for test to find out about it in the little plastic surgeon need enough to fiddle around the tall shriveled no longer shriveled, but when we think in terms of healing in any measure ire in the Corinthian context are today.
We have to recognize that whatever we may describe his healing may in time proved to be remission but has never in all of time proved to be transformation and all who are gained if you like a stay of execution still die because the very exercise of such sovereign prerogatives of God is limited by the context in which it is exercised. That is why it is only when the perfect comes that there will be no tears, no pain, no siding and no dye but in the present context, all will be attached by those features, so any church whether the Corinthian church or church today that says of itself, the gifts of the spirit are signs of final perfection knows itself to be wrong. Is it only let me just say that those who believe that we should always be fit and healthy are thereby suggesting that the perfect is now when Paul clearly says that the perfect is then all the trying teachers that if ever we endure sickness or if ever we face pain. We somehow or another must be living in sin are missing the dimensions of faith that God intends. What those individuals are doing is importing then to now, when you bring then to now, you can't live now in light of then is the first thing spiritual gifts are not the indication of final perfection. Secondly, I think what is being said here, especially in verse 11 is this while, then we will experience perfection in terms of being absolutely free from the implications of sin. Now we do not simply sit in babyhood. But now, says Paul, is about maturity and maturity, which is not perfection and others where we got to build understand English discriminate between words. When the Bible uses this notion of perfection, for heaven. And when Paul speaks about maturity were talking about two different things.
Heaven is heaven and spiritual maturity is now and the fact that the Corinthians were suggesting that heaven was now displayed in spiritual gifts was pointing out the five Nevada problem was spiritual maturity. They were babies in their understanding of things and so Paul says to them what we need to be looking for is the kind of spiritual fullness which is expressed in maturity now. If you doubt that he had a problem with maturity turned back to first Corinthians chapter 3 in verse one.
What did Paul say on that occasion, he said brothers I can address your spiritual, but as worldly mere infants are babies in Christ is the Corinthian your babies when you get into chapter 14, which we will in these coming weeks are going to find the same kind of emphasis. Look at verse 20 of first Corinthians 14 brothers start thinking like children, we see Paul's great urgency for them was that they might come to maturity.
The problem for the Corinthians was that they were elevating this junior gift, namely the gift of tongues were bringing into such a place that it was for them a mark of superiority. Paul says it is not a mark of superiority, but your overemphasis on it is a mark of your spiritual childishness with the baby talk, because he says we only see in a mirror one day we'll see face-to-face. Heaven is then this is now we live now we let the Lord down now we stumble now we fall were not at our best. The good we wanted to we don't do. You can have, then now we live now in anticipation of then that's what he's saying here you see when he says now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even now as I am fully known just in passing what the keys to understanding your Christian life is working out the difference between now and then never go grow to maturity in our Christian living and so we understand what is now and was then because it we start thinking that then is now. We will mail to live now. Now understand I will be telling people the words. Then as now and confusing them because they can get that now and then supposed to get it now because it's only coming then right now were no fully known. Right now that is a wonderful phrase your underline that I am fully known by pain, summarizer here tonight were downright lonely. We will only in a big crowd.
We may be away from our families away from home University. We may have a changes in the circumstances of our lives and they are benefiting us and they are beating us and here's a wonderful statement for your encouragement. I am fully known. One of the angels in heaven.
Turns around to look to God and he says God do you know John Smith courses do I know John Smith.
Let me tell you John's Angel says do you know Mary Evans.
I can tell you all about the evidence she is my shame belongs to me.
I know none is no God like that though quest for spiritual maturity in Paul's mind is that I may know him and the part of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering, but he knows that even it is best knowing it will be an empathic knowing that one day we shall know even as we are known all the dumb questions that we bask this past week will be answered in an instant when we gaze into his face. All of our uncertainties about pain and about illness in all of our heartache for our brethren will be answered in a moment when we know even as we are known calls for patients it calls for trust. It calls for biblical realism. One day we will see him and we will be made like him. This is Truth for Life to bed with the message called love is forever lose so reassuring to know that we are fully known and that God wants to do a work in our hearts.
The Puritans taught that artwork is hard work.
So where do we begin in that hard work will we have a new book were offering that can help you get started. It's called with all your heart and it explores what the Bible means what it talks about the word heart.
The author explains that the heart is at the very center of our spiritual being it's the source of our fears, our words and our actions. We love the emphasis this book places on the heart, because as the author says if you neglect the heart you missed the most necessary thing. Request your copy of the book by clicking the image you see on the app or visit our website Truth for Life.org/donate or you can call us at 888-588-7884 again asked for the book, with all your heart. Finally, before we close. Here's a special invitation hello this is Alister, you know, I've been invited to be the Bible teacher on this Holland American cruise ship that is going to take a whole host of others up the coast of Alaska.
At the end of August. I'd love for you to come along. Not just because of the beauty of the surroundings. Not just because of the benefit of the luxury of it all. But actually, mainly because we get to be in one another's company. One of the things about doing what I do is that I talk to people that I largely never see and I'm looking forward to meeting many of you, I won't be alone.
My wife will join me Laura story Michael O'Brien will be leaving us in our praise and all in all I think it will be far more than justification, new friends and lasting memories as we cruise up the coastline so considerate and consider yourself welcome McAllister could learn more. Book your ticket by visiting deeper faith cruise.com or call 855-565-5519 Bob Lapine join us tomorrow as Alister concludes his message and are serious Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life. Learning is for Living