So, are you going to be a spiritual baby all your life?
JANUARY 4, 2024
So, are you going to be a spiritual baby all your life? Let’s talk about it on this edition of Key Life.
This is Key Life. We’re here to let you know that because of what Jesus has done, God will never be angry at you again. Pete Alwinson is a former pastor, founder of ForgeTruth.Com, and the author of Like Father, Like Son. And he’s been teaching us all this week.
Thank you Matthew, and good morning Key Life. This is Pete Alwinson sitting in for Steve Brown this week, and we’ve been talking about love from I Corinthians 13. And the powerful motivating force that should grip us all the way through this year. Hey, you know, that tagline is really me sometimes. I sometimes look at myself in a mirror and I say, Alwinson, you’re just kind of being a spiritual baby right now. And I think sometimes the Holy Spirit helps me say that to myself because what I need is God to love me enough to say, don’t be a baby anymore, let’s grow up. And that’s really how Paul pulls this text of Scripture together in 1 Corinthians 13. We’ve seen what love really is, that it’s not sentimental, that it’s not always even emotional, but it’s robust, and warm, and disciplined, and honest, and manly. And yes, this is for all of us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. And under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul shows how grace is such a powerful force that it helps us to take this love into our life in every way. Look how Paul ends this chapter as he’s going to end chapter 13, get back into chapter 14 of I Corinthians, talking about spiritual gifts again, and the everyday life together experience that we have as Christians. But he says some powerful words, he says.
Love never fails, but if they’re gifts of prophecy, they’ll be done away. If there are tongues, they will cease. If there’s knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think like a child, reason like a child. But when I became a man, I put aside childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. But now abide faith, hope, and love. These three remain, but the greatest of these is love.
I love how he ends this passage, this is so powerful. And I like this not because I’m particularly a nice guy or a soft guy. I’m not either. But I love this passage because I’ve come to see that this is true truth as Francis Schaeffer used to say, it’s powerful truth about how to live my life as the deeply beloved son of the most high God saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. You know, grace is receiving what you don’t deserve when there’s every bit of evidence that you deserve the opposite. And I see that more and more every day in my life. And his grace then becomes the energizing power that makes us want to be better, to live the life of love. So, let me give you a truth. The way of life is the way of love. Love is the virtue that we need to exercise every day through everything we do. And all successful relationships depend on God’s kind of love that we’ve seen in this chapter. Speaking of relationships, I need to tell you, I love my family and they can hurt me, but I love them. And so did Winston Churchill. He loved his family. He had a great marriage. He was deeply connected to his family, his friends, his nation, and his work. Now, his health habits were absolutely terrible. His diet was awful. He smoked cigars all the time, he drank too much, had weird sleep habits, was completely sedentary. And yet he lived to 90 years of age. Someone asked him once, Mr. Churchill, do you ever exercise? And he said, the only exercise I get is serving as a pallbearer for my friends who died while they were exercising. Well, Paul teaches us here, I love to exercise, but Paul teaches is here that what I really need to exercise is love, before the words I speak and before the things I say, before the things I do. So, he lands this plane talking about love, with two big challenges. First of all, he challenges us to believe in the supremacy of love over everything else. Why? Because of the eternality of love. Paul challenges you and me to believe in the supremacy of love over everything else because love is eternal. And that’s what he begins with in verse eight.
Love never fails.
Why? Because love is an eternal virtue. And it’s an eternal virtue because it’s a divine virtue because God is love. And he is the source of this kind of love that we’ve been talking about. It’s essential to all perfect relationships and catch this, in heaven we will have perfect relationships. Do you ever despair in your marriage? Oh my goodness, well, in heaven, you’ll have perfect relationships. And so, we are called to believe in the supremacy of love, not in the sentimentality of love or emotional feelings, but in the supremacy of God’s kind of love and seek to get that love in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because it is really the only thing that is going to last. I mean, prophecy is a great gift. We can talk about another time what prophecy really meant, but it is speaking forth the word of God. And so, prophecy is very, very important. Tongues were important in the early church in particular. Knowledge is always important in the life of the church, but those are gifts. And the Corinthians, use those gifts and abuse those gifts. And Paul brings these up because they were using them in spectacular ways so that people who didn’t have those gifts in the church would say to the others in the church, man, you must be spiritual that you have that gift. God must be in you. And so, they had the gifts of God, but they didn’t have the character of God to go along with those powerful gifts. And those compliments went right to their head. They couldn’t deal with the ego involved in all of that. And so, what God is saying is that, yes, you’ve got great gifts, but those gifts are tentative and they’re going to go away. When the perfect comes, the partial and everything associated with those partial gifts will be done away with. Well, when is the perfect going to come? The best interpretation I think is clearly when the Canon of Scripture, not merely when the Canon of Scripture is finalized or when maturity is found in our lives, but when Jesus comes a second time, that’s when the perfect will come, when the final state will be ushered in, and the heavens and the earth will be renewed, that’s when the perfect comes. Then the partial and the gifts of God, as we know them won’t be needed. But the reality is the love of God will still be here. And so, the apostle Paul wants us to believe in the supremacy of love so that we’ll focus on the supremacy of love in all of our interactions with people because love is eternal. And so, it’s so important for us to get the eternal principles at play in the temporal part of our lives right now. And then secondly, Paul lands this plane with another challenge. He challenged us to act daily in loving ways because that’s the way of maturity, christ likeness, and greatness.
When I was a child, I used to speak as a child,
but now I’ve become a mature man.
The ancient world, Corinth, was a center for creating mirrors. And so, Paul speaks the language of mirrors, he says.
We see now only in a mirror darkly, but then we will see all things clearly.
We don’t know much. We don’t control much now, 2024 could turn out to be way different than we think. But if we allow the grace of God to motivate us in loving like God wants us to love, and boy, that’s what I want. I want it for you. I want it for me. Then our lives will be marked by maturity in Christ’s likeness. It’s the way of greatness as God defines greatness. So, here we go. We’re in the shadowlands as we go into a new year. We live in the shadowlands.
Love is patient. Love is kind. It’s not jealous. It doesn’t brag. It doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness. It rejoices with the truth. Bears all things. It believes all things. It hopes all things. It even endures all things.
My hope as we head into 2024 is that we would be the kind of people who more and more who are allowing the grace of God to turn us into people that are loving impossibly, like only the love of God can do through us. At Forge, we often say, how you doing? And we respond, fine. I’m frustrated. I’m insecure. I’m nervous. And I’m exhausted. Well, when we run back to God and experience the grace of God, we find that the grace of God empowers in us the love of God. We’re off and running for 2024. You take it to heart. Amen.
And thank you Pete Alwinson. With that, we wrap up a fantastic week of teaching this first week of 2024. And if you missed any episode, or maybe you’d like to share the series with a friend. It’s as easy as visiting keylife.org where you can stream all of our content for free, any old time you want. Steve will resume his tour through Proverbs next week, but before that, he’ll return tomorrow for Friday Q&A. Always a good time. So, I’m excited about this new year for many reasons, and one of those reasons is this. The 2024 edition of Key Life Magazine is here, and it is bigger and better than ever with a redesigned format and new pieces from Steve, Chad West, Alex Early, and Kendra Fletcher. Be among the first to claim your free copy by calling us now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for the magazine. To mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of Key Life Magazine. And finally, if you value the work of Key Life, would you support that work through your giving? You could charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or simply pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950 and then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And as always, we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.