Summary: EPIPHANY 4(C) - God’s greatest gift is love: everything else fails but God’s love never fails.

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1 Corinthians 13 February 2, 2003


131If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resound-ing gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:

That word ‘love’ has been an inspiration for many songs, poems and even life-changing events. People sometimes get married in the name and for the sake of love. At times the world has taken away that precious meaning of what love really is. They’ve rele-gated it to beer commercials, to all sorts of things and the true meaning of love is some-times lost. Its purpose is lost. This morning Paul reminds the believers in Corinth and he reminds us that God’s greatest gift to us is love. The only way you and I can understand and know what love is is to know God because God is love. 1 John tells us: "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us "(1 JOHN 4:16,17). That is what we want to do this morning--make God’s love more complete among us as we look at chapter 13 in 1 Corinthians, also known as the ‘love chapter’. We soon come to realize that


I. Everything fails

II. God’s love never fails

I. Everything fails

We have to remind ourselves what was written in chapters 11and 12. The Apostle Paul had told the early believers that they were different—different parts in the body of Christ, but they were one body. They were united by faith. Now in Chapter 13 he reminds them that they should not concentrate on their gifts so much as to underestimate God’s love. That had become a problem; they thought their gifts were more important than any-thing else. At the very end of Chapter 12 he says, ‘Eagerly desire the greater gifts and now I will show you the most excellent way.’ That is going to be love, God’s love that never fails.

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