Summary: Whenever Christians are full of envy and strife, it obscures the evidence of heaven. The clouds of hatred darken the evidence of Heaven’s love for us.
Let a man do whatever religious thing he wishes, it means nothing without love. Love is the greatest of God’s gifts. Love is deeper than emotions.
Love is the God-given proof that you are Christ’s disciples (John 13:35). This is a message about the future but it is also a map for the present. Since the future is not something we are permitted to see directly – only God sees the end from the beginning – in order to this sermon to be anything other than an exercise in conceit, it has to be based squarely on what God as revealed in His Word.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
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.
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. 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.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face…” (1 Corinthians 13:12a).
The objects we see are far away in the distance and we are near-sighted. We need biblical spectacles in order to see the future clearly. The Bible has a great deal to say about the future. It predicts a time when predatory beasts become herbivores and little kids are playing with cobras. I want to take your minds and hearts on a whistle-stop tour of heaven this morning. I do so in order to help us to better see that heaven is in fact a world of love. Every religious person and many nonreligious sooner or later ask, “What will heaven be like?”
My purpose this morning is not to answer the traditional questions as much as to color in the lines of heaven in what the citizens of heaven will do and what we will be. C. S. Lewis once remarked that it’s odd that we do not capitalize heaven when we write the word in a sentence. Is it because we don’t think it is a real place? Thinking about heaven presents difficulties but it excites the mind.
1. What Is Heaven?
The Bible in these verses gives us three metaphors for heaven: Heaven is called “perfect” in verse ten. Heaven is called a “face” in verse twelve.
And heaven is called “love” in verse thirteen. You can see what Paul is doing more clearly by looking at verse nine: “For we know in part and we prophesy in part…” (1 Corinthians 13:9a). He’s talking about now versus later. He’s talking about time versus eternity. He is talking about eternity. He says, “but when the perfect comes,” he uses a word that we get our word for telescope. It’s a word to signify a designed end. He is talking about the ultimate fulfillment of design. There is a place where we become all that we are designed for. “When the perfect comes” refers to heaven.
It’s the final destination and ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan. And “when the perfect comes,” we discover that love never fails.
You were made to love and to be loved.
The Center of Heaven is God Himself. God is everywhere and He fills heaven and earth. Yet, God is especially more present in some places than others.
And heaven is just such a place. Heaven is God’s palace. And because “God is love” heaven is place where love overflows (1 John 4:8). Because “God is love,” think of God’s love as He were a fountain where love overflows continually. Picture Him as a fountain outside of a posh hotel where love is continually produced… where love never ends. God is the fountain of heaven of heaven where love overflows in streams and rivers of love. “God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light.” And because heaven is His palace, He makes a heaven a world of love. And because God is both loving and infinite, His love is infinite, His love is all-sufficient.