Pursue Love and Edification

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1 Corinthians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:31
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Today we are continuing our study of 1 Corinthians. We will be in 1 Corinthians 14, so I encourage you to open your bibles to that chapter.
As we have seen in the past weeks, Paul reached the climax of this letter in chapter 13. All the way along, Paul has pointed out that there were divisions, there were factions in the church as they were more concerned about themselves and their status, or their rights, than they were their Christian brothers and sisters in the church, or about their testimony for Christ and the hope of the gospel. The root of all of these issues was pride, thinking higher of themselves, and thinking that they knew better than others. And as Paul told them, knowledge, or supposed knowledge puffs up, where love builds up.
Paul had been hinting all along, and was building up to chapter 13 by telling them that no one should seek their own good, but the good of others. They needed to live in the most excellent way, love!
Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy. It is does not boast. It is not proud. It does not act dishonorably toward others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails.
After reaching this climax of the letter in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul then continues on his thought in 1 Corinthians 14. Paul has pointed out how they have failed to live in love, considering others more than themselves in many areas, from vying for position, to taking one another to court, to spouses withholding from one another, to not considering how their actions hurt others or their testimonies for Christ, to misusing gifts from the Spirit for their own status, instead of building up one another in the body. Now, in chapter 14, Paul is going to show them what it would look like if they actually lived in love in the context of their worship together.
He begins by telling them, to

Pursue Love

1 Corinthians 14:1 NASB 2020
Pursue love, yet earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
Pursue Love. Through chapter 12 we found that they were using their spiritual gifts for self-promotion; self-exaltation. We get the sense, reading through chapters, 12, 13 and 14 that they especially made much ado about the gift of tongues and the gift of prophesy, outwardly visible gifts. Those with these outwardly visible gifts were proud and using them for their own gain. Paul was very blunt in chapter 13 when he told them that if he had these gifts, but did not have love, then he would be nothing or gain nothing.
Love is what is going to last. Not our gifts, or the things we do for ourselves. Love will last.
However, as we saw when we went through the description of love, true love does not come naturally. Where we tend to view love from a selfish perspective of I love because of how they make me feel, or because of what they do for me, true love, God’s love is in spite of who someone is, and in spite of what they do. Love is sacrificial. Love is other focused. Love does not come naturally.
So, Paul says, Pursue love! It is going to take great effort and endurance on our part. It is going to take a pursuit of Christ because unless we abide in Him, we cannot produce this fruit of love. Unless we yield to the Spirit, instead of following our naturally bent, called the flesh in Galatians 5, we will not love. Look at Galatians 5 quickly with me.
Galatians 5:19–23 NIV
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Love does not come naturally to us. It takes a pursuit of Christ. It takes a concerted effort to yield to the Spirit to bear this fruit of the Spirit. And as we yield, it will come. It will be born out in our lives.
This would be a great verse for us to memorize, to meditate upon, and to put into action this week. Pursue love! If we do that, than we will not be resounding gongs or clanging cymbals. If we pursue love, we will not be nothing. We will gain great reward as we are like our Father in heaven.
Then, Paul says, that while we pursue love, we should do what?
1 Corinthians 14:1 NIV
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.

Desire The Spiritual

Paul was not trying to discourage the use of Spiritual gifts when he told them that they would pass away, but only love would remain. Look at that with me quickly.
1 Corinthians 13:8–13 NIV
Love 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. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When 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 the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a 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. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
After speaking of using these gifts without love being worthless. Paul told us that these gifts were not going to last forever. Only faith, hope and love would last.
However, just because they were not going to last, Paul did not want them to give up on these Spiritual gifts. They were essential for the good of the church. So, he told them to Pursue love, and desire these spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophesy.
Why especially prophesy?
Let’s read more of 14, and then talk through it.
1 Corinthians 14:1–12 NIV
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified. Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

Strive for the Edification of the Church

The main point Paul is making as he compares the gifts of tongues and prophesy, is that prophesy is meant for the building up of the church. Tongues would not benefit the whole body because they would not be able to understand the speaker. However, the one who prophesied would be understood, and the message could build them up in the faith.
To better understand this, we need to understand these gifts properly. Again, there is much confusion as some make these gifts out to be something that scripture does not. So we need to understand these gifts scripturally, and not by what someone simply says about them.

The Gift of Tongues

I alluded to this last week, and put a number of passages into the homework this week for your study.
Tongues - Acts 2. - for the benefit of the Jews who heard.
Acts 2:7–11 NIV
Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
Speaking in a language unknown to the speaker, for the benefit of those who speak that language.
Acts 8. - for the benefit of the Jews who heard
Acts 10. - for the benefit of the Jews who heard. Acts 11:17-18
Acts 11:17–18 NIV
So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
1 Corinthians 14:10–11 NIV
Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me.
1 Corinthians 14:14 NIV
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
1 Corinthians 14:20–24 NIV
Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. In the Law it is written: “With other tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all,

The Gift of Prophesy

What was prophesy?
“Thus sayeth the Lord…”
It is not always a foretelling of the future. Prophesy was simply God revealing to a chosen person his message to be related to others.
This is why Paul said of this gift,
1 Corinthians 14:4 NIV
Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.
Earlier Paul had said, 1 cor 12,
1 Corinthians 12:28 NIV
And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.
Ephesians 2:20 NIV
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Foundation of the apostles and prophets.
Apostles - Those who had seen Jesus and were sent out to establish the church. 1 Cor 15.7
1 Corinthians 15:7 NIV
Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,
1 Corinthians 15:9 NIV
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
1 Corinthians 15:11 NIV
Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
Hebrews 2:3–4 NIV
how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Prophets - spoke the word of God to the church.
1 Corinthians 13:8–10 NIV
Love 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. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 NIV
So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
Ephesians 4:11–12 NIV
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
What goes on today is teaching. We have the word of God in its complete form.

All for Edification

1 Corinthians 14:26–39 NIV
What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.

Pursue Love and Edification

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