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Love Hopes All Things

Aug 27, 2015 | Erik Raymond

hopeful

I am on vacation for the rest of the month and therefore away from blogging. In effort to continue to provide some content I have asked the other elders at Emmaus Bible Church if I could post the notes from our weekly confession of sin on Sunday morning. It is always a rich time together as we prepare our hearts for worship by considering what God requires and what Christ has done. In these posts I will post the material from 1 Cor 13 reminds us of what the Bible says about love. It is teaching us about where we need to repent even as it teaches us how we must treasure Christ. Each day will unpack a section of the passage. May these serve you just as they served us at Emmaus!


 1 Corinthians 13:7c  ”…love hopes all things…”

The third of four clauses in 1 Corinthians 13:7 says that “…love hopes all things…” It is closely related to the previous clause “…love believes all things…” and yet distinct in its own way. Last week we learned that to “believe all things” means that we assume the best in others, that we are willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, that we are willing to overlook past sins and failures and trust that God is at work in them.

The difference is that “believing all things” has an eye to the present, to “hope all things” has an eye to the future. This word we see translated as “hope” is the Greek word “elpizo” is also translated as “trust” or “expect” depending on your translation. It is the Christian “hope”, not the finger-crossing wishing upon a start of the world, but the certain expectation of God’s people. It usually has reference to the believers confidence in salvation, as in 1 Tim 4:10 in which Paul says that “we have placed our hope in the living God who is the Savior of all people”, or in John 5:45 in which Jesus says that the Jews had tragically set their “hope” on Moses who now accused them. Often enough though it is used of human affairs, like in Romans 15:24 in which Paul says that he “hopes” to see the Roman believers on his way to Spain, or in Philippians 2:19 when Paul “hoped” so send Timothy  his friends.

Here in 1 Cor 13, as we saw last week, the context is not only the realm of human affairs, as opposed to the “hope” of salvation, but it has to do with our regard for others. If we are to “hope all things” it means that we invest the same kind of confident expectation that we usually reserve for God, Himself, in the people of God. To “hope all things” means to confidently expect the long-term spiritual growth of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

To “hope all things” means that we never consider another to be a lost cause. It means that we never give up on each other, even when we see one another fall and fall hard.  Christians believe that everyone that God calls will see maturity and eventually glorification. Hoping all things yields a willingness to encourage each other as fellow runners of the same race. Christians are determined that nobody is ever left behind. We understand that we are all works in progress and have confidence that we all are becoming more like Christ, even if some days it’s pretty hard to see.

When we fail to “hope all things” we consider failures of sin to be a final judgment.  It is betrayed in quickness to write other off. We have critical notions of others and when they meet our expectations of their weakness, we cross them off our list and push them out of our lives. Are you like me? Do you make your mind up about some people? Do you get tired of others doing the “same old things” and just “move on”, too? Are your negative opinions of others hardened and resistant to change? Do you see everything some people do through the same critical filter?

When we fail to “hope all things” we separate. We separate because we feel we have to move on, as if the offender has fallen out of our boat and won’t recover. And what is most awful about losing hope is that is can be so silent. We usually won’t even bother to confront them in hopes of producing repentance, simply receding from them, quietly, withdrawing from their orbit.  We even convince ourselves that we are actually “covering their sin in love” by staying quiet.

Like failing to “believe all things”, failure to “hope all things” is unbelief; it is unbelief in the nature of God’s work. It is unbelief that God finishes what He starts, as though He forget or walks away. We’ve made God in our image, haven’t we? Walking away is what WE do, not God.

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Love Believes All Things

Aug 26, 2015 | Erik Raymond

shutterstock_237302122

I am on vacation for the rest of the month and therefore away from blogging. In effort to continue to provide some content I have asked the other elders at Emmaus Bible Church if I could post the notes from our weekly confession of sin on Sunday morning. It is always a rich time together as we prepare our hearts for worship by considering what God requires and what Christ has done. In these posts I will post the material from 1 Cor 13 reminds us of what the Bible says about love. It is teaching us about where we need to repent even as it teaches us how we must treasure Christ. Each day will unpack a section of the passage. May these serve you just as they served us at Emmaus!


 

“…love believes all things…” 1 Cor 13:7b

Today we consider the second of four clauses in 1 Corinthians 13 verse 7: “…love believes all things…” These clauses describe Christian love, and as such they instruct us. He we see that the nature of Christian love is that it “believes all things”.

This word belief comes from the Greek word “pistis” which is usually translated simply as “faith”. There is some question whether this phrase refers to the Christian’s maintenance of their beliefs about God and Christ and the gospel. If that was the case, a more literal translation of “has all faith” would be more appropriate. However, in context we notice that Paul is explaining to the Corinthians what their regard for one another should look like. Paul is describing an attitude toward others that is manifested in action. As such, the expression “believes all things” is best understood as that attitude which assumes the best in others.

To “believe all things” means that we give others the benefit of the doubt. It means that we expect the best. It means that we are able to overlook the offences and failure of others. It means we believe that over time we can commit ourselves to one another. “Believing all things” means that we are willing to trust one another.

Perhaps you are struggling to “believe all things” about others in our church. Perhaps you are quick to expect others to fail. Perhaps you don’t believe that others will respond to things like they should. You doubt that they are capable of doing what they promise. You believe they will fail. You believe they will fail you. Failure to “believe all things” is marked by suspicion; we suspect that others are being deceitful, hiding their true intentions and motives. You believe that despite someone’s own words, that they are up to no good. It is marked by stewing inwardly, dissecting the actions and remarks of others, interpreting their every act. We anticipate being offended and prepare our rebuttals. We anticipate being let down and prepare our scathing critique. We accuse the motives of others, assuming that their ultimate purposes are selfish.

Failure to love in this way is also a most hyper-critical thing. So many times I have been so quick to note someone else’s sin, usually privately, to myself, and considered them a lost cause. I have considered entire persons on the basis of only their most recent actions. I have used words “always” to my expectations for others sin, and “never” meeting my expectations. In this way I have reduced others to a mere caricature of their true selves.

This sin has many consequences, but most notably it costs us friendship. When we sin in this way we ultimately close ourselves to relationships with others. To protect ourselves from being hurt, we doubt others, and this prevents us from opening our hearts to them and forming the Christian bond of fellowship.

Failing to “Believe all things” is ultimately an offense against God. To doubt is people is to doubt the sanctifying power of God. God has promised to complete what he started at salvation. When we doubt His people we are doubting Him; we doubt the power and plan of God to conform each of us into the image of Christ. We question His work. We think of Him as one who begins and then forgets.

Brothers and sisters: let us repent of this terrible sin. Let have faith others to come through for us when we need them. Let us trust one another’s motives. Let us trust that others have our best purposes in mind. Let us trust that other are looking out for us. Let us believe that God is at work is the lives of other. Let us open ourselves to others, not fearing being hurt or let down, but being willing to endure momentary offences and failures in light of what God is doing in each of our lives.

Let us pray and ask God’s forgiveness for failing to “believe all things”.

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Love Never Ends

Aug 25, 2015 | Erik Raymond

I am on vacation for the rest of the month and therefore away from blogging. In effort to continue to provide some content I have asked the other elders at Emmaus Bible Church if I could post the notes from our weekly confession of sin on Sunday morning. It is always a rich time together as we prepare our hearts for worship by considering what God requires and what Christ has done. In these posts I will post the material from 1 Cor 13 reminds us of what the Bible says about love. It is teaching us about where we need to repent even as it teaches us how we must treasure Christ. Each day will unpack a section of the passage. May these serve you just as they served us at Emmaus!


 

Love never ends…Pursue love…” (1 Cor13:8a; 14:1a)

To live the Chrinever endingstian life to the fullest we must first see:

The permanence of love 13a – “love never ends.”

The context is love in light of the spiritual gifts: They are temporary, but not so love. Love never (an indefinite negated point of time – ‘never, not ever, at no time.’)

The word “ends” could mean love never fails (NIV) or literally never falls. It is never defeated. Love persists against all opposition. But it has the meaning of never ending.

The context implies when other gifts are no longer necessary, love remains, it will still be there. It is permanent. Some suggest both are implied. Since love is an attribute of God’s character, it can never be defeated or overcome; it remains no matter what. But God is also eternal. Just as love cannot fail or fall, it is also forever. As one says: “Love survives everything,” (Robertson) even after all else has ended.

Since love  cannot be destroyed and love will continue through eternity Paul exhorts us to pursue love.

The need to pursue love:

The word pursue is very strong. It means to do something with intensity of effort; to run after; to chase after; to do something not only with intense effort but also with definite purpose or goal. It is often translated persecute. As we follow ISIS and other terrorist groups we see the intensity with which they pursue their goal. It is tenacious, relentless, unflinching!

Young romantic love helps illustrate both the permanent nature of love and the intense pursuit of love. Consider the Song of Solomon – 5:8 I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am sick with love. 8:6, 7… for love is strong as death…Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.

This is very practical. We pursue love when we set our hearts earnestly to practice love, (Lenski). Love is the Christian’s trump card.  It is the winning card no matter what the circumstance may be. We should all be asking ourselves, “if love never fails and lasts forever?” How am I doing at pursuing  love?  Do I love others like that? My wife? My husband? My Children? My neighbors? Members of Emmaus – do we love one another in this way? Or visitors who come into our midst? Children should be asking themselves – Do I love my parents, my brothers and sisters, my friends or my classmates like this? And then we ask, what of my love for Christ? What other distracting pleasures in life receive our hot pursuit more than Jesus? By now we know that Paul was striking a nerve against the Corinthians.

This section was a severe rebuke to them. But who among us can escape the same reproof? Surely as we examine ourselves we can easily see how far short we fall. Love is to never fade; it has a permanence that lives on through eternity. Meanwhile we are to pursue it with all our might. As we confess our sins, there should be no doubt in our minds as to how much we need a pardoning Savior.

Prayer of Confession:

Dear heavenly Father – love is something we hear a lot about, but there are times we fail so miserably. We are commanded to love our family; we are commanded to love our neighbors; we our commanded to love our church family; we are even commanded to love our enemies; we are especially commanded to love our Lord Jesus.  Oh Lord, how we need your help. We confess our weakness. We confess our hardness of heart. We confess our unwillingness and lethargy and apathy. We seek your pardon as we pray in Jesus name. Amen!

Assurance of Pardon:

We fall short of God’s glory in so many ways. But loving the way Jesus loves us puts it all into perspective. He left heaven’s glory and fellowship with the Father and the Spirit to pursue us with his love. He loved us before time; he loves in time; and he will love us for all time – because God is love and set his love upon us, his love will never fail us.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

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Love Does Not Insist on its Own Way

Aug 24, 2015 | Erik Raymond

I am on vacation for the rest of the month and therefore away from blogging. In effort to continue to provide some content I have asked the other elders at Emmaus Bible Church if I could post the notes from our weekly confession of sin on Sunday morning. It is always a rich time together as we prepare our hearts for worship by considering what God requires and what Christ has done. In these posts I will post the material from 1 Cor 13 reminds us of what the Bible says about love. It is teaching us about where we need to repent even as it teaches us how we must treasure Christ. Each day will unpack a section of the passage. May these serve you just as they served us at Emmaus!


“Love does not insist on its own way…”(1 Cor. 13:5b)

all about meHere is one of the most striking reminders of what love looks like in true religion. Why is that? Being selfish strikes at the very heart of every single one of us. “insist” here means a continuous strong desire that demands “its own way.” Conversely that means being inconsiderate of the good or happiness of others. The Corinthians were abusing their Christian liberty. Paul told them on the one hand, God gives us all things to enjoy. But on the other hand, he said let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Even when it comes to things that we have a right to enjoy, our freedom must always have a careful consideration for others. My happiness never trumps the life of my brother or sister in Christ.

This does not mean we are never concerned for our own lives. But rather, Phil. 2:3, 4 …in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Sometimes promoting the happiness of others means personal sacrifice and self denial.

What does that look like?

Kids, that means when there is that last piece of chicken or cookie, as much as you would want to insist that you deserve it, you first think if your brother or your sister would like to have it.

Men, you just came home from work and you deserve to kick your feet up; you have been hunting and gathering all day. So you demand a little space with perhaps little thought for wife and kids. This applies to all of us as members of Emmaus. Old #1 must take a back seat to the needs and concerns of others. “Love does not insist on its own way;”love is always on the prowl to see how it can do good to others. One has well said, Cure selfishness, and you plant a Garden of Eden, (Lenski). Let us ponder this text as we spend a moment in Silent Confession of Sin.

Prayer of Confession:

Dear Lord, we live in a nation where demanding our rights is commonplace. Forgive our nation for its unconscionable laws and selfish citizens claiming the right to kill the unborn. We confess our selfishness in our family life, our church life, the workplace and our neighborhoods. Lord, help us to mortify all sense of self importance demanding our rights; our own way.  Forgive us for not giving more attention to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. And help us to focus on others as we have learned today, love does not demand its own rights but looks lovingly on the needs of others – As we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon:

We don’t have to look far to see how this kind of love was demonstrated by the Lord Jesus. He focused on the healing, feeding, forgiveness and compassion toward others. All the while he had nowhere to lay his head; the cross being the ultimate act of selfless love.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

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Love Does Not Envy or Boast

Aug 21, 2015 | Erik Raymond

me

I am on vacation for the rest of the month and therefore away from blogging. In effort to continue to provide some content I have asked the other elders at Emmaus Bible Church if I could post the notes from our weekly confession of sin on Sunday morning. It is always a rich time together as we prepare our hearts for worship by considering what God requires and what Christ has done. In these posts I will post the material from 1 Cor 13 reminds us of what the Bible says about love. It is teaching us about where we need to repent even as it teaches us how we must treasure Christ. Each day will unpack a section of the passage. May these serve you just as they served us at Emmaus!


 

“Love does not envy or boast” (1 Cor. 13:4b)

There are certain positive characteristics of what love is. Paul now list several characteristics of what love is not. The indicative active verbs tell us that love does not in fact habitually behave in these ways. These following things dare not be an ongoing pattern of our behavior. Love does not envy; love does not boast.

Love does not envy

Love finds contentment in whatever state it finds itself; therefore to envy or be jealous of another is to declare discontentment with who you are or what you have. That basically is saying, God you have made a terrible mistake; your providence has not been kind to me. Therefore, I will be jealous of others. In the case of the Corinthians, they were jealous of those in the congregation who had gifts they lacked.

Envy can easily apply to anything – good looks, status in life, musical talent, someone’s spouse and just about anything that you think you have been short changed by God. But further, this word envy, can lead to a deep longing to the betterment of oneself while also be willing to harm the person you envy. For example, make yourself look good by tearing down the reputation of the person you envy. Love does not envy.

But notice, the other side of envy.

Love does not boast

Rather than be jealous about others, just brag about yourself. This is the only occurrence of this word which means to be a braggart or a windbag. It is an inordinate desire for drawing attention to or having an overestimation of oneself, your group, your leader, etc. It is one thing to invite others to rejoice in your accomplishments; your gifts, etc.; it is quite another to go fishing for the praise, the admiration or the applause of men. Love relies on God’s way, as Proverbs 27:2 says, Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.

The Corinthians were vaunting the showy gifts. “I speak in tongues.” But some also boasted in their party leader, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter.” Or, “I follow Christ,” as though they were the real deal compared to the other brothers and sisters. Even further, there were others while boasting in themselves were aiming their claims against Paul – we have more wisdom, more knowledge and we are more spiritual. Unfortunately what often happens with this kind of boasting is also the desire to win others to our side. That is why there were divisions in the church at Corinth.  However we may boast, if in anything or anyone other that the Lord, it is not love.  Any attempt to make ourselves or our group look good is in fact diminishing the worth of others that aren’t like us.

In the final analysis, as Paul told the Corinthians, Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. Then he goes on to say, For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. Love does not envy; love does not boast.

Prayer of Confession:

Dear Lord, you know us so well. We are so prone to love ourselves more than we love others. We confess that shows when we are jealous of others and when we brag about ourselves. Forgive us Lord, because at the root of these sins is really tearing others down while making ourselves look good. Remind us that there is none good, no not one. And apart from your grace we are nothing. Teach us to be jealous for your glory and to boast in none other than the Lord Jesus Christ as we pray in his glorious name. Amen!

Assurance of Pardon:  

“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:30-31)

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Love is not Arrogant or Rude

Aug 20, 2015 | Erik Raymond

I am on vacation for the rest of the month and therefore away from blogging. In effort to continue to provide some content I have asked the other elders at Emmaus Bible Church if I could post the notes from our weekly confession of sin on Sunday morning. It is always a rich time together as we prepare our hearts for worship by considering what God requires and what Christ has done. In these posts I will post the material from 1 Cor 13 reminds us of what the Bible says about love. It is teaching us about where we need to repent even as it teaches us how we must treasure Christ. Each day will unpack a section of the passage. May these serve you just as they served us at Emmaus!

 


 

“Love is not arrogant or rude (1 Cor. 13:4-5)

Love is not arrogant: to be puffed up like bellows full of air. The word means to be conceited and desirous of the praise of men. Paul’s uses this word 6x in this letter. In their pride, they chose a favorite leaders over against another; they were puffed up with knowledge; proud of their gifts; their arrogance allowed a man committing serious sexual sin to carry on in their midst; they even acted arrogantly by taunting the authority of the Apostle Paul. To be full of oneself is to diminish the importance of others. Obadiah 1:3 The pride of your heart has deceived you.

Love is also not rude: to behave improperly or unseemly; to act in defiance of social and moral standards resulting in disgrace, embarrassment, and shame. The Corinthian women were acting shamefully by blurring the distinction between the sexes whereby they dishonored the authority of their husband.  Others who were well off were behaving shamefully toward those who had little. Christian love cares too much for the rest of the Christian community to behave in such ‘unseemly’ ways, (Gordon Fee, 638).

Love is not arrogant; it rather humbles itself in the light of the glorious Christ. Love is not rude; it does not behave in ways that diminishes the importance of others in the Christian community; it rather gives itself to the concerns of others in a Christ like way. Let us take a moment to reflect on these things and silently confess our sins before the Lord.

Prayer of Confession:

Dear Lord, we confess before you our proneness to arrogance. We far too often think of our self importance over the worth of others. We know that you resist the proud but give grace to the humble. We need your grace. Please forgive us. We also confess our tendency to act shamefully by not honoring others. Forgive us for behaving in unseemly ways at the expense of others. Show us Jesus the humble one; he was never proud and never behaved in shameful or disgraceful ways. Lord, we would see Jesus, as we pray in his wonderful name. Amen!

Assurance of Pardon:

Thankfully there is no sin beyond the reach of our great high priest. Not only did he live perfectly humble doing nothing that was shameful or disgraceful, but he died so that we could be assured that we would never be charged for our arrogance or shameful behavior. We turn to him for that assurance of pardon acknowledging that without him we would be forever under the condemnation of our guilt and shame.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,” (Phil 2:5-8).

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Love is Patient

Aug 19, 2015 | Erik Raymond

I am on vacation for the rest of the month and therefore away from blogging. In effort to continue to provide some content I have asked the other elders at Emmaus Bible Church if I could post the notes from our weekly confession of sin on Sunday morning. It is always a rich time together as we prepare our hearts for worship by considering what God requires and what Christ has done. In these posts I will post the material from 1 Cor 13 reminds us of what the Bible says about love. It is teaching us about where we need to repent even as it teaches us how we must treasure Christ. Each day will unpack a section of the passage. May these serve you just as they served us at Emmaus!


1 Corinthians 13:4 we read the profound and powerful words: Love is patient.

What does this mean? When we think of patience we may think of the word tranquil or peaceful. This is a good start for us. However, the word is nuanced a bit to involve some type of opposition or perhaps even suffering. This is important because it means that when the heat gets turned up around us or within us–we can take it. We don’t lash out, we don’t give up, we don’t lose it.

When we think about patience we have to think about God himself. He is said to be very patient when provoked.

  • “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 103:8)
  • “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:6)

How do we root out a lack of love that is characterized by impatience? We can think through what this teaches us about how we respond to people. If we lack patience with people then we are lacking love for them. The Bible is clear that we are to love both enemy and friend alike, therefore we are to be patient with all.

Consider this past week, or even the last day.

  • In your relationships, are you patient? Are you loving others?
  • Has someone gotten under your skin lately? Have you become unsettled and lashed out at them?
  • Husbands and wives: Is your relationship characterized by love’s fruit of patience?
  • Parents, consider your relationship with your kids. Do you find yourself patient with your children when they disobey? Are your expectations reasonable so as to foster obedience and loving patience?
  • Children consider your relationship with your brothers and sisters. Are you patient with them? Do you yell at them when they don’t listen to you or do what you want them to do right away?
  • Was there an issue at work this week? How did you respond?
  • Have you lashed out on social media or in a text? Do you take to the public airways to air your frustrations?
  • Do you yell and scream at people who cut you off on the road? Do you go to war with your vehicular enemies?
  • Are you losing your temper when things don’t go your way? Can you handle adversity with patience?
  • Are you patient with God’s timing? Do you find it difficult to embrace providence?
  • Even when persecuted for righteousness sake we are to maintain the peaceful fruit of love; patience.

How do we respond?
We pray in confession of sin. We take these items that God brings to our mind and we scurry to him in prayer. Even as we do, we remember that God is patient with us because Jesus was the incarnation of love and always patiently endured when wronged in our place. Therefore, we stand in his righteousness even as we pray with confession of our sin.

Our Father, as your children we climb up to your lap in prayer to confess our sin to you. Your word has highlighted the importance of patience in both pleasant and difficult times. How often we fall short of what you require. And how often do we justify our shortcomings based upon the circumstances that press upon us. Forgive us, Our Father. Forgive us for our lack of patience, our lack of love. Cleanse us again with the pardoning grace that Christ bought for us. And work renewal into us that bears fruit in keeping with repentance. May we encourage each other towards this patience. Make us to be a people, a church that is characterized by a loving patience which reflects you our patient and loving God.

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Without Love I am Nothing

Aug 18, 2015 | Erik Raymond

nothing

I am on vacation for the rest of the month and therefore away from blogging. In effort to continue to provide some content I have asked the other elders at Emmaus Bible Church if I could post the notes from our weekly confession of sin on Sunday morning. It is always a rich time together as we prepare our hearts for worship by considering what God requires and what Christ has done. In these posts I will post the material from 1 Cor 13 reminds us of what the Bible says about love. It is teaching us about where we need to repent even as it teaches us how we must treasure Christ. Each day will unpack a section of the passage. May these serve you just as they served us at Emmaus!


This chapter on love is often used at weddings and other special occasions where love is the grand theme. It is also frequently lifted from the context of chapters 12 and 14 which emphasize the use and especially the abuse of spiritual gifts.

Even more unfortunate is how seldom this chapter is thought of in light of the rest of 1 Corinthians. Paul reminded them the “testimony of Christ was confirmed among you…they were called into the fellowship of… God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

This is a true Christian church which Paul says was not “lacking in any spiritual gift.” But his praise soon turns to a passionate appeal to them regarding “divisions” and “quarreling.” Among many problems, they had divided allegiances – “I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Cephas,” or the super saints, “I follow Christ.” The lowest blow early on is when he said in 3:1, “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.”

As you read the rest of the book it is filled with incident after incident of every kind of behavior lacking in biblical love. From suing one another, to putting up with deviant sexual behavior, to getting drunk before the Lord’s Table and being totally thoughtless regarding the less advantaged brethren among them.

As we look at this chapter, each reference to love corresponds to some aspect of the less than loving behavior toward one another. Though they were abounding in spiritual gifts, they were lacking in the love of Jesus In chapter 12 he said, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” – which introduces chapter 13:1-3 – “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 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. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:1-3)

He moves from the lesser to the greater:

(1) the gift of tongues of either human languages or angelic speech; apart from love, I am just a loud clanging noise.

(2) the gift of prophecy – whether in preaching or understanding great mysteries, or revelations from God.

(3) the gift of intellectual knowledge. And further

(4) “all faith” to “move mountains”- if I don’t have love, “I am nothing.”

(5) great acts of mercy – so as to give all I own away to the poor or otherwise and finally

(6) I give my life in a terrible martyr’s death, “but have not love, I gain nothing.” They had looked at the cross; they had professed to love Jesus; they said they were recipients of grace and mercy; but something went awry. And Paul is saying, “give it your best shot” if isn’t wrapped in the self sacrificing, gospel love of Jesus – it is not worth a thing.

Prayer of Confession:

Dear Lord, this is a penetrating, deeply convicting, soul searching passage. We confess before you Lord, all of us at some time in our lives, have seen ourselves right here in this text – help us, we pray; forgive us we plead; strip us of our love of self and give us tender hearts of selfless love for others. Lord, when we are tempted to do otherwise, show us the love of Jesus – the verbal abuse, his bloody back, his crown of thorns, his parched lips, his heavy heart, his agonizing cries from Gethsemane and the cross; and especially his suffering soul in his lonely abandonment – all for my sin and the sins of my brothers and sisters in Christ. As we pray in his most worthy name. Amen!

Where do we find remedy for our sin sick souls but in the cross and the Christ of the cross –

Assurance of Pardon 

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

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If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say to Your Wife then…

Aug 17, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Young business man with adhesive tape. Picture was made in a studio

We have all heard the expression, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” This may be good advice for elementary school children but it is not preferred for husbands.

Am I saying, “Feel free to insult your wife.” Hardly. Instead I am saying that we need to try harder, look deeper, pay more attention.

Along these lines Timothy Witmer writes to husbands in his book Shepherd Leader At Home, (p.40):

You should thank her just for her willingness to have hitched herself to you!…There are plenty of (other) things you can say to build up your wife. When is the last time you complimented her appearance? When is the last time you thanked her for all she does in taking care of you and the children? Even more important is taking the opportunity to praise her for her character qualities. Be sure to be specific. The writer of Proverbs 31 was very specific about the praiseworthy traits of an excellent wife. She is praised for everything from being a good seamstress to being a good businesswoman. However, the summary statement focuses on the most essential thing. ‘Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.’ (Prov. 31.30)

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Book Review- A Reformed Baptist Manifesto

Aug 14, 2015 | Erik Raymond

reformed baptist manifestoSometimes it is nice to not make too much of our differences–particularly theological differences. But other times we can actually be hindered from more fully understanding what others believe and why we really believe what we do. If one can study differences with a charitable tone then there can often be real progress. To do this though we would need to ask and answer the questions behind the questions.

I’ve asked and been asked before, “What is with the antinomians?” or, “Why are we different than paedo Baptists?” Often people go after the specific issue without showing the reason why or the strong support for their contrasting position. This may paint people in a theological corner but it does not provide the framework for solid understanding.

This is why I very much appreciated this short little book by Sam Waldron and Richard Barcellos. The title A Reformed Baptist Manifesto: The New Covenant Constitution of the Church. With a title like this you may be expecting some theological haymakers, but it is surprising irenic. These are a number of sermons that Waldron preached years ago at his church. He has also included some healthy appendices.

Early on they write:

The premise of this study is intimated in the subtitle: the New Covenant Constitution of the Church. To state the premise plainly, the New Covenant is the Constitution of the Church of Christ. In other words, what the Constitution of the United States of America is to our country, what the Magna Carta is to the British Commonwealth, that the New Covenant is to the Church of Christ…Though written church constitutions are permissible for the sake of administration, the premise of this study is that the New Covenant is itself the ultimate, formal basis and legal rule of the Church. This study, therefore, will be spent in establishing and opening up this premise from Jeremiah 31. (pp. 5-6)

To establish the confessional Reformed Baptist position the authors compare and contrast it with Dispensationalism, Antinomianism, Arminianism, and Paedobaptism. As the authors work through each system they show the contrast of confessional Reformed Baptist views.

When I saw the chapter titles I thought, “This is going to be messy. They can’t possibly come out of this clean.” But, I was wrong. The authors kept the tone charitable and all punches were squarely above the belt. But, they did go after them–to show the contrast to the confessional position (London Baptist Confession of 1689).

From the standpoint of the New Covenant the contrast is simple. The Dispensationalist sees very little continuity between the Old Testament and the New (particularly the covenants), while the Paedobaptist sees too much. The Antinomian does not see the need for the moral law to apply to the church today (note: practical antinomians teach against law in the Christian life and advocate lawless living while moderate antinomians don’t advocate lawless living but deny the third use of the law –10 commandments as a rule for Christian living or redefine what law means). The Arminian would deny the certainty and sovereignty of God in the work of the church. To all of these the Reformed Baptist position is one of contrast. The church is the Israel of God, the New Covenant is really new and distinct from the old, the 1o commandments are still ruling us, and there is certainty in God’s sovereign grace.

The authors also provide a critique of padeobaptism and New Covenant Theology in the appendices. Both are very helpful and flesh out some of what is previously argued in the book.

If you are looking to learn about any of these issues then this little book is very helpful. It may be a tad technical at time, but with resolve and patience the reader will be rewarded. The authors do a good job tackling complex and heated topics in just a few pages. I really found the book to be a blessing to me.

Pick up a discounted copy of  A Reformed Baptist Manifesto at Amazon.

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