← back to list

Feb 05, 2023

Prepared for Purpose 05

Prepared for Purpose 05

Speaker: James Gallaher

Series: Prepared for Purpose

Category: Sunday Morning

Our series "Prepared for Purpose" focuses on discovering what God wants for our lives.

Our series "Prepared for Purpose" focuses on discovering what God wants for our lives. Transformation is a life-long process ending with an account of what He has given us. As we follow Pastor James each week as he transforms a raw piece of wood gives us a visual that we can compare to the transformation of our lives. We often look at the exterior look of our lives (the rough piece of wood), but letting God go below the surface and work in our lives to bring about increase, purpose, transformation, the revealing of gifts will lead us to being purposed for all God has for us as a body of Jesus Christ.

The church in Corinth had lots of problems and brokenness even with all the giftedness. I Corinthians 12 and 14 describes the working of spiritual gifts and the need for working as one body. In between these chapters is the importance of love.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

As Paul writes to an incredibly gifted group of believers, he gives correction. He tells them of the gifts used for show and personal gain is not effective without love as the motive. As the example of a quickly built chair, thrown together, is only utilitarian - it serves a simple purpose. Our Christian faith was not designed to be utilitarian. It is to be useful and also attractive. Paul was teaching that love was absolutely necessary as we in the church work our gifts together.

Gifts are given, but fruit is produced. Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.

There are many gifted, deceptive people around and within the church. Paul is talking of these and showing that gifts without love is nothing. The pathway of love is far more important than the pathway of power. Jonathan Edwards said, "A spiritual gift of miracles or speaking does not change a person's inherent nature. A gift ability does not require a change of heart as love or holiness does." A gift that is not submitted to the Father will never produce the fruit that comes from operating with love. Too often we look at the gifts as evidence that the Spirit is working among God's people. Paul is saying that what identifies Christians as God's people is being so possessed by the Spirit of Jesus that they love God and their neighbor. 

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. It is important to note that this is not about a gift and adding love to it. It is about having love and then the gift operates out of love and then produces fruit. 

So much emphasis today is given on the gifts as evidence of the Holy Spirit working in an individual, but they are often expressed without love. Love is supremely more valuable than any gift given by God. These churches in Corinth and Rome were elevating the gifts and ignoring love. Paul corrects in chapter 13 showing that there is no value in the gift without love.

There are different words for love in scripture: Eros (romantic love), Phileo (friendly love for one another), Agape (self-sacrificing love for the betterment of another). Agape love is in I Corinthians - it is what should define us as Christians... 

1) Love defines spiritual people: Verses 1-3 says without love we are no more than noise. Paul is not concerned about how good our spiritual gifts are but how as Christians we should be identified. Example: If I do not have love, who am I? I am no more than noise; I gain nothing; I only want to be noticed. 

2) Love directs our thoughts and actions. Verses 4-7 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love describes a way of life. As we imitate Christ, we are identified by love - love for God and love for others. Put your name in the place of "love" in the above verses. Does it describe a heart that is committed to love first before the gifting? 

3) Love is eternal. I Corinthians 13:8-13 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with 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 also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. The gifts are important for us now but there will come a day when we no longer need these gifts but love will continue eternally. Paul was bringing a critique to a gifted church showing that all gifts are useless without love as the foundation. "When the perfect comes" has always been defined as the return of Jesus until this last century when some try to reinterpret "the perfect" to mean the canonization of scripture. But these nine gifts are very much available, active, and much needed today. Then when Jesus, the perfect, comes we will no longer need these gifts. Paul is saying that the gifts don't cease but that they are useless without love.

LOVE is the ultimate and the most important. Prophecy, faith, charity, self-sacrifice, tongues... are useless without love. Pastor James contrasts the building of a utilitarian chair that he made quickly to working with a valuable piece of wood and applying intentionality, precision, vision, time, money, and skill. Our lives of faith can be compared to these two: 1) something we just use (utilitarian) or possibly have given up on growing; or 2) something that we give great investment of ourselves and are always looking for something greater. It begins with love... 

I John 4:7-14 Beloved, let’s love one another; for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. By this the love of God was revealed in us, that God has sent His only Son into the world so that we may live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we remain in Him and He in us, because He has given to us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

If God is love and God lives inside of us, then the capacity for this kind of living is already present within us and is only waiting for us to submit our lives to His calling. Paul lays out a pathway of love - the gospel is the goal. A pure gospel is presented only with a foundation of love.