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Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, a Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.

However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.

To see more Bible study outlines go to: More Bible Study Outlines.

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THE GREATEST GIFT IS LOVE

May 31, 2015

 

SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

 

KEY VERSE: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

A. The local church in Corinth was in serious trouble.

 

Sad to say, the problems did not stay within the church family; they were known by the unbelievers outside the church.

 

B. To begin with, the church at Corinth was a defiled church.

 

(1) Some of its members were guilty of sexual immorality; (2) others got drunk; (3) still others were using the grace of God to excuse worldly living. (4) It was also a divided church, with at least four different groups competing for leadership (1 Corinthians 1:12). (5) This meant it was a disgraced church. Instead of glorifying God, it was hindering the progress of the Gospel.

 

C. In every chapter of this epistle we find the apostle Paul correcting the church either in doctrine or practice.

 

In chapter twelve Paul corrected their misunderstanding of spiritual gifts. In the final verse of chapter 12 he tells them that he will show them "a more excellent way".

 

D. The more 'excellent way' is the way of charity (or love).

 

The Greek word Paul uses here is “agape” which speaks of unselfish and unconditional love for others. Chapter thirteen has become known as the “great love chapter” of the Bible. Our text for the message today is found in verse thirteen.

 

·        (1 Corinthians 13:13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

 

E. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul gives us what I believe are three virtues that sum up what it is to be a Christian. Let's take a closer look at them today.

 

I. THE ABSOLUTE NECCESSITY OF LOVE. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

 

·        (1 Corinthians 13:1) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

 

A. I am sure the tongues of angels mean eloquence.

 

I have never heard an angel speak, but I think Paul had heard them.

 

B. The most marvelous eloquence without love is nothing in the world but a noisy bell.

 

Dr. Scroggie says it like this: “Language without love is noise without melody.”

 

·        (1 Corinthians 13:2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

 

C. The first verse was speaking of charity (or love) as it comes from the heart.

 

This is from the mind, love as an act of the intellect. Knowledge alone is not sufficient. Love must be added to that knowledge.

 

D. Understanding alone is not enough.

 

Love must be added to that understanding.

 

Note: I feel this is the sad thing in some Bible-believing churches in 2015. These churches have a knowledge of the Bible and an understanding of the truths of the Bible but a lack of love.

 

How terrible to find churches filled with gossip, bitterness, and hatred! Along with knowledge there must be love.

 

·        (1 Corinthians 13:3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

 

E. This charity (or love) is an act of the will.

 

Love involves (1) the heart (vs. 1), (2) the mind (vs. 2), and (3) the will (vs. 3). (4) Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

 

Although we are to covet earnestly the best gifts, they are to be exercised in love -- and only the Holy Spirit of God can do that.

 

Illustration: Look at it this way: Write down a string of zeros – (1) eloquence alone is zero, (2) prophecy alone is zero, (3) knowledge alone is zero, (4) faith alone is zero, (5) sacrifice alone is zero, (6) martyrdom alone is zero. Six zeros still add up to nothing!

 

But you put the numeral 1 to the left of that string of zeros, and every zero amounts to something. And LOVE is the thing that needs to be added to every gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Without charity (or love) our gifts are worthless!

 

II. THE ETERNAL NATURE OF LOVE. (1 Corinthians 13:4-13)

 

·        (1 Corinthians 13:4-13) Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

 

Note: Notice the THREE VIRTUES that sum up what it is to be a Christian. They are FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE.

 

A. The Importance of Faith. (Hebrews 11:1)

 

·        (Hebrews 11:1) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

 

1. Faith is indispensable to us.

 

(1) The Bible declares that without faith it is impossible to please God.

 

(2) We are saved by grace through faith.

 

(3) We are instructed to live by faith and to walk in faith.

 

(4) In other words…we cannot be a Christian without faith!

 

2. Faith is not just believing.

 

(1) Faith involves believing and acting upon that belief.

 

(2) In chapter eleven of Hebrews we have one account after another of people who expressed their faith in God by obedience to His Word.

 

3. Faith is taking God at His Word …believing what God said is true.

 

(1) What God said about salvation.

 

·        (Romans 10:9-10) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 

(2) What God said about eternal security.

 

·        (John 10:28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

 

(3) What God said about heaven.

 

·        (John 14:1-3) Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

 

 (4) What God said about hell.

 

·        (Luke 12:5) But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

 

How Do You Get Faith?

 

Dwight L. Moody said this about Faith:   "I prayed for faith and thought it would strike me like lightning.  But faith did not come. One day I read, 'So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.' I had closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now began to study my Bible and faith has been growing ever since."

 

Faith is NOT like gasoline that runs out as you use it, but is like a muscle which GROWS STRONGER as you exercise it. – Anonymous

 

B. The Importance of Hope. (Romans 15:13)

 

·        (Romans 15:13) Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

 

1. Hope is confident expectation.

 

(1) The Biblical concept of hope is much different than the way many of us uses the word today

 

(2) We might talk about hoping it might not rain…but we realize that it probably will.

 

(3) We are certainly not confident that it won't.

 

2. The difference between faith and hope.

 

(1) Faith believes that God can do it.

 

(2) Hope believes that God will do it.

 

Note: It is one thing for us to have faith that God can meet our every need. It is another to believe that He will!

 

3. What should we be hoping for?

 

(1) We should be hoping for Jesus to return soon.

 

·        (1 John 3:2-3) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

 

 (2) We should be hoping that our prayers are answered.

 

(Philippians 4:19) But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

 

(3) We should be hoping for results from our witness.

 

(2 Peter 3:9b) The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

 

(4) Without hope there is despair.

 

The “Hope” of D. L. Moody

 

Near the end of his life, while preaching an evangelistic meeting in Kansas City, Dwight L. Moody became ill. He canceled his engagements, and returned home to Northfield, Massachusetts. Moody lugged himself up to his bedroom to dress for dinner, but felt so exhausted that he took to bed. He declined quickly, and it became clear he was dying of “fatty degeneration of the heart.”

 

On December 22 he suddenly opened his eyes and spoke clearly: “Earth recedes! Heaven opens before me.” His son, sitting near him, suggested he was dreaming. “This is no dream, Will,” Moody replied. “It is beautiful! It is like a trance! If this is death, it is sweet! God is calling me, and I must go!”

 

The family gathered around. “This is my triumph!” said Moody. “This is my coronation day! I have been looking forward to it for years.” Moody’s face suddenly lit up. “Dwight! Irene! I see the children’s faces!” (Dwight and Irene were his recently deceased grandchildren.) Moody closed his eyes and appeared unconscious. Then he spoke again. “No pain! No valley! If this is death, it’s not bad at all! It’s sweet!” And finally Moody slipped on to heaven. -- From the writings of C. I. Scofield who preached Moody’s funeral.

 

Note: R.A. Torrey, one of Moody’s closest friends, writes his conclusions in his famous book “Why God Used D.L. Moody”: (1) He was fully surrendered, (2) He was a man of prayer, (3) He was a student of the Word of God, (4) He was a humble man, (5) He had a freedom from the love of money, (6) He had a consuming passion for the lost, (7) He had a definite enduement with power from on high.

 

C. The Importance of charity (or love). (1 Corinthians 13:13)

 

·        (1 Corinthians 13:13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

 

1. The object of our faith will be FULFILLED.

 

All our hopes will be realized. There will be nothing left to hope for; so hope will disappear. There will be no need for faith.

 

However, love is going to abide. The greatest of these is love. Faith, hope, and love are the high words of the Christian vocabulary.

 

2. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul is NOT describing an abstract term -- love.

 

Paul is writing a biography of Jesus Christ.

 

Of Jesus it was written, “… having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). The love of Jesus is an eternal love.

 

MY FRIEND, JESUS CHRIST WILL NEVER STOP LOVING YOU!

 

CONCLUSION: We need Charity (or love).

 

A. Jesus referred to LOVE as the GREATEST COMMANDMENT of all. (Matthew 22:36-40)

 

·        (Matthew 22:36-40) Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

 

B. Why is love greater than faith and hope?

 

1. LOVE is the only one that will last forever.

 

2. FAITH will NOT last (remember it is the evidence of things unseen), but when we get to heaven our faith will be turned to sight.

 

3. HOPE is confident expectation, but when we are with the Lord all our hopes will be realized.

 

4. The only one that will continue on is LOVE…we will love the Lord throughout all eternity, and He will keep on loving us!

 

C. We should love…

 

1. The Lord.

 

2. The Brethren (other Christian believers).

 

3. Those who are lost. (We should SEEK the lost and try to get them SAVED!)

 

4. Only then will we communicate successfully God's love to this lost and dying world.

 

·        (John 13:35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

 

·        (1 John 3:14) We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

 

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”

 

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REFERENCES: References used in the Bible study are the King James Bible (KJV), Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.

 

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