Love Is… Unfailing

This morning, we continue our message series helping us to better understand and live out unconditional love.

This series is entitled, “Love Is” and it is based on that familiar passage found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. 

We were created by God with the need for love that can only be expressed through relationships.

As there are different types of relationships, there are different types of love.  There is, however, a type of love that we are to express toward anyone and everyone.  In fact, the Bible teaches that if we learn how to express this type of love toward God and others, that we will entirely fulfill all that God’s law requires of us. 

This distinct type of love is the love that God has for us.  In the Greek language, it is the word agape.  It is this type of unconditional love that we’ll be covering through this message series.

To be able to possess and express this unconditional love, we’re going to break it down into parts as Paul chose to do in his letter to the Corinthians.  He taught all about spiritual gifts and said that it is not using these gifts that truly matters, but how we choose to use them, our motive, that matters to God.  We can do all sorts of good things for God, but if we do not do them as an expression of God’s love, then they are pointless, useless, and meaningless.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  14 Love is patient, love is kind.   It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 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. 12 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.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The greatest of these is? LOVE!

THE GREATEST OF THESE IS? LOVE!!!

That’s why the foundational core value of New Hope is this same great, unconditional love.  It is what will stand the test of time, the test of tribulation, and the test of anything that can ever try to rise up against it.

Love is unfailing.

Now just as a quick rabbit trail, this very passage of scripture is often used to teach the cessation of the gifts of the Spirit.  This passage is used to teach that the gifts of the Spirit ceased because completeness has already come in the person of Jesus or in the completion of the cannon of the Bible.

However, this letter was written somewhere between 30 and 60 AD.  Therefore, when Paul writes that “we know in part and prophesy in part” and “now we see only a reflection”, he was writing after Jesus already lived, died, and rose from the grave.

As far as having the complete canon of the scriptures being the arrival of completeness and even having read it completely many times over, well, there is still sickness in need of healing, a lack of knowledge and wisdom, the future unknown, and the need still for just about every gift of the Spirit.  In fact, this scripture that some use to teach the cessation of the gifts is actually written in the context of our desperate need for the efficient operation of the gifts of the Spirit. 

He obviously wasn’t referring to Jesus being the perfection that we are waiting for, but rather that day when we are transformed and physically enter into God’s Kingdom. The entire context of this scripture is a teaching encouraging the gifts of the Spirit and encouraging to eagerly desire them.

 or in the completion of the cannon of the Bible.

However, this letter was written somewhere between 30 and 60 AD.  Therefore, when Paul writes that “we know in part and prophesy in part” and “now we see only a reflection”, he was writing after Jesus already lived, died, and rose from the grave and the scriptures were not finalized. 

He obviously wasn’t referring to Jesus being the perfection that we are waiting for, but rather that day when we are transformed and physically enter into God’s Kingdom.  The entire context of this scripture is also a teaching encouraging the gifts of the Spirit and encouraging to eagerly desire them.

However, this letter was written somewhere between 30 and 60 AD.  Therefore, when Paul writes that “we know in part and prophesy in part” and “now we see only a reflection”, he was writing after Jesus already lived, died, and rose from the grave.  He obviously wasn’t referring to Jesus being the perfection that we are waiting for, but rather that day when we are transformed and physically enter into God’s Kingdom.  The entire context of this scripture is also a teaching encouraging the gifts of the Spirit and encouraging to eagerly desire them.

When the day of completeness actually does arrive, we will be made new and there will simply be no need for the gifts of the Spirit.  As Revelation describes, in Heaven there is no death or sickness or mourning, so there is no need for healing or prophecy or encouragement.  Rather, the gifts are for us now to be able to cooperate with God and continue the work of Jesus here on the earth.  For certain, as we have often personally and undeniably witnessed, the gifts of the Spirit have not yet ceased.

OK, rabbit trail aside.  Today, we celebrate Palm Sunday as we end our “Love Is…” message series celebrating the fact that God’s love never fails!

This Greek word used here for fail, ekpiptō, carries the idea of falling off of or becoming ineffective.  It’s the same word used when the angel visited Peter in prison and his chains fell off (Act 12:7).  It’s also the same word used for the grass and flowers withering and fading away (1Pe 1:24).  It’s also the same word used teaching that God’s word will never become ineffective (Rom 9:6).

Love is unfailing.

God’s love never fails, it will never fall away from us nor become ineffective.  In the midst of his many challenges and struggles in life, Paul wrote:

Romans 8:37-39

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Love is unfailing.

Jesus proved this point as over and over again, He fulfilled thousands of prophesies including this one that we celebrate each year on Palm Sunday.

Zechariah 9:9-12

9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!

    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!

See, your king comes to you,

    righteous and victorious,

lowly and riding on a donkey,

    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim

    and the warhorses from Jerusalem,

    and the battle bow will be broken.

He will proclaim peace to the nations.

    His rule will extend from sea to sea

    and from the River to the ends of the earth.

11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,

    I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.

12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;

    even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

Over 500 years later, this prophecy came to pass:

Matthew 21:1-11

1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,

    ‘See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Hosanna is an exclamation of adoration meaning “Oh Save!” 

It’s a bit of a mix between a prayer to be saved and a praise in the ability to save.

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Love is unfailing.

As the crowds once lay down palm branches and coats to prepare the way for King Jesus, so now we lay down our lives as to glorify Him and prepare the way for Him to lift them up anew.

Laying down our lives and entrusting them into the hands of Jesus is an easy choice when we realize who He is and what He is offering us.  Jesus is King of kings.  One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess this reality. 

However, the blessing and the reward and the inheritance and eternal life are reserved only for those who choose to confess this truth now.  For those who choose to live making Jesus Lord every day, as His friends, King Jesus is gracious and merciful and a joy to know.  To honor and serve Him is a pleasure.

It’s sort of like that friend that you have that has done so much for you so many times in the past.  They’ve bailed you out of so many situations that you could never really pay them back for their kindness.  When they ask a favor from you, it is a joy to serve them whatever the cost.

To love Jesus is easy when you’ve experienced and encountered His love.  You can tell when someone has been saved and chose to repent in response to God’s loving-kindness and not out of guilt or coercion. 

They can’t wait for the opportunity to pour out that same loving-kindness toward others as well no matter their own personal circumstances.  They want everyone to have that same encounter with Jesus as they had.  They seek after God with a passion, quickly laying down anything so that Jesus can raise them up into their new, transformed life.  It is a life lived remembering consistently that:

Love is unfailing.

We are reminded of God’s unfailing love 248 times in the Old Testament.  248 times the Hebrew word checed is used, most often in the Psalms, as cries and proclamations and prayers and remembrances that God’s love is unfailing urging everyone to place their trust in it alone.

In this ever-changing world, it gives us a sense of peace and hope when we keep our anchor securely fastened to Jesus, who is never-changing.  In this ever-changing and unreliable world, we need to pour out God’s unfailing love into the lives of others as well.  Paul gives several quick-tips of practical ways that we can do exactly that.

Hebrews 13:1-8

1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;

    never will I forsake you.”

6 So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.

    What can mere mortals do to me?”

7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Love is unfailing.

This morning, whatever you may have come in with.  Whether it be concerns or anxieties or burdens or rejoicing, we can come this morning to Jesus just as we are. 

We can choose to lay our lives down to Him, symbolized by these palm leaves.  When we do so, not only are we honoring Jesus as King, but He will in return honor us by taking away our concerns and anxieties and burdens and sin and raising us up in new life.

1 Corinthians 13:13

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Love is unfailing.