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Eternal Perspective on Singleness & Marriage

1 Corinthians 7

June 9, 2019 • Jan Vezikov

Summary: We live in a world that tends to idolize both singleness and marriage, and at the same time treat them like a curse. Scripture is honest about the difficulty of life in a fallen world. Singleness and marriage both come with many challenges and difficulties, but Paul reminds us they are, nevertheless, both gifts from God. When properly used, each gift can point to Jesus and the Gospel in a unique way. Audio Transcript: This media has been made available by Mosaic Boston Church. If you'd like to check out more resources, learn about Mosaic Boston and our neighborhood churches or donate to this ministry, please visit mosaicboston.com. Good morning. Welcome to Mosaic Church. My name is Jan. I'm one of the pastors here along with Pastor Shane Sikkema, and if you're new or if you're visiting, I'm really glad you're here. We say that every week, but we mean it every week. We'd love to connect with you either in person after the service or if you would be so kind to fill out the connection card legibly and then you can either toss it in the offering basket afterwards or redeem it at the Welcome Center in return for a gift that we've lovingly prepared for you. The connection card is also the place where you can write your prayer request or let us know if you're interested in baptism or if you, today, for the very first time accepted Christ as Lord and Savior or recommitted your life to him. With that said, would you please pray with me over the preaching of God's Holy Word? Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are a good Father, Lord, and you know our hearts better than we know ourselves. Heavenly Father, we pray that you today focus our attention on the love of Jesus Christ who loved us so much that he gave all of himself in order to get us. We thank you Christ that you did that. We thank you, Holy Spirit, that you are here, that you're amongst us. We pray Holy Spirit to minister today. As we talk about some sensitive things, I pray that you minister to those who are single and desire to be married, minister to them. To those who are single and same-sex attracted, please, Lord, minster to them. To those how are single and perhaps are dealing with breakup or rejection, please minister to them. Lord, I pray that you minister to the couples who are married. We know that the enemy hates marriage and attacks it with a full-on assault, and I pray protect the marriages here. I pray, teach us to be gracious to one another as you're gracious to us and love one another as you love us and serve one another one as you serve us. Lord, I pray for any of those who are on the brink of divorce or even considering that. I pray you minister to them and bring them back and, I pray, rekindle their love for one another. Lord, I pray for those who have gone through divorce. I pray minister deeply to them as, while the text doesn't have that much to say about divorce, but, Lord, your spirit can speak more powerfully than any human being, so I pray minister. Lord, bless our time with the holy word and we pray, speak to every single one of us and tell us exactly what you want us to hear, and give us grace to implement in our lives. And I pray for anyone who's not yet a Christian. I pray that they see just how glorious this vision of Christian marriage is. As great as it is, it's only a foretaste of the greatest relationship in the universe, that's your love for us. And I pray that those who are not yet Christians, they accept your love and are transformed by it. And I pray all this in Christ's holy name. Amen. So this is the part of the sermon where I say something to try to peak your interest, so that you keep listening to the rest of the sermon. The problem is, the joy is that we're talking about singleness, marriage, and sex today, so I got your attention, so I don't really need to set it up. But I will say this, Saint Paul is writing to a brand new church in Corinth. We, Mosaic, our new church, Corinth was a society that was saturated with sexual sin, it was a pagan society, and the Christians there were dealing with the same temptations, the same issues that we're dealing here in Boston Massachusetts so it's highly relevant. Someone asked me recently, hey, every time I come to this church, you guys are talking about sex, what's up with that? And the reason why we do is because we preach through the bible and the bible talks about it, why? Because all of us deal with it, this is part of the human condition. And what scripture is trying to do is get us to think about spirituality, not as divorced from reality. Spirituality is an embodied spirituality. Therefore, sexuality and spirituality are inextricably intertwined. What we do in our body has an impact on our souls, and vice versa. And the reason why God has designed sex as he's designed it, and says this is the way that you flourish personally, that your family flourishes, the people around you flourish, is because God, though he loves you personally, he does, but he also loves other people. And he loves society. And he wants culture to flourish. And every single one of us is connected to one another, so you hear people say, we're not hurting anybody. Well, if you sin against another person, you're not just sinning against that person if you hurt that person, you're not just hurting that person, it's a ripple effect that goes on and it keeps going, and hurt people, hurt people. And ultimately, even if you're not hurting each other, you're not taking God if you're sinning against each other of sexual morality. You're taking God out of the equation. God is hurt. When we sin, we are sinning against God. Our moral decision impact God, and they impact other people. And what we talked about last week is that Christian, you're not your own. You were created by God, you're redeemed by God, that your body is not your own. So scripture tells us to glorify God with your body. As we talk about singleness, marriage, divorce, re-marriage, and let me just say this on the front end, life is hard, as you know. And because life is hard, singleness is hard. And marriage is hard. And divorce is hard. And remarriage is hard. And widowhood, it's all hard. Therefore, God gives us Jesus, he gives us the Holy Spirit in order to redeem us from our sins so that we catch a glimpse of the vision that he has for us, and gives us the spirit to realize that vision. And I'll say this on the front end, as we talk about everything that we talk about, one of my favorite quotes is, "Where the real falls short of the ideal, grace abounds." So as we talk about God's vision for marriage, he's also extending grace to be infused in those places of brokenness in our lives and relationships. I said this last week, that we didn't really plan out this sermon series to coincide with the big things that are happening in the calendar, so last week, that sermon coincided with the beginning of Pride Month. This week's sermon, all week, I've been thinking about marriage and singleness, and then I remember, thank God, that my anniversary is on Monday. So God's been getting me to think about marriage, so it's 13 years, my wife and I, by God's grace. Monday we're celebrating our 13th anniversary so praise God for that. You know what, seven years ago, a few years ago, I would have said no, no, no, no. And right now I'm taking it, yeah, thank you. Thank you, because it's work, by God's grace, praise God. And Pastor Shane is celebrating his 13th anniversary with Kelly Sikkema. They're celebrating on the 18th. So make sure to remember that and send them some kind messages. So here's what I was saying about marriage. So were not for Jesus Christ, Tanya and I, as incredible of a woman and gracious, we would not be married. Because I am a sinner. I'm a terrible sinner. And not only that, the way I'm wired is, you know what I do for a living? I talk for a living. And I persuade people for a living. Now, imagine living with that, and arguing with that professional talker. So, praise God for grace. Today, we're going to look at First Corinthians 7:1 through 12, First Corinthians 7:1 through 12. We'll cover some other excerpts from chapter 7. Would you please look at the text with me. "Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." "Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say, I, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her." This is the reading of God's holy and errant fallible authoritative word. May he write these eternal truths upon our hearts. We're going to frame up our time in three points, God's heart singles, God's heart for marriage, and God's heart for divorce. Just a few comments there. First of all, God's heart for singles. How do you know whom God wants you to marry? How do you know if God wants you to marry at all? And to really understand this text, and to really understand this book, we need to understand the driving principle behind everything that Saint Paul says here, as he's inspired by the Holy Spirit. The driving principle is, that we, we're created by God, for His glory, and that's, if we're in that sweet spot of living for God's glory, he fills our hearts with joy. So when he tells us about God's actual ethic, it doesn't make sense to us if joy's not a category in our world view. Because what the world tells us is, hey, the way to happiness is through pleasure, through sexual satisfaction, therefore, if you take away the most important thing to me, then how in the world do I get happiness? And one of the things that scripture teaches as a whole, is that there's a difference between pleasure, happiness and joy. Pleasure is felt in the body. You can be going through pleasure, enjoying pleasure, and still be depressed. Happiness is in the mind. This is why if you go for a run, the endorphins kick in, you're like, "Oh, I'm a little happier. Caffeine, oh I'm a little happier." You can be happy, and your heart is still empty. And this is where God promises something deeper. And this is what every single one of us needs, we long for. It's the joy. Well, how do we get the joy? You don't pursue the joy. Joy is a by-product of glorifying God. "God, I want to live for you, not myself. God, I want to give myself to you. I want to serve you, not myself." So, the principle, at the heart of this text is, "Dear Christian, pursue the path that leads to greatest devotion to Christ, greatest glory to God. Choose the path on which, you can glorify God with every single ounce of your being for the rest of your life." So, Saint Paul says if you can remain single, do it, because you have more time and energy to be devoted to Christ and glorify him, that's verse seven. "I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am." He's not commanding singleness, that's a special gift. But he is commending singleness. He's saying that singleness, and Saint Paul had the gift. Jesus Christ had the gift. Singleness provides certain advantages. You just have more time. You have more energy to glorify God. You just do more. Therefore, here, I just pause, I want to say this side comment. It's a deeply unbiblical attitude to go up to a single person and say, "Hey, why aren't you married?" And by the way, I grew up in a church like, people who do this all the time, they go up, "Hey, how old are you? Why aren't you married?" Since we're here, okay, let's go. It's the same thing as going up to someone, who doesn't have a kid, they're married, been married for a few years, "Hey, when's the baby coming?" Same thing. That's like going up to someone and if they're shorter, "Hey, why don't you grow another foot?" It's like going to someone who's struggling with baldness, and receding hairline, "Hey, why don't you fix that?" Or going up to someone who wants a beard but can't grow a beard, like Pastor Jan, and be like, "Where's your beard Pastor Jan? My response is, my brother got my dad's beard, I got my mom's beard. So don't do that. These are very sensitive pressure points. Don't do that. Don't go up to someone who has four daughters and say, "Hey, are you guys going to try for a boy?" "I did, four times." So stop, stop this. So don't go up to a single person and make them feel inferior if they're not married. The two most influential people in the world were not married. They impacted history like nobody else, and there're so many others, people who were single, John Stott, Jane Aus-. And incredible people live for the glory of God. So neither singleness nor marriage should be deprecated, neither is inferior or superior, both are gifts from a good giver. The advantages to remaining single, and Saint Paul gives us a few. The first is, you just have more freedom in difficult times. And he points this out in verse 26. He says, "I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife." And then he quickly adds, that it's not a sin if you're married, verse 28, "But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that." Worldly troubles, and he talks about present distress, what's he talking about? When's he writing? He's writing about 20, 25 years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christianity begins to spread over the Roman empire. What does Nero do? What does Caesar do? Now he starts clamping down, he starts persecuting the church. Now people are dying for their faith. They're being crucified and they're being crucified upside down. And they are being burned at the stake. So what Saint Paul has said, he's saying, "In my spirit, I feel an impending persecution coming." And so one thing, to be martyred or imprisoned as a single person. Something totally else when you have family, when you have a spouse, when you have kids. So practically, he says, if God's calling you as a missionary to a place where you are likely to suffer persecution and severe hardship, consider remaining single. If you're called to a ministry requiring lots of travel, well, that's not conducive to a family. Consider remaining single. Another practical element that he wants us to consider in terms of thinking about singleness, he says you just have more time. You have more freedom to devote yourself fully to God and his mission. That's verse 32. "I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord." Here's the point. He's saying marriage takes work. It takes time, it takes effort, it takes energy to build the relationship, to connect the souls and remain connected to work through issues, to work through seasons. It takes time. And then if you have kids, oh my kids are so much work. This is a sermon in itself, but I'll just say this, the moment I wake up, I'm on, until the moment I go to sleep, where I fall asleep on the way down to the pillow. That's my life, that's my wife's life. People ask me, "Hey, Pastor Jan, why do you work out? Isn't it an idolatry issue? A vanity issue? Let's talk about your heart." Honestly, it's not at all, it's just pragmatism. I need strength to carry my kids. Have you seen my kids? My youngest is almost two. People come up to me like, "So, when's he starting kindergarten?" In four years, he's starting kindergarten. "Your youngest is two? Here, I brought some clothes for a two-year-old." No, not even close. Honestly, if you are thinking about marriage, I'll let you carry my daughter around, I dare you. In crossfit, you got the medicine balls, I do that on a daily basis, with my kids. That's just one example. And I got four. It's work, and it's energy. And what he's saying is, when you're single, you just have more time to devote to the Lord. And marriage is ministry. You do it for the glory of God. Children is ministry, you do it for the glory of God. Well, if that's your ministry, you don't have as much time for other ministries, it's just practical. Peter Wagner, he's an author and a pastor, he wrote about John Stott, who's a British pastor and author. And John Stott was single. And Peter Wagner talks about the impact of John Stott, his influence. Where Peter Wagner had to care for his family, John Stott is writing books in a month, book after book, preparing conferences. What he's saying is you just couldn't match the output. So now the question if singleness is awesome, and it is, then why in the world would anyone get married? And Paul's like, well, I'll use his words, and this point two, God's Heart for Marriage. He says, number seven, "I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift, et cetera, et cetera." Verse 9, "But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." Question, how do I know if I have the gift of celibacy? Well, the first question here is, can you control your sexual desires? And this is really practical, it's very human, and he's saying, if you can't control your sexual desires, perhaps you should consider marriage. If you're single and fighting sexual temptation daily, it's a constant battle that consumes all of your energy, that you're only focused on this one front, and you can't do anything else, he says, perhaps you should consider marriage. Now, he's not saying that it's impossible to resist temptation if you're single. He's not saying it's impossible. Later on in First Corinthians, 10:13, he says, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." He's saying by the power of the Holy Spirit, every single Christian, has the ability, by God's grace to be pure in thought and deed. But, if all of your energy's directed on this one battle, fighting this one fire, he says, perhaps the solution isn't more self-discipline, but a spouse. And of course, you still need self-control, even as a married person. And I would argue, you need self-control even more as a married person, because the battle shifts. When you're single, the battle is, do not awaken love, you put it to sleep. You channel that energy into something else. When you get married, you'll awaken love, and you have to direct love, channel it into this one person for the rest of your life. It's a different battle. First Corinthians 7:2, "But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband." Should I consider marriage? Well, if you have a solid relationship with the Lord, you're experiencing incredible fellowship with God, and with believers. Do you still feel a tinge of loneliness? And where do I see this? I this from the very beginning in Genesis. God creates everything, paradise, it's bliss. Adam is experiencing unbroken fellowship with God. They're walking through the Garden of Eden, together. God's spirit close Adam. It's still ... You know what is says in Genesis 2:18? This is before the fall, God says, "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper for for him." There's still a tinge of loneliness that God chooses to meet through a spouse. Perhaps you feel something ... When I was single, and I had great fellowship with the Lord, I had great fellowship with brothers and sisters and Christian community, but I still felt a little loneliness. And I wanted kids. I've always loved kids. I used to always volunteer at Sunday School and volunteer in kids ministry. Summer camps, I was a counselor. I've always loved kids. And I wanted kids. Perhaps you feel something similar. Well, have you tried praying Genesis too over your life, in prayer? And before you think about marriage, you really need to decide to what ministry God's called you to. When you marry a person, you're not marrying that person so that person gratifies you, that's not the primary reason. You marry the other person because that person is the one with whom you will do the most for God's glory. You create synergy together. You've got to be thinking power couples, spiritual power couple. With whom can I do the absolute most? And they've got to be thinking the same, to what ministry has God called you to? C.T. Studd was a missionary in Africa. But he left his family. He pretty much neglected and abandoned his family the last 11 years of his wife's life. He'd only saw her for two weeks. Did a lot for ministry, but he abandoned his primary ministry, which was his family. David Livingstone did the same thing, left his wife and children for years to pioneer the gospel ministry in the interior of Africa. Accomplished much, but it marred their ministry. So if you're called to be a missionary, you've got to make sure that you have a wife who's there with you. If you're called, and you have a husband who's there with you. So you need to know your mission before you marry, because the purpose of marriage isn't just personal happiness. The purpose of marriage is to glorify God together. And every single couple has a ministry. And while marriage and children, they bring a lot of joy. They're good gifts of God. But they're not going to satisfy. The most satisfying thing from my wife Tanya and I, the most satisfying thing, is to do things for the Lord together. You know what her favorite thing is? And now it's my new favorite thing? Because her favorite thing is my favorite thing. She loves going to the park and meeting new people, and telling them about Jesus. She loves that. That's her favorite thing. She goes to the park, she's like a rock star. She's like the mayor of Brookline, as she walks in. So now I'm right there with her. And that brings incredible joy as she sees people, thinking about God. So friends, forget the idolatrous idea of, I'm going to get married, we're going to settle down, we're going to have a nice little house in suburbia, two-car garage, two cars, white-picket fence, not that there's anything wrong with that, 2.1 kids, a dog, and a cat. And, we might go to church when we're not traveling on the weekends, and when our kids don't have sports events. I'll tell you right now, I'll tell you what happens because I see this happen all the time. One year goes by, two years, three, and then you get bored. There's a thing called a seven-year itch, it's real. And that's where people just get bored of that life, it's boring. "Get that out of here." So, if you're not gifted with celibacy, pray and look for Godly spouse, it's First Corinthians 7:9, "they should marry." Now I know this is frustrating for many of you. You're like, just stop, get rid of that verse, you've got to rip it out. We can't do that, we like the bible. So what do we do? If I want to get married, what should I do? I'm just going to share some practical Godly, biblical wisdom. Number one, you focus on personal growth and Godliness. That's number one. There's no one and nothing can satisfy as much as God. And seriously, what are your options? If you're single and you're like, I want to get married. What are your options? You can sit around sulking, feeling depressed, feeling lonely, perhaps wasting time with a frantic search for a companion. Or, you seek God, the only one who could satisfy, the only true lover who completely satisfies. You seek him in his word, you seek him in prayer, read great books of theology. Listen to audio books. And then serve the Lord in some capacity. Instead of just sitting around and sulk, and channel that energy to serving someone else. And then God fills your heart with joy. And, what happens is, you start growing in maturity as you take on responsibility. And, if the Lord does send a spouse, and this is how he usually does it, you're serving, you're serving, you're serving, you're serving, and then someone next to you is serving, serving, serving, and serving. And they're like, I like this person. We're getting stuff done together, for the glory of GOD, GSD, get stuff done, Soli Deo Gloria, SDG, GSDSDG. We're doing it together. Let's do it together. And now you're partners. You're a spiritual power couple. This is why I love this church. And I know that transient people are coming, going. But honestly, serve. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. I was here early today, and I see Godly people showing up early, 7:30, 8:30, showing up. They're giving their best hours of the best sweet-spot of their weekend, Sunday morning. And they're giving it to the Lord. Those are the Navy Seal Christians. Marry those... Serve the Lord. If you want a Godly spouse, which you should, if you are a Christian, become the one that the one is looking for. Become the Godly spouse that the Godly spouse is looking for. How do you do that? You learn to follow Jesus on a daily basis. You wake up, you spend time in scripture, you spend time in prayer. I put on my sound-canceling headphones, and I'm listening to worship music, and I do that because I have four kids. So you do that on daily basis. Lord lead me, and you follow. And this is important, because how can you lead another human being, another soul, if you can't lead yourself? And if you can't lead another sinner, what makes you think that you can lead two sinners? And then, if you're two sinners together, what do you do when you make little sinners? And that's what they are. I've got four little sinners that live with me. Four roommates who contribute nothing to the rent, and eat all my food. Learn to rest in the Lord. Learn to find ultimate satisfaction in him. And I know there're seasons where it feels like you're going through a desert, feels like the Lord isn't with you, that he's not guiding, that he's abandoned you. Joseph felt that for 13 years in prison. And God used all the time, preparing him to be vice president of Egypt. Sometimes God allows us, it's a blessing to go through a season that doesn't feel like a blessing, so that the ultimate blessing comes, and when it does, God gets all the glory. So get into scriptures, get into community group, get into church membership. Because if you can't commit to the bride of Christ, what makes you think that you can commit to a bride? And this is in particular, I just want to talk to the gentlemen for just a second here. It's really just practical. You want to get married? You got to get a job. You got to get an apartment. You got to pay down the debt. You got to get some cologne. You got to get a haircut. You got to get a shirt with buttons, at least a few. You got to get a nice pair of shoes. And you can't wear white socks with black pants. There's this little practical element. And I can go on. I've got a whole thing. I can go on. But the way that you really you learn, you meet other Godly couples in the church. And if you're single, meet married couples and say, "Hey, give me an hour of your time. Give me some life coaching when it comes to this area of life. And in return, I'm going to babysit your kids." That's a win-win. That's ultimate, mutual upbuilding. That's what we're trying to do. The married couple needs the single person. The single person needs the married couple. Learn from one another. The thing I just did with use cologne, and be presentable for gentlemen, my wife does, so she is a master of this. I'm not going to go into the details, but meet her. She's a Godly sage woman, and she knows, she knows things that you can't figure, so okay. Gentlemen, you got to get a job. If you want to get married, you got to be prepared to be the head of the family, the headship is a doctrine that's important. You're not the boss, you're not a bully or a king, you're serving, who gives himself away on a daily basis, for the good of the family. I'm sacrificing time, energy, everything. Now, do that to the people around you. And headship is really just this, it's your responsibility. Everything in the family is your responsibility. Adam, you messed up. Adam, where are you? Eve was the first one to bite out of the apple. It's not an apply, whatever the fruit was. Jesus was, our sin wasn't his fall, but he took responsibility. In the same way, that's what headship is, even if it's not your fault, it's your responsibility. Some of you, perhaps are thinking about marriage, and you've been dating for a long time, and you keep putting it off because of the ridiculous cost of weddings in our culture. It's ridiculous. I think the average is like, $35,000. It's absolutely crazy. Free tip, if you haven't been listening, this is the best part of the sermon so far. This is a free nugget. You're getting your money's worth. Monday weddings is where it's at. I'm serious. I'm absolutely serious. No one's thinking like that. The venues are all free. And you know, I'm free on Mondays. Saturdays are hard. Sundays, I can't do. And then you can haggle with the $35,000. How about $3500? And then you know. Just practically, you got to care for yourself. You got to care for your body. How can you care for another person's body if you're not caring for yourself? Care for your could. How can you care for another person's soul if you can't care for yourself? So I'm going to share just a little of how Tanya and I met, just to give testimony. Testimony of the Holy Spirit's grace. Junior year in college, I was stuck in all kinds of immaturity. And then that immaturity worked itself out, in that I picked a fight with four dudes on Third Street in Providence. And I thought it was three, I picked a fight with three dudes on Third Street in Providence. And, I was doing fine, mind you. And the fourth guy came out of nowhere, blindsided me, and with a superman punch. I ended up in the hospital with a broken jaw. As soon as I woke up, I knew, that was Hebrews 12, the Lord disciplining me. And I said, Lord, thank you. From then on, I got into every single bible study I could. And I started getting into the scriptures, spending an hour, giving my first hour of the day to the Lord. And the Lord used that season to grow me, right before my study abroad in Moscow. I went there by myself. My first Sunday there, I didn't know anybody, found Moscow Bible Church. Got plugged in immediately. Went every Sunday. Went every Wednesday to the prayer meeting. It was me, three little old ladies, and another guy named Constantine, who also had recently been in a fight, and God woke him up. It wasn't one against four, it was one against 12, but he was a national Russian wrestler so he took them all except for number 12, with a baseball bat with nails. True story. So now, we're all beat up, and we're at this prayer meeting, with these three little old ladies. And they're edifying our souls, and we're encouraging one another. And we started going to the youth meeting on Friday. So we just grew. And then after that, that summer, I did a mission trip to Belarus, at an orphanage. I was just growing by leaps and bounds. I come back, my senior year in college. I realized, hey, I want to get married, but I was doing international relations and Slavic Studies. International relations because it sounded good, Slavic Studies, to pad my GPA, because I speak Russian. And then I was like, I'm not employable. Nobody wants that. So then I picked up Business Econ. I took nine economic classes my senior year. That's all I did. And then I did prayer and bible study. That's all I did senior year. My friend, best friend Jarrod Lin, and I, he preached at Mosaic. He works for Campus Fit at Brown University. He and I committed to pray from Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM every single day of the year. And the prayer request, my prayer request was the same every time. "I want to be close to the Lord, and Lord, send me a wife," every time. They stopped asking me. It was actually such a big deal that New York Times found out that there's a prayer group at Brown University, there's actually Christians there. And they ran a centerpiece on a Sunday morning paper, about us. It was called "On a Christian Mission to the Top," May something, 2005. And it was a picture of me praying with Tim Havens, you only came that one time. And Jarrod Lin didn't get into the picture. You can Google it, it was the last time New York Times had a truthful piece. No, just kidding, stop, I'm kidding. So, I got a job, moved down to D.C. My uncle was planning a Russian church in the D.C. ... I lived for a month in his house, and I painted his house for rent, in exchange for rent, and I saw their family. Godly man, Godly woman, four Godly kids. And I pray, "Lord, I want a family like that." And, some time went by, and I got a phone call from my dad, who said, "Hey, did you know there's going to be an evangelistic rally in Philadelphia?" Billy Graham, his translator was coming down. My dad said, "Let's meet in Philadelphia. I'll drive down. You drive up." We met there, the evangelistic rally was at night. So we need to go to church in the morning, so we go to this church plant in Philadelphia. and as soon as we got out of the car, I looked toward the door and there was a gal greeting there. And she was like an angel. And she still is like an angel. I met her, "Hi," her name's Tanya. And I was absolutely smitten. She thought I was an unbeliever because I had spiky hair and no tie. And I show up at a Russian church, and they're like, you're a pagan. So I have no idea what the service was about. I have no idea what the sermons are about. I still need to repent about that. Lord, forgive me. And I was just focused on this gal. Her family invites us over for lunch after. And I got to know her family, and Tanya wasn't there. She was at the rally serving. I'm like, yes, serving at the church, serving there, a heart of service, at the evangelistic rally. I have no idea what the sermon's about. I made a beeline to her after the service. "Hi, how are you? My name is Jan. I'm also a Christian. I'm a member of New Life Church in Washington D.C." I asked her for her phone number. I said, "Can we be friends?" She said, "I have no idea who you are. And I don't like telephones, because they cause radiation." She knew back then. And asked her for her email. She's like, "I don't do emails." So I was bummed out. And my mom was there too. My mom approached her mom, and said, "Hey, let's keep in touch." And her mom says, "Yeah, let's keep in touch." And gives me Tanya's phone number. And that's where it all got started. That's all to say this, you should be a member of a church. And here's one thing I do want to say from that story. I have a lot of things to say. In our culture, we are too serious about Christian dating. And some of us are not serious enough. Too serious, that's "The Lord gave me a dream last night, and you're the person for me." I didn't get that dream, sorry. And then on the other side, it's like, "Hey, let's just hang out for years." Honestly, I think this might be helpful. You've got to think about it in terms of a family. We're brothers and sisters. So if you're a single, treat each other as brother and sister. And if you're interested in someone, say hey, not let's date, or court, dort, whatever. "Let's be friends. Let's go for coffee." I'll just give you an example. I was at this church in D.C. and I saw this girl, she's an awesome sister serving the Lord. I said, "Hey, do you want to, as friends," and I made this clear, "As friends, let's go see a baseball game." It was in the Nationals. And we went together. I made it clear, "Look, let's just be friends. If the friendship develops, great. I'm a serious guy with serious intentions. But if it doesn't, let's still be friends, and I'll actually help you find a husband because we're friends, and brother and sister." And that's what happened. It didn't work out with her, and then she actually, I introduced, like in the same church. Hey, she married the guy, now they're missionaries in Kazakhstan. So it's all to say, "Let's be friends." That's the point. And in the church, when you're serving the Lord, you're close to the Lord, you begin to develop this ability to see people with the eyes of Jesus Christ. And that's what you need. Some of us are too focused on appearances where Proverbs 31:30 says, "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." A wife of noble character who shall find her value is more precious than gold. And that's all to say, the character's the most important thing. Therefore, Christian, please never consider marriage to a nonbeliever. Forge the word "please," burn it on your heart. God is that serious about it. And as a Christian, you cannot even consider the option of marrying a nonbeliever. It's never God's will for a Christian to become unequally yoked to a non-Christian. It's better to be single than in a marriage with a nonbeliever, because you can't share the deepest love of your heart with that person. That leads to all kinds of aloofness and a chasm. What happens if you continue to grow in your relationship with the Lord, and they don't? So it's better to be single than devastated. And don't just say things like, "But they believe in God." I want to know, if you say, "Pastor Jan, we're dating," where is this person a member of a church? That's what I want to know. How serious are you about your relationship with the Lord? And don't just say they believe in God. You know what scripture says? Even demons believe in God. First Peter 3:1 talks about if you are married to a nonbeliever, says, "So that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives." What he's saying is, if you are married to a nonbeliever, don't be self-righteous, don't beat them over the head with a bible. What your spouse needs is for you to be like Jesus fills the Holy Spirit and they need to be compelled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The vision is that the Lord saves them, and that you actually baptize them, that's the vision. First Corinthians 7:39 talks about "Only in the Lord." Second Corinthians 6:14 through 16, you could read that later, talking about unequally yoked. Also in preparation for marriage, guard your moral purity, free sexual morality, and glorify God with your body. You've got to plan for righteousness. You know the questions about how far can we go? That's the wrong question. You already went too far. The question is, how much can we glorify God with our body? Don't just get to as close as possible. Because what happens is, the enemy that ... You know these stories about these people who take selfies on cliffs? And there's a running total of people who died taking selfies at the Yosemite cliff. It was a famous Instagram couple, they went as closely as possible. What they didn't factor in was the wind. Wind gust comes out of nowhere, and they fall over. So if you don't want to sin, don't plan to put yourself in tempting situations. If you don't want to go to Las Vegas, then why did you get on the plane? If you don't want to commit sexual immorality, then why are you at the bar at that time? Or the club by your ... I was going to say by your ... It doesn't matter with the accountability part. No, no club. That's not a Christian thing. Cohabitation? It's actually fornication. They're synonyms. You're connected to Jesus Christ, don't implicate Jesus Christ in sin. Jenell Williams Paris says "The idol of sexual fulfillment has two faces: One face says that each person has the right to be sexually satisfied and that having sex is a necessary part of happy, mature adulthood (or even adolescence). The second face is a Christian one that says the reward for premarital sexual virtue is great marital sex." "When I was growing up," she said, "sexual ethics was all stick and no carrot: we were told to abstain from premarital sex because of the parental and divine punishment that would ensue. Today, the stick is still there, but there's also a carrot: the less you sin before marriage, the hotter the sex after the marriage." The problem with that is it's not a biblical world view. Christ never had sex and he lived the perfect life, the ultimate life. Therefore, we can't expect that we need it for human flourishing. Stanley Hauerwas, a scholar at Duke University, says, one of the clearest differences between Christianity and all the other religions is that singleness is a paradigm. A paradigm is a way of life. Just like Jesus. So that's to say, don't say, that if you take this sex out of my life, that I can't be a fully human being, that's false. That's a lie. This generation's been offered sex on plate and found it to be unsatisfying. We're looking for how to flourish, and we flourish in the middle of God's will. First Corinthians 7:3 through 5, "The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband." And the big idea here is, and first he talked about singleness. The big idea is no sex. And then once you get married, what he's saying is, it becomes a spiritual discipline, it's prayer, reading scripture, and baby, we need to be close to the Lord. It's a thing, seriously, conjugal rights, look that up together. The point is that you serve one another. Sex isn't self-expression, and it's not self-gratification, it's self-donation. If the husband wants to be together, you be together. If the wife wants to be together, you be together. The Song of Solomon says tend to the garden so weeds don't grow. So don't sleep back-to-back. That's when Satan crawls into the bed. That's what he says. Don't let Satan tempt you. Care for one another's body. Care for one another's needs. God creates sex for procreation, but he also does for pleasure and satisfaction, and comfort, and protection, and ultimately unity. Okay, back to, let's get married. The point, be wise, but not over-spiritual. Here's what I mean. Sometimes we pray, the Lord sends us a spouse, send me a spouse. And sometimes we get too spiritual, too overly spiritual, thinking God's just going to make the person appear, like it's going to start raining men hallelujah. And that's not what he's saying. There's nothing wrong in putting yourself in a situation where you can meet someone. And somebody you're attracted to. Obviously Godly character takes precedence. But there's nothing wrong being attracted to that someone. Song of Solomon, that couple isn't extolling the finer points of each other's characters. It's all about that they're in love, both spiritually and physically. And you got to like that person, you got to enjoy that person's presence. So, that's all to say, be selective but don't be picky. Here's what I mean. I think some of you brothers, I think you're putting off marriage way too long because you're looking for a model, who loves Jesus. And by model, that's a nice way of putting what I really mean. And sisters, some of you are smart and powerful, you're waiting for Mr. Right, Mr. Perfect, whose type-A, alpha male, highly intelligent, ultra fit, super wealthy, and able to cook. You're looking for Ryan Gosling, that's who you're looking for. You're looking for Bradley Cooper. Well here's the thing, Bradley Cooper got Irina Shayk, and Irina Shayk got Bradley Cooper, and this past week, they split up, after four years together. Didn't satisfy. And now they have to, they're amicably working on how to share custody. Learn to love the hidden person, the inner beauty of the person. First Peter, 3:3-4, "Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." That's what you're looking for. And that's what you need to see, you train up your eyes see. Proverbs 31:10 through 11, "excellent, or of noble character, a wife who can find, she is far more precious than jewels, the heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain." So train the eyes to see not just physical eyes, but the eyes of your heart. Pastor Shane and I were talking about this week, and this is a quote from Pastor Shane, it's so good. I said, can I use it? He said sure, go ahead. He says, "I think there's something to be said of attraction being overrated." He says, "I'm not attracted to a 99-year-old woman, but Lord willing, one day I'll be married to one, and I'll find her attractive." Something there, likeability, friendship, it's more important than just physical attraction. Godly men and Godly women with God's grace, they age like fine wine. Apart from God's grace, like milk. Why? Because you always marry the wrong person. We're all looking for finished projects, we're not finished. We're always works in progress. We're all incompatible, we're just the wrong people, and we need the gospel to make us the right people, the right heart, with the right Holy Spirit. God didn't just create you. He's recreating you. And when you're looking for a spouse, what you're looking for is the potential. I can see. I'm not going to fix you. But God can fix you. Timothy Keller, in The Meaning of Marriage, which you definitely need to read. He says, "Within this Christian vision of marriage, here's what it means to fall in love. It is so look at another person and get a glimpse of what God is creating, and to say, "I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be a part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, "I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!" That's what we're talking about. You see the potential with God's grace. I had a conversation with a friend this week, and the friend is single. And I said, tell me what you would say in the sermon. If I haven't had that conversation with you, I'm going to soon. That's the conversation I'm having. This is what he said, he says, Satan attacks marriage through all kinds of ways, pornography. But there's another subtle attack. It's so hard to find a good Christian person. And this is what church community is so important, where married people, like you're bringing singles into your life. And then bring some other singles into your life, and then invite them over for dinner together. See what happens. God's heart for divorce. Saint Paul says, hear that God's heart is for marriage, one man, one woman, one covenant, one lifetime. Why? Because divorce is heartbreaking. Divorce is never over and it's never final. It just gets more complicated. I've done weddings where the husband and wife haven't talked to each other in years, and they're their just because their daughter's walking down the aisle, and they're sitting on different sides. It gets complicated. Everyone at some point wants to get divorced and sinners get sick of getting sinned against each other. And God creates marriage to be one, one man, one woman. The word uses ahad, the same word for the Trinity, where the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. What scripture says, Malachi 2, is that God hates divorce because his heart is broken by it. And he sees the brokenness, the ripple effect from generation to generation. He sees the effect that it has on people, it causes fear when parents get divorced. It complicates your idea of marriage. There's a lingering effect. Because marriage isn't just a contract, it's covenant. This is why we celebrate anniversaries. This is the anniversary of the covenant. If you renew your lease, you don't celebrate the renewal of your lease, it's just a contract, there's nothing emotional there. With a covenant, it's different. It's the binding of two hearts. So scripture here in First Corinthians 7 and other places, it says God allows divorce for adultery, that's marital unfaithfulness, porneia, in the Greek. Because in the Old Testament, adultery was actually a capital offense, but it's an exception clause for abandoning the covenant. But adultery should never happen. And divorce is also allowed for abandonment but still, it gives grounds but it's not license. And God's heart is for reconciliation to happen. So am I allowed to remarry if my spouse has sinned against me, adulterously, or has abandoned? Maybe on some circumstances, but give it time. That's what scripture, give it time and let God intervene. Give time for God to transform hearts. With that said, in conclusion, marriage is great, but it's not ultimate. If God is not the center of your life, what you have is marriage creating more problems than it solves. Without the Lord, marriage is just bringing two self-centered human beings together, seeking self-fulfillment from one another. That's why Saint Paul says, in First Corinthians 7:29 to 31, "This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away." It's temporary. Eternity is forever, so we should be thinking about is eternity. We should be thinking about, is spiritual family. Because spiritual family is forever. There's no marriage in heaven, but there's spiritual family is forever. And following Jesus gives us an abundance of spiritual family. I want you dear Mosaic, I want you to catch a vision of spiritual family, not just brothers and sisters. I want you to catch a vision of fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, mothers and daughters. This is something that's been missing in my life. This is something that Lord's been actually revealing to me even this week. I've always considered myself a brother, like we're brothers and sisters. And I see when I lead someone to the Lord, by God's grace, that's a child, that's a son, that's a daughter. Drew Wayne who was here, remember Drew Wayne, who got baptized with a shirt off? Remember that guy? He's now in Texas? One of the things that he used to say, and it just hit me, the meaning of that this week. He used to say, the Papa John's jingle, "Better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's? Wayne Tolbert, he said, "Better preaching, better access to Jesus, Papa Jan's." It just hit me, shout out Drew, who still listens to the podcast. It just hit me. My goodness, I'm a father, I'm a spiritual father. And I need to grow in that. And some of you are spiritual fathers and spiritual mothers, and you have spiritual children, now care for them. Care for them, love them, pray for them, meet with them. Send them random pictures of flowers like my dad doe to me. "Look at these flowers, they're blooming." And I always do, "Heart, I love it. Keep sending them. Thanks Dad." So spiritual family is forever. The bible is God's proposal to us. The gospel is God's proposal to us. God fulfills every one of our desires, and then some, because God is an ultimate lover. The gospel is good news for absolutely everyone. The bible begins with a wedding ceremony, and Jesus begins his ministry at a wedding. And heaven is the greatest reception ever. And that's where God is going to ultimately fulfill all of our desires. Now, how do we have that relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, the great bridegroom sacrifices himself on the cross for us, to make us his own. Gives everything, to say "I do. I always did. And I always will." Let God satisfy the greatest desires of your heart. Amen. Let's pray. Lord, we thank you for this time that you've given us. We thank you for the holy scriptures. God, we thank you that you don't just care about our time on Sunday, but you care about all of our life. And you want to infuse your healing power, by the power of the spirit into every single corners and crevices of our lives, and replace brokenness with healing. I pray Lord, do that, even now, as we sing. I pray this in Christ's name. Amen.

Life after Life after Death

1 Corinthians 15 • August 18, 2019 • Shane Sikkema

Summary: What if the solution to death was not to escape it, but to face and defeat it? The claim of Christianity is that someone has done just that, and done so for us. Many of us grew up imagining we would spend eternity as disembodied souls, but the true hope of Scriptures is something far deeper and more satisfying. This weekend we will conclude our series “Prodigal Church” by looking at 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul lays out a vision of Christian hope for the future, that fills us with courage and strength for today. Transcript: This media has been made available by Mosaic Boston Church. If you'd like to check out more resources, learn about Mosaic Boston and our neighborhood churches, or donate to this ministry, please visit mosaicboston.com Right now, before we begin with the sermon, would you please join me in prayer? Jesus, we thank you for being our Lord and our Savior. That you are both merciful and powerful. You have the desire to save, and you have the ability to save, and to save completely. And if there are any here today who are lacking purpose or meaning in their life, if there are any lacking hope, if there are any finding it hard to persevere, tempted to give up, I pray that you would show us today, that your gospel changes everything. It gives us a sure and certain and unshakeable hope for tomorrow, that manifests into strength for today, so that we know that nothing we walk through in this life will be in vain. So long as it is done by your spirit, motivated by your love, it will be eternal. So we pray that you'd speak to us now through the preaching of your word. Amen. The author of Ecclesiastes famously wrote that, "God has placed eternity in the hearts of men." And if you've read the book of Ecclesiastes, you know that he's wrote far more often, "Vanity, vanity, everything is vanity. Life is absurd and meaningless." There's this tension where on the one hand he sees this reality, we're all gonna die, and all of our accomplishments, everything we lived for, it seems as if in one moment, death is going to swallow it all up. We're born, we live, we die. Time marches on, and we're slowly forgotten. Now, on the other hand, as we live these seemingly meaningless lives, we do so with this aching in our souls. It's as if we are homesick for some place that we've never been, and deep down we know that there has to be more to life than what we see with our eyes. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go back to the Midwest and spend some time with my family. And I've been... It's been interesting, the last few times I've been home, I have two younger sisters. And you know, you get together with family and you start to reminisce about the past. And what's been interesting to me though is that, at times they'll say something like, "Hey, remember that time?" And they'll go on to share a story. I'm like, "Yeah, I remember that. "And yet other times, and this has been happening, it's happened several times. So like, "Hey, remember that time?" And they'll go on to describe something in vivid detail that I have absolutely no memory of. Like they could just be totally making it up. I don't know. But if you think about your own memory, it's interesting, we have these very vivid memories at different points throughout our lives, and then we have these others that are kind of dim. And then we talk to other people and realize that it seems as if there's even some, we've just totally forgotten, as if they've just been deleted. And one of the most vivid memories I have from my childhood was, it happened in third grade. Like I can see myself, I can see the room, I can see the people around me vividly. And it was at my grandfather's funeral. I remember sitting there and just feeling that, it just didn't seem real. Like we just saw grandpa not too long ago, and he's there, but that's not him. Like this doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem right. And I remember sitting there with this growing frustration that kind of turned into almost an anger. And then I very vividly remember when my grandmother walked into the ceremony, she was just weeping. And as soon as I saw her, I started weeping. And this is one of the only memories I have from my childhood where I, as a child, I just wept. And if death is totally natural, and if life is totally meaningless, then why does it bother us the way that it does? Why do we rage against death? It's not enough to say that we desire immortality. It's deeper than that. There's a sense of injustice in its absence, as if we had it, but it's been taken or lost. And so the author, he looks and he sees death's gonna win. All of our accomplishments will be lost. Our names will be forgotten. Time is going to make fools of us all, so what have I to do but just drink, eat, and for tomorrow, we die. The life is just a vapor, vanishing in the wind. We're looking at 1 Corinthians 15 today, and you know, before we all get too utterly depressed, this is actually not the focus or the point of the text. Paul's not going to focus on the bleak absurdity of death, but that is going to be the background. Death is going to be the black canvas upon which Paul paints this bright and glorious vision of Christian hope. But as we begin this, we need to understand, that if this is not true, then none of it really matters. But if it is, then that changes everything. What we're about to read today is really at the crux of our faith. If this is true, as Christians, we have a blessed assurance and hope that begins right now, and reaches into eternity. And if it's not, if this is false, then our lives are really just absurdly meaningless, and we might as well stop right now. Like class dismissed. Everybody go home. Let's stop wasting our time. And that's what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, starting in verse 16, he says, "Listen, if the dead are not raised, if death is the end of it, not even Christ has been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is feudal and you're still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ, we have hope in this life only, we are of all people, most to be pitied." See, Paul understood. I didn't come to Jesus because I thought he was gonna make my life easier or more comfortable. In fact, following Jesus has made things a lot more difficult for me, and that's going to be true of us as well. Following Jesus means you will face greater temptation. Nobody knows the strength of a temptation until they have tried to stand against it. That's why Jesus knew temptation better than anyone else, because he never gave into it. He experienced its full strength. Following Jesus means that you're going to have to deny yourself earthly pleasures, and it's the idea of delayed gratification for eternal rewards. And following Jesus may even mean facing persecution for your faith. It meant that for Paul, and it meant that for many of the people that he was writing to. He kind of alludes to this in verse 32, where he says, "What do I gain, if death is all there is? What do I gain humanly speaking, if I fought with beasts at Ephesus. If the dead are not raised." And then he quotes the Ecclesiastes, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." Then he says this, "Do not be deceived. Bad company ruins good morals. Wake up from your drunken stupor as is right, and do not go on sinning." Paul's saying the life of following Jesus Christ is absolutely, utterly absurd. Unless it's true. If it's true, then the whole world is stumbling around in a drunken stupor and needs to be woke up. If this is true, and Paul says that it is. That's why he begins in the very beginning of the chapter. He says, "Listen, I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance, what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the 12, then to more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive. You can go talk to them, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me." Paul saying this is impossible, but it happened, and we saw it with our own eyes, and this changes everything. This is what caused CS Lewis to write that, "If Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true of infinite importance. The only thing that it cannot be is moderately important." Now the goal of today's sermon is not to argue for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as important as that is, but I actually preached that sermon a year ago, the first sermon in our Jesus among other gods series. We looked at the first half of 1 Corinthians 15. And what we did there was, we looked at the evidence, historical evidence, scriptural evidence. We looked at it all in order to show that it really is reasonable to believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. In fact, that's the most probable explanation for what happened in the first three centuries after the birth of Christ. But the goal today is not to convince you that Jesus rose from the dead. The goal today is to ask, why does it even matter? And that's what Paul focuses on in the second half of the chapter. That's what we're going to be looking at this morning. So three big ideas, three points that we're going to be looking at today is, first of all in Christ, we as Christians, we have hope and a life after life after death. And Paul is going to show us that this life after life after death, is immaculately immortal. And thirdly, it is also presently significant. So if you have your Bibles open up to 1 Corinthians chapter 15. I'd love to have you follow along. There's a lot of text today. And we're going to be looking at verse 35 through 58. If you don't have a Bible, the words will be up here on the screen. 1 Corinthians 15, starting at verse 35. But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" You foolish person. What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There's one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars, for star differs from star in glory. So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable. What is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor. It is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness. It is raised in power. It is sown a natural body. It is raised a spiritual body. If there's a natural body, there's also a spiritual body. Thus it is written. The first man, Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust. The second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brothers, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, when the mortal puts on immortality, then she'll come to pass, the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh, death, where is your victory? Oh, death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain. And this is the reading of God's Holy word for us this morning. Point number one: Life after life after death. What if I told you that not all Christians go to heaven? What if I told you that you and I will not be spending eternity in heaven? Obviously I'm trying to be provocative here. It is true that Christians go to heaven when they die, but it's not true to say that that's where scripture leaves it. It has more to say. Paul told the Philippians, "For me to live as Christ, then to die is gain." Because if I die, I go to be with Jesus in heaven. But the full hope of scripture is not merely in life after death. The full hope of scripture is not that we would escape from these physical bodies and that our souls would fly away to some ethereal existence for the rest of eternity. The full hope of scripture is in full redemption, which means bodily resurrection, and new creation. There's a life after life after death that we look forward to. And so Paul says, "When Christ returns, the dead will be raised." And those Christians who are still alive, they will be transformed, and the broader scope of scripture shows us, to inherit the new earth, the new creation. This is important because this is a very common misconception that people have about Christianity. Myself included, most of us, what we grew up.... When we think about eternity, when we think about heaven, most of our ideas come more from like Renaissance paintings or even episodes of the Simpsons than they do from scripture. Like we picture ourselves floating around on clouds, playing harps with like angels wings, and that's not what we see. This is important. If the gospel is an evacuation plan, where our bodies die and our souls escape this mortal coil to spend eternity in some ethereal existence, that presents a few problems. First of all, if that's the truth, why does anything I do right now in my body, in this life, matter. It results in this dualism that was present in Paul's day, and that's why he's writing this. But this dualism that, well, the spiritual is good, and that's what matters, and the physical is bad, and it's inconsequential. But that's not Christianity. God's creation is good. Second, if this is true, then wouldn't that mean that death kind of won, and that God kind of lost. The gospel's not an evacuation plan. It's about redemption. It's about victory. Jesus came, he took on flesh, he lived and he died, not so that he could cut his losses and go home. He didn't come just to deflect death. He came to face it head on, experience, and defeat death, to turn it back upon itself and destroy it. Total victory. That's what Paul is writing about. He's trying to correct this dualism that was influencing that culture. Because at the time, the idea of a bodily resurrection from the dead was just utter nonsense in the pagan world. But for Paul, it was absolutely essential to the gospel. And so what would happen is, people would scoff at Christians, they would ridicule, they would mock Christians for their belief in a resurrection of the dead because they would say things like, "Well, hold on, hold on, first of all, dead people don't come back to life. I've never met a dead person who's come back to life." Of course, the Christians could say, "Well, yeah, but I kind of know a guy. You should meet him." But more so, what they would say is like, "We know, we know what happens. It doesn't take very long before a body begins to decompose. It rots away and given enough time, it turns to dust. How are you gonna raise that up?" And then if they were, you know, more cruel, they'd say, "What of your Christians that we've burned at the stake, whose bodies have become ash and floated away in the wind? What of those that we fed to our beasts? There is no body left to raise. So how is your God going to do that?" And Paul says, "Don't be so foolish." Jesus isn't going to come back just to resuscitate our corpses into some kind of zombie apocalypse. That's not what we're talking about. He's coming back to recreate, new creation. He's not just going to resuscitate us, he's going to resurrect us and those are very different things. And so to help us wrap our minds around this, Paul gives us an illustration, and this is what he says in verse 35, he says, "Some are going to ask, how are the dead raised? With what kind of bodies do they come?" And his answer, "You foolish person, what you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or some other grain." A few years ago, I was visiting San Francisco, and while I was there, I got the opportunity to spend an afternoon in the Muir Woods, one of the famous redwood forests in the area. And if you've ever been there, it's just, it's a very surreal experience. Like as soon as you get out of your car, the first thing you notice is the air just has... just the smell of it smells like life, and it's just hard to explain there's this sweetness in the air. But then as you begin to walk into the woods, you're just awestruck by how massively impressive these trees are. And you go there, and I remember, I took so many pictures that day, and just none of them could do justice to what I saw with my eyes. And while I was there, I learned that the largest redwoods today, are as tall as a 37 story building, and that in the past they've been known to get as tall as 400 feet. But just to put that into perspective, if you look at the pinnacle of the dome, we're talking about something four times higher than that. And not only that, these trees are extremely old. Like some of these trees are up to 2500 years old, meaning that they started their life and they started growing before Jesus was even born. And they're still alive growing to this day. It's just, a very surreal experience. And as I was walking through these woods, if you've been there, you probably saw this, but you come to this place called the Cathedral Grove. And there's a sign that says, "Everyone who enters, remain silent as you walk through this section of the forest." And there's kind of this semi-circle of trees that reach up, and they kind of resemble like a Gothic cathedral. And I said, "Well, if God planted a cathedral here, this is as good a place as any to just kind of like camp out for a while and spend some time." I spent some time praying. And so that's what I did. And after a while, I'm looking down, and I realized just everywhere I look, the ground is just absolutely covered with thousands and thousands of these. I don't often use visual aids, but when I do, they're too small for you to even see what they are, so. But what this is, it's a pine cone. It's like barely larger than a penny, and it had fallen from one of these trees. Inside this tiny little pine cone, are 50 to 60 redwood seeds. Like theoretically I'm holding a redwood forest right here in the tips of my fingers. And you put a seed in the ground and then it comes back up. But it doesn't come back up as it was. And yet it's still itself. It's still the seed, but it's undergone this glorious transformation, and it's still what it was. It's still itself, but it's now so much more of itself. And Paul's trying to help us. I think in some sense, this is what we're talking about with the resurrection. When Jesus returns, he's not merely going to bring our dead bodies back to life. He's not merely going to put an end to trials and temptations, to the sufferings and the weaknesses that we experience in this life. He's not even merely going to fix things up and make them the way they were before the fall. What scripture shows us is actually far bigger and better than that. The hope of scripture is that he's actually going to redeem and recreate creation in such a way, that what is found, is now more valuable for having once been lost. That what is restored, is now more precious and beautiful for having once been broken, better than it was before. You think about the Bible, Genesis to Revelation. The book of Genesis opens with the creation account, and we see two people in paradise with God. But when you get to the end of the book of revelation, it's not just a return to Eden. It's not just two people in paradise with God. Now Eden is surrounded by this radiant, glorious city, filled with a multitude of people greater than anyone can count from every tribe, tongue, and nation, from all the corners of the earth, brought together, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, worshiping God. It says that heaven and earth have become one, and we're told that God is going to dwell with his people forever. As Christians, we have a hope in life after death, but we need to understand that even more significantly, we have a hope in a resurrected life after life after death. And as Paul goes on, he goes into more detail to give us a glimpse of just how immaculately immortal these resurrected bodies will be. Immaculate in the sense that they're pure, they're clean, they're holy. They are completely without sin. And immortal in the sense that they're eternal, imperishable, powerful, glorious. This is what he says in verse 42, "So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable. What is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor. It is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness. It's raised in power. It is sown a natural body. It is raised a spiritual body. And if there is a natural body, there's also a spiritual body." Thus it is written. The first man, Adam, became a living being, the last Adam, referring to Jesus Christ became a life giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust. The second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. When you read the gospel accounts of Jesus' resurrection, there's like all this weird like trippy stuff that happens to him, right, in his resurrected body. Like sometimes people see him, and they recognize him right away. Other times he'll spend a few hours with someone, and it's as if his identity is being concealed. There's times where it seems like he's teleporting from place to place. He walks through locked doors, through walls, and then as soon as everyone starts freaking out and saying, "Oh, it's a ghost." He says, "Hold on, I'm not a ghost. Come here." Said, "Put your finger in my hand. Put your hand in my wounded side. I'm real. I'm here. I have a body. But it's one full of surprises." And this section, it can be a little bit confusing, because if Paul is trying to argue for a bodily physical resurrection, then why all of a sudden is he talking about us being raised in spiritual bodies? It almost seems like he's contradicting himself. Well, he's not. What he's doing is he's expanding on this idea that he hinted that with the seed and the plant, and he's trying to reveal some of the specific ways in which these bodies are going to be transformed, in which they're going to be different. And so the first thing we need to understand is what he means by natural and spiritual. He's not saying that right now we have a body, but then we're going to be spending eternity as disembodied spirits. There's still a body. The focus is on what kind of body, and the distinction is between the natural and the spiritual. And so right now we have what he calls natural bodies. We have bodies that are born with a sinful nature, inherited from the fall. And because of this, our bodies are perishable, they are weak, they are corrupted, and Paul says, "They bear the image of Adam, the man of dust." Now, when Christ returns, it's not that we're not going to have a body, or use for a body any longer. It's that we're going to have what he calls a spiritual body, and the emphasis is on this. It's that it's going to be a body that is so perfectly filled, and energized with the Holy Spirit of God, that we will be bearing the image of Jesus, the man of heaven. Just try to imagine what this means. Like for those in Christ, in eternity, you will be so filled with the Holy Spirit, so filled with the love and the presence and the joy and the power of God, that not only will you never sin again, but your immediate constant internal inclination in every circumstance will be to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. And the same is going to be true for everyone else there. Shame replaced with glory, weakness, replaced with power, sickness and death, replaced with eternal vitality in life, sin and temptation replaced with holiness and with a deep unshakable abiding satisfaction in Jesus Christ. This is amazing. I'd encourage you, just seriously, just carve some time out this week, and just think about that. Try to wrap your mind around that. As you do though, realize that that's not where Paul ends. He doesn't stop there. In fact, the big idea is not just that this is how things are going to be some time in the future, and so we might as well just kill some time now until we get there. The goal, the big idea, is that when Jesus saves us right now, that same Holy Spirit begins to dwell in us right now, and we are empowered and gifted in that spirit right now, so that we can begin living in alignment with that glorious future right now. Now, do we do that perfectly? No, obviously, of course not. We still have that sinful nature alive in us, and it is at war against the spirit within us. But what this means is we get up every day and we fight. We repent. We rely on God's grace, and we strive. We strive to put sin to death in our body. We strive to walk in the Holy Spirit. We strive to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, fixed on this hope, knowing that everything we do right now is presently and eternally significant. And that brings us to point three. At the beginning of chapter 15, near the beginning, Paul says this, in verse 10, says, "By the grace of God, I am what I am. And his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." And then at end of the chapter, after laying out this rich theology of the resurrection, he concludes with this in verse 58, "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor, your labor is not in vain." Life in Christ is an inverted Ecclesiastes, where nothing is vanity, everything is meaningful. And compare this to what pastor Jan preached on a few weeks ago, when we looked at 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, because in chapter 13 Paul said this, said, "Listen, if I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I'm a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. 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. And if I give away all I have, and I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Apart from Christ, everything is nothing." In Christ, nothing is meaningless, nothing is vanity, everything will be accounted for. And there's this... And he's trying to help us see. Everything that we do in the flesh. Everything done without faith. Everything that is not done in the spirit, motivated by God's love is vanity, and yet everything we do in faith, hope, love, by the spirit of God, is eternal. None of our work, none of our labor, none of our suffering will be in vain. Why? Because Christ's work toward us was not in vain, and he is actually the one working in us right now, empowering us. Every good thing in us is him alive, his life in us. So your pursuit of holiness, every time you wake up and open your Bible, every time you call out to God in prayer, every time you say yes to the Holy Spirit and no to temptation, every time you lay down your life, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus, it will not go unnoticed. It will never be in vain. Your brotherly love for one another, every time you sacrificially give, every time you selflessly serve to build others up in the church, it will not go unnoticed. It will never be in vain. You're faithful perseverance, as you joyfully and patiently endure the trials and sufferings of this life, as you are insulted and slandered and mocked for your faith, and as you choose to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, it will not go unnoticed, it will never be in vain. Your bold, faithful, witness, every time you testify to what Jesus Christ has done in your life before others, every time you share the gospel, even if it seems as if it's falling on deaf ears, it will not go unnoticed. It will never be in vain. Paul says, "Even if you lay down your life, give up your body to be burned." Listen, countless Christians in the first century, including Paul, and all the apostles, except for the apostle John, died as martyrs for their faith, because they refused to deny that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, and their deaths were not in vain. They did not go unnoticed. They did not die meaningless deaths. Jesus said, "If you lose yourself, if you die to yourself, and if you pick up your cross, and follow me, that's when I actually, for the first time in your life, you're going to see what it means to truly live, and I promise you that in the next life you will be eternally rewarded, because I have come to give life. I've come to give abundant life, eternal life, and it's a life that begins right now. In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 5:17, Paul said this, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he will become a new creation." No, that's not what he said. He said, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold the new has come. It starts right now." Ah, this is the last sermon in our Prodigal Church series. We've been going through the book of 1 Corinthians all summer long. And we called this series Prodigal Church, because like the infamous prodigal son, this was a church that had a lot of problems, and we've seen that every week. There's a new issue that the church is needing to deal with. That this church was young, it was arrogant, it was immature, they were short sighted and foolish. They were presuming on God's kindness and his patience and his grace. And this was a church full of sexual immorality, it was a church full of division and pride. And Paul says, "All of that is just because at the base of it there's this overall lack of love for God and for one another." And like the prodigal son, it seems as if this church was squandering it's inheritance in Christ, and yet also like the prodigal son, this is a church that was loved by the Father and unlike the prodigal son, this was a church with an older brother who hadn't given up on them yet, who had begun a good work in them, and was going to carry it out to completion. And so Paul comes to them and it says, if he's coming to the prodigal son in the far off country, when he's there hitting rock bottom, he says, "Listen, wake up from you're drunken stupor." Like it's time to get up. It's time to walk back home to the father. It's time to stop following Jesus half-heartedly and get all in. Every single moment of this life is significant, and every single moment will be accounted for when Jesus Christ returns. So wake up. Remember who you are. You were not saved for sin, you were saved from sin. You are saints. You are the church, the bride of Jesus Christ. You have been purchased, redeemed by his blood. You are the children of the living God. You're treasured, loved, filled, and powered by the Holy spirit and you are destined for unfathomable glory. So you need to live a life worthy of that good news right now. Some of us, some of you, your lives are like leaves, spinning, flying, being tossed about in the wind, ungrounded, unstable, unpredictable, because you're not sure of who you are, haven't placed your identity firmly in Jesus Christ. And for some of you, this is because you've been running away from God your whole life. For some of you it's because you've been living in the world, and just trying to kind of dabble and Christianity. You're afraid to go all in because you know what it's gonna cost you to do so. And some of you have been trying to live the Christian life while continuing to dabble in the world, and you've been quenching the spirit, trying to follow Jesus in the flesh, and it's time to wake up. Jesus died for you so that through faith you could have a life in him and be filled with his spirit. 2000 years ago, God became a man that really happened. Paul saying, "Gun to my head, go ahead, I'm not going to deny it. I've seen him with my own eyes." Jesus lived a perfect life. He died for our sins. He rose in victory over Satan, sin, and death, and now he invites us to repent, to stop trying to live life in our flesh, and to trust that we can share in this victory of his, not because of something we've done to achieve it, but because of what he has done for us completely by grace, through faith in him, and his work. If you are here this morning and you have not experienced that life, you've not given your life to Christ, you've not been filled with his Holy Spirit, I pray that you would do that today. Repent and put your faith in Jesus. And I pray right now that you just join me in prayer as we conclude this message. Jesus, to you be all glory and power and dominion and authority and praise. In your death, you have given us life and in your resurrection you have given us eternal hope. God, I pray that you would give grace to your children, that we would be able to love you and trust you. That we would be steadfast, immovable, abounding in your work, walking in holiness. Patiently waiting, and eagerly hastening the day of Christ's return. What for those here who have not yet been reconciled to you, I pray that you would reveal yourself to them now, that you'd show them their need for a savior, that your kindness and patience would lead them to repentance, and that they would put their faith in Jesus Christ. They would experience your love today, and even now, be filled with your Holy Spirit. I ask this in the name of your son, our Lord, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Charismatic Seat Belt

1 Corinthians 14:1-33 • August 11, 2019 • Tyler Burns

Summary: "Let’s suppose that a kite could come to life and develop its own personality. On the one hand, it would feel the exhilaration that comes from the surges of wind that direct it through the sky. On the other hand, it would almost immediately take notice of something annoying. The tugging of the string at its center; a feeling of constraint; resistance. And soon the kite begins to think to itself, “If only I could detach, then I could really fly.” - (Beautiful Eulogy, "The String That Ties Us") As we know with kites, if there is no string, it cannot fly for very long. In the same way, driving without a seat belt is inherently dangerous. God has given us instructions around the way to practically use the spiritual gifts He has blessed us with. At times, these instructions can seem to hinder us, or might even seem trivial, but they are given to us to allow His Church to flourish. Transcript: This media has been made available by Mosaic Boston Church. If you'd like to check out more resources, learn about Mosaic Boston and our neighborhood churches, or donate to this ministry, please visit mosaicboston.com. Good morning church. Welcome. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Tyler. I'm the team director here at Mosaic Boston Brookline. And if this is your first time here, welcome. Pastor Jan is away and Pastor Shane was away and he got back last night. So I'm filling in. But today we will be continuing our sermon series that we've titled Prodigal Church where we will be going through the book of 1st Corinthians and today we will be in 1st Corinthians chapter 14 verses one through 33. If you're wondering, "Why are we skipping the last few verses of the chapter?" It's because Pastor Shane actually already preached on them. And if you're like, "What? I didn't know that." You should download the app or go to our website and listen to Pastor Shane's sermon on chapter 11. And while you're there, just listen to the whole series again because it's that good. But now, will you pray with me over the preaching of God's word? Heavenly Father. Lord, we come to you today and we humbly ask that you reveal your truths to us. You use your words, you use your scripture to reveal the secrets of our heart, to convict us, Lord, and to encourage us, Lord, in the gifts that you have blessed us with and the work that Jesus Christ has done on the cross, so that we can cultivate love in this church, proclaim the gospel to those who don't know, and build up your church here in Boston. We thank you and we praise you. In Jesus' name, your son, we pray. Amen. What comes to mind when you think about seatbelts? For many of us, the first thing we think of is how restricting it is, how uncomfortable it is. Sometimes we think, "Oh, I'm only driving down the block. I don't really need to put on a seatbelt if I'm just going like five minutes. It's okay." Or sometimes you might even think, "How do I click it so that I don't get the ticket and so that my car isn't blaring an alarm at me for 10 hours, and I could put it like behind me so that I'm technically following the law, but it's not actually doing anything?" But if any of you here have ever been in an accident or know anyone who's been in an accident where the seatbelt has saved you from injury or sometimes even death, the idea of a seatbelt takes on a whole new meaning. Here at Mosaic, we like to say that we are charismatic with the seatbelt. And the reason for that is what I just explained about seatbelts, in that there are certain instructions, there are certain guidelines that God has given us in terms of how to use the gifts he has blessed us with so that they can be life giving and saving. Sometimes we might think that they're restricting our ability to use the gifts, or we might say, "This is trivial. It's not that big of a deal." But to God, he knows that it's life giving and saving. And so when we read these instructions, we want to praise him and thank him for them because he knows he has our best interest in mind and the interests of others. Today we will be spending our time in three parts. The first part is what are tongues and prophecy? Throughout this whole chapter, Paul is talking about tongues and prophecy. So we're going to have to define them because there's a lot of confusion around what they mean. And then the second part we're going to be talking about is building up the church in Corinth. And then lastly we'll be talking about how to build up Mosaic here. Because it is a long text, we're going to be reading the first half now and then the second half with the second point. So if you have your bibles, will you turn with me to 1st Corinthians chapter 14. We'll be reading verses one through 12. And if you don't, you can follow along on the screen behind me. "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue, you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and a speaker or a foreigner to me. So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church." So first, because we talk about tongues and prophecy so much in this text, we're going to define them. And I'm going to start with tongues because I think that this one is the more controversial of the two. And so we can define, I'm using Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology. So if you have questions, you could look at that and read from there. But we are defining tongues today as speaking in tongues is prayer or praise spoken in syllables not understood by the speaker. This deals with human languages. So if I'm up here talking in syllables, syllables together make words, we could say words, that I have never heard before, I've never learned. And the great community of Russian speakers we have here are like, "Wow, Tyler's speaking in Russian." That's an example of the gift of tongues. I don't have that gift so that's probably not going to happen. But also, as Paul is talking about here, he says, "For when someone speaks in a tongue, he speaks not to men but to God." So there is this aspect of speaking in tongues that is between a person and God and speaking in syllables that they don't understand. And this is where it starts to get a little controversial and a little bit prodding. So in order to really understand what the gift of tongues is, what its purpose is, and why we are given it, we actually have to look back into the book of Genesis in chapter 11 at the story of the Tower of Babel. I mean, you might be thinking this is out there. Follow along. Trust me. It makes sense. In the book of Genesis at the story of the Tower of Babel, the people decide, "We're going to build this tower up into the heavens." And they say in chapter 11 verse four, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its tops in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth." And God sees this, and he responds by saying, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do now will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language so that they may not understand one another's speech." So what God sees as the real issue with them building the tower, they say that they're building a name for themselves, but God says, "And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them." You see, the people in the story, mankind was using the gift of unity in language that God had blessed them with to build a name for themselves, to say, "Yes God, thanks for this gift so that we could all talk to each other. Now we're going to build our name for ourselves so that we don't need you. We could do anything we set our minds to. We don't need God's help. We don't need to seek his guidance. We can do whatever we want." And in doing that, there were two major consequences. The first is the one that we always think of, is that God confused the language of mankind and that people no longer had this unity in language. And the second is that we actually hurt our community ... our communication and our relationship with God in this moment because we said, "God, you've given us this gift of communication. I'd rather use it to build up myself and our people rather than be built up in you." So when we look at the gift of tongues, we have to be looking at it as redeeming both aspects in the story of the Tower of Babel. When we look at the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two, we see God redeeming the effects of the Tower of Babel and that the confusion of human language. In chapter two verse 11 he says, "We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." So the people were listening to the apostles, and what they heard was them speaking in their own tongues. In this moment, God unified their languages. But also it was for the purpose of declaring the mighty works of God. Back in our definition, it's prayer or praise to God. The focus of it is on God. The focus isn't on the human relationships. The focus is still on God. And then for the aspect of redeeming this consequence of hurting our communication with God, we look here at this text in chapter 14, and this is what Paul is talking about. That's why he says, "The one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God." Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology puts it this way. He says, "The fact that speaking in tongues occurred in known human languages once in scripture does not require that it always happened with known languages, especially when another description of speaking in tongues indicates exactly the opposite." He's talking about 1st Corinthians 14 here. Paul does not say that the foreign visitor to Corinth will understand the speaker, which is what we would expect from Pentecost, but he says that when someone speaks in tongues, no one will understand and the outsider will not know what the person is saying. In fact, Paul explicitly says that quite the opposite of the phenomenon at Pentecostal will happen in the ordinary conduct of the church. He's talking specifically about verse 23 in our text, which we haven't gotten to yet, but I'll read it for you. Paul says, "If therefore the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues and outsiders or unbelievers enters, will they not say that you are out of your minds?" In the day of Pentecost, outsiders, unbelievers came in, and they heard, yes, some said that you're out of your minds, but others heard and believed. Here, Paul says, no one will understand. So we have to understand that the description in the book of Acts chapter two and the description we see here and in other places in the book of Acts. They're not in contradiction. They're not in conflict in any way. They are God giving us this gift to work harmoniously to redeem the effects at the Tower of Babel. As Pastor Jan talked about last week in chapter 13, he said that the gifts, specifically tongues and prophecy are a glimpse. They're like looking into a dim mirror as to what will happen when Jesus Christ comes and he redeems us completely, when there's the new heaven, the new earth, or when we're in heaven. You see, the gift of speaking in tongues is a glimpse into the unity we will have in communicating with each other, even people of different languages, different nationalities that we will have in heaven, and also it's a glimpse into the unity we will have in communication with God, uninhibited by the effects of sin and uninhibited by the fall. This is something that can be challenging or prodding. Maybe you've never heard this before and you're like, "Whoa, this is a little strange." What I want to encourage you with is this is not the gospel. This is not what saves us. Jesus Christ is the only one that saves us. But this is the truth in scripture. And so if you aren't sure about this, if you're not sure, that's okay. What I would ask is that you'd spend time in prayer asking God to reveal his truth, so you're asking him to work on your heart and reveal what he has said in scripture. In addition, in verse four when Paul says, "The one who speaks in tongues builds up himself," this isn't a knock against the gift of tongues. This is actually Paul understanding that, what he's talking about it, the gift of tongues is primarily used for an individual to build up and strengthen their relationship with God because they're speaking to God. Whereas the gift of prophecy is able to welcome in others and to build up the whole church. So with that, keep that in mind. This is what we're talking about when we're talking about tongues. Now we're going to move onto the definition of prophecy. Prophecy we can define as telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind, primarily, as it says in verse three, for the purpose of upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. But how do we know it's the spontaneous brought to mind thing? What does that mean? This is from verse 24 and 25 where Paul says, "But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he's convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you." If an outsider comes in, how can you know the secrets of their heart? Who is the one that knows the secrets of their heart? That's God. And so it takes this divine revelation, this divine inspiration in the moment for you to know what God is using you to say to this person, to speak into their heart, to challenge them, to convict them, and to show them the love that God has for them. Here's a quick example for you. I think a lot of times when we think about prophecy, we have this high lofty idea, which is this amazing gift. But I think we think of like movies where it's like, "Oh, you must fulfill the prophecy." It's like, "No, that's not what we're talking about." And so I'm going to give you a mundane everyday example of prophecy that you might be able to relate to a little bit more. One Sunday I was talking with a friend of mine. And this friend would openly say he believed in God but would never say he believed in Jesus. And the reason for that was there was past hurt in his life by people that came to him, not wanting to know him, not wanting anything to do with him, but just demanding that he believed certain things about Jesus. And because of this he became embittered, and he didn't want to talk about Jesus. He didn't want to know about Jesus. As we were talking, the spirit placed on my mind the story of the Good Samaritan. So in that moment I was able to realize that this man was hurting because he felt that no one in Boston cared for him, no one really cared for him. And the people that claim to be Christians, they didn't care for him. They just were walking by proclaiming Jesus to him and not caring for him. So in that moment, the spirit prompted me to talk to him and to reveal to him how, yes, there were people in his past that walked by him, even claiming to be Christian that weren't caring for him. But there were brothers and sisters here at Mosaic, there are people here that were caring for his physical needs, helping him in his times of need, and also praying for him every week, caring for him, answering his questions. And when he recognized this, his whole demeanor changed. He went from a position of arguing with me and yelling at me all of the horrible things Christians have done throughout history and has instead started asking me about who Jesus is, his characteristics. And so I'm just answering his questions. His words were just like firing them off. I'm going down the line and out of nowhere he says, "Oh, so that's what you mean by the Trinity?" I was shocked because I had never mentioned the word Trinity. I did not use that at all. We were just talking about Jesus. And he had that connection. So I was like, "Yeah." And he was just like, "Oh, that makes sense." I was like, "Wait a second. This is crazy. Like what's just happened? So you're telling me you believe that Jesus is equal to God. He's the son of God, fully God?" He's like, "Yeah, it has to be." And I was like, "Whoa, so you're telling me you believe because Jesus is God, he was the only one who was able to die on the cross, to pay the penalty for anything you've ever done wrong and give you this perfect relationship with God?" And again, he said, and I quote, "It has to be." You see, this is exactly what Paul is telling us prophesy will lead to. In verse 25 as I read, it says, "So falling on his face, you will worship God and declare that God is really among you." In that moment he said, "Yeah, Jesus is God. The God that we are worshiping here at Mosaic is the true God." I say this because this had literally nothing to do with me. This was something the spirit brought to mind, and as we were talking the spirit changed something in his heart that I didn't even talk about. And this is what prophecy does. Prophecy isn't always exactly quoting scripture in the way that the story illustrates. Sometimes it is something more particular or practical to the individual you are talking to. If you want to know more about, that after service, come talk to me about the time the Holy spirit made me talk about baseball. It's a weird one. But anyway. But what is true and what is certain is that the gift of prophecy will never contradict scripture. The gift of prophecy is not over the authority of scripture. It is working in unity with scripture for the sake of revealing God's truth about the gospel to someone in a practical way that they can understand and convicts them. As Paul says in verse three, in verse five, in verse 12, three times in the first half of this chapter, he says, "Build up the church." You don't use the gift of prophecy. You don't use the gift of tongues for yourself. In church, we are to use it for building up his church, strengthening God's church, bringing people and welcoming them in. Now we're going to be looking at specifically what Paul was challenging the church in Corinth to wrestle with and how that applies to us. So now we are going to be reading verses 13 through 33. Paul says, "Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of outsiders say 'Amen' to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others than 10,000 words in a tongue. Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. In the law it is written, 'By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.' Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church come together and all speak in tongues, and an outsider unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he's convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. What then brothers? when you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there's no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and be encouraged, and the spirits of the prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace." All right, so a lot of text again. The problem that the church in Corinth was having was that they were lifting the gift of tongues above every other gift. They were saying that, "If you have the gift of tongues, you are held to this position of honor. And if you don't, well, you're not as important." And this led to a lot of issues. The first issue was that there was division in the church. You weren't all equal. Those few who had tongues were higher and the people that didn't were lower. But the second was that as someone was speaking, another person over here would stand up, start speaking in tongues with no one to interpret. So half would be like, "What in the world's going on?" And then another person over here would come and start speaking and speaking in tongues and everyone would be like, "What in the world is going on? They're saying different things. What's happening?" And this led to confusion in the church. And when outsiders or unbelievers came in, they said, "You all are crazy. You're insane, and you're out of your minds. We want nothing to do with this." So the instructions Paul was giving here are for the sake of creating an environment where outsiders or unbelievers can come to church and hear the gospel proclaimed uninhibited, undistracted. I know this whole chapter and this whole book is about the local church. And the reason for that is that the way in which God has designed us to use the spiritual gifts he has blessed us with is in the local church. This is why Paul says that the gift of prophecy is greater than the gift of tongues. He's not saying, "Oh, you have the priorities wrong. Flip them." What he's saying is that the prophecy, the gift of prophecy has the ability to build up the church, whereas the gift of tongues does not on its own unless someone interprets. So use the spiritual gifts that God has given you, whatever gift it is, for the sake of building up the church in your local church at Mosaic. If you're not using your gifts here at Mosaic, I challenge you and I encourage you. Use them here. God has a place for you to use your gifts here. We need to be blessed by them, but also you need to be blessed by the people that God has given other gifts to, to challenge you, to encourage you, and to strengthen you in your faith. So hold onto that and remember that for the last point. But back to this, this section. In verse 13 Paul starts the section by saying, "Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret." This further supports our definition that he has to pray to interpret because he doesn't know what he's speaking. So speaking in syllables, he doesn't know. But the important thing to know here is that interpretation of tongues it's not like interpreting modern art, so not like you could put a picture up on the wall and one person comes and says, "Oh, when I look at that, I see two people looking into the sunset and walking together, holding hands." And then another person comes, "Oh, when I look at that what I see is, I just feel warmth and happiness." And another person comes up and says, "Literally, that is circles and triangles with red and blue plaint spattered on it. I don't know what you're talking about." That's not what we're talking about when we're talking about the interpretation of tongues. Interpretation of tongues is like interpreting the language. Here's a little thought experiment for you. What comes to mind when I say this sentence: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. It's one sentence. It's biblical. It's a good, good thing to say. But when I read that, some of you might be focusing on, "Oh, God so loved the world, the love he has for us and his creation is vast and great." Another person hearing that might be saying, "Oh, Jesus Christ is the only Messiah. He is the only way to have and no one else." Another person might be thinking, "Oh, I need to put aside my doubts and believe, commit to Jesus." All of those are accurate interpretations of the verse, but they were different emphasis for the individual. And this is where interpretation of tongues needs to be careful because there is one meaning, there's one language, it is one thing that's being said, but there might be different emphasis to the individual. So this is why they encourage only one or two or three to speak in tongues and for there to always be interpreters around so that they could use each other to interpret what was said and keep each other in account. Just with prophecy. Same with tongues will never contradict scripture, it is not over scripture. It is under the authority of God's word. He follows this up by then saying, "Worship with your spirit, pray with your spirit, but also do it with your mind." And he's saying this because he understands you might be using your gift of tongues or just naturally be praising with only your spirit and not your mind. What he means by this is he says that when we pray and when we sing together in church, we are to do it so that the people next to us can say amen to what is being said. The word amen means this is true, this is verified, I wholeheartedly agree. And so if you're speaking in a tongue that no one else can understand, people next to you are going to think you're crazy. But also to them, it doesn't matter if you're actually worshiping God or not. To them, they don't know what you're saying, but yes, it's good, you should be worshiping God when you do. But to them, they, as far as they know, you could be worshiping Satan in church. They have no idea. So this is why Paul says, "Worship with your spirit and with your mind so that the people around you can say amen. What you are saying, what you are worshiping, what are you are praying is true, it is right." The easiest example I can give of this is worshiping through song. If you have the gift of tongues in your singing, the song in tongues, great, worship with your spirit, but also sing the actual lyrics to the song so that the people next to you can hear what you are saying. See that you are worshiping with your spirit and validate that what you're saying is true, is glorifying to God and say "Amen" and be encouraged and built up by your worship. Using the gift of tongues in the church can be difficult. This is why Paul explicitly says, "If there's no one to interpret, don't do it." This is also why he then says in verse 19, "Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than 10,000 words in a tongue." Every single spiritual gift can be used to build up the church if we are willing to put on the seatbelt, put on the way God has instructed us to use it. This helps. Think about it. Like the spiritual gift is a car that God has blessed you with. He's given it to you. So you can use it for his ministry. But if you're not willing to put on the seatbelt, if you're not willing to follow the instructions God has given you, Paul is saying it's better for you to walk than even step foot in the car. He's saying it's for me to speak five words with my mind, with the natural gifts God has given me, than to be using the spiritual gift incorrectly, not building up the church. So I challenge you again. Use your gifts for building up the church. Paul wants you to use your gifts, but for the sake of building up the church, not for building up yourself and not to be a distraction to others. Build up the church. Now we get into what some scholars argue is the most confusing text in all of scripture, and I did not understand it until I was talking to Pastor Jan and Pastor Shane and Andy about this, and they were able to help me together. We all worked together. This is verses 20 through 25. In verses 22 Paul says that the gift of tongues is for unbelievers, whereas the gift of prophecy is for believers. Tongues, unbelievers, prophecy, believers. Then in verse 23 through 25 Paul says that when an unbeliever hears tongues, they'll think we're crazy. But when an unbeliever hears prophecy, they fall down and worship God. Paul, this seems like you're saying the exact opposite of what you said before, tongues for unbelievers. But unbelievers will think we're crazy. Prophesy for believers. But unbelievers are the ones that worship God when they hear it. What are you talking about? So in order to understand what Paul is saying, we have to understand that his idea of election and his idea of believer are so intertwined that when we're talking about them, we can't fully separate them. He doesn't use them to mean the same thing, but they are intertwined and connected. So the one that I think makes the most sense is the easiest to understand is prophecy for believers. So when Paul says that an unbeliever hears prophecy, they're convicted, called to account, and the secrets of their heart are disclosed, what does this make you think of? This is the moment when someone recognizes that they are a sinner and need a savior. This is when they are convicted of the sin that is inside them. They are called to give an account for the secrets of their hearts and the sin they have committed, and they say, "Lord, I'm not worthy. I am not able to come to you." And prophecy is able to speak into their hearts in a way that changes it so that they're able to say, "God, you are the true God. You are the one who saves me. You have forgiven me for my sins." So the gift of prophecy is a way in which God chooses to use us to draw his elect from the state of unbelief into the state of belief to build up his church. So now the gift of tongues is for unbelievers. And in order to understand this, we have to read the prophecy from the book of Isaiah in verse 21 where he says, "By people of strange tongues, and by the lips of foreigners, will I speak to the people? And even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord." Gift of tongues is a sign for unbelievers, but it's not a positive one. The word that's used for the tongues, the sign is a sign for unbelievers can also mean against. And it has this idea that when an unbeliever comes and here someone's speaking in tongues, they're going to say you're crazy, they're going to say you're out of your mind. And it's proof. It's validation of their unbelief. This is why Paul is so urgently charging the church in Corinth to focus on prophecy over tongues because they're speaking in tongues, and all they're doing is revealing people's state of unbelief. Whereas the gift of prophecy has the ability to be used by God, to draw people from unbelief into belief. This is how the church is built up. We are to be used by God to draw his elect from unbelief into belief. And this is how we are called to use the gifts even today. So thinking about Mosaic and how we can build up his church here. If you've been to Mosaic before, you probably know that we don't struggle with lifting the gift of tongues above every other gift. That's not our struggle. We don't have people speaking in tongues all over and going crazy. Like that just doesn't happen here. So what is the gift? Do we have a particular gift that we struggle with lifting above every other gift? And I think we do, and I think it's because the culture has so taught us to value the gift of utterances of knowledge above everything else. We only care about what is being said if it stimulates our mind, if it's an argument that is argued in such a way that it's the most persuasive thing we have ever heard and the neurons in our brain are firing and going crazy as it's being said, that we neglect anything that involves a heart change, anything that even has any emotion in it. We say, "No, I don't want that. Emotions aren't logical." And we neglect to allow the spirit to change us from within and reveal truth to us because we have formed in our mind what we have determined to be knowledge. Have we quenched the spirit working inside of us to challenge us, to strengthen us because we said, "Nope. There's not enough physical evidence for that. That's not what I understand or how I think He work. That's not what I know." Quick example of this. I am guilty of doing this and I can say that honestly. I'm in seminary currently at Gordon-Conwell. In my first year I was taking a class called Introduction to the New Testament. And for one of my exams I had to memorize the order of events in the book of Acts. Crazy. So I was reading the book of Acts over and over and over and over again. And as I'm reading, the Spirit's prompting something inside me. You see, before this moment, I had only believed in the gift of tongues as the definition of Acts chapter two. I would say, "This text is crazy. I don't know what to do with that." And God's Spirit was speaking to me saying, "Hey, what do you think about this? What do you think about this verse? What do you think about what I'm saying here?" And I said to God, "God, you know I have an exam tomorrow. You know I need to study this so that I can do well on my exam. And by the way, God, you know that I'm studying and taking these classes so that I can serve you God. Like I need to do well on this exam so I can serve you here at Mosaic." And in that moment I quenched the spirit because I had determined that what I believed to be knowledge, memorizing the events of scripture was more important than what the Spirit was trying to change in my heart. That was sinful. That was wrong. Praise God. I am thankful that he has then worked on my heart after then, and he had grace for me. I had to come back and fall at his feet and say, "Lord, I am so sorry." And he was able to convict me again. But have we so valued knowledge that we have diminished the works of the Spirit in other ways? I want to be clear. The gift of knowledge is good. It is important. It is hugely important in the church and is vital in building up God's church. However, it is not more important than the other gifts. Furthermore, we talked a little bit about the problems with worshiping with just our spirit, but I think the problem that most of us here struggle with is worshiping with just our mind and not our spirit. Thinking about when the songs are playing, we are saying the words, we're affirming the theology and the lyrics, but we're not worshiping with our spirit. We sing songs like praise God from whom. Like, no, we're not joyful. We're not praising God when we're singing. As Paul says, the issue with worshiping with just your spirit and just your mind is that the people around you will not say amen and will not be praising God because of that. To prove this point, I have had multiple teens in Mosaic teens that when I ask them, "Oh, do you believe in Jesus?" They're like, "Yeah, I think so." I'm like, "What do you mean? What's holding you back?" And they say, "When I go upstairs, I see so many people worshiping ingenuinely." Now that's not good theology for them. I correct them by saying, "Yes, we're all sinners. We are all working towards worshiping God rightly. That shouldn't be a reason to not believe in God. It's not a good reason," but it proves the point that Paul was making here, that when people see us worshiping with just our mind or just our spirit, they're going to say, "Ah, I don't know if I could say amen to that. I don't know if I could say this is true." And this one I think is the best thing to be working on because when you are worshiping with both your spirit and your mind, you are so much greater deepening your relationship with the Lord. You are worshiping him wholeheartedly. You are able to understand the love he has for you and praise him in the best way possible. Like this is good for you too. But then also, the people around you can see and say, "Wow, God is here. The spirit of God is moving in this place. I could say, amen. God is really here." I say this being fully guilty of not doing this perfect. As I was sitting over there this morning, I had to remind myself that I'm preaching on this because I was trying to go through the sermon that I was about to say in my head and I was like, "Yeah, I was saying, ha, ha, but I'm really thinking about the sermon." I was like, "No, no. I am preaching on how exactly wrong that is. I need to not worry about that and praise God in this moment." Lastly, I want to say this. I think our view of church is far too narrow. We view church as the hour and a half we meet here on Sunday and that's it. We show up just in time to miss the meet-and-greet so we don't have to say hi to anybody, or we show up just in time for the sermon to start. So we miss all of the worship through song. And then the second I say amen and I walk off the stage, half the people are out the door and then the rest wait until the last song is done and then are immediately out the door. And then you hear me saying, "Use your gifts. God has a place for your gifts here at Mosaic. Use them here. We want you." And you say, "Ah, there's not really a place for me to use them here. Like the band is up there doing their thing. Pastor Jan, Pastor Shane, me, Andy, like you're up here talking. Like there's not really anything else for people to do." First of all, there are so many different ways to serve here at Mosaic, and each one of the spiritual gifts that God has blessed us with needs to be used in them. I wrote down the list from chapter 12 so I didn't have to turn there, but utterances of wisdom, utterances of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing between tongue ... distinguishing between spirits speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues. We need all of them. We want to be one whole unified body and you can use in there. But even before that, even before you commit to a service team, which you should, but what about the time before service starts and after service ends? Are you in a relational community with people here that you can use your gifts then? Do you have the gift of prophecy? Are you speaking with people before and after service saying, "Hey, I know you're struggling with this. God has encouraged ... wants me to encourage you, to console you, to build you up with this." If you have the gift of tongues, go find someone with interpretation. Pray together, praise God together, and get to know the knowledge, the revelation, or whatever is being ... God is using you in that time. If you have the gift of wisdom, of knowledge, are you helping people in between? If you have the gift of distinguishing between spirits, someone's struggling with something. I don't know if this is God leading me or Satan trying to deceive me. Are you helping people? There are so many opportunities for everyone here to be using your gifts. There's really no excuse. And remembering that God has designed us to use our gifts in the local church. Yes, we should be using them elsewhere. But if we really want to build God's church, his kingdom here on earth, we are to be using his gifts in the local church here at Mosaic. Are you willing to let him use you here? Are you willing to let him use you now? Let's pray. Heavenly father. Lord, we come to you humbled, recognizing that we are not worthy and we praise you that you have blessed us with gifts anyway. Lord, we thank you that you have saved us and blessed us with opportunities to be used by you. Give us that wisdom. Give us that understanding to use your gifts here in your local church. Help us to use them rightly in the way you have guided us for the sake of building up your church. We want to see people come to know you and to love you more. Use us. Give us a heart to be used by you. In Jesus' name, your son, we pray. Amen.

Pixelated Love

1 Corinthians 13 • August 4, 2019 • Jan Vezikov

Summary: Why does it seem so easy to love "humanity in general" and so hard to love "people in particular" (especially roommates)? How does loving particular people convince us that God truly loves us? Transcript: This media has been made available by Mosaic Boston Church. If you'd like to check out more resources, learn about Mosaic Boston and our neighborhood churches, or donate to this ministry, please visit Mosaicboston.com. Hello, welcome to Mosaic Church. My name is Jan, one of the pastors here at Mosaic. If you're new or if you're visiting, welcome to Mosaic, we're so glad you're here. We'd love to connect with you either in person afterwards, or through the connection card in the worship guide. If you fill it out legibly, you can either toss it into the offering basket afterwards, or redeem it at the Welcome Center for a gift that we have lovingly prepared for you. With that said, would you please pray with me over the preaching of God's holy word? Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are God of love. You didn't just give us words of love, you gave us the greatest act of love in the history of the universe. You gave your son, Jesus. You came, and you walked the way of love. You didn't just show us the way of love, you walked it. You embodied it. You epitomized it. You made the way of the cross the way of life. We come to you Lord, and we confess now. On communion Sunday we confess that we have not loved as we ought, that all too often we are not patient, and we are not kind. All too often we do envy, and we do boast. All too often we are arrogant and rude. We insist on our own way because that is the way of the city. This is how you get ahead. All too often we are irritable and resentful. We rejoice when our competitors stumble, instead of rejoicing with the truth. All too often we do not bear all things as we ought. We do not believe all things as we ought. We do not hope all things as we ought, and we do not endure all things as we ought. Lord, we repent. We confess, but we also repent. We ask for grace. I pray that your grace today melts our hearts, that it removes the layers of hardness and callousness around our hearts. Holy spirit come, move in this place, move in our hearts. Show us where we are not walking in the way of love as we ought, and teach us not to zigzag on the way, but go straight on the straight and narrow following Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior in whose name we pray. Amen. The title of the sermon today is Pixilated Love. By pixilated love, I do not mean virtual love. I don't mean theoretical, hypothetical love. What we mean is loving real people with real love, granular love. Now today, we are looking at 1 Corinthians 13, meditating on this text. For at least two reasons you may have already checked out. You may already say, "This is not for me. This is not what I need to hear," primarily because 1 Corinthians 13 is the wedding passage, and this isn't a wedding. There's no bridesmaids, there's no flowers, why are we reading 1 Corinthians 13? Well, because 1 Corinthians 13 was written to a church. Yes, it does apply to a married couple, but it also applies to every single one of us. We are to love like this. That's number one. Number two, love is not the way that you get by in this city. We live in a city that celebrates the intellect, celebrates IQ, celebrates academic accomplishments. We live in a cerebral culture dominated by thoughts of big people, important thoughts from important people on important subjects. Rene Descartes said, "Cogito ergo sum," I think, therefore I am, meaning the essence of humanity, what it means to be human is to think. That's part of what it means to be human, but we are more than just brains. Most of our decisions that we make are actually driven by desire of the heart. He did not say, "I love, therefore I am. I am love, therefore I am." This is a text that if you understand this, if you don't just understand it with your mind, but if you understand it with your heart, it will transform every single aspect of your life. This text, right here, is the most profound, the most eloquent treatise on love in both scripture and all of human literature. Agape love. Before I get into the preaching part of it, I will say this. I'm not coming to you as some kind of specialist in love. Actually, I think it's very ironic, ironical, which is the ironic way of saying ironic. It's ironical that I am the guy talking about love. It does not come to me naturally, but by God's grace I'm growing in it. It's easy to preach. I can give you a theology of love. I love theology. I can give you the acts of Jesus and we can do all kinds of hermeneutics. I can tell you what it says in the Greek. Now, when you put me in the car with my whole family, I've got four daughters, so that's six people in the car, with my brother this week driving to Rhode Island to my dad's 60th birthday. A trip that's supposed to take an hour and 20 minutes, instead it took three hours and 20 minutes, because my youngest daughter puked three times. My brother is sitting next to her and he said, "I just saw full berries come out." Try being patient and kind in that situation. Jesus take the wheel. We all struggle with this. This is how scripture ... Scripture says, "This is the standard. This is what God has for us. Be perfect as I am perfect. Be loving as I am loving." Oh you can't. This is us. Someone can help. Someone can bridge that chasm. Someone can show us the way of love. Loving God is easy. God is beautiful. God is perfect. God is consistent. God is generous. God is loving even to those who are unlovely. His love makes us loving. It makes us lovely. Loving God is easy. Loving people, not so much. In the newsletter I sent out this text that really articulated this perfectly. It's the fact that we love the idea of being loving. We love the idea of loving humanity. This is from Dostoevsky's, The Brothers Karamazov in Chapter four. There's an elder, and he's counseling this lady that comes to him. She's like, "I'm struggling with my faith." He says, "Try loving people completely indefatigably. She's like, "Oh, I love everybody. I'm even willing to leave my daughter to go become a nurse." Meaning, I want to love other people, not her. He gives her a story. He quotes a doctor that he had a conversation with. This is what the doctor said. The doctor said, "I love humanity, but I wonder at myself. The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular. In my dreams," he said, "I have often come to making enthusiastic schemes for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually have faced crucifixion if it had been suddenly necessary, and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together, as I know by experience." Can you relate? "As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs my self-complacency and restricts my freedom. In 24 hours I begin to hate the best of men. One, because he’s too long over his dinner, another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. It has always happened that the more I detest men individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity." Working with this definition of love, Biblical love, or Christian love is self-sacrificing, caring commitment that shows itself in seeking the highest good of the beloved. There's sacrifice, there's a caring commitment. It's decisive, it's an act of the will, and you seek the best. You seek the good of the one whom you're called to love. It's drastically different than love in our culture. Love in our culture is tolerance. I'm willing to tolerate you. I'm willing to live and let live. Or, it's being in love, sensory overload. That's not what love is. Let's look at 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 to see a Biblical definition of love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, "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 I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not loved, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." "As for prophecies, they will pass away. As for tongues, they will cease. As for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part, and we prophecy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love." This is the reading of God's holy and infallible word, may he write these eternal truths upon our hearts. We'll frame up our time with three points. We'll look at love empowered, love expounded, and love epitomized. Love empowered, just to wreak out the context. The context in 1 Corinthians 12, St. Paul has been saying that we as Christians are one. That's a spiritual reality. We've been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. That's a spiritual reality that needs to manifest itself physically. Therefore, we, as a local body of believers, as members one of another, are interdependent, therefore, no one can say explicitly or implicitly I don't need you, or I'm not needed here. We're designed by God for interdependence. If he brings us to a local body of believers, we are to connect. We have spiritual gifts that God has given to us at our conversion, or regeneration, gifts that grow as we use them. They're tools to build up the body. St. Paul talks about the spiritual gifts, prophetic gifts, and tongues, and knowledge, and words of incite, et cetera, and then he pauses. What he knows is the Corinthians are saying, "We're ready. Give us the details. Give us the details of how to use the gifts." He pauses and says, "No, you're not ready." He gives us the details in chapter 14. He stops in chapter 13, he gives us something more important than a treatise on gifts. He gives us a treatise on love. It's the crescendo of the whole argument here. What he's saying is, "No matter how powerful you are naturally, no matter how powerful you are supernaturally, if you are not empowered by love, it ultimately means nothing. Your accomplishments ultimately mean nothing." He used that phrase nothing twice. Verse two, "If my faith starts to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. Verse three, if I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." He says, "You can give all of your money away. You can actually give your whole life away. You can be martyred for the faith, but if you are not motivated by love ..." Yes, you can be martyred for the faith and not motivated by love. He says, "It means ultimately nothing." The question here is what's driving you? We are so driven. What's driving us? What's the force? What's the motivation? Sometimes it's a feeling of obligation, I need to do this. I have to use my gifts. I have to be generous. I have to sacrifice. Maybe it's expectations of other people. What are they going to think? Maybe it's fear of embarrassment. St. Paul says, "You can end disease. You can cure cancer. You can solve world hunger. But if you do it without love, it ultimately means nothing." Those words are as strong as they sound. That all gifts ultimately are useless without love. What motivates everything that we do Christian? What motivates our work? What motivates our social media habits? What motivates our spending? What motivates how we care for ourselves? Is it love? It would be as if Superman, the most powerful being that there is other than Jesus Christ. Jesus number one, Superman, fictional, whatever. Imagine if I'm in a burning building, and I cry out for Superman. He comes in, swoops me up, because Superman is strong enough to carry me. He's carrying me in his arms and I'm like, "Thank you Superman, that was so kind of you." He says, "Stop moving, you're ruining the photo op." Superman did a great thing. He saved me. Superman turned out to be somewhat of a not a nice guy. I'm glad he saved me. I'm going to tell everyone he's not a nice guy. It's like if you get in a fight with your wife as she's cooking you dinner. Not that that's ever happened to any married couples here. Your wife is grilling up a steak and the perfect grill marks are on the steak. Halfway through you forgot it was your anniversary, I don't know, just hypothetical. She gives you the steak. She's like, "Here, eat it. Here's your side of contempt. I'm going to douse it in disdain." I'm still going to eat it. It just doesn't taste the same. You know what I'm saying? 1 John 4:7 says, "Beloved let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." What's he saying? He's saying that unless you are a Christian regenerated by the Holy Spirit, filled with God's love, you can't love as you are commanded to love. There's a natural love, that's not what he's talking about. He's using the Greek word agape, which is a supernatural love. It's not just a physical love. It's not just a human love. It's a Godly love. He says, "This love is from God, and whoever loves like this has been born of God." Meaning, being born comes before, it proceeds loving like this. You ever wonder why scripture commands that we love? Jesus said, "This is all of the law distilled into two sentences. Love God and love your neighbor as yourself." Why does God command love? God commands things that do not come natural to us, because natural is fallen. Do not sin does not come natural to us. Be humble does not come natural to us. Love like this does not come natural to us. We need help. I'm going to table that for just a second. We'll get back to it in point number three. Here, in point two, we're going to look at an exposition of love. Love expounded, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, "Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast." That's really important what you just did there. Love is, love is, love is not. It's chiastic structure. Love is patient. Love is kind. That's what it is. Then he gives us descending steps of what love isn't. "It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not arrogant, it is not rude, it does not insist on it's own way, it is not irritable, it is not resentful, it does not rejoice in wrongdoing," Then he starts bringing it back. "It rejoices with truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." Why is he doing that? He's giving us a positive definition, and a negative definition. He's like, "This is what love is and this is what you're doing." This is what love isn't. He's defining love. We live in a world that loves to talk about love in general, a very amorphous and ambiguous idea of love. You define love however you choose. That's not how scripture talks about love. Scripture it defines love. It defines true love. I don't know if you know this, it defines love not as a feeling, it defines love as action. It actually defines love as a path. It defines love as a way. Why does it define love as a way, because Jesus Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." What's Christianity called in the book of Acts, before the term, before they were coined Christian, or little Christs? What was it called? It was called the way. It was called the people of the way. St. Paul, Saul, before he became Paul, he was persecuting people of the way. Why were they called people of the way? Because they were living this way. They were living, they were walking on the path of love, following Christ who didn't just show us the way, He is the way, meaning we can't love like this apart from Christ. Love is patient. I'll just go through every single one of these quickly. Love is patient, it's long tempered, it's long suffering in the King James, it's slow to anger. It endures personal wrongs without retaliating. Your graciously bearing with other's imperfections, faults, defects. Assumption, loving is hard. Presupposition, we're called to love sinners, and they will sin. As they sin, we are called to be patient with them, giving them room to change, giving them love to change. Love is also kind. Kindness is patience in action. It comes form the Greek word which means helpful. You look for ways and opportunities to help people with their needs. The word actually comes from ... The semantic range is very broad for the word kindness, chrestos, in the Greek. One of the definitions it's used to describe mellow wine. Meaning kindness is the ability to be gentle, to sooth hurt feelings, to calm an upset person, to help quietly in practical ways. There is a tenderness to this love, even when people don't deserve it. Especially when they don't deserve it. That's when you're most like God. Luke 6:35, "Love your enemies and do good, and lend expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful, and the evil." God was kind to us even when we were ungrateful and evil. That kindness is meant to bring us to repentance. Romans 2:4, "Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to be lead you to repentance?" Love does not envy. Envy here means an eager desire, and that can be manifested in either a positive or a negative way. Positive envy, or jealousy, is used to describe God. God is jealous for our best, therefore, he wants to protect us from sin, from idols, because he knows what's best. The negative form of envy is greed or selfishness. You become possessive. You are mine and mine alone. You're here for me. Also, love does not boast, and it is not arrogant. Bragging reveals a proud heart. Pride is the number one obstacle to love. In any relationship, if you start viewing this person, whoever the person is in your life, if you start viewing this person as something that you deserve, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children, you are here to serve me. You are here for me, instead of I am here for you. Scripture talks about people as gifts in our lives. When you start looking at a gift as something that you earned, as something you're entitled to, that's the first step to love cooling off. In a relation ... I go through this in my pre-marital counseling, and I actually have to keep reminding myself in my own marriage. My wife is a gift from the Lord, precious gift. I do not deserve her. I need to treat her as a gift. That's humility. Pride says, "I earned this." No. Love is humble, and everything is a gift including this person. 1 Corinthians 4:7, "For who sees anything different in you?" Another translation says, "For who made you to differ? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" Everything we have is a gift from the Lord Jesus Christ. He needs to humble us, and when we're humbled, love flows freely. Love is not rude. It doesn't act unbecomingly. Love has good manners. It tries to put others at ease. Love is courteous, it's polite, it's sensitive to the feelings of others. It's tactful, it's empathetic. Love does not insist on it's own way. It doesn't demand it's own rights. There's no selfishness in love. Selfishness is actually antithetical to self-sacrificing love. Love is not irritable. Selfless loves is not provoked. It's not touchy. It doesn't have a short fuse, or hair trigger temper. Love is not resentful. It doesn't keep track of wrongs. It's an accounting term for numerical calculation that we are not to tally wrongs. We're not to keep score. God, when we come to him, he takes our record of wrongs and he nails it to the cross, imputes our sins to Christ, and imputes Christ's righteousness to us. It isn't resentful, meaning that you don't remember other people's sins against you once they've repented. God doesn't. The omniscient God of the universe, he says, "As soon as we come to him, as soon as we repent, he casts our sins from himself as far as the east is from the west." God says, "I shall not remember your sins any longer." How does the omniscient God of the universe forget anything? He chooses to. It's not resentful. Love does not rejoice in wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth. Love is never glad when others go wrong. When they stumble, there's no gloating, there's no, you owe me. Obviously there's a fine balance. When you love someone, you love them truly and you want the best for them, so you don't compromise the truth. You don't take a soft view of sin. When there's sin in their lives, you come with sensitivity, and love, and tenderness, you try to help them repent of that sin and follow Christ, because sin destroys. 3 John 4, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." Then in verse seven, he gives us four repetitions of all things. It's that hyperbole to make a point. "Love bears all things, it believes all things, it hopes all things, it endures all things." He's not saying that love accepts sin. What it says, when a person does repent, that you gently restore the person. You protect the person by covering and not broadcasting the weakness. Love bears all things, it believes all things. Love always trusts. It doesn't imply gullibility. You're not suspicious of character, of motives without good reason. You give the person benefit of the doubt. You don't immediately blame or accuse. Love does not play devil's advocate. I hate that phrase. "I'm just want to play devil's advocate." Don't be devil's advocate. We give other people the benefit of the doubt. That's what love does. There's mutual trust. Obviously if trust has been broken, then it needs to be earned again, step by step. Love believes the best. It also hopes all things. It hopes for the best for the person. You're not pessimistic about the people that you love. You're optimistic because you understand that by God's grace this person can grow. We all are works in progress. The person isn't how they ought to be, but they're definitely now how they were. We're still growing. By the way, when you believe in someone like this, because you love them, I know that you're growing, I see your growth, then they rise to the standards, to the expectation. Finally, love endures all things. It's a military word meaning that we do sustain the assault of the enemy, but we hold up under trial, persevering in spite of difficulties. We don't bail out of tough situations. We don't bail as loving people out of tough relationships, because God didn't bail on us. Point number three is love epitomized. We hear this. We hear this. How many of us have ... Raise your hand if that described you. You're loving. No, no. I'm not. I'm not patient. I'm not kind. I do envy. I do boast. We struggle with this. Every single one of us, we struggle with this. This is where the gospel comes. Christianity doesn't say, "Be perfect," and then leaves us to our own resources. Christianity says, "Be perfect as your God is perfect, be loving as God is loving," empowered by God's love, energized by God's love. By the way, we need the epitome of God's love, which is Christ. 1 John 4:7-10, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God. This agape is from God, for whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love. In this, is the love of God. In this, the love of God was made manifest among us that God sent his only son into the world so that we might live through Him." So that we might live through him. Not only is he showing us the way, he's walking the way of love, and we are in him by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we might walk through him, live through him, love through him. This is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. So dense, I love that text. I love how the Apostle John, who is the apostle of love. "Beloved children, love one another," those are his final words in his final sermon. John didn't start with a rosy picture of humanity. John 5:42, Apostle John quotes Jesus Christ, "But I know that you do not have the love of God within you." He's talking to people who were religious. Jesus says, "You don't have this love. It's not natural to you." Human love, the kind that John is calling us to, is supernatural love. That's what he's talking about, it's not the norm. He's not talking about requests for natural affections. Be nice to each other, win friends and influence people. That's not what he's talking about. He's talking about something supernatural. To love your neighbor as yourself. To think about your neighbors finances as you think about your own. To think about your neighbors health as you think about your own. To think about your neighbors dreams as you think about your own. That's what separates Christians from non-Christians, God's love. St. Teresa, Mother Teresa, she said this about Satan, "Satan could not be Satan any longer if he could once love his neighbor as himself." Satan couldn't do this, because Satan existed for Satan. Satan was curved in upon himself as Augustine says. John takes this phrase that God is love. Love is from God because God is love. This is a very important phrase. It's a phrase that our culture has misunderstood. God is love. He's not saying God is only love, because God has other attributes other than love. He's not saying love is God, that love is ultimate. No, God is ultimate. What he's saying is that God continually gives of himself for the benefit of others. He continually pours himself out. This talk about God is love, perhaps you've heard this? You must have heard ... If you live in American culture, you've heard that Jesus loves you. You've heard that God is love. This is one of the reasons why our eyes kind of glaze over, and like, yeah, yeah, God is love, yeah, yeah, God loves me. How do you know that God loves you? Outside of the pages of holy scripture, how do you know that God loves you? How do you know that God is loving? There is not one religion, other than Christianity that teaches this. No other world view teaches this, that God is so loving that he gives his most precious son for us on a cross. Why are you a Christian? If you're a Christian, why are you a Christian? In your mind, I'd like you to give an answer. Why am I a Christian? Because I was baptized as a child, because I was confirmed, because I became a member of a church, because I go to church, because I serve, because I give, I've read the Bible, I'm a Christian. That's not what John says. John says, "You are a Christian, you are of God, you have been born of God if you love God." Not if you have a theology of God's love, but if you love God. If you can't say that honestly, from the recesses of your soul, if you can't say, "I am a Christian because I love God, because he first loved me," then perhaps you have not yet been converted. If your heart is cold toward God, if your heart isn't moving to God in worship, if it isn't moving to adore him, then perhaps you haven't been converted. Dear friend, you need to be converted. The way that you are converted is you cry out to God and say, "God, I need you God. I repent of my sin and my selfishness. God, let me see what Christ has done for me on the cross." What has Christ done for us on the cross? Here we need to feel the shock value of love. This is how the scripture talks about love. It's not just some sentimental sappiness. There's a shock value in God's love. In our natural state we hate God. You say, "Whoa, strong language. I don't hate God. I don't care about God. I'm apathetic to God. I'm indifferent to God." Indifference toward God is actually the worst form of hate. If you hate someone, you're actually thinking about them. There's some kind of visceral reaction against this person, against God for example. If you're indifferent, there's just a hardness. Indifference is actually the worst form of hate. We, in our natural state, utterly are utterly indifferent to God. We kicked against him. We despise him. Luke 19:14, Jesus gives a parable about a king whose citizens hated him, sent a delegation after him saying, "We do not want this man to reign over us. When we heard of him coming, ruling, being our Lord, we sneered at him. We were his enemies." Jesus, knowing that he would come, that he would love fully, completely, ultimately, he knew he was going to be crucified, yet he came. Psalm 22:14, "I'm poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint." He came, he walked the way of love, and the way of love was the way of the cross. En de via dolorosa. He agonized over us. He sweat blood for us. He was ridiculed for us. Then he carried a cross on his mangled shoulders for us, staggering through the streets of Jerusalem. He laid down on that cross willingly. He didn't fight it. He was raised on that cross. He spread his arms in the greatest gesture of love in all of human history, because he loves us. He was despised and rejected by us. he was despised and rejected by them. When you see that Christ didn't just die for someone, Christ didn't just die for Christians, he died for you. He absorbed God's wrath for your sin, for your indifference, for my indifference. That's what changes us. There's no greater reason to love than love. When you realize that God made that first step, that he love you first, that love woos us, that love compels us. God doesn't just command love, he compels our love with his love first. Why am I a Christian? Because God loved me first. Why do I love God? Because God loved me first. Why do we start there? Why do we start with talking about the vertical love, your relationship with God? Why not just talk about loving human beings? We started with that in the beginning. We're good at loving humanity in general. We love the idea of loving humanity. Then when we've got to love particular people, we realize it's so hard. We need a supernatural love infused into our hearts in order to love people horizontally. The gospel can't be reduced to some kind of benign humanism, just horizontal without the vertical. By the way, this is the largest miscalculation of millions of nominal Christians, and nominal Christians nominations that say, "Let's just be good people. Let's just be nice people. Let's not talk about sin. Let's not talk about the cross. Let's not talk about God's wrath." God showed us true love. Love is patient and it is kind in verse four. Paul here speaks about love in a way ... He doesn't speak about love as a syllogism or feelings. He speaks about love almost as if he's talking about a person. Did you notice this? He is. Love does something. Love does not do other things. One commentator says, "In a pagan society there was confusion about the title of Jesus, that Jesus was Christ. Jesus was the Christ. Christos, C-H-R=I-S-T-0=S, Christos, Jesus was the Christ. The word for kindness here is Chrestos, C-H-R-E-S-T-0-S, love is Chrestos. There is confusion here in Roman A.D. 49, the emperor Claudius expelled the Jewish Christians, because Suetonius, the historian says, "There was disturbance over Chrestos." There wasn't riding over kindness. There was riding over Christ. For them in Rome, this was so new, that these people as they are being martyred, as they're being arrested, as they're being persecuted, they're still kind. They have returned kindness for hostility. They were like this is the way of Chrestos, Christos, I don't know it's all one in the same. This is what St. Paul is doing. He is playing on those words. Yes, this is about Christ. Jesus is patient. Jesus is Chrestos. He's Christos and he is patient. He is kind. He does not envy. He does not boast. He is not arrogant. He is not rude. He does not insist on his own way. He is not irritable or resentful. He does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. God's love always takes the initiative, and our love is always a response to God's love. I say that to say this, this changes everything. If you catch a glimpse of the power of love. If you get that fire in your heart, it changes everything. It changes everything that you do. It changes everything that you do Monday through Friday. It changes the trajectory of your life. If someone can say about you, like instead of putting Jesus' name in there, if someone could say that about you with your name. I tried doing this with my own name. It's so hard, just reading out loud. Jan is patient. Jan is... I'm working on it. Honestly, this is the reality talk part of the sermon. This changes absolutely everything. Imagine world history without Christianity. Imagine world history without the way of Jesus Christ, without the love of Jesus Christ. Just imagine it. It would look incredibly different. Christians were motivated by this love to meet real needs. This is what led to human progress at the most basic level. Let me just give you a few examples. Christian love has changed the world in medicine. The first hospice was invented by whom? In 325, at the Council of Knights, the bishops were told to establish hospices near cathedrals. The first hospital was built by St. Basil of Cesarea in 369. Care for the mentally ill, that was a movement started by Christians. It was a Christian initiative, so was nursing. Florence Nightingale who formed the Red Cross said, "Jesus told us to love our enemies, meaning even during war we need to cross lines and help the wounded. Education, who started the first libraries? Christians at monasteries. Monks started monasteries. The monks started libraries, and then those libraries were the foundation to the first universities and educational institutions where they taught both genders. Universities, and then ultimately the printing press. Who started the printing press? Christians. They were like, "Let's get Bibles out." Then they're like, "Oh wow, we just invented something that actually revolutionized the world." Almost all of the first 123 colleges and universities in the U.S. were founded by Christians. Just look at Boston, Harvard University started by Puritans, BU started by Methodists, BC started by Catholics, Christians. Work and economic life. Christianity redeemed the perspective of manual labor. Jesus Christ comes and he works as a carpenter, dignifies manual labor. Laziness, sloth, idleness, it's a sin. Do not steal, that concept led to the concept of private property, property rights. Human rights, by the way, that's a Christian concept that we are created in the image of God with dignity, value and worth. Science, modern science is directly linked to the Biblical understanding of the world. God created everything. There' rules, there's laws we should study what God created and maybe we'll know God better. Art, literature, music, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Bach, Hondo, Brahms, Dante, Milton, Bunion, countless other, Sistine chapel, Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, Rembrandt's Christ at Emmaus, there's Simeon in the Temple. Western music, Handel's Messiah, Mozart's Requiem, the soaring compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach. Gothic cathedrals, Western literature, Dante, Milton, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy. So extensive is the Christian contribution to our laws, our economics, our politics, our arts, our calendar. Our calendar, 2019, from what? Our holidays, our moral and cultural priorities that the historian Jane Roberts write this, "We could none of us today be what we are if a handful of Jews nearly 2000 years ago, had not believed that they had known a great teacher, seen him crucified, dead, and buried, and then risen again." My dream, my dream is for you not to just be like, "Oh wow, Christians have done so much. Now I'm going to go to my job on Monday and think about building my LinkedIn, and building my CV, building my resume." This is my dream. My dream is that if the Lord should tarry and not come, my dream is that in 2000 years, I dream that historians look back and they say, "If it were not for Christians in Boston in 2019, giving everything that they had, all of their natural talents, and supernatural talents, if they didn't do that, we would not have cured cancer. We would not have solved global hunger. We would not be living on Mars, maybe, I don't know." If you take everything that you have, and who's the next Michelangelo? Who's the next Bach? Who's going to revolutionize medicine? Who's going to revolutionize the economy? If you are motivated by love, and powered by love, we can absolutely not just change the world, but change eternity by God's grace. 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, "Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away." What are prophecies for? They're to show us a glimpse of what's behind the scenes in the spiritual realm. They will pass away. "As for tongues, they will cease." We will no longer have to communicate with God through the spiritual gift of tongues. "As for knowledge, it will pass away." Why? "For we know in part, and we prophecy in part, but when the perfect comes to laos. When the new heavens and the new earth come, when Christ returns, everything is absolutely perfect, the partial will pass away." "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." Mirrors back then were made out of metal. You could see something and it's real what you see, but it's not perfect. It's not exact. It's a distorted reflection. What we know about God through is revelation, through mysteries, through knowledge, through prophecy, it's real, it's true, but it's incomplete, it's imperfect. One day we won't need all those gifts, because we will have God face to face. We'll see God. This is why love never ends, because we have God's perfect love, face to face with our glorious savior. What we have now is rich, and it's sweet, it's a kind gift of God, but it's temporary and it's partial, but then we'll get the full thing. What I do, we won't need this in heaven. What I'm trying to do is give you a glimpse of the glory of God, give you a glimpse of how incredible God's love is. There's no preaching in heaven. There's no pastors in heaven. Why? We have the real thing. I have no idea what I'm going to do in heaven. I have no clue. I discovered LinkedIn recently. LinkedIn, you've got to say, "This is what I do." Then there's a section where you put in your skills set. Imagine doing that if you were me. I just put in random stuff. I was like, "I'm not even on this for real. I'm not looking for a job." One of the skill sets was stand up comedy. I put in stand up comedy. I think that's what I'm going to do in heaven. It's that and rap. I think I'm going to write rap lyrics. I don't know. We're going to have God and we're going to have the perfect, perfect expression of God's love, perfect experience of God's love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 before we transition communion, "So now faith, hope, and love abide these three, but the greatest of these is love. Why? Because faith and hope are just a means to an end. When the Lord returns at the resurrection, and we stand before his throne, faith will lead to perfect sight. Hope will become a reality, and love will be all that remains. Love is supreme because love never ends. At this time, we're going to transition to celebrating holy communion. We do this in remembrance of Christ's greatest act of love. Christ gave himself, body broken for us, blood shed, to cleanse us. If you are a Christian you are welcome to participate in this part of the service. It's a reminder for us of the spiritual reality that's happened in the inside. If you are not a Christian, we ask that you just spend this time to meditate on what you've heard. Also, if there is any sin in your heart against any particular people whom you have not loved as you are called to love, spend this time doing some deep repentance. The ushers are going to hand out the elements. Please hold onto them, and then we'll partake together. Let us pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you. Though we were unlovely, you still loved us, and pursued us, and wooed us, and you compel us to fulfill the commandment to love you and others. You compel us through your love. We pray that you bless our time in meditating and repenting, and preparing to participate in holy communion. Let us now do this lightly, but let us do it reverently, and discreetly, and soberly in the fear and reverence of God. We pray this all in Christ's name. Amen.