The Gift of Knowledge

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Paul says that prophecy is a provisional gift. A 2nd temporary gift is knowledge, from gnosis, which refers to special, revelatory knowledge before the New Testament was completed. Today, the gift of knowledge is “the ability to understand and speak God’s truth, with insight into the mysteries of His Word, that cannot be known apart from God’s revelation (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3; Col. 1:26; 2:2; 4:3; cf. 13:2).” (MacArthur, 1747)

This gift was critical in laying the foundation of the church and completing the New Testament. The apostles and prophets exercised their gifts of knowledge in understanding the mysteries of the kingdom, the gospel, the church, and the end times, among many others (1 Cor. 15; Eph. 3). “Mysteries” refer to the things that were previously hidden, but now made known by the Spirit to the apostles and the prophets (1 Cor. 13:2). It includes the revelation of God’s Word in the New Testament.

Many Bible scholars throughout church history have drawn out the meaning of Scripture from the original languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic). They have produced biblical commentaries and journals, based on careful research. Theologians over the centuries have formulated the great doctrines of the Christian faith. I believe they all possessed the gift of knowledge.

The gift of knowledge is not the ability to know new revelation, for God no longer adds any new revelation to His final revelation—the Bible (Rev. 22:18-19). Rather, this gift is the ability to understand God’s complete revelation of the Scriptures.

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Love is Enduring

images15Have you heard of churches today that put so high a value on tongues, prophecy, and knowledge? The Corinthians also put so high a value on these charismatic gifts. But Paul told them to seek love, because unlike these gifts, which are temporal, love is enduring.

Oftentimes, we think that the presence of tongues, prophecies, and knowledge make a church spiritual. Yet the Corinthian church had all these charismatic gifts, but the apostle still rebuked them for their lack of spirituality. Paul rebuked them for their lack of love for each other. Thus, to Paul, what makes a church truly spiritual is not so much the charismatic gifts present in that church, as in how much agape love they serve one another. To the apostle, the sign of spirituality is not spiritual gifts, but a strong spirit of agape love.

I would rather attend a church that majors in love, than a church that majors in tongues. Because the church that loves one another is the church that produces results that are enduring. Tongues will cease. Prophecies and knowledge will pass away. But love is enduring. Thus, we should seek it above all other gifts.

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Love Never Fails

images14A certain farmer had an unusual weathervane on his barn. Inscribed on the arrow were these words: “God is love.” A passerby turned in at the gate and asked the farmer, “What do you mean by that? Do you think God’s love is changeable; that it veers about as that arrow turns in the winds?” “Oh, no,” replied the farmer, “I mean that whichever way the wind blows, God is still love.” (A Treasury of Bible Illustrations Copyright © 1995, 1998 by AMG International, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.)

“Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8, NKJV). Note the adverb, “never,” which is a very interesting word, from oudepote, “an indefinite negated point of time – ‘never, not ever, at no time.’” (Greek-English Lexicon, s. v. ουδεποτε). Prophecies will end. Tongues will cease. Knowledge will pass away. But love never, not ever, and at no time will come to an end. At no time will it be ineffective. It will produce results. It lasts forever. The verb, “fails,” is present tense. This means that love will never end continually. Love will never keep on ending.

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The Lastingness of Love 1

spaceball3spaceball4spaceball5images13The main theme of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 is that agape love should control the way we serve God and others in the Body of Christ. Under this main theme, we looked into the Emptiness of Serving Others Without Love (vv. 1-3). Using your spiritual gifts without love is nothing. We also studied the Fullness of Serving Others with Love. There are both Positive and Negative Characteristics with agape love (vv. 4-7). Now we will study the Lastingness of Serving Others With Love (vv. 8-13).  (This is the last part of a study series on Loving While Serving.)

Paul states that love is eternal. “Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8, NKJV). “Fails” (NKJV) or “ends” (ESV) is from pipto, “to fall out of, to fall from or off.” (Barnes) Jesus used the same word, when He said, “the stars of heaven will fall” (Mark 13:25, NKJV). This will happen at the end of the Tribulation Period, when the sun will be darkened. The moon will not give its light.

James also uses pipto when he wrote, “its flower falls [pipto]” (James 1:11, NKJV). He was describing those who depend on riches and material possessions. He said that they are like the flower that falls under the heat of the sun.

Remember what happened to Peter in prison? The Bible says in Acts 12:7, “And his chains fell off [pipto] his hands” (NKJV). In the sectional context of 1 Cor. 13, Paul talks about the ceasing of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge. In this context therefore, “fails” here means, “come to an end” (Concise Greek-English Dictionary, s. v. πιπτω); “to be without effect, to cease to be in existence” (Barnes).

And so agape love never fails. It never ceases. It never comes to an end. This is the lastingness of serving others with love. It is never without effect and results. Your ministry will produce eternal results. Because love lasts forever.

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Practice Love

images12A story is told about a husband and wife who were both doctors – one a doctor of theology and the other a doctor of medicine. When their doorbell was rung and the maid answered, the inquirer would often ask, “Is the doctor in?” The maid’s interesting reply was: “Do you want the one who preaches or the one who practices?”

Love is not meant to be preached only, but to be practiced. When you meet somebody who is irritating, that is a good time to overrule your temper. When somebody offends you, it is a good chance to forgive and forget. Ask God to delete the record of wrongs that you keep in your mind. When you see wrong, don’t be happy about it, but be happy about what is right according to the Word of God.

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Love Does Not Rejoice in Wrongdoing 2

images11Love does not approve and magnify sin. Paul wrote in Rom. 1:32, “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (NKJV). The apostle talks about people who have rejected God and His laws. They commit idolatry, exchanging the glory of God with idols (v. 23). Women commit sex with women, and men with men (vv. 26-27). The Bible says that they are “filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful” (Rom. 1:29-31, NKJV). The same people who do all these sins, not only commit it, but also approve other people who do it!

Isn’t that how this world operates? It glorifies sin than sainthood. It promotes lust than love. It approves unrighteousness rather than righteousness.

But believers who serve others with agape love, do not rejoice with wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Rather than be glad for the fall of others, they grieve it. Rather than rejoice with what is wrong, they are saddened by it. Rather than hide what is false, they promote what is true.

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Love Does Not Rejoice at Wrongdoing

k0246642Here’s the 8th and last “not” about agape love. Love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing” (1 Cor. 13:6, ESV). “Rejoice” from chairei is present indicative of chairo, “to enjoy a state of happiness and well-being” (Greek-English Lexicon, s. v. χαιρει). “Wrongdoing” is from adikia, “injustice” (Concise Greek-English Dictionary, s. v. αδικια) “an activity which is unjust – ‘unjust deed, unrighteousness’” (Greek-English Lexicon, s. v. αδικια). This means that love is not glad at injustice or unrighteousness.

I remember those days when I would laugh at green or dirty jokes. I would admire people who were “chickboys.” I would smile at people who were drunkards. But I didn’t realize that I was smiling at jokes that offended God. I was admiring people who conquered women, but destroyed themselves and their families. I laughed with drunkards, who wasted their money and bodies on alcohol, and went home to their families on the wee hours of the morning.

When talk show host Kris Aquino got into a fight with ex-boyfriend Joey Marquez, she threw mud at him. Suddenly, many people joined in. That’s when Joey Marquez’ famous beauty queen sister, Melani Marquez, defended him. She said, “Please do not judge my brother, because he is not a book.” She wanted to say, “Please don’t judge Joey. Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

People always find pleasure in attacking other people who sin. Some even approve the sins of other people. Love is not glad when people fall into sin. It does not find pleasure in hearing about people who are accused of sin. It is not happy with news about people who committed sin.

Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.

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Love Does Not Count the Bad 3

images10Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Therefore, I will “think well” of other people. Conversely, I will not think evil of their “motives, opinions, or conduct,” unless there is clear evidence to the contrary. Thus, I will not judge them hastily. I will not impute evil motives to them. (Barnes) I will make allowance on their faults and failures. Rather than harbor resentment, I would rather excuse the evil that they do to me. Rather than dwell on the bad things they’ve done to me, I would rather not meditate on them. (JFB)

Do you keep a list of wrongs committed by people who have hurt you? Do you still meditate on those past pains? Today, I urge you in the Name of Jesus, to ask God for His hand to erase that record of wrongs in your life. By the power of the Spirit of God, call on the Lord to delete that record in the computer files of your mind. God can do it for you today, if you let Him! In the Name of Jesus, I expect spiritual healing from God upon your mind and your soul! Call on Jesus now!

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Love Does Not Count the Bad 2

images9When Jomart was small, we opened a bank account for him. One day, he asked money from me to buy a book. I said, “I will not give you money now. But you can get money by using your bank money, without touching your money in the bank.” He asked, “How’s that?” I said, “Well, you lend me your money in the bank. Then I give you 16% interest per annum for your money.” The 16% interest amount was more than the price of the book. So he lent me his money and I gave him the interest amount. The following month, he said, “Dad, would you like to borrow money from me?”

Every time somebody commits a wrong against you, do you deposit it in your emotional bank account that bears his name? Every time you get offended by somebody, do you deposit his offense in that account? But love does not count the bad. When you serve others in love, you don’t keep a record of their wrongs. Love does not maintain a savings account of wrongdoings.

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Love Does Not Count the Bad

self-blameHere’s the 7th “not” of agape love.  Love “thinks no evil” (1 Cor. 13:5, NKJV). “Thinks” (NKJV) or “resentful” (ESV) is from logizomai, from the root word, logos, “to count up, to take account of as in a ledger or notebook” (RWP); “to put into one’s account, to charge one’s account” (Greek-English Lexicon, s. v. λογιζεται). “Resentful” (ESV) is not literally accurate. The Greek is ou logizomai ton kakon, literally, “no count the bad” (AGNT), “does not charge the evil” (Trocino Literal Translation), or “does not impute evil” (YLT). The picture here is an accounting journal, where you enter your income and expenses. Every time there’s an expense, you charge it in your journal. It’s like a bank account today. Every time you earn money, you deposit it in the bank.

The apostle said love does not count the bad. It does not keep a record of wrongs. It does not deposit all the offense in an emotional bank account that bears the name of the offender.

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