These Three Remain

September 10, 2017

People died, children were conceived,
hearts were broken lives were changed and history was made.  But now the summer of love was over.  By October of 1967 the movement known as the
Summer of Love, when over 100,000 hippies and flower children had descended on
the Haight Asbury district of San Francisco was but a memory.  A mock funeral processional was announced for
October 6th it was called “The Death of the Hippie” and it was to officially
signify the end of the Summer of Love. 
L. Frank Baum wrote in the The Marvelous
Land of Oz  “Everything has to come to an
end, sometime.”
Since June we have been celebrating the
Summer of Love here at Cornerstone as we have dove into 1 Corinthians 13, the
so-called love chapter of the bible.  And
for the 12th time we are going to invite you to stand as we read the chapter
together.   And for our last reading of 1
Corinthians 13 we are going to read responsively. 
Which simply means I will read a part and
then you will read the next section. 
1 Corinthians 13:1-13  If I could speak all the languages of earth
and of angels, but didn’t love others,
I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging
cymbal. 
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I
understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had
such faith that I could move mountains,
but didn’t love others, I would be
nothing. 
If I gave everything I have to the poor and
even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;
but if I didn’t love others, I would have
gained nothing. 
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or
rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record
of being wronged. 
It does not rejoice about injustice but
rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is
always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages
and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 
Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete,
and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 
But when full understanding comes, these
partial things will become useless. 
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and
reasoned as a child.
But when I grew up, I put away childish
things. 
Now we see things imperfectly as in a
cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.
All that I know now is partial and
incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows
me completely. 
Three things will last forever—faith, hope,
and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Thank you, you may be seated.
And now we arrive at the end of our Summer
of love with the last verse of 1 Corinthians 13.   1 Corinthians 13:13 Three things will last
forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
For the Christian, when everything is
finished, when the last page is turned, when the credits have rolled and the
story is done, it won’t be finished.  
There will still be three things that
remain.  Faith, hope and Love. 
Paul reminded the early Christ followers
in  Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV For it is by
grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is
the gift of God–  not by works, so that
no one can boast.
It is by grace that you have been
saved.  How?  Through faith.
So we begin with The Faith We Have in Jesus
The bible defines faith this way, Hebrews 11:1 
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it
gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Sometimes I think it would be so much
easier if when we claimed the promise of our salvation and forgiveness it came
with a “Something” that was tangible. 
Maybe a certificate signed by God, or a plaque we could put on our
living room wall.  But the reality is,
that if you are anything like me you’d misplace it anyway.  I haven’t seen my Social Insurance card for
forty years.
And if you didn’t misplace it, then it
would become the assurance of your salvation, and you would come to depend on
that piece of paper as the assurance that your sins were forgiven and that you
were indeed saved. 
Whenever you doubted, you could pull it out
and read it and if anyone questioned your salvation you could show them your
certificate of authenticity. 
And if you ever lost the paper or if it
were destroyed then you’d wonder about your salvation. 
Our relationship with God begins with
faith, later in Hebrews 11 we read Hebrews 11:6 
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to
come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who
sincerely seek him.
There are times that people will tell me,
“I guess I just don’t have that much faith.” 
But we have faith all the time. 
We have faith in the things around us that
we don’t understand and can’t explain.
 When
we drive we have faith that our cars will stop and go and won’t behave
erratically.  We have faith that the
other drivers will stay in their lanes.
When we go to the doctor we have faith they
know what they are doing and will make the best decisions for our health.
Most of us will fly somewhere, if not this
year then probably next year.  And flying
has to be the biggest example of faith that we have.
You are sitting in a chair in the sky.  Seriously. 
And you think you know how flying works, but really. 
The shape of the wing causes the air to
move faster and faster moving air exists at a lower pressure than slow-moving
air, so the pressure above the wing is lower than the pressure below the wing,
and this creates the lift that keeps your chair in the sky.
We have the bible, the word of God that
tells us things like Acts 3:19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that
your sins may be wiped away. 
Repent of your sins, turn to God and your
sins will be wiped away.  That’s the
promise,  It is faith that claims the
promise. 
Martin Luther wrote “Faith is a living,
daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake
his life on it a thousand times.”
And Paul reminded Timothy in  1 Timothy 1:19  Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your
conscience clear.
Cling to your faith in Christ.  When everything seems to fail, cling to your
faith in Christ.
Because when everything else is gone, faith
remains.
But there has to be more than simply  faith, Paul wrote in  1 Corinthians 15:19  And if our hope in Christ is only for this
life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
The Faith That We Have in Jesus Gives us a
Hope for Eternity
Every one of us has birth in common, we
were born.  There isn’t one of us who
just suddenly appeared.  And regardless
of what your parents told you the stork didn’t bring you to them. You were
born.
The other thing we have in common is that
we will all die.  Some sooner than
others, but life is a terminal condition. 
It was Robin Williams who said 
“Death is nature’s way of saying, ‘Your table is ready.”
But while we may all share the experience
of death Christians share a hope that extends beyond death.
Maybe you’ve heard the statement “as long
as there is breath there is hope.”  But
for the Christian that hope goes even beyond death.  It was the Apostle John, one of Christ’s
first followers,  the one who stood at
the foot of the cross and watched Christ die, the one who rushed to the garden
three days later to find an empty tomb. 
It was John who would spend forty days with
Jesus after the resurrection and who would watch Jesus ascend into heaven and
it was the same John who wrote 1 John 5:13 
I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so
that you may know you have eternal life.
So what? 
So that you will know that you have eternal life.  And not just any eternal life listen to the
description that John gives us of the eternity we will share with our creator,
it’s found in Revelation 21:4  He will
wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or
crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
That is the hope that the Christian has,
all the other descriptions that we might have of heaven pale in comparison to
those words. Listen to it again, 
Revelation 21:4  He will wipe
every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying
or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
It is a hope that goes beyond breath.  Which was why John Wesley on his death bed
was able to say “The best of all: God is with us.”  And why William Wilberforce told his family “My
affections are so much in heaven that I can leave you all without a regret; yet
I do not love you less, but God more.”  
And why Puritan preacher Richard Baxter would die saying “I have pain;
but I have peace, I have peace!”
My favorite dying words story is about
Samuel Upham a Professor at Drew Theological Seminary.  When Upham was lying on his death bed his
family gathered around to be with their dad at the end. 
After a period of silence one of the
brothers asked “Is he gone?”  Another
responded “I don’t know, feel his feet, nobody ever died with warm feet”  Suddenly Professor Upham opened his eyes said
“Joan of Arc did” and then he died. 
If you google dying words of believers you
will find scores of statements of hope and faith. 
If you google dying words of atheists you
find Voltaire saying, “I am abandoned by God and man!”  And Anton LeVey, author of the Satanic Bible
dying with these words on his lips “Oh my, oh my, what have I done, there
is something very wrong … there is something very wrong …” And the atheist
philosopher Thomas Hobbes who said “I say again, if I had the whole world
at my disposal, I would give it to live one day. I am about to take a leap into
the dark.”
Sir Francis Newport was the head of an
English Atheist club and as he was dying he told those who gathered around his
deathbed: “You need not tell me there is no God for I know there is one,
and that I am in His presence! You need not tell me there is no hell. I feel
myself already slipping.”
The Apostle Paul wrote these words of Hope
in 2 Timothy 4:6-8  As for me, my life
has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is
near.  I have fought the good fight, I
have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me—the crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of
his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look
forward to his appearing.
And the hope that Paul had was the hope
found in Christ.  In book of Matthew we
read this about Jesus  Matthew 12:
21  And His name will be the hope of all
the world.
If you haven’t experienced that hope you
can.
Because when everything else is gone, faith
and hope remain.
And the reason for that hope and faith come
from John 3:16  “For God loved the world
so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him
will not perish but have eternal life.
The Faith That We Have in Jesus gives us a
Hope for Eternity and it’s all Grounded in the Love of God
It all goes back to God’s love for us.  John Ortberg wrote  “People sometimes think it’s a miracle that
God loves them. No. God simply IS love. It would take a ‘miracle’ for God to
NOT love somebody.”
And that love was so great that God gave us
the ultimate gift, himself, he took our sin on his own sinless nature so we
could be forgiven. 
Which is why we are told in Romans
5:8-9  But God showed his great love for
us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  And since we have been made right in God’s
sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s
condemnation.
John Wesley wrote “Faith, hope, love – Are
the sum of perfection on earth; love alone is the sum of perfection in heaven.”
Because when everything else is gone, three
things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is
love.
Love ties it all together.  William Barclay wrote “Faith without love is
cold, and hope without love is grim. Love is the fire which kindles faith and
it is the light which turns hope into certainty.”
And as we come to the conclusion of our
Summer of Love we ultimately have to ask the question that burns on all of your
hearts when I preach and that is “So what? 
What does this mean for me?”
One of the greatest descriptions of this
agape love is given in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude. It does not demand its own way. It
is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but
rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures
through every circumstance.
We are all familiar with that passage, or
at least we should be after this summer.
And last weekend that passage was read at
both of the Cornerstone weddings that were celebrated. 
I want to finish the series by looking at 1
Corinthians 13 a different way.  The way
that God displayed his love for us was that he came to earth as a baby, lived
33 years and died on a cross for us. 
Jesus was love personified. That’s why the Bible tells us in John
1:17  . . .  but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness
came through Jesus Christ.
And if that is the truth then we should be
able to see the character of Christ reflected in 1 Corinthians 13.  Let’s try. 
Here’s 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not
jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not
irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but
rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures
through every circumstance.
So if Jesus is Love then we should be able
to change it from Love to Jesus and see how it reads:  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Jesus is patient and
kind. Jesus is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Jesus does not demand
his own way. Jesus is not irritable, and he keeps no record of when he has been
wronged. He never rejoices about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins
out. Jesus never gives up, never loses faith, he is always hopeful, and endures
through every circumstance.
What do you think?  Works? 
Let’s take it a step further. 
What is a Christian?  A follower of Christ?  Would it be fair to say that Christians are
to be Christ-like or like Christ? 
Ephesians 4:15  Instead, we will
speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is
the head of his body, the church.
Ok, so let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 13,
we changed the word love to Christ, now let’s take it a step further let’s
change Christ to Christian and see how it reads 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Christians
are patient and kind. Christians are not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Christians do not demand our own way. Christians are not irritable, and they
keep no record of when they have been wronged. Christians never rejoice about
injustice but rejoice whenever the truth wins out. Christians never give up, never
lose faith, Christians are always hopeful, and endure through every
circumstance.
So now let’s personalize it and read it
together as the body of Christ, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 We are patient and kind.
We are not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. We do not demand our own way.
We are not irritable, and we keep no record of when we have been wronged. We
never rejoice about injustice but rejoice whenever the truth wins out. We never
give up, never lose faith, We are always hopeful, and endure through every
circumstance.
Hmmm, maybe we could stand a little
work.  Jesus told his disciples in John
13:35 “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my
disciples.”  Is that how people identify
you as a Christian? 
Two secrets to exhibiting this type of
love.  You ready.  1) It has to be intentional.  It’s not just going to happen; you are going
to have to want it to happen.  You are
going to have to come to the place that you intentionally say, “I am going to
exhibit agape love in all my relationships” 
2) You can’t do it.   Or maybe it would be more accurate to say
You can’t do it yourself.  And you don’t
have to.  Do you remember the scripture
that we started with?  Galatians
5:22-23  But the Holy Spirit produces
this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and
self-control. There is no law against these things!
It doesn’t say we will produce, but the
Holy Spirit will produce.  Is that your
desire today?  When you look at your life
does it match the description given in 1 Corinthians 13?  If not it can. 
And while the Summer of Love in 1967 came
to an end, I hope that what we’ve learned this summer about love is only the
beginning.
Frank Herbert wrote “There is no real
ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”
You will choice to live a life
characterized by love or not.
Let’s pray together:   Lord help me to be patient and kind.   To not be jealous or boastful or proud or
rude. Help me to not demand my own way. Help me to not be irritable, and to
keep no record of when I’ve been wronged. Help me to never rejoice about
injustice but help me rejoice whenever the truth wins out. Lord, I want to
never give up, never lose faith, always be hopeful, and to endure through every
circumstance.  In Jesus name AMEN