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The gifts that last forever

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Pastor David Ernst

Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Feb 14, 2021 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Our epistle speaks of the gifts of the Spirit. Which are? Pentecostal churches regard speaking in tongues as a necessary sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit, perfect sanctification, or even salvation. Some of them say Christians who do not speak in tongues are weak, cold or dead.

What does it mean to "speak in tongues"? Speaking in one language was a common expression to speak in another language. In the first century, Hebrew was still the language of the liturgy in the temple in Jerusalem, but other languages, such as Greek or Aramaic, were spoken by most of the people of Galilee and Judea in their daily lives. The inhabitants of other parts of the Roman Empire have their own languages ​​as well. Because of the Lord's command to make disciples of all nations it was important to translate the Scriptures into other languages. In chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians, St. Paul speaks more of the need for everyone to understand the words of divine service. That is why the Holy Spirit manifested his presence on the day of Pentecost when Jesus' disciples proclaimed the gospel in many languages, but the pilgrims in Jerusalem understood languages.

The ancient church fathers and the Lutheran reformers of the 16th century saw this Pentecost miracle as a special gift to show the universality of the gospel.

Also in the ancient world, pagan worship was characterized by ecstatic expressions that no one understood. Many of the oracles spoke in this way. Some of the New Christians showed this tendency. But, Saint Paul says that in public worship, no one should speak in an unknown language without an interpreter or who knows what spirit is speaking? This is prayer of the heart, beyond words. However, it is better for this type of prayer to be practiced in private, not in public worship. The promises of Christ, the assurance of salvation, do not depend on our feelings or manifestations of the power of the Spirit.

“But prophecies will come to an end, tongues will cease, and science will come to an end. For in part we know, and in part we prophesy; but when what is perfect comes, then what is in part will end. " The gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge are those that the Spirit gives to some in the church to accomplish specific goals in God's plan before Christ's coming in glory.

But there are three gifts for everyone that will last after judgment day, which are faith, hope, and love. The fact that love is called the greatest gift does not in any way contradict the fact that faith is the only means of obtaining salvation. Love of God and neighbor is the greatest virtue. But that virtue justifies that which apprehends Christ, that which communicates to us the merits of Christ, by which we receive the grace and peace of God. But this virtue is faith. We are not saved by intellectual understanding of the Creed, although true faith involves the mind.

Faith endures because it is the essence of man's relationship with God. It is a total and personal commitment to God. Because, as has often been said, faith is not just knowledge, but much more like wanting to receive or understand what is offered in the promise about Christ.

Faith and hope confess a dependence on God. Love is the greatest of the three because it is the fruit of faith and hope that the Spirit gives us.

For this reason, in our gospel (Luke 18: 31-43), our Lord announces his death and resurrection for the third time. There all the Old Testament prophecies about the suffering and death of the Servant of the Lord would be fulfilled. However, despite the detailed account, the disciples did not understand any of these things, since the whole matter was hidden from them, they had no idea what it was really about.

But the blind man, who was sitting near the city gate, where many people were passing, heard the noise of many feet moving along the road. He cried out with a loud voice, asking Jesus to have mercy on him, giving him the name that was reserved for the promised Messiah. This blind man had obtained the correct and saving knowledge about Christ, and his faith looked upon the Master as the only one who, in his mercy, could heal him.

Jesus asked the man what he wanted him to do for him. The blind man's request was a confession, because he called Jesus Lord, confessing him that he was God, just as he had previously expressed his belief that Jesus was the Messiah. Here there was a full confession of faith in the person and office of Jesus. With the force of this faith, he prayed for him to see, so that his eyes would be opened.

And Jesus, in the depth of his sympathy for all men, in whatever trouble they might be, spoke the almighty word that opened his eyes: Receive your sight. His faith had earned the blessing of merciful healing for him. Like the blind, true faith, a gift of the Spirit, opens our eyes and enlightens our minds, but still only in part. The old mirrors were made of polished metal, which reflected an image but faintly, without sharp, defined contours; this is our contemplation of the glories of God, as offered to us in his Word, not because the Word is obscure, but because our understanding is not sufficient. But in heaven every believer will see, know and understand the fullness of the divine essence in a perfect and blessed understanding, as completely as he himself was known to God when the Lord changed his heart at baptism. Faith, hope, love remain in eternity, because what the Christian believes, hopes, loves remains forever, because God is eternal, with whom we are united in faith, hope and love. Faith, even weak faith, although it knows God only in part, yet as saving faith, it accepts all God, all Christ, all redemption in Christ, the full forgiveness of sins. Hope also, seeing and knowing only a few rays of the coming glory, has as its object the whole future world. And love focuses on the entire Triune God of our salvation, not on some sorry remnant. In this faith and hope we have love and peace that passes all understanding. Amen.

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