Love is The Gift of Joy That Reunites
1 Corinthians 13:8-13
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. (NASB)
Today is God’s blessed and holy day. On the Lord’s day, those who come to church to bow down before God and worship with all their hearts will enjoy the continuous blessing of thousands and ten thousands, the heritage of Jacob, through generations (Isa 58:13-14, Ps 144:13). The message God permitted us today is entitled, “Love Is the Gift of Joy That Reunites.” The Pharisees asked Jesus a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus immediately answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” The greatest commandment is to love (Matt 22:34-40). Do you earnestly love God? Do you love your neighbor as yourself ? Do you live a life controlled by the Word, not just limited to hearing the Word but being challenged by it? If you love your neighbor as yourself, you cannot walk past someone shivering in the cold. But if you purchased a new coat with the money you’ve saved by cutting down meals and expenses, who would be able to hand the newly purchased coat over to a beggar shivering in the extreme cold? One would only walk past, saying “How pitiful!” God said, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law (Rom 13:8).” It means that those who love others have fulfilled the law. However, who among human beings would have fulfilled the law? Although you kept nine out of the ten commandments and violated only one, you would be considered as you violated the whole ten commandments.
Therefore, Jesus came to this world and was crucified on the cross for us. The purpose of the crucifixion is clearly the fulfillment of the law(Rom 10:4). For there was no one to fulfill the law, Jesus was crucified for the sinners and through His precious blood He forgave the original sin, the inherited sin, and the self-committed sin. The sins of man cannot be forgiven through the practice of penance or asceticism. Yet, Jesus at once solved the difficult problem with the cross. Man finds fault in sinners, saying, “Why did you do that?,” “How could you do that?” God in contrast doesn’t ask or argue. He unconditionally embraces us. How truly trustworthy is Jesus!
“Love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom 13:10). It sounds simple and easy, but loving is somehow difficult. Do we as pastors, elders, eldresses, or deacons truly love others? If you love your neighbor as yourself, at mealtimes you should first offer, “Let’s eat together,” without concern for money. However, it is obvious that regardless of their affordable lives, man becomes stingy about treating others. “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Col 3:14).If you do not put on a belt, your clothes will fall down and reveal the shame. Love is like a bond which covers all the shame. You ask someone to have a meal with you, but when it’s time to pay, you keep sipping tea and hesitate to pay. After the other person pays, you say something like, “I was about to pay.” Do not be like that. If you really do not have money, you need to tell your financial situation so that the other party would not commit sin in their hearts. “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pe 4:8). “Someone did such a thing with someone.” “Oh, really? I had no clue.” Gossipers are not considered believers of Jesus. Love covers a multitude of sins. A true church does not speak ill of others. If someone is about to speak ill of someone else, tell that person, “Let’s pray,” then pray with them. God spoke to the Israelites through Moses, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”(Deut 6:5). Even if you love 99%, if that 1% is missing, then it’s not genuine. You must love God first. Jesus sternly spoke, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me”(Matt 10:37-38).
There are three types of love for mankind.
① Eros Love
Eros love refers to the love between a man and a woman. This love is self-centered, self-satisfied, self-sensible, self-minded, self-sensual. Like food, if it suits one’s taste, then they take it. If not, they put it aside. This is not true love, since it is not unconditional. No saint should get married and say such things like: “What did you bring? What did you do for my parents? You brought nothing with you, did you?” That is because God granted me even wealth and body. Eros love calculates gains and losses. When burning with love, you confess, “I can’t live without you.” However, when love cools down, you neglect it. There are some saints who come to me for advice on divorce after marrying someone’s precious daughter and even having children with her. The advice I give is, “You will abandon your current wife and go to another woman? All women are the same.”
② Phileo Love
Phileo love is the love between friends, or among people who like something in common. There is a good side but also a bad side. For evil, they can unite with one accord. Such unity in the wrong direction is not good. It will lead to jail or turn a family into ruins. That is why you must make good friends. When you hear tragic news on the media, please do not regard it some other’s problem, but as your own children’s.
③ Storge Love
Storge love is a kind of family love. In the world, family love, specially maternal love, is considered the best form love. Frankly, it is not a perfect love because if it could be selfish. There are many people who only care for their family, their wife, their husband, and their children, despite another’s life or death. They pile up power and money like they’re building a city, but only for their family. When I grew up in the country, only corn, potatoes, or sweet potatoes were available to eat. People give good and perfect products to his own child, but small and flawed products to another’s child. “How much have I doted on my child! Who else if not me would feed him well!.” Such mind is a selfish love.
The word love is defined in the dictionary as follows:
① to regard someone, something or principles precious or valuable, that cause a desire of existence, a desire of possession, a desire of happiness, or a desire of improvement
② a determination to dedicate or strive for a person, or strong affection, attachment, mercy, or feelings toward a person to make the person happy
A human being’s love is highly fragile. It’s not perfect. In a good mood, one might say “Come to our house. Let’s eat together. Let’s go play.” If discomforted, they sharply turn their back. This form of love changes depending on one’s feelings, so it sometimes causes harm to others.
If their desire is not satisfied, then they forget what they owe and hurl all kinds of abuse at others. However, God’s love is different. The love of God is the agape love. A sovereign love. It never changes. God is the same for eternity and His years never come to an end (Heb 1:12). Even though He knows all the filthy sins we’ve committed, He still overlooks our transgressions. This is the unconditional and unilateral love of God. This form of love is, “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16). So loved! He loved so much that it was impossible to love more. “God is love”(1 John 4:8). God is love itself. With that love, He covered the sins of mankind by transferring all that sin onto His son. His son Jesus could have avoided this transfer, but instead Jesus carried the cross and died a horrible death, having believed in, “I know that His commandment is eternal life” ( John 12:50). As the blood poured out, the devil believed that Jesus eternally died. Nevertheless, the precious blood bruised the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15) and saved mankind. Who would know that there was new life, the Word of God’s salvation, within Jesus’ blood? “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death” (John 8:51). Even if Jesus were to die 100 times, He will come to life on the 101st time. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26). Those who live and believe will never die, but be transfigured (1 Cor 15:51, Phil 3:20-21). Enoch and Elijah did not see death and went up to heaven. Since all we witness is death, we doubt, saying, “how can a man live for eternity without seeing death?” There is a Korean proverb that says, “if of the same price, a crimson skirt is better” meaning that with the same price, one should choose what is better. As we have a choice of an eternal life in lieu of death, why wouldn’t we be tempted to know about it?
Jesus had forsaken the glorious throne, being despised, kicked, his beard plucked, punched, and scourged, and was crucified on the cross for the sins of mankind. He was severely scourged by whip strands that were covered with animal bones and metal pieces, as the prophet Isaiah prophesied, up to the point of being plowed upon his back as if there were furrows in the field. No words can justify what we have done to Him. It was possible because Jesus loves us so much. Christianity is a religion of love. A church in which love has left is only a gathering place for Satan: a fake church. Pastors must be responsible for the saints and love them. The same goes for elders. Right now, the Yeoju Retreat Center is under construction. I do not allow pastors and staffs who work for the construction to have leftovers, not even a single grain of rice. It is not only an offering that the saints gave at the expense of their meals or clothes, but also it is a sin that ignores and despises God’s Word. This rice and side dish was created by the Word of God. After Jesus fed the five thousand men, estimated twenty thousand people if we include women and children, He said, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” So the disciples gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments. If we love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might (Deut 6: 5; Matt 22:37), we must love and
care for all the things God created.
Christmas is God’s first and unilateral love. We did not love God first. How could a sinner stand before God? So God has placed His Son as the mediator between God and us. Jesus is defending and interceding for us: “Father, this man lives in much sin, but he has neither a church nor anyone to evangelize around him, and his family environment is too tough to complete his schooling. He has met only a few friends, so what is to be done with him?” Jesus still cannot be comforted in heaven. Standing at the right hand of God, Jesus prays for us continuously. Jesus is saying, “Have you sinned again? I was shed on the cross for you. It was only a while ago you received grace and the Word. Now you skip church again due to trivial things?” He is anxious because of us(Rom 8:26; Hebrews 8 and 9; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).
Agape love is based on God’s choice. God chose us before the ages (Deut 4:37; 10:15; 7: 6-7; John 15:16). There was a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus who exploited and defrauded people in Jericho, a large city where thousands lived. News spread that Jesus, who raised the dead, would come to Jericho, and crowds gathered to see His face. Zaccheus, a short man, climbed up a sycamore tree to see Jesus. But Jesus already knew and called him by name, saying, “Zacchaeus, today I must stay at your house.” Zacchaeus came down in amazement, believing in Jesus as the true God, and promised to pay back four times as much as he defrauded. Then Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19: 1-10). Jesus knew the tax collector by name, even before he was born, although people hated Zacchaeus. It is God that gives each name even to the tens of millions of stars (Psalm 147: 4).
Saints, look at Jesus’ Agape love. He came to this land and hungered like a man, endured swearing and biting to the end, and offered up both prayer and supplication with loud crying and tears to God (Heb 5: 7). God is still giving His love to our mankind. God does not give up even if we do wrong, blaspheme the church, or shout, “I am not going to church!” Jesus keeps us in His care, grace, and love, replying to us, “You won’t be able to bear without believing in Jesus.” Please realize that, and know that you are not to judge others by putting yourself in the position of God. Instead, pray for those who have sinned. May you all be saints of peace, showing the love of God and the image of God, and I pray and bless you in the name of the Lord.
Apostle Paul said, “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.” Neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword will be able to break us from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39), for love of God controls us (2 Cor 5: 14-15). Even when I fail to believe, God will somehow control my mind with His authority of love. He will make any circumstances such as business failures, to bring me back in Christ. It says in 2 Cor 5:14,“The love of Christ controls us.” The Common Korean translation of this verse states, “For the love of Christ compels us”, and standard Korean version says, “For the love of Christ constrains us.” You are these so loved sons and daughters of God no matter what. Take pride. You can proudly say that you are sons of God. Please have such faith and pride.
1 Corinthians 13, which sang God’s Agape love, is commonly called as the “Psalm of Love” and the “Praise of Love.” Missionary Moody, a shoe-seller who stopped attending school in 2nd Grade elementary school, believed in Jesus and evangelized more than a million people. He said that 1 Corinthians 13 is “a force that enables worldwide revolution.” Chapter 13 is the highest peak of the Old and New Testament. When the Church of Corinth suffered from chaos, disputes, and disorder in the face of a crisis of abuse of spiritual gifts through the influence of Greek thoughts, Apostle Paul said that he would give even greater gifts and a more excellent way (1 Cor 12:31) When the Corinthians were curious about it, what Apostle Paul preached was 1 Corinthians 13. Even if you have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, you have become a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
The love of husband and wife must be patient. You have to endure. Do not seek out for one’s own benefit. Be patient. 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 speaks of the value, importance, and absolute superiority of love. Verses 4-7 tell about the 15 different aspects of love and the nature of love. Verses 8-13 tell us that love is not temporary, but eternal. Verse 8 especially (“Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away”) highlights the absolute, eternal and everlasting love. It is a continous love, over and over again. Love is not genuine if you normally neglect your husband, but turn nice only when you get money from him. The husband must love his wife. He who loves his own wife loves himself (Eph 5:28). A woman lives on love. The same is true of men. That’s why the title of today’s Word is, “Love is the Gift of oy that Reunites.”
John 14:2-3 says, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” Verse 18: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Verse 19: “ After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.” Jesus will return. When He returns, there will be a world of eternal love. Jesus will be the sun, the moon, and the stars, and all the climates will come from Him (Rev 21:23; Isa 60:19). There will no longer be tears, death, mourning, crying, or pain (Rev 21:4). Even now, we cannot see the sunlight directly, but the sunlight of the new world will be seven times brighter than that of this world(Isa 30:26). Isaiah proclaimed this Word after receiving the revelation in sight of God’s glory. The Lord will come to this earth again with tens of thousands of angels and believers. God will clothe us in fine linen, lift us up, and prepare us as His ready bride for the wedding feast in heaven (Matt 25:1-13). Those who are martyred for Jesus will participate in the place of glory, the first resurrection (Rev 20: 6). Therefore, if there is an opportunity of martyrdom in Jesus, please do not avoid it. Others who are dead in faith will participate in the second resurrection. Thousands of angels welcome us (Rev 7). Should we not be one of 144,000 people singing the new song? It is in love that we go to God in the end. He who believes in Jesus is love.
Therefore, believers, receive the love of God, the love of Jesus, while you live upon this land. It is the love of God that allows us to come to church and worship Him. It is the love of God that allows us to be blessed. Our success does not come from our own talent (1 Cor 15:10). Love is the best. Love is unconditional. Receiving love only when you give money, presents, and affection is not real love. At the end, the perishable will put on the imperishable, and the mortal must put on immortality. We will all be changed. It is in a moment and in the twinkling of an eye. Did Enoch and Elijah change instantly and go up to heaven? It is not like going up in a spacesuit. Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see Jesus face to face. Now you need to call out someone’s name or title to be answered, but in that eternal world, you will be answered as soon as you decide to call out in your mind (Isa 65:24). All the mountains and trees will rejoice. Due to Adam disobeying God’s Word, mankind is in the hands of Satan. All of creation groans and suffers. But when you, the children of God, appear, the trees in the fields clap their hands and the earth and water sing. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God (Rom 8: 19-20).
Dear saints, believing in Jesus but not having love is not true faith. God Himself is love (1 John 4:7-8). Do not say you love your brother when you hate him in your heart. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer (1 John 3:12-15). From now on, every family in discord must repent. Please repent if you have hated your children or daughters-in-law. Mothers-in-law, love your daughters-in-law like your own daughter. Daughters-in-law, love your parents-in-law more than your own parents. If you hate your mother-in-law and want her to die quickly, you are the one who will get sick first.
With love, you will be satisfied, even if you are poor. With love, you will be glad and thankful. “Thank God if I am not rich. If I were rich with this personality and mindset, I would be rebellious, slighting, and arrogant.” With realization of God’s love, you will receive satisfaction. When you realize God’s love, you will never live in poverty but you will help and live for others. The saints must love the church, the pastors, and everyone. The mark to stand before God in the
end is the mark of love. Faith is a sign of love, and grace is a sign of love. If you do not have this
mark of love, you cannot go to heaven. Love the Lord.
In the Yeoju Retreat Center, your prayers get quick responses from God. This place is also good for your health. The retreat center site had been a gold mine for platinum since the Japanese colonial era, and the white pebbles of the gold mine are known to give out good energy. If you are sick, go there. You will see a difference within 20 days. I love the Yeoju Retreat Center more than my own family. I am overjoyed when I see things get fixed at the retreat center. Living water has sprung out from five places and among them were from 240 meters, 280 meters and 300 meters underground. There will be a war over water in the future, but water at our retreat center will be sufficient for 70,000 people. The water carries a glimpse of blue light and it indicates that the water is alive . The alkali index of the water here is as much as 83. To prevent rust and decay, water pipes and tanks have been made of stainless steel and copper pipes. This is God’s love. God gave us good water because He loves Pyungkang saints with unchanging Agape love. Please thank God for we meet each other in healthy spirit and body in the love of God.
Rev. Abraham Park’s sermon on the Lord’s Day, 29 October 2006