Knowledge and Love

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve been going through 1 Corinthians 13 lately and tonight, I’d like to look at one of my favorite topics as an apologist, and that is the topic of knowledge. After all, for many of us, our books are our life’s blood. A Seminary professor’s wife I know once stated in a talk to women whose husbands were in Seminary “Make peace with the books.” Books mean everything to us.

The relevant part of 1 Cor. 13:2 tonight tells us that if we can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge but don’t have love, we are nothing. Now consider that if you are of the apologetic mindset. Paul refers to many things in the Bible as mysteries. These could not be understood without divine revelation. Note that he doesn’t mean it in the sense in which a pastor often asked how God can be three and one says “It’s a mystery” instead of giving an answer that He is three in one sense and one in another.

Imagine having that spiritual insight that when Paul speaks about a mystery, you could say that you knew it all along. You were able to divine that before the revelation was given. Paul wants you to realize that even if you could do that, if you did not have love, you are nothing.

What about if you have all knowledge? Now Paul does say in 1 Corinthians 8:1 that knowledge puffs up. The solution to this is not to cast aside knowledge but to gain humility in addition to knowledge. Sadly, this knowledge can often come across in the form of spirituality. After all, I know what God approves and disapproves of and I am a better Christian than you for doing what he approves and not doing what he does not approve.

In the apologetics community however, it’s easy to think that you have to answer every objection out there. It’s tempting to see other people as a threat. We have to avoid that. We also have to realize that just because someone knows a lot about God, it does not mean that they really know God. The love of God is more than intellectual knowledge, although it is certainly helped by such knowledge. The more you love something, the more you will want to know about that something.

C.S. Lewis wrote about how it can be to look at the woman in church who is a little old lady and think about what an impoverished life she lives not knowing about such things as the Nicene Creed or the Calvinism/Arminianism debate or who Irenaeus and Justin Martyr were, but then you realize that in her prayer life and devotion to God overall, you are not worthy to untie her sandals, it brings a humility to you. Let us never make the mistake of thinking that being a better Christian apologist means that we are a better Christian.

Now I’m not saying that this lady would not be blessed by knowing about the Nicene Creed and such. In fact, I think she should seek to know about them, but she does not have to be an intellectual. Not all Christians are of that kind of mindset. That is fine. Each has their own part to play.

For instance, in our household, I am the intellectual. My wife is smarter than she realizes, but her bent is more towards matters of the heart. That is fine. She helps me in many ways by seeing things from a layman’s perspective that I often miss and by being a strong encouragement and fortification for me.

Is knowledge important? Absolutely. Knowledge is not love and if we do not have our knowledge with love, we essentially have nothing.

We shall look at the next part next time.

Tongues of Love

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’m going to be continuing again our look at 1 Cor. 13. Last night, I wrote on how agape is the kind of love being discussed in this passage. What is agape exactly? Before he gets to what it is, Paul wants us to know how valuable it is. Often times, I fear some of us can be so eager to get to the latter part which describes love and then get to the ending part with so many great quotes we regularly use, that we miss the gravity of what has been said here.

The text is as follows:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

The text is straightforward enough, but what is being said? Let us consider the surrounding context. Paul has been talking about spiritual gifts and one that has been a hotbed of controversy is the gift of tongues. For now, let us lay aside what we think the gift of tongues is. Whatever it is, we can all agree it is a gift and all sides I know of believe it contains with it a way of speaking another language or understanding another language, be it an earthly language or a prayer language.

Let us suppose that someone has this gift, to which Paul himself later says that he does. Note that in Paul’s time, oratory ability was highly valued. There were several rules for speaking and one needed to be a good speaker in order to get the point across. Paul does the same in his epistles as well as there was a proper rhetoric to follow when giving an argument.

Many of us have experienced today the idea of being dazzled by a speaker and while we cannot really tell what they said, they sure sound persuasive. Politicians try to specialize in this wanting to get an audience caught up in an emotion rather than address the arguments that they put forward. Sadly, a lot of preachers do this as well thinking that a lot of emotion in place of a good point is enough to spur people to Christlikeness and shows that their message is from the Holy Spirit.

In saying that, I am not against rhetoric. I do believe that talks ought to be presented in a way to be persuasive. I believe there is a great importance in emotional appeal, thus there is no reason to decide someone does not know what they are talking about simply because there is great emotion there. There is also no reason to they they know what they’re talking about because they lack great emotion.

However, what Paul is saying is to picture that you are a great speaker in some way and you do have the gift of tongues, even if you could communicate with the tongues of angels. Paul says that if you do not have love while you have that gift, then you are simply making noise.

Consider the magnitude of this. This was a gift that the Corinthians were taking pride in. They were vaunting their spirituality by this gift and what does Paul say about it? “You’ve got the gift? Well congrats. But you don’t have love, so you’re just making noise. Nothing good will come of it.”

What does that say to us today? It tells us that we don’t want to be just making noise either. Now I believe in our evangelism there is a time to be tough and a time to be soft, but there is never a time to not have the love of Christ in what we say. In our talks, we need to be persuasive and prepared, but we must have love. It is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, we could spend hours upon hours talking, and we would simply be making noise.

What else has Paul to say about the importance of love? That is for next time.

Agape

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve lately been looking at 1 Corinthians 13 and love. In discussing the four type of love in Greek thought, we are going to be discussing now the one that Paul writes about, which is agape.

We are often told that agape is God-love, but this isn’t really the case. After all, agape is said to describe the love of darkness that some people have. We would not say that they have the love of God of darkness. What can it mean then? I would take it most likely to mean something like the love of devotion.

More can be said about agape love as we go through this series, particularly after we get started on verse 4. However, I do wish to give some general comments. To begin with, I do believe that agape is the love that makes all of the other loves better.

What about storge? As an Aspie, I am familiar with how people can do social niceties and not mean anything whatsoever by it. They just do it because that is what they are supposed to do. I don’t know how many times I heard someone come to me at work and say “How are you?” and then have them walk right on by. It always has left me with the impression of “If you don’t care, don’t ask. I’d appreciate it more.”

Of course, there could be times people really do care and I don’t realize it, but wouldn’t it be best if good manners were genuine rather than something that we do because we think we have to and aren’t going through the motions? Wouldn’t it be great if when someone at church said “I’ll pray for you” that you were sure that they meant it?

What of Phileo? Phileo is the love of friendship and we would like the friend that sticks closer than a brother. What would it mean for phileo if friends were really, well, friends? Christ told us that there was no greater love than that a man would lay down his life for his friends. Do we have that kind of love?

And eros love? What would it mean if sex was more focused on the joy that one person could bring the other than in the joy that person received from the other? Now I do know that you do have to in part focus on your pleasure as well so your spouse can know the best way to please you, but that should not be the focal point. If you are both focused on the love of the other, then will you not find your own pleasure that way?

Agape improves everything. Devotion to that which is good in proper proportion is always good. Let us make sure we are doing both. We should only devote ourselves to that which deserves devotion. We should also not devote ourselves to that thing if we make it greater than what it is. As wonderful as your spouse is, don’t make an idol out of them. My wife and I regularly make sure to state that we are each other’s #2 in life. God is our #1.

Next time, we shall start going through the text.

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