Summary: How love works is a sermon motivating believers to share the gospel with the unreached. The response of God loving us will result in us taking the gospel out and fulfilling the Great Commission.
Introduction: God loved the world so much that he sent his only son, Jesus Christ to redeem the world. Therefore, how are we believers to reciprocate his love? What is my attitude now that Jesus has loved me so much?
Open you Bibles to 1 Corinthians 16.
1 Corinthians 16:14-18 14Do everything in love. 15You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. 17I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.
Notice 1 Corinthians 16:14 Do everything in love.
Now look at 1 Corinthians 16:24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen. Now did you notice that at the beginning and the end love is the issue. Paul is really talking about love in the fellowship.
Now love was for all practical purposes absent from the Corinthian church. In fact, all their problems were basically a reflection of a lack of love. That’s why the high point in the book is the 13thChapter where Paul describes for them the kind of love that should be manifest in their assembly.
So love is the issue. And so we’re not that surprised when at the end of the Epistle, Paul reminds them to do everything in love and closes up with an example by saying, “My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.” Love is the real story of the book. Paul is endeavoring to correct the absence of love in the Corinthian church. And so he closes with that same theme in mind, the theme of love.
Remember, God has already given the believer his love.
Romans 5:5 God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.
Love is a basic element of the church. And there should be no such thing as a church without love. It should be a central part of our life. When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he said: 1 Thessalonians 1:3 We continually remember before our God … your labour prompted by love. It should be for every church.
In 1 Corinthians 13 when Paul wrote about love, he spoke about action. Love acts, there can be no love without action. Love is a doing thing. And so here in 1 Corinthians 16:14-18 we see what love does.
How love works in believers?
One evidence of love in a believer is evangelism. Where there is love in the fellowship, there will be people reaching out to those that are lost.
1 Corinthians 16:15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia.
Now we’re introduced to a household. Now Paul introduces us to a man named Stephanas. This is a man that Paul knows. He baptized Stephanas, it says in 1 Corinthians 1:16 and then in v17 Stephanas has come to visit him. So Stephanas was somebody he knew. And Stephanas was a Christian, but not only Stephanas, but his whole household were saved. And Paul even says they were the first converts of Achaia.
Apostle Paul on his third journey he came to Macedonia where he preached the gospel. Macedonia is Greece. The southern part of Greece is called Achaia. So when Paul came into that area, he preached Christ. So one of the families that got saved in Achaia was the family of Stephanas. They were the first converts. KJV calls it first fruits.
Now if you remember the concept of first fruits, the first fruits were the first part of a crop that came in and if the first fruits were good it was a guarantee the rest of the crop would be good. Stephanas and his household were most likely the first fruits of the City of Corinth. God was in effect saying there’s going to be a full harvest in the City of Corinth. And there was, there was a great church built there to which Paul ministered for one and a half years teaching the word of God. Stephanas was the beginning of that church.
Paul here introduces us to the concept of evangelism. And I really think that part of letting all your things be done in love is going somewhere and planning a church. Going somewhere and getting some first fruits. Going somewhere and winning some people to Jesus Christ.
The early church expressed its love in its evangelism. And you know, you can’t just sit around and love each other and get anybody to really believe it unless you’re out there carrying this wonderful gospel to the people who are so desperately in need of hearing it. If we really love the way God loves, the way Paul loved, the way the early church loved, we’ll be out touching the lives of people who desperately need to hear the message of Jesus Christ. And that’s exactly what the apostle Paul did. The early church was busy planting churches in other places. The early church was busy winning people to Jesus Christ. Because that’s the way love works.
1 Thessalonians 1:8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia – your faith in God has become known everywhere.
You see their labor of love involved a sounding of the word. The word in the Greek is the word we get echo from. From you it echoed out. It reverberated. And in fact, they were so evangelistic it was incredible. Paul was only there two weeks. In a matter of months he writes back to them the letter 1 Thessalonians and says “your testimony is known all over the world.”
That little Thessalonian church in love came out aggressively sharing that love with the world so that a matter of months later Paul says your testimony is sounded out to all the world. Now I believe where there’s love in the fellowship, the natural response will be evangelism.
I think a church filled with love is a church that manifests its love to a lost world desperately in need of that love.
Apostle Paul’s evangelism was moved by love. He says in 2 Corinthians 5:14 For Christ’s love compels me. Now love isn’t something you can generate. The Spirit of God produces this. You walk in the Spirit, He produces love, and you direct that love to the lost.
Paul was chief persecutor of Christians. To the Jews, he was their key man. He was a member of the Sanhedrin. He was an important teacher, a trusted leader, the greatest defender of Judaism, and he was on his way to Damascus to kill Christians and before they knew what happened, he was preaching Jesus Christ and the Jews were absolutely shocked.
The Christians didn’t understand it, and so when Paul came along and said, I really love all of you people in Israel, I really care for you, they didn’t buy that anymore. And so Paul wants to convince them of his love. And so in Romans 9 Paul affirms his love four ways.
Romans 9:1 I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit.
First he proves his love on his own merit, he says “I speak the truth about my love.”
Secondly, he proves his love in Christ as his witness.
Thirdly, he proves is love on the merit of his conscience, he says “my conscience confirms it.” My conscience doesn’t even bother me, that’s the third proof.
Fourthly, he proves his love by having the Holy Spirit as his witness.
Now, he’s really meaning what he’s saying. Paul is saying, “Please believe me. I love you.” Romans 9:2-3 2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. He says look, I love you and I want you to hear the gospel and I want you to know Christ so much so that I could wish myself accursed if it could mean your salvation.
He loved them. And it was that love that gave him constant heaviness and sorrow for the lost. That love that drove him to missions to touch everybody he could with the gospel of Jesus Christ. You see he had an intense yearning for souls. It was promoted by his love for Christ and his love for people.
Somebody said evangelism is the heart cry of God. Evangelism was the heart cry of Paul. Evangelism is the cry of John Knox, “Give me Scotland for Christ or I die.”
I think we give up too easy. I think the fact that we give up so easy when people resist the gospel really betrays the thinness of our love.
Illustration:. Dr. H. A. Cameron related this story in one of his books. Over in Scotland it used to be the custom in the time of harvest for the women in farming districts to help in making and binding the sheaves after the mower had cut down the grain. On one occasion, a mother named Hannah Lamond offered her services in that time of labor and to make the work easier took with her, her little child thinking that she could place it safely within easy reach where she could look at it now and then. But busily occupied as everyone was, the reapers did not notice that an eagle which had its nest on nearby cliff had swooped down and snatched the sleeping baby from it’s little bed among the sheaves and carried it off, flying with its talons firmly fixed in the child’s clothing.
However, it had not risen far when the anguish cry went up, the eagle has taken Hannah’s baby. Consternation took hold of the men and women and in their commotion they ran as rescuers to the foot of the rock where high up the eagle had its nest and to which it had transported the child to become food for its eaglets. Some of the men made a valiant effort to scale the face of the rock, but unable to get a footing, they fell back defeated and it seemed a hopeless task to recover the baby before it would be destroyed by the eagle. Among the men there was a sailor accustomed to climbing places where there was but little foothold and he did his best to ascend that precipitous cliff, but after a vigorous endeavor, he also gave up his attempt and acknowledged himself beaten.
The people were frantic and helpless and the child’s case seemed absolutely hopeless. But who is this that now assays to do what others had failed to accomplish says Cameron. It is Hannah. Impelled by mother love, she begins to ascend that vertical rock and bit by bit here and there finding a little projection upon which to place her foot she gradually rises away from the plain and at last accomplishes the seeming impossible by reaching the eagles nest. There the bird of prey with flapping wings and powerful beak tries to beat her back and keep its victim now lying in that nest among the eaglets, but desperate, though the bird’s efforts are, they are not equal to courage and determination of the mother of the child and she rescues the baby from death and destruction.
She begins to move down a more perilous descent than the first journey and marvelous to tell, she comes back as surely as if not as swiftly as before. And great is the rejoicing among her friends as they welcome her returning safe and sound from her heroic and dangerous and valorous task, another proof that love always finds a way.
It’s that kind of love in a spiritual sense that God wants to produce in our hearts that we might extend the gospel to other people to see other harvests in other places where God is glorified.
When there’s love in the fellowship, evangelism results.
Conclusion: I want to close with how love works this Sunday and will continue this further next week. How is your response to the love of God? Are you involved in fulfilling the Great Commission? Start working for the Lord so that his name will be glorified through your life. Make a commitment to share the gospel. If God has called you for full-time ministry, make a commitment before him today. If he has called you, he will lead you.