Better Than Miracles – Gospel in Life

Better Than Miracles

Tim Keller |  April 14, 1996

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  • Spiritual Gifts
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
RS 68-1


1 Corinthians 13 is a very famous passage, but in the context of the entire book of 1 Corinthians, we see that it is a sober warning against straying from the Gospel. If a person is gifted, as many of the Corinthians were, then it is frighteningly easy for that person to mistake their spiritual gifts for spiritual fruit. When we serve others in the church, are we serving Jesus or are we serving ourselves? To understand this passage fully, you have to understand 1) The story behind it; 2) The bombshell Paul is dropping on the Corinthians; and 3) How it applies to people today.

Understanding Love from 1 Corinthians 13

This series of talks is about how to practically live out our Christian faith, focusing on 1 Corinthians 13, a well-known chapter in the Bible that talks about love. It’s important to understand that this chapter isn’t just about love – it’s also a strong message to the church in Corinth, telling them to truly understand what love is. When we know the background of this chapter, we can better understand the deep meaning behind Paul’s words and how we can apply them in our lives today.

1. The background

Corinth was a city that was doing well economically, but was pretty messed up morally. It was a tough place for Paul to share the message of Jesus. However, he saw a lot of potential, especially in the church there, a group of people who had a lot of skills but were dealing with a lot of conflict and moral problems. Paul’s letter to this church, focusing on love and unity, gives us a timeless lesson about the struggles and opportunities that churches in the city face when they’re growing spiritually.

2. The surprise

People can have spiritual gifts, even amazing ones, without being Christians. We see this in the Bible with people like Balaam, Saul, and Judas. But these gifts don’t automatically make a person’s character better or result in spiritual qualities like love, holiness, and joy. The only way to truly change and become more like Christ is through God’s grace, which can even use people who aren’t fully devoted to Him to do good things in the world.

3. What does it mean for us?

We need to be careful not to find our value and identity in what we achieve or how successful we are in ministry. Trying to prove ourselves through our own efforts can lead to negative feelings and problems in our relationships. Depending too much on our talents for validation can make us feel jealous, sorry for ourselves, and irritated. Instead, we should find love, joy, and peace in the good news of Jesus, not in our own abilities. We need to avoid the pagan-like behavior of trying to get attention and impress others. Love is at the heart of Christianity, and we need to examine how we love God and others.



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