1 Corinthians 13: 11 -13
“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.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 20th session of the ‘Spiritual Love’ lecture series.
We will finish this lecture series today. Although the messages will end, they now become all the more important. We should remember the messages we heard and practice what has been learned to accomplish perfect love quickly.
In the last session, we learned about the eternity of love.
When we are transformed into spiritual bodies and go into the heavenly kingdom, all of this physical world will disappear. The heaven and earth, the wealth and fame, all of this physical world will disappear.
Though they are spiritual things, in the end even prophecy, different tongues, and all knowledge will also be abolished. It’s because they are needed only in this physical world.
Even the more precious things on this earth are not eternal. There is nothing perfect, either.
The only eternal thing is love, and only heavenly kingdom if perfect.
Through this message, I hope your goal of your life will be this spiritual love. I pray in the name of the Lord that you will be able to possess the perfect and beautiful New Jerusalem.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, from verse 11 of today’s passage, it explains to us the difference between when we live on this earth in physical body and when we live in spiritual realm.
Verse 11 says, “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.”
Here, ‘when I was a child’ refers to the time when we are living on this earth in physical body.
When the Perfect comes, namely when we get to the kingdom of heaven, there is no limit to anything.
Compared to that world, the present in physical world has many restrictions and limitations.
And this state is likened to the time of a child. A child speaks, understands, and thinks like a child.
A baby who is just beginning to speak can say just a couple of easy words like ‘momma’ and ‘daddy’.
He cannot express many things concretely in detail.
Also, children cannot understand complex things. So, they don’t really understand the world of the adults.
Children speak, understand, and think within their knowledge and ability as children.
It’s the same while we are living on this earth. For example, the jewels of New Jerusalem are exceedingly beautiful.
It is difficult to express how they give out their luster and how beautiful their brilliance really is. It’s because in this physical world, there is nothing as beautiful as those jewels, and there are no words to express such beauty.
But in the heavenly kingdom, the perfect world, there are no limits. We can express its beauty to the fullest.
Then, we will also be able to understand the limitless and mysterious spiritual realm, and the principles by which everything functions.
We will have spiritual bodies and live in the spiritual realm, so the depth of thinking and understanding will be completely different from here.
We will hear and understand all spiritual words. For example, the message about this spiritual love is the spiritual word.
It tells us about spiritual love in detail.
Because we are living in this world in physical bodies, this is sometimes explained with examples of something from this world.
Even though they may listen to this message many times, still fleshly people will not understand what spiritual love is. They may have shallow understanding, but in most cases, they will just understand it literally or as knowledge only.
The spiritual word can only be understood in spirit, namely with the heart, not with brain, or the thoughts.
Of course, even if we have physical bodies, to the extent that we’ve cultivated spirit in our heart we can understand the spiritual word in our heart.
But compared to the limitless spiritual realm, the depth of understanding is completely different.
What we feel here in this world in physical body and what we will feel in spiritual realm later are just so different.
For example, in heavenly kingdom, there is no sin, evil, untruth, darkness, worries, or anxieties.
There are no men of flesh and only goodness and love exist. In such a heavenly kingdom, we can express our love with the heavenly language and serve one another as much as we want. Only then will we be able to understand, ‘This is truly spiritual love. It is such a happy thing!’.
The level of realizing, feeling, and expressing spiritual love in the heavenly kingdom cannot be compared with this earth.
The physical world and spiritual world’s love are clearly different.
Even on this earth, according to the extent to which we have cultivated our heart into spirit, namely according to the measure of faith, each individual speaks, understands, and thinks differently.
Some of us are like children while others are like grown-ups. It’s because faith also grows up.
In 1 John chapter 2, each level of faith is likened to very young children, children, young men, and fathers.
Those who are in the level of a very young child or a child’s faith, they are like children in spirit. When they speak, they are not good at expressing or explaining spiritual things.
Also, their understanding is like that of children, so they cannot really understand the deep spiritual things.
Also, their ability is limited like that of a little child. They have little strength to practice the word.
But when they become young men and fathers, their words, thinking, and actions become different.
They will speak more and more spiritual things. The level of feeling the love of God and understanding spiritual words will be different, too.
They have more ability to practice the word of God, and they can win the battle against the power of darkness.
But even though we accomplish the faith of fathers on this earth, we can say we are still like children compared to the time when we have spiritual bodies and enter into heavenly kingdom.
It’s because we have physical limits on this earth. Even though we cultivate whole spirit and show our ability and wisdom, it is very little compared to the amount of ability and wisdom we can show in the perfect spiritual realm.
In heavenly kingdom, we can show limitless ability and wisdom without any physical limitation.
When we become adults, the restrictions that we had when we were children will be abolished, and we will do many things.
When we grow up, we will do away with the things of the children.
It is just as Paul said, “When I became a man, I did away with childish things.”
When we have the perfect life of heavenly kingdom, our words, understanding, and thinking about spiritual realm will be perfect.
It means that it is from that time that our true life begins.
Childhood is a time of preparation to become an adult, and likewise, life on this earth is the preparation time for eternal life.
Just as children grow up and become adults, life on this earth will pass quickly and the eternal life will come.
The period of childhood passes by quickly.
And, this world is like a shadow compared to the eternal kingdom of heaven.
A shadow will soon disappear after sunset.
It is meaningless and only exists while the sun is in the sky. This world and the life of this world are just like shadow.
In 2 Chronicles 29:15, David says the following before he gives his throne to his son Solomon.
“For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope.”
Not only is that shadow of a person temporary, it is not the actual being.
In other words, it’s not real.
It’s just an image that resembles the original being.
When we look at the shadow of something, we can understand the general outline of that object.
This physical world is also like a shadow that gives us brief idea about the eternal world.
Therefore, it is never eternal. It passes away quickly like a shadow.
Therefore, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will not look at the momentary life on this earth but only toward the heavenly kingdom, which is eternal and perfect.
Brothers and sisters, when the shadow, which is life on this earth, passes away, then the actual entity will be clearly revealed.
Today’s passage verses 12-13 says, “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.”
Right now, we know about spiritual realm only vaguely and dimly, comparable to when we look into a mirror.
But when we go to heavenly kingdom, we will understand as clearly as when we see face to face.
Then, is there anybody who thinks the image in a mirror is very clear?
When the apostle Paul wrote this chapter on spiritual love, it was about 2,000 years ago.
A mirror at that time was not as clear as today’s mirrors. It was not made with glass. They ground silver, bronze or steel and polished the metal to reflect light. That is why Paul said, “we see in a mirror dimly.”
How do we look at the heavenly kingdom now? We look at it not with physical eyes but with the eyes of faith. We believe what we heard about heaven, and form an image of it in our heart.
Of course, some of you see and feel the kingdom of heaven more vividly in inspiration or with spiritual eyes.
Still, it is just like seeing an image in such a mirror compared to actually seeing the kingdom of heaven.
In the dim reflection of such a mirror, we can just see the general shape and colors of the object. Likewise, we can sense the beauty and happiness of heaven just dimly.
When the eternal kingdom, the perfect world, comes later, we will feel the heavenly kingdom directly in the heavenly kingdom itself.
We will clearly see every detail of the kingdom and feel it directly, so the liveliness will be completely different. We will vividly feel the beauty and happiness of heavenly kingdom.
So, today’s passage verse 12 says, “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.”
Then, we will clearly understand spiritual things just as our Lord clearly knows about us.
Our Lord knows each of us very well.
He knows our heart, thoughts, and even the deep heart of which we are not aware.
In John chapter 1, Jesus commends a person called Nathanael.
John 1:47 says, “Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”
Nathanael was very surprised when he found out Jesus knew his heart without even talking to him once.
Then he confessed Jesus is the Son of God.
God knows our heart very well, and with His word He penetrates to divide even the soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow.
Luke 12:7 says, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
How does He know us so well?
Psalm 33:15 says, “He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works.” It’s because He made our heart.
Just as the Lord knows us very well, when we go to heaven, we will also clearly know about God who is spirit.
We will clearly understand how great and immense God is, and how inexpressibly beautiful He is.
We will also clearly know about the lives in heavenly kingdom.
Brothers and sisters, right now, no matter how much we imagine, we cannot fathom all the beauty of heavenly kingdom. It means heavenly kingdom is such a perfect and good place.
On this earth, even though we know a lot about the spiritual realm and feel the spiritual realm through many kinds of gifts, we can never understand the happiness of heavenly kingdom fully. We can understand all of this when we are actually there.
And the more important fact is that the most precious thing in heavenly kingdom is love.
Only love never fails and knows no end.
The last verse, verse 13 says, “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
The chapter on spiritual love is concluded with the emphasis that love is the greatest. We should always have faith and hope, and they are very valuable.
We can be saved and go to heaven only when we have faith. We can become God’s children only with faith.
Because we can gain salvation, eternal life, and heavenly kingdom only with faith, faith is very precious.
And the treasure of all treasures is faith; God is delighted with faith.
If we can please God, we can receive answers to anything. Faith is the key to all answers.
Hope is also precious; we take hold of the better dwelling places in heaven by having hope.
If we have faith, we will naturally have hope. If we surely believe in God and heaven and hell, we will have hope for heaven. Also, the greater faith we have, we do not just want to go to heaven; we want to get to better heavenly dwelling places and more rewards.
Because we have hope, we try to become sanctified and work faithfully for God’s kingdom. Faith and hope are a must until we reach heavenly kingdom.
But why is love the greatest? It’s because if we cultivate love, we will receive the honor of becoming God’s true children.
With faith, we can be saved and go to heaven, and with hope, we can go into a better heavenly dwelling place.
But everybody will not go into New Jerusalem as a result of just having faith and hope.
We can go into Paradise, the 1st kingdom, 2nd kingdom, or 3rd kingdom of heaven according to our measure of faith and how much we have accomplished with hope.
So, who will be able to enter into New Jerusalem? Those who are appropriately suitable to fit in the place will enter. Princes and princesses fit in a palace. Likewise, in New Jerusalem, the city of God, God’s sons and daughters will fit in.
We are all children of God who are made in God’s image.
But who are the true children? Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
A true son of God is a son who is completely sanctified and resembles God.
The sons and daughters of God share peace with everyone and love everybody just like Jesus, the first Son, who perfectly resembles God.
Love is the condition to become a true child of God and go into New Jerusalem. That is why love is said to be the greatest.
Also, when we go to heaven, we won’t need faith and hope any more. We will see everything directly in heaven, so we will naturally believe everything.
Also, we will have already received our dwelling places and rewards, and we will have seen God the Father and the Lord, so there will be nothing to hope for any longer.
The only thing that we will still need is love. God the Father also considers love more precious than anything else.
Faith and hope are beneficial to us. They are needed for us to receive salvation and go to heaven, and to go into a better dwelling place and receive more rewards.
But love is beneficial not only for us, but for God the Father too. It’s because love is something that we can share with God the Father.
The reason why God is cultivating men is this love. The shortcut to accomplish this love and become a true child is to take after Jesus, who is the perfect model of a true son.
Among many messages, especially, the Beatitudes, Spiritual Love, and the Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit are the standards that tell us how much we have accomplished in spirit.
To the extent that we have the fruits of these words in our heart, we will also have cultivated perfect love in our heart.
Therefore, like diligent farmers, I hope you will cultivate these messages in your heart day after day and bear fruits.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we have looked into the spiritual love chapter so far. Physically, we just looked into one chapter of the Bible.
But in spirit, it is same as looking at a ‘treasure map’ that tells us where a great amount of treasures is hidden. The messages on the spiritual love chapter are like a map that shows us the way to New Jerusalem in detail.
But even though we have the map and know the way very well, it is of no use if we don’t go. Let us be thankful that we could hear such a message and take this way and go.
Let us briefly review the way to New Jerusalem described in the spiritual love chapter. Love can be divided into fleshly love and spiritual love.
The love that the spiritual love chapter is talking about is true love, which is never changing.
Nothing is valuable without this spiritual love. Even if we have the words of angels, ability to prophesy, and faith to move a mountain, nothing is valuable without love.
The spiritual love chapter tells us in detail the things that are not in accordance with love. Envy, boasting, arrogance, and anger are not love. Love is to be patient, to be gentle, not to be arrogant, and not to get angry. If we diligently cultivate the things that belong to love and practice them, our hearts will be filled with spiritual love more and more.
It says this love never fails. Even in the heavenly kingdom, a place where no place on this earth can even begin to be compared, this love lasts forever.
Love is the purpose of human cultivation. It is the qualification to go into New Jerusalem as God’s true sons and daughters.
Even today, God the Father bears all things, believes all things, hopes for all things, and endures all things to make you His true children.
I hope all of you will rely on this love and come forth as true children of God.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will share true love with God the Father in New Jerusalem.