While love never ends, many other things will end. (vv.8ff)
We are told here that some of the churches most cherished gifts will pass away. These passing gifts are partial at best. Even prophecy and knowledge are incomplete. We live in the age of information, the age of the knowledge explosion, yet the love of many grows cold. I don’t wish to return to an age of ignorance, but I wish to add to our knowledge faith, hope and love.
IV. We are all beginners and always will be in this life.
This is the conclusion of I. Cor. 13. “Now we see in a mirror dimly [ainigma –in a riddle, indistinctly], but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” The expression “face to face” harks back to Moses: Ex. 33:11 says “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” Numbers 12 explains this in more detail: “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord.” Paul may have had these scriptures in mind as he composed this passage.
Just how much don’t we know. One of my sayings is, I don’t know what I don’t know. Certainly if I don’t know it, I may not know that I don’t know it. I know that I don’t know the distance from earth to Pluto, but that is something I know I don’t know. But I also know that I can look it up. But what about things that I don’t know that I don’t know? These are the potentially more serious things. The Bible is sufficient to tell us what we need to know, but it is not comprehensive. When we see face to face we will know.
Do you want to know fully with the security that you are safe in the arms of God. This is an important qualification because some of what we will come to know will no doubt include stuff we would rather not know. We are experts at rationalization, at hiding things even from ourselves. Everything will be in the light, but we will be safe with the God who is generous with His love.