Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P1 (04-20-20)
Listen as Bob George shares a message on faith, hope and love. Have you ever noticed that whenever you read about love, you will see it together with faith and hope. Just like the Trinity, Father, Son and holy Spirit, it is there as a triplicate. What comes to mind when you think about love? Is it something we can produce in the energy of our flesh? No. Why do you suppose faith and hope in Christ Jesus is so vital to even love one another as Christ loved you? We love because He first loved us.
God is the initiator. We are the responder. He initiated His love to us when He sent His Son to do something for us that we could not even do for ourselves. We were born spiritually dead, without hope and without the love of God in our hearts. Have you ever noticed that a dead person cannot raise himself from the dead? That is how we were born. How then are we to respond?
Did you know that sin is what caused our death? As long as we are under the law of sin and death, that whenever you should sin again, you shall die. So, it is because God wanted us to be alive, that he had a plan to send His Son into this world to take away the cause of our death, which is sin, in order to give us life. That is the pure grace of God, the unconditional love of God. While we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us. He died for us then, so He could give His life to us now, so He can live His life in and through us.
So you accepted what Jesus alone accomplished for you. He died for us then, identifying with us in our death, so that we too can experience His life, the life that is in Him, in that being raised from the dead with him, we too shall live. We live by the Spirit He has given us whereby we are called children of God, a new creation, members together of the body of Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, slave or free. The Lord’s supper that we celebrate together is a visual picture of that, where one loaf represents the one new body, made of many parts, the children of God, with the Spirit of God living in each one of us.
So in Christ we have this hope, a hope for something better, that the law could never do and religion could never do. We have placed our faith in what He had promised and has done and will continue to do for us by the grace he has given. This is not some grace, but the grace in all it’s truth, in all it’s fullness. The truth shall truly set you free to live in accordance with God’s purpose for you. I have been made complete in Christ. I lack nothing for God has said that He has given me everything I need for life and Godliness. I am set apart, sanctified, for God’s purposes. I am free to grow in Christ, free from condemnation and free to grow in this grace I have received. Christ in me is my only hope of glory.
So listen or read along as Bob explains some of the misunderstandings people have on what faith is and of what grace is, and how that all relates to the love of God in Christ Jesus. Read along in 1 Corinthians 13, often referred to as the love chapter, about the definition of love, which is really a description of God. If I were to ask myself questions of how well do I love, to ask myself if I am always patient, always kind, and never keep records of wrong, and never fail, how well would I do? That shows us our need of grace, of someone living in us, to do something we could never do.
Did you realize that love is a fruit of the Spirit, as indicated in Galatians 5:22-23, and is something I could never produce and indeed am not even designed to produce. Love is produced by the Spirit of God, and not only do we experience that love from God, but that love flows through us into the lives of others, as we allow Him to, which is the purpose of God, to serve one another in love. So as you think over John 15, the parable of the vine and the branches, ask the Lord to help you understand what it means to abide in the vine?
As you listen or read along, Bob George will explain some other things along the way, the purpose of the body of Christ, of spiritual gifts, of what predestination and election is about, not the you’s and me’s but the Jew and the Gentile, being saved the same way, by faith alone in Christ Jesus, about what Spirit-filled living really means, not about tongues or the raising of hands in prayer, but Christ in you, and about faith as small as a mustard seed, which is really not about how big our faith is, but how big God is, the extent of our knowing the grace of God in Christ Jesus, and the depravity and bondage of religion, and how God wants us to leave this law and legalism behind and enter into the grace in which we stand, in all it’s fullness.
A little background before we get into this study, “A Closer Look at Faith, Hope and Love”. A number of years ago, after I had completed the majority of our Closer Look series of books, the last one I was going to write, at that particular time, was the one on Faith, Hope and Love. It was going to be just on love. I was thinking that would not be too difficult to write on love. I thought it would be the easiest book to write. Off I went, but I found the frustration level was unbelievable. I could not get this bible study written. I thought it was a simple task. I was so frustrated with it that I almost got carnal minded (laughter). With that, I started looking again, saying, “Lord, there has to be a reason why I am stumbling over this thing. So let us start afresh and see what it is”.
As I went back into the scripture, I kept seeing this triplicate of faith, hope and love throughout the scriptures. Hold on a minute. This is not by accident. We are telling people, and obviously we have a desire to love one another, but that is an impossibility apart from faith in Jesus, who is the author of love, and hope in Jesus, and those are the truths that produce love. I also think you really cannot have true faith that is going to have any substance to it apart from the hope in Christ. Also the love of God that you have received from him by faith that enables it to be passed on to others. All of that is really a triplicate that you cannot get away from. Since that time, I have never tried to teach the love of God in and of itself because you are doing injustice by doing so, because you cannot separate those three; faith, hope and love.
1 Corinthian 13:13
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Paul told us this in 1 Corinthians. We have the love chapter, in chapter 13. It is a marvelous chapter in the scriptures. In that, he is speaking about the body of Christ, and that is where love comes in. We have received love from Him, and now pass it on to others. You cannot love your brother when there is disunity and disharmony, thinking “I have got it and you do not”. How can you love your brother with that? You can judge them but you certainly cannot love them.
So in the 12th chapter of Corinthians, he is talking about the body of Christ. In the 11th chapter he is dealing with the Lord’s supper, which is a picture of the body of Christ. That was the purpose of the Lord’s supper, the breaking of bread. The church was the representation of His body, singular form, just as a loaf of bread is singular from. Jesus said, “I am going away and when I do, I am going to send my Spirit to be living in you, so you will be my body”.
7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
So the picture of the breaking of bread in the Lord’s supper is the breaking of the bread, passing it around, and each person, taking a piece of that bread, representing the very day you became a part of the body of Christ. That is His loaf and now you are going to be the loaf. That is what that is a picture of. After it has been shared with the entirety of the group, you ask, where is the loaf? It is gone. Where is it? In you. That is a picture of Christ in you, your hope of glory.
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
If we all came from the same loaf, then we should not have disunity with one another. So Paul in the 12th chapter, in the 12th verse, Paul writes this.
1 Corinthians 12:12
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.
The body has many parts, that is, many people. You and I have many body parts. No matter how many we have, somebody knows that, it only forms one body, and so it is with Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:13
13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body
We are not baptized by the Spirit or in the Spirit, but we are baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ. In other words, we are placed, and identified, as His body on earth. We, as children of God, are the body of Christ here on this earth. Over 2000 years ago, if you were to look for the body of Christ, you would have to go back to Jerusalem, or to Israel, and find Jesus of Nazareth. Here you would find the body of Christ. But he said he is going away. He went away, and put his Spirit into us, and we have now become his body.
1 Corinthians 12:13-14
whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
It is made up of many parts, that is, many, many people, but it forms one body. We were placed into that body, whether we were a Jew, a Gentile, slave or free, we were all given that one Spirit to drink. We were all indwelt, not by two Spirits, but by one Spirit.
That gets into what has been discussed before about what predestination and election is about. It is not about you’s and me’s but that the Gentile would come to Christ identically the same way as the Jew and the Jew would be saved identically the same way as the Gentile. So let us not think that if we are a Jew, we are really something, or to think if you are a Gentile, that you are somehow better than you. It is one Spirit living in both of you. It is only when you see that that you are going to have unity, which is God’s will as the body of Christ.
So that predestination and election had to do with Jew and Gentile. It has nothing to do with you’s and me’s, that God likes you and not someone else. It has to do with predestination, before the foundation of the world, that the Gentile, unthinkable to the Jew, would come to know and be saved the same way as the Jew, who had the laws and the ordinances and all those things, and then to this heathenist Gentile. He is going to bring salvation to both the same way. Salvation will come to both of you the same way, by faith in Jesus.
1 Corinthians 12:13-14
we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Now, he goes on to explain how we are not made of one part but of many.
1 Corinthians 12:15
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.
That would be another illustration of saying, “since that I am not a Jew, I do not belong to the body”. If you are a hand, you belong to the body. It would be ridiculous to say your hand does not belong to the body. So he talks about eyes, and different parts of the body.
1 Corinthians 12:16-18
16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
God has placed the parts in the body. Not we, but He did.
1 Corinthians 12:19-28
19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church
That is the Ecclesia, the called out people.
1 Corinthians 12:28-31
first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? No. Are all prophets? No. Are all teachers? No. Do all work miracles? No. 30 Do all have gifts of healing? No. Do all speak in tongues? No. Do all interpret? No. 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
So why are you saying, “If you do not have my gift, you are not spiritual. If you do not have the gift of teaching, then you are not filled with the Spirit.” That is what people say when it comes to gifts. All that kind of talk will just cause disunity in the body of Christ. There is no such thing as a big gift and a little one. It is all for the purpose God created to the service of the body. In the midst of this, where people get hung up on gifts, whatever it might be, he says let us find a more excellent way. So if I get all puffed up saying, “I have that gift of teaching, and you ought to have that, then God says, ‘Bob, let me show you a better way. Your gift is really not that big of a deal. Let me show you what I am really looking for.’”.
1 Corinthians 13:1
1 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.
I have said to some people that teaching that speaking in tongues is evidence of being filled with the Spirit. “Can you imagine calling someone a Spirit-filled resounding gong or a Spirit-filled clanging cymbal?” That is what he says. Do not get hung up on your gifts. Get preoccupied with the Giver.
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A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love
1 Corinthians 13:2-3
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Then he gives a definition of what God’s love is. When you put the “I always” to it, it puts us back to where we belong, at the feet of Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:4-12
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Then he tells us what remains.
1 Corinthians 13:13
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
This is the key verse to the first chapter of our book, “A Closer look at Faith, Hope and Love“. In accordance with 1 Corinthians 13, prophecies are going to cease, tongues will be stilled, knowledge will pass away, but these three things will remain. This is the triplicate we are talking about; faith, hope and love. You cannot separate these in your teaching. If you teach one, you have to teach all three. It is kind of like the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is a triplicate and you cannot have one without the others.
In Ephesians 1:15-18, you see this repeated again.
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people (saints)
In this passage, it brings out your faith, your love and your hope in Christ Jesus.
In Colossians 1:3-6, we are told this again.
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people – 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.
In that prayer, we see some things we want to pause for a moment. The apostle Paul is saying that he is always thanking God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when I pray for you. The reason for the thanksgiving and the Spirit of thanksgiving is because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus. He did not say he heard of your faith in faith. He did not say he heard that your faith is so big that it can manipulate God. I heard of your faith in Him.
That gets us asking, “what is faith?” Is faith something we initiate to God in order to get God to respond to us? If that is the case, then we are playing God. And we are, quite frankly, greater than God because the initiator of something is always greater than the responder of something. In the 2nd law of thermodynamics we have that principle. The cause of something is always greater than the effect of something. The heat from the sun is not greater than the sun. That is not rocket science to figure that out.
When talking about the things of God, the grace of God is not greater than God. The grace of God is what is given to us by God. So it is not greater than God. It is a responder. We respond to it. So when we are looking at the things of God, He is always the initiator. I we are the initiator, and He is the responder, then what we have done is stood at the garden of Eden and said, “I do not need you. I will figure it out myself, and I will determine what is right and wrong, and get you to honor that.”
When playing God, I am looking at it as if that is what I do, and conjure it up, and I have such big faith, it is so unbelievable that I can manipulate God. I can tell God what I want, and He is obligated to give it to me, and that is what people think faith is. That is not faith. That is heresy. That is the opposite of what faith is from God’s vantage point. Now, if I can just get a hundred thousand saints together, then we can really get God’s attention. I am just one person, but if I get a bunch of people together, then God has to listen to us. That is the tower of Babel all over again. I am getting to get big enough, build something tall enough, get it closer to heaven, and then say to God that He has got to listen to me, and we call that faith. No, that is not faith. That is heretical teaching.
Faith is a responder. Faith is not greater than the object of our faith, just as the warmth of the sun is not greater than the sun. We have to understand that truth. God is the initiator and we are the responder. When God gave Christ Jesus to us, He gave Christ Jesus to us to do what was impossible for us to accomplish. That is what grace is. Grace is the miracle from God acting on the behalf of depraved people. As an example, if you are dead, and you make yourself alive, well, that is impossible. It is not one of those things that might be profitable or maybe it could happen. No, it is impossible. But did God want us alive? Yes, he did. What did he do? Through the miracle of grace, he came to earth and entered into our spiritual death with us, raised us from the dead on the third day in order that we might be able to enter into his resurrection with him. That is a miracle that is called grace.
If I was sitting there, and I was a little hungry, and somebody gave me an apple and said that is grace. But somebody else could have handed you an apple. But try creating one of those apples. That is grace. That is creation. He did not consult us. That is totally from God. That is grace. People ask all the time what grace is. Grace is what God provided for you that you can never provide for yourself. How can a person, like myself, any human, make themselves righteous in the sight of God, when He says no one is righteous? No, not one. Why did he say that? He wanted us to know something. He said, “I am going to make you righteous and that will be a miracle of grace. There is nothing in you that is righteous.
9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.”
For you to ever walk in the presence of a righteous God is an impossibility. Impossible. Now, do people grab a hold of that? No, Satan comes along and forms religion. In religion, it says, “Oh, you can do that. You keep working at it. You keep doing what we tell you to do. You move your hands when we tell you to move your hands. You lift them in the air or you speak in tongues. Man, you can get righteous on your own.” Well, then you do not need grace. If you can do that, then God has lied to you. For He said, “you will never make yourself righteous by anything you do.”
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
Yet, people today are desperately trying to gain righteousness through what they do. Sorry, there isn’t any. You can be as obedient to that law as you want to but you will never be declared righteous in the sight of God through it. So what are you doing it for then? You are not impressing God. Deep down you are not even impressing yourself because you know you can’t. All you can do is impress those who do not know what is going on behind closed doors.
So when dealing with self righteousness, all that is doing is calling God a liar, who said there is no one righteous, is all I get back from that experience. What God is saying, “This is an impossibility for me to ever be made righteous in the sight of God by what I do.” Then Lord, how can can an unrighteous person walk in the presence of a righteous God? For man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
So what did God do? The righteous one came to earth and there he who knew no sin became sin for us so that in him we can become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Where? In Him. What did God do? He did for us what is impossible for us. That is called grace. Now we enter into that by faith and by faith alone. There is no other way that we can receive and use this thing called faith to do anything except responding. Faith is not something you initiate. Faith is responding to what he has initiated. He has done it all. You cannot do anything apart from Christ.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
When are we going to realize that? We will never be anything apart from him. We can never do anything apart from him what he is looking for. We can do a lot of things our peers are looking for, and get patted on the head down here. Incidentally he said that is all the credit you are going to get.
1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
Now that is discouraging. We must come to see our own depravity. We must come to see that there is not one earthly thing any man on the face of the earth can do to gain eternal life, to gain forgiveness of sin. Man comes along and says, “Oh, that forgiveness comes when we do it for one another.” You have got to be kidding me. Even the Pharisees said, “no one can forgive sins except God alone.”
7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
If you ever read the original Greek, this verse becomes clear in it’s meaning. If you bound on earth what is already bound in heaven. We do not bind anything in heaven. It has already been bound in heaven. Our forgiveness has already been bound in heaven. That is why I do not need a priest down here to forgive me nor do I need Mary to forgive me nor do I need another man to forgive me. Christ is the forgiveness of sins. Period. He is our high priest. Period.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.
He does not have another one. He does not need another one. He is our high priest. He is the only one who can forgive sins. And that is Jesus. What did he do? He took them away. He did something better than forgive sins. He took them away, never to be seen again. He judged them, entered into our death with us because of them, and took them away from the sight of God, never to be dealt with again. So, you tell me how some man can pull that one off? You cannot. So what is it? Grace.
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus
As we look again at this passage in Colossians 1:3-6, Paul is commending them for their faith in Christ Jesus. He is not commending you for your faith, but it is your faith in Christ Jesus. It is the object of your faith that He is impressed with, not your faith. We have people trying to get big faith, trying to increase their faith. How are you going to increase your faith, and if you did, it would still be something somewhat smaller than a mustard seed. Jesus did say that if anyone has a faith as small as a mustard seed we can move a mountain.
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
I have not seen too many people doing that, not even the people on television, trying that one. In other words, people are trying to get faith big. We do not need big faith. We have a big God. It is not how much faith I have, but how much God I have. How much Jesus do you know? When will we understand that our faith will not cause God to do anything. It just responds to what God has already done. So he says, “I commend you for that, for your faith is in the right spot, and that is in Jesus Christ.”
Then he says, “I commend you for the love you have for all the saints.”
and of the love you have for all God’s people – 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.
All over the world, the gospel of grace, is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all of it’s truth. Do you realize that the majority of the Christian world does not understand God’s grace in all of it’s truth. I believe they have understood God’s grace in some of it’s truth, but not all of it. Some grace is not going to bear fruit. There is no such thing as some grace. That would be a partial grace. You have to come to understand God’s grace in all of it’s truth. If you are going to understand grace in all of it’s truth, you must understand that we are under all of God’s grace and none of the law of God.