Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P2 (04-21-20)
So these three remain; faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love. Although we cannot produce love, in Christ we have been given the privilege to participate in the divine nature. We participate in the divine nature by abiding in Christ, trusting him to do through us what we could never do, as Jesus explained to us in John 15. So this love is to reach out to people, to share the message of Christ, to serve in the spiritual gifts God has given us, to serve the body, to give a cup of water in the name of Christ, and any of those things God has led us to do by the Spirit He has given us.
We have been made a new creation in Christ, so this labor is prompted by the love of God that has been poured into our hearts, imploring every man to be made complete in Christ. We have this hope in us, this promise of God, that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. This life is temporary, so our eyes are fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. These light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. All the trials and tribulations down here are nothing in comparison to what is waiting for us when we shall see Jesus face to face.
When the message of grace is taught, it is often not understood. The apostles were martyred for their teaching of grace. And you may have read about all that the apostle Paul went through, three times left for dead and having often gone without food. You may have read about the apostle Peter being hung upside down on a cross. Today, we may not be hung upside down on a cross like Peter was. But people will do things to destroy our reputation, will do things to destroy our life, to make life miserable for us. How many pastors have been fired from their churches, and lost their job and the provision for their family because they are teaching grace? So what keeps us going. This blessed hope in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 12:24-28
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.
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.
11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
It is not that there was anything wrong with the law. The law was holy and good, Paul said, but when it flows through us, it kills us. Yet some people will say, “It killed you, Paul, but it did not kill me. You just come and watch my smoke.” That is coming out of the heart of total self righteousness. It is coming out of someone’s heart who has not understood his own depravity, of someone who has not understood they are not righteous nor could ever make themselves righteous. If they are ever to become righteous, they have to be given that righteousness from God.
Romans 4:21-25 (KJV)
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our
I heard someone on a program with Hank Haanagraft. This guy was talking with him and had not understood imputed righteousness. “Are you righteous?” “Well, not yet, but I am going to be.” “What if you died between now and then?” “Well, I am not going to die.” So here is this pride and arrogance coming out of him. How do you know you are not going to die?
27 And just as it is destined that men die only once, and after that comes judgment
“I am not righteous yet, but I will be. I am working on it.” The poor soul can work on it all he wants to, but God is the one who determines what righteousness is, not us. God says there is not one of us who is righteous. So you might as well give up and receive the righteousness God has given to you, and that is imputed righteousness. It is called a gift from God. It is not earned. It is a gift.
17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
He is saying, “I am commending you for your faith, for the love you have for the saints, and all of that love comes from this hope that is stored up for you in heaven, and that you have already heard about it in the word of truth, the gospels coming to you.” I just love the fact that this gospel that Paul brought to them has been bearing fruit and growing since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all of it’s fullness.
There is another passage in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, where we see this triplicate of faith, hope and love.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
What is the object of your faith? The Lord Jesus Christ. What is the source of your love? The Lord Jesus Christ. Where does your hope come from? From the Lord Jesus Christ. It is all Jesus and none of you. When you look at this, you see this triplicate here again. Your work is produced by faith. What is interesting to me, as I look at that, I recall the questionnt that was asked by the disciples to Jesus, “Lord, what is the work of the ministry?” Jesus said, “The work of the ministry is to believe in me”.
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
In other words, “to have faith in me” said Jesus, is the work of the ministry. “Lord, I want to know what the work is? You did not understand my question.” “Yes, I did understand your question. Your work is to believe and abide in me.”
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “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. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
If you were to talk to a branch and the branch would say to the vine, “Vine, what is the work of the branch, what would he say?” “Oh, go out and produce fruit.” Well, it would be ridiculous to do that. The branch knows it cannot produce fruit. “Well, go out and do something good for the vine.” Well, that would be ridiculous, for a branch knows it cannot do anything apart from the vine. What would the answer be? The vine would say, “Branch, the only work you can do, in order to bear fruit, is to trust me to produce fruit. Abide in me and I will produce fruit in you. You will get the privilege of bearing the fruit, but you cannot produce it. So what is your work? To believe in me.”
2 Peter 1:4
4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
When is it talking about, to remember all of us before God our Father, your work that is produced by faith?
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith
What is your work that is going to be produced by faith? If faith is what my work is, then faith tells me to go to work walking by faith. In other words, my work is going to be produced by faith in Jesus that says you can do nothing apart from me. What is my work then? To believe in me. It is almost like talking in circles.
1 Thessalonians 1:3
your labor prompted by love
Your labor that is prompted by love. What is it that prompts our labor? To go out to love others, which is what we are commended for. Go out and labor in the harvest fields of Christ, leading people to Christ, telling people about the Lord Jesus Christ, giving a cup of water in the name of Christ, whatever Jesus is telling us to do. What is it that prompts our labor? Love.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
1 Corinthians 3:11-13
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.
If it is not prompted by love, it is wood, hay and stubble. Is our labor prompted by love? Was our motivation love or self adulation. Did I go out and do something to be patted on the head, for people to say, “Oh, that Bob is something”, or did I do it because I loved the person I was helping.
1 Thessalonians 1:3
and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our endurance is inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. What is it that keeps us hanging in there when times get tough. It is your hope in Jesus. It is that blessed hope that if God is for you who can be against you.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Teaching the grace of God is not easy. You get ridiculed. The apostles got killed. Jesus was hung on a cross. Many times the teachers of grace, although we do not have crosses to hang people on, people will do things to destroy their reputation, things to destroy their life, to make life miserable for them. How many pastors have been fired from their churches, and lost their job and the provision for their family, because they are teaching grace? What keeps them going? Hope. The blessed hope that one of these days my word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11) and you will be absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:7-9), but in the meantime, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). That is that blessed hope that keeps your endurance inspired by the hope of Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
2 Corinthians 5:7-9
7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, then, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we aspire to please Him, whether we are here in this body or away from it
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.