Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P5 (04-28-20)
I heard on social media, where a person asked these sincere and honest questions. “I am often uncertain about what to say, when the great commission comes up in conversation. Do we all do street preaching? I hardly ever do that. (Been sometime since the last, a year! ) Is one to one witness whenever I can, enough? Is trying to show what Jesus preached in how I live, not part of it? Are we all missionaries? I was sent to mainland China but again, that was long ago. I do feel inadequate, at times. So when we talk of the great commission – what do you actually do?”
As I was thinking how to answer his questions, this is what God put on my heart to write. I think of this faith, hope and love that are ours in Christ Jesus, as God initiated that love to us first in Christ Jesus, whom he sent to this world so we might visually see what a person filled with the Holy Spirit looks like. That way when I see His righteousness in light of my own unrighteousness, I might ask for His. At that moment, you are born again, having the same Spirit of Jesus living in you.
All that Jesus did was preparation for life to be given, which He gave to us, who put our faith in Him. After he rose from the dead and ascended to the Father, He gave to us His promised Holy Spirit, who would live in us and be in us forever. So we come to Him for this life of the Spirit. We marvel at His love, His grace, His unbelievable kindness to us in Christ Jesus. He is the initiator and we are the responder. While we were yet sinners, He died for us. While we were hopeless and helpless, dead in trespasses and sin, He died for us and then gave us an offer of new life. There is certainly no one like Christ Jesus.
Jesus modeled perfectly the Christian life. He, although God, and never ceasing to be God, became a man like you and I, so that we, who are not God may know how to live. Jesus lived in total dependency on God the Father. He did nothing of his own initiative. He only did what he saw his Father doing. He only said what the Father told him to say and how to say it. So living the Christian life is impossible. We cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit. But we can abide in Christ and make ourselves available to live His life in us and through us. We cannot produce fruit but we can bear fruit. We learn to trust and know God, and that is truly living.
So developing a deeper relationship of trust in God, knowing the depth of His love for you is key. You get to know God through His word, relying on the Holy Spirit, the gift of life living in you, to reveal the meaning of His word to you. The Holy Spirit was given to you so you may understand the things of God. He lives in you to will and to act according to His good purposes. You also have this promise, that the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.
You have so much precious promises of God. He will be in you forever, and you can never lose. There is no condemnation for you. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. No one can snatch you out of My Father’s hands. Oh, the magnitude of His unconditional love, acceptance and grace! Even when you are absent from the body, you are present with the Lord.
So, you get to know God, where the words of God are living and active inside you, renewing your mind, as a loving Father to a child, and you are a child of God. The life of Christ is in your heart and not your head, as if just words on a page. You start to grow by being fed the milk of the word. That is how we all start. Then, by adding to that meat of the word, when you are ready, and as you allow yourself to be taught by the Spirit of God. Do not worry about what you do not know, or your inadequacies, because it is not about us, but Him. He is our adequacy. He is our competence. He makes us competent as ministers of a New Covenant, and not letters written on stone.
A new believer is often pushed into doing things before they are ready to do anything because they are less likely to rely on Christ whom they have just begun to know. How can you expect a mere infant in Christ to have responsibilities beyond his maturity to handle? Let us have that time reading the scriptures and getting to know God, relying on the Holy Spirit to reveal who He is, of what truth is.
He may indeed send us out two by two when it is the right time and he has us properly prepared. But you can always start with what you do know, “I was blind but now I see”. Also, we are told to be prepared to have a ready answer for anyone who asks you about the hope you have within you. How prepared are you? You can share what you do know, what Christ has done for you. You can share what God has revealed to you by His Spirit as your mind has been renewed with truth.
You do as the Lord leads you to do and say what the Lord leads you to say. Christ is your life and He is the head of the church. He lives in a believer and a believer is uniquely made for the purpose for which God created him. Each believer has his spiritual gift he functions in, and he learns from others who have their spiritual gift. If I do not have spiritual gift of teaching but I listen to someone who does, then I grow and can learn to operate in the spiritual gift of teaching. If I observe how someone has the heart of giving and what motivates him in giving, I learn the attitude of giving even if I am not naturally a giving person. The body of Christ is built up that way. God is more interested in the attitudes of the heart than in what we say or do. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Faith, hope and love is what we grab a hold of, and the greatest of these is love.
As we started this series on “Faith, Hope and Love”, this was not the intent of the series. I planned on writing a bible study on love alone. I thought I would not have any trouble with that at all. I thought I knew how to write about it. It became a source of frustration to me as I started to write this bible study. Finally, in frustration, I asked the Lord, “What is the problem here?” What was revealed to me was, “Bob, you do not understand anything about love, because you cannot teach love by itself. It comes in a triplicate of faith, hope and love. You cannot experience one with out the other.” I began to see this thing of love is so wrapped up in the author of love, and my faith in Him, and my hope in Him, and that is what produces my love for Him.
So, I began on a brand new journey on this subject of love, of seeing that in the triplicate that it is, I began to open up these scriptures and see in every book that Paul wrote, he would start commending the saints for their faith, hope and love. I saw this triplicate throughout the scriptures. In the end, three things that remain, faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Having seen that, you realize love is not something you can just go out and do. It is a by-product in our faith in the loving one, and your hope in the loving one. There, it is not that we loved Him but He loves us first.
1 John 4:19
19 We love because he first loved us.
Until we are back in His love, we not only cannot initiate love to Him, but we can only respond to Him. That set off some other things in my mind. I began to see that we are responders. We are not initiators. That ties into the chapter we are dealing with right now in regard to faith.
Faith, so many times, comes to mean that is what I have that enables God to respond to me. That is totally in reverse of what faith is. Faith is a response to the love of God. Until we come to understand God’s love for us, we cannot do anything except respond. Until I know His love, I cannot respond to His love. That is why people who say “I am a legalist but I love God” do not know who they are talking about. I have to say, “Sorry, that is an impossibility. If you think you are earning God’s love, then love is something you are earning.” So when you say, “I love God” how then can you say, “I love God” if I think that I have to earn His love for me? You do not love people like that. If I had to earn your love, I could not love you. I would have to say, “I am always working to get old Bob to love me”, but if I do this, then he will reluctantly love me. But to say, “I really love you”. No, I do not. I cannot accept you because you will not accept me for who I am and what I am. I would have to be earning all the time. You can verbalize I love you, but the reality of that is that is a lie. You cannot love someone that you are having to earn their love and respect and everything else. It does not work that way.
So when you are dealing with faith, hope and love, and that love is a by-product of knowing God’s love for you and God’s acceptance of you. Finally, you are in a position of responding to His love. Responding to Him in such a way of being able to say, “Not only do I see your love for me here on this earth, but you have already prepared a place for me in heaven. You already prepared a place for me. My hope is not only in you here, but my hope is in the fact that you already have a place prepared for me in heaven.
2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
I am already seated in the heavenlies with you in Christ Jesus. Now that is an awesome thought. Because what you see there, there was a love that God not only loves us but He demonstrated His love toward us while we were yet sinners, he came to die for us.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
But he was also raised from the dead to live in us.
7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Now on top of that, he has already prepared a place for us when we die. We are sitting here with this marvelous hope that I cannot lose as a child of God.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
That is a no loser deal. When I am here on earth, it is Christ. When I died, it is Christ. I cannot lose. I am convinced, as Paul says, that nothing can separate me from the love of God. Trials can’t. Do I have trials? Yes, of course, and so do you. Tribulation can’t. Do we have tribulation? Absolutely, but it cannot separate you from the love of God.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
People have arguments of whether people go through the big tribulation. Whether we do or don’t, nothing has or ever will separate you from the love of God. It is a no lose situation for us. That is what hope is. The blessed hope we have in Christ Jesus is that marvelous thing of a knowledge of the fact that there is nothing to lose. There is nothing that I can do to lose this thing.
So, when we see the dynamic of faith, hope and love, we see ourselves as a responder. Once again, a branch is a responder to the life of the vine. The branch does not initiate the vine to do something. The branch does not sit there and pray to the vine. “Now, vine, this is what I want you to do today. I have enough faith to pull it off.” The branch is not there for the purpose of initiating anything to the life of the vine. The life of the vine is initiating itself into the life of the branch. The branch has the privilege of bearing the fruit, making the life, the invisible life visible.
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.
It is a miraculous thing to me, when you see a seed. There is life inside of that. In a sperm, there is life there. How can that be? But there is life there. We have to realize that is invisible. That life is invisible, but that life becomes visible when fruit bearing takes place.
So, when the branch is abiding in an invisible life of the vine, that life becomes visible when he produces it in the branches and the branch bears the fruit of that vine. That all comes from dependency, which is what faith is.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
We are going to take some time to deal, for a number of weeks, the first part of this triplicate, which is faith. Faith has to have an object. The object of our faith is Christ Jesus and His provision for us at the cross and in His resurrection and in His ongoing provision for us, where he told us where we live in time and space. We come to trust what Jesus said.
2 Peter 1:3
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
“I have already given you everything you need for life and godliness. I also prepared a place for you so when you are absent from the body, you are going to be with me. So there is no sense sitting around sweating these things out, either life or death, you are with me.”
2 Corinthians 5:8
8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Faith says. “Well, I believe that.” Faith does not cause that to happen. I do not sit around conjuring up faith. Faith is that He has died for me, and I am going to enter into that. So when talking about faith, we are talking about dependence, of dependency upon something, to rely upon something, to depend upon something. That is what faith is.
Someone once said faith is an action that is taken on the part of man toward a promise made by God. That is not a bad definition because faith is our response to God’s provision. So we can trust what God says in His word.
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So another thing so important to us is to see that the word of God is the revealed word of God. One of the main reasons for us to know that as Christians is that Jesus, who is God, testified to that truth.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
So we can rely upon that. Jesus quoted from the scriptures we hold in our hands today. He quoted from the Old Testament and His words were the basis for the New Testament. So we can know because of what Jesus said to his apostles, that “I am going to take the things I have told you and I am going to cause them to come back to your memory.”
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
That is how we have the scriptures today. The Spirit of God recalling the teachings of Christ into the minds of the apostles, who then wrote those thoughts down. It looks like Paul who was writing it, his handwriting and Paul’s personality, but it was Jesus who told him what to say. He did not tell him how to say, but what to say.
So there is no difference in importance of the writings of Paul and the teachings in the gospels because of what teachings of the gospel are is Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, taking what Jesus has told them while he was here on earth, bringing those things back to their memory, and then recording what Jesus said. Jesus did not wrote those things down. The apostles wrote them down. They wrote them down a number of years after Jesus resurrection. That is the recording of what Jesus told them while here on earth. Paul’s writings of what Jesus told him when Jesus was glorified. In other words revealed by the Spirit of God. Jesus said, “ When I go away, I am going to put my Spirit in you and I am going to be your teacher.”
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
There is no difference in Jesus teaching the apostles while here on earth or Jesus, through His Spirit, teaching the apostle Paul, while in heaven.
Although we have red letter editions, and nothing wrong with that, but the problem that can create is in thinking that these are important words and these others are not important words. That can be destructive to you. There is no more or less important words in the scripture. They are all given by the Holy Spirit of God.
2 Timothy 3:16
16 All scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Okay, then what is our faith in? Does my faith create those words? No, of course not. My faith accesses those words. I have the abilty, now that Jesus is living in me, that you do not have until you are born again. But when the Spirit of God is living in me, I now have the ability to communicate with the Spirit of God who lives in me with the writing of the Spirit of God when he was not living in me. In other words, consider this.
1 Corinthians 2:9-11
9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[Isaiah 64:4] –
the things God has prepared for those who love him –
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:14
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
That is why when you were lost, the bible was a mystery book to you. You got saved and you thought somebody rewrote it. “I do not understand this. I used to read it, and it was a mystery book. Now when I read it, all is falling in place for me.” That is because of one reason. The Spirit of God is living in you. It is not due to scientific study of the bible.
People get all hung up on hermeneutics and homolitics, and those things. The fact is those studies may be fine, but they are not worth anything if the Spirit of God does not tell you what it means. You do not know what it means by scientific study of the bible. The Spirit of God has to teach you what it means. That is a total reliance, again, of faith, dependence, reliance upon the Spirit of God to do what He said He would do. He said He will lead you into all truth. He did not say the seminary will lead you into all truth. It did not say the pastors teaching will lead you into all truth. He said that the Spirit of God alone will lead you into all truth. What that means is the knowledge of the meaning of the word of God.
People fail to teach that. Pastors continually tell you that if you do not understand science of biblical interpretation, you will just not understand it. Now, you have got to the point of worshiping at the foot of intellect instead of at the foot of the Spirit of God, who is our wisdom. You may get intellect from school but you will only get wisdom from God. I am not discrediting methods of teaching the word of God, but I am saying you can get a hold of the best methodology in the world but you will not know what it means until the Spirit of God reveals it to you. It is that simple. If you do not believe that, then you need to read what the scripture says in regard to the only way you can understand what the scripture means is through revelation. You cannot study revelation. You cannot put it in a box. You cannot make a science out of biblical revelation. It has to be revealed to you by the Spirit of God.
So, I am appreciative of people trying to get people to study the word of God, but what I encourage people in studying the word of God is to approach the Word with this mindset. “Lord Jesus, if you do not teach me what this Word means, then I am not going to know what it means.” If I do not know what it means, and I hang onto what I think it means, then I will be teaching stupidity and man-made ignorance instead of teaching the revealed word of God. I do not approach this Word with scientific methods or with inductive, deductive, or any other “uctive”, although nothing wrong with that methodology. If this methodology is what I am depending upon to teach me the meaning of the Word of God, then I am not going to know the meaning of the Word of God.
What I am saying to you is this. “Lord Jesus, I am depending upon You to reveal to me the meaning of the Word of God. When I run into places that I do not understand, I will put a little check mark there. For I am also going to walk by faith in what you said about that.”
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
“Little children, there is so much more I want to reveal to you, but you are not ready for it yet.”
So I will assume that in my growth I am not ready for it yet. I will look forward to the day you do reveal that to me so I can go back and erase my check mark. That is how you approach the Word of God if you want to know what it means when you are walking by the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
Otherwise, you can get into all kinds of things. I was talking to a person the other day, a brand new Christian. As soon as you come to Christ, you get into church systems or Christian teaching, into Christian developments. All of a sudden then you begin to use words that are not scriptural. For example, “carnal Christian”. Is there such a thing as carnal Christian in scripture? There are only two categories of people in the world, lost and saved. There are only two degrees of other people in the world, Jew and Gentile. Out of Jew and Gentile you have lost Jews and saved Jews. In the Gentile world, you have a saved Gentile and also a lost Gentile. But you only have two kinds of people, Jew and Gentile, lost and saved. There is no category of people in between there. There is no such thing as a carnal Christian. You are either lost or saved.
Now, can you be lost and act like a Christian? Yes, of course you can, every Sunday. Can you be a Christian and act lost? Of course you can. But that does not mean who you are. That means you are acting contrary to who you are. When I was in the lost world, lost as could be, going on Sunday, and praise the Lord, and doing that stuff, what was I doing? Acting like someone I was not. In other words, trying to live a life I did not have. Then you get into another category. You live a life you do not live. In both cases, two distinct categories of people, and God is not impressed with their acting ability. When I become a child of the living God that is who I am. There is no such thing as being an unchild or being a carnal Christian. I can be a Christian thinking and behaving carnally just as I can be a lost person thinking and behaving spiritually sometimes, but please do not put me in the category of saved when I am lost and do not put me in the category of lost when I am saved, and please do not develop a category in between those two, of no man’s land called carnal Christian. There is no such thing in scripture. Until you know scripture, and you hear that word. I used to call everybody carnal Christian because I was taught that, not by God but by man. Then you finally go to God and He says there is no such thing.
Trust what God says and trust His word. We are talking about that now. Things that we are taught that are not biblical but they sound biblical, so we grab a hold of them. This is one of the dangers of a new Christian. A brand new Christian is called a babe in Christ. Now, what are some of the characteristics of a babe in Christ? They are cute. Normally, a babe in Christ is cute. A baby is obnoxious. A baby is totally self centered. When you first come to Christ, that is all you think about is you. There are a lot of things that are similar between being a babe in Christ and being just a baby. A baby is excitable and a new Christian is excitable. And you do not want to squelch that, but you do need to recognize the immaturity of it.
The problem is this. When I was 16 I did not think there was much more to know. That is one of the problems with youth, is that you are so dumb that you do not know that you do not know anything. That is just part of the growth pattern that is there. That is the same thing that happened to me. As a brand new Christian, I absorbed myself in the Word of God, in the seminars, and learning how to witness. I absorbed myself in that type of thing. I would say that within six months to a year, why I really thought I could not understand these people who could not understand the bible because I understood all of it. I thought there was not a thing I did not understand. That is all a part of youth. We think we know everything.
So, again, you do not want to discourage a person in that position but you also want to guide them because they can go off into no man’s land with a no return. So, I am grateful for some of the organizations. The organization I got in involved with as a brand new Christian because a lot of what was taught was good, but I also found a lot to not be true. It was not because of intent. It is because of that tendency that if my dad taught me then I pass it onto my children. So you have generations of errors passed on, and never examined.
I was listening to Chuck Swindoll, as he was teaching a series on Romans. It was very exciting listening to him. He is a presidency of a seminary and one of the most popular radio teachers there has ever been, and probably the most articulate and accurate teachers you will ever hear. Yet, here he was saying that God was revealing these new truths to him. For years and years he taught the same things without examining it. He was examining the depths of other parts of scripture but leaving hobby horses alone, not even looking at them. Being in and out of fellowship is one of those deals. There is nothing in scripture about being in and out of fellowship. You are either in fellowship saved or out of fellowship lost.
Progressive sanctification is another example. There is nothing in scripture dealing with progressive sanctification. You are talking about growing in grace but not progressive sanctification. God set me apart and made me holy but I am going to make myself more holy. God set me apart but I am going to set myself apart more. There is not teaching like that in scripture. There is this teaching to grow in this grace in which you now stand. You are a child of God. Now grow. That is not sanctification. That is growth. Sanctification is holiness. You had dishes in the Old Testament that were holy and sanctified. They were not moral but they were set apart for a divine purpose. You and I were set apart for the divine purpose for which God created us.
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