Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P3 (04-22-20)
This faith, hope and love is the triplicate that sticks together like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of the Trinity. Indeed, Christ Jesus is our only hope, who initiated this love to us so that we can enter this blessed hope in which we now stand. We enter in by faith. The same faith that we exercise so that Christ Jesus came to dwell in us by His Spirit is the same faith in which we live day to day. Christ in you is your only hope of glory. That same faith that you had exercised to be transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light is the same faith God wants us to exercise every day. Several passages of scripture makes this clear. Colossians 2:6-7 and Philippians 2:12-13 are examples. Faith in Him produces His work in and through you and me. We, as a branch, are bearing the fruit of that life, but we, as a branch, have a function in that life. It is to be available for the work of the Lord that has been worked in us to work out of us. So we have a role in that transaction.
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
There are several passages where Paul refers to faith, hope and love. We read about that in Colossians 1:3-6, in Ephesians 1:15-18, and in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3. Paul commends the saints for their work produced by faith, their labor prompted by love, and their endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is spiritual growth in us that Christ is concerned about. He is concerned about the change of attitudes in our heart, to be like that of Christ Jesus, who, although being God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself and came to earth in appearance as a man, became a servant, and was obedient to death, even death on a cross, for you and me.
But what does man do? He adds religion. He thinks that church growth is increased tithing records or church attendance. Do you measure church growth based on what people are doing or what changes in heart attitudes are happening? Who initiates love to us, that we would even know what love is? The passage in 1 Corinthians 13 shows us the definition of love, and God is love. So really that is a definition of God. Can we really pull off this kind of love? No. How then do we live?
God in the man is indispensable to the functioning of the man just as gasoline in a car is indispensable to the proper functioning of the car. We, who were born dead, dead spiritually, due to the fall of Adam, due to sin and death, are not even on the starting line, until we have been made into a new creation. When Jesus died, he took away our cause of death, which is sin, in order to put in us new life. That life which raised him from the dead is the Holy Spirit living in us now, to those who have put your faith in Him. The Holy Spirit, that union and communication with God, is the source of all the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is love and joy and peace, the peace that God gives that surpasses understanding, and those things identified as fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Christ, in whom you believed in what he accomplished for you by his death, burial and resurrection, is that source of truly living as God intended you to live, through the Spirit of Christ living in you.
So what is faith? It is trusting God to live in you and through you, to trust God to produce in you what you could never do, to be raised from death to life, to function as you were designed to function, which we could never do apart from Him. That is why Jesus said he is the vine and we are the branches. That is why Jesus came, and although God, lived as a man like us, to show us, who are not God, what it looks like to live as a man. Jesus lived in total dependence on his Father. He only did what he saw his Father doing and did exactly what His Father told Him to say and how to say it.
But he did not make us as robots. Unlike the animal kingdom, we are spiritual beings. We have a role to play, to live in a loving relationship with God, created anew to have the mind of Christ, to know Him and walk in His ways. We have been given the privilege to participate in the divine nature. So let us walk in accordance with the Spirit and not the flesh, to walk as who we are, children of God, and to put to death therefore, the misdeeds of the body, and to put on clothes of righteousness, that fit us now, His righteousness, not ours, for we never had any of our own. Yes, and put on the full armor of God, as mentioned in Ephesians 6, so we may stand against the schemes of the devil.
So what is this blessed hope? We no longer remain in a state of condemnation, in the state we are born in, but now know God and His son, Jesus Christ, know eternal life. So let us come to know grace in all it’s fullness, to know we are free to grow as children of God, cherished and deeply loved and accepted. To know that God causes all things to work out for the good for those who love Him and are called to His good purposes, to walk a life of faith in Him and one day see Him face to face. With the Spirit of Jesus living in us, the one who created all things, who calmed the storm, and created all that we see and hear, the seen and the unseen world, and to know this power of His love and the peace that surpasses all understanding, what then can mortal man do to me? What then is there to fear? What then is death, but to wake up in the presence of God. That hope in us is what inspires us to persevere and endure all things for His sake and His glory.
What is that love? God is love, and we come to know love because He initiated that love to us first. He is the initiator and we are the responder. We do not come to God to beg Him to do something He has already done, nor do we manipulate God to act on our behalf. No, He knows everything we need even before we ask and He has already given us everything we need for life and godliness. We approach Him as a child of God. We go boldly to the throne of grace for help in time of need. We express thanksgiving to Him in our hearts and worship Him. And our spiritual act of worship is this labor prompted by love.
That faith in what He has done and said, what we have clung to as truth revealed to us by His word, and come to believe deep in our hearts, that produces hope in us. This hope inspires this love, His love, to be produced in us, and through us, through the branches, which is what we are, children of God. As conduits of His mighty power at work within us, love flows through us into the lives of others through this labor of love by this faith in Christ. So we have this faith, hope and love, but the greatest is love.
I was frustrating writing this last book in a Closer Look series of books, this particular book titled, “A Closer Look at Faith, Hope and Love”. I was so frustrated in writing this that I had become unloving. As I was talking with the Lord about it, it was as if the Lord said to me, “The reason you are so frustrated writing this book is because you know so little about it.” The reason is is because you cannot write about love without faith and hope. It is a triplicate.
I began to go back into the scripture and see that Paul continually used the triplicate of faith, hope and love, commending us for our faith, and our hope and our love. We talked about many of those. Look at Ephesians 1:15-18.
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
Look at Colossians 1:3-6.
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.
That understanding of God’s grace in all of it’s truth comes from a detailed understanding of faith, hope and love, that triplicate again, being mentioned over and over again. Look at 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3.
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.
I call that perspiration, motivation and inspiration. There is a triplicate for you. Okay, the work that is produced by faith. What are you talking about there? When they went to Jesus and said, “What is work of ministry?” He said, “Believe in me”. That is called faith. That faith in Him produces His work in and through you and me. We, as a branch, are bearing the fruit of that life, but we, as a branch, have a function in that life. It is to be available for the work of the Lord that has been worked in us to work out of us. So we have a role in that transaction. I think it is similar to that passage that talks about working out your salvation.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose
It almost sounds like a contradiction, but it is not. God is at work in you, working these things into you, and now work them out of you. Our work for the Lord has to be produced by faith in Him. I think there is another principle we have to deal with there. That is where Jesus was talking about, that he, although he is God and never has been anything less than God, but while here on earth, he humbled himself in appearance as a man.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus is, in essence, saying, “I do nothing unless the Father tells me to do it and I say nothing unless the Father tells me to say it. Incidentally, as the Father sent me so I send you”. Jesus did not teach us how to live as God. I am not God so how am I going to live like God. He taught me how to live as a man. As he set that example, living as a man in total dependency on the Father, and said, “There is your life. There is your work.” What Jesus is saying is what work is, that work that stems from faith in the one who is going to work in and through you to complete his work in you. Our work is faith. Our work is produced by that faith. So we put our faith in the life of the vine to do what only the vine can do.
Now when it comes to the work of the Lord, and the production of the Lord, you are talking about fruit. What God wants to produce in us is the fruit of the Spirit. He is not talking about the action. He is talking about the attitudes of the heart. The attitude of the heart is what he is after. If the attitude of the heart is changed, our actions will follow, not with any effort. It will be a total by-product of the change of heart. So he said there are some things I want to produce in you and that is the fruit of the Spirit and that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control. Against these things there is no law.
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.
Now, he talks about that also in what love is in 1 Corinthians 13.
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.
Love is patient. Why does he say that? God is saying, “One of the things I want to produce in you is patience.” A good old America characteristic is anything but patience. Driving down the freeway, prior to Coronavirus epidemic, we saw much of that lack of patience. So why does God want to produce patience in us? Because it is going to enable you, in your patience, to be able to see, that not everyone thinks the way you do, or the way God does, and you need to exercise patience with people to get through barriers they may have, in order to communicate the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God is saying, That is a characteristic I want to build in you so you can be useful in my hands.”
As we continue in our study, we are talking about the fact what God is interested in is you, not in what you are doing. He is interested in you. If he was interested in what you are doing, that would mean you go do something without consulting. That is like God saying, “You just go do something and I will be blessed with it.” He is interested in us as people and interested in developing gratitude of the heart that carry His attitudes. Christ functioned with an attiude of love.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
What is the Christian world doing, going out condemning people? That is what most people think of, that the Christian world is a bunch of condemners in the name of Jesus. You cannot be a condemner in the name of Jesus because Jesus did not come to condemn but to save. This is because we fail to realize what it means to come to Christ. It is not to come to Christ to do your own thing. You come to Christ to let Him renew your mind until such a time your attitudes are consistent with His.
Let us look further at the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient. So he wants to build patience in us. Love is kind. How can you be a child of God, indwelling Him, abiding in Him, and be unkind to people, when he says, “I am love”, and love is kind. But I am going to be unkind in the name of Jesus, of course. So all of these things are total inconsistencies with what true Christianity is all about. What we see, many times, we see vindictive people, mean people. We will see that on the air sometimes. People call in all hung up on law, just mad as a hornet, because you want to teach love and grace. That has nothing to do with my system. My system is narrow, and if you do not fall in it, I will chop your head off, going for your neck.
So, what we see here, is when talking on faith, hope and love, is the cornerstone of Christianity, but it is never mentioned or emphasized. Nobody says, “How are you doing on your faith, hope and love. Yet, Paul was commending them for that. If commending them for that, then something must be going on. He did not say, “I am commending you for your tithing records, your church attendance, but for your faith, hope and love. If you do not have those things, you do not have anything. He goes on ahead, of course. We will elaborate on this subject later on.
He goes ahead to give all these characteristics of what love is. It is not envious. How many times do we envy? Sometimes we get into the point, “I am so envious”. Why? That church is bigger than me. That type of thinking goes on. They seem to be more successful than me. What is success today? Nickels and noses, but not spiritual growth, not how you are doing in faith, hope and love, but how many numbers you have and what is your budget. “If you got a big budget and big numbers, God must be blessing us.” The Cowboys can out-poll any church in town every Sunday. If that is the idea of spiritual success, then go to the Cowboy’s game. Numbers are not the issue. It is spiritual growth. That is the issue. How are you growing in your faith in Christ, in your hope, being motivated and prompted by your love, your work being produced by faith in Him, and your endurance inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. These are characteristics God is looking for. Unfortunately, many times man is not.
Look now at 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-11
4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
If you are in Christ, you have been transferred from darkness into light. Those are conditions. We are born into this world in spiritual darkness. The human spirit is what separates us from the animal kingdom. A dog has a soul. Your soul is your mind, your emotion, and your will. An animal has a soul. So what separates the animal kingdom from the human kingdom? It is the fact the man also has a soul but man has a spirit. Now that spiritual aspect of the man is what continually creates in us that emptiness that something is missing. The reason for that is because something is missing. The human spirit was given to man to be indwelt by God’s Spirit, so God in the man is indispensable to the humanity of the man just as gasoline in a car is indispensable to the function of the car, and just as oil in a lamp is indispensable to the function of the lamp. God in the man is indispensable to the function of man.
Until God comes to take up residence back in man, we will live without the Spirit, with an incomplete feeling. Every place on the face of the earth, no matter how remote it is, there is a religious system in effect, in every place in the world. There is no place where you do not see that in effect. You saw in the heathenistic community, as an example, when Paul was shipwrecked on Malta. That was a heathenistic island, full of reprobate people. I mean jungle people. They had no knowledge of the scriptures, none at all. They were certainly not fed scripture to get their morality.
1 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.
When Paul was gathering up wood for a fire, a poisonous snake attached to his hand. What was the response of that heathenistic group? This man must be a murderer and therefore the judgment of death is upon him. Where did that idea come from? Have they been reading the ten commandments? No. They would not know what they were from the sixteen commandments, if there were sixteen. The fact is we are a law unto ourselves.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
Inside all of us is a conscience. A child knows right from wrong on some issues. That is why a child learns to lie before he can talk. A little baby does not know how to talk but he will lie. Did you do that? He shakes his head no. Does he know if that is wrong? Of course he knows it is wrong. He knew it was wrong to do what he did, otherwise he would not be shaking his head saying he did not do it when he did. So there is something inside of us so we know what is right from wrong. So people saying this is okay saying, “I am just born this way” or “Do not blame me. That is a disease.” are really suppressing truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). We know in our hearts that is not proper behavior, not because society says it isn’t. It is because we know something is wrong there. A person says, “The reason I am feeling this way is because society has imposed morality upon me.” No, it isn’t. The reason a person is feeling that way is because God says it is in your heart (Mark 7:20-22). It has been placed there.
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness
Who took the wrath of God against sin for us? Jesus.
20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
So to this group on this island of Malta, where did they get the idea that a person who murders is subject to death? I do not know, but they got it. It is in their heart. We cannot escape that. We are built with that. In every place, why is there a religion? Because man says there is something wrong. I am empty inside. I am looking for something. I want to know who made the sky. The testimony about God is everywhere. I want to know who made the stars.
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Some intellectual said one time. “You just tell me everything about God, and I will bring down everything.” The man said, “God, bring down the stars. That is all we need to know there is a God.” That is in us.
So when you are dealing with this thing, we have to realize we were born into this world in spiritual darkness. We were born into this world dead spiritually. That occurred when Adam fell. The day that Adam fell, we fell.
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
Being born into darkness, I either stay in darkness or come into the light. I do not get put into darkness. I was born in darkness. To get out of darkness, I have to be translated out of darkness into light. That is what it says in scripture.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
So he is saying to them, “you are no longer in darkness. You are saved. As a result of being saved, let us be self controlled. That is one of the fruit of the Spirit. What does self-controlled mean? Does that mean to gut it out and positive think? No, it says to keep yourself under the control of God. You are not to be self- controlled. You are to be Christ-controlled. Self-controlled means to keep the old self under the control of the Lord Jesus Christ, putting on love. What is faith and love? Work is produced by faith. That is perspiration. Our love is motivated by His love. That is motivation. Our inspiration is endurance that is inspired by hope. He says put those things on, the breastplate of love and the hope of salvation as a helmet. In other words, guard your head.
1 Thessalonians 5:9
9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath
What is the wrath of God? It is the wages of sin is death. That is upon all people. It does not come upon people. It remains on people. The wrath of God remains upon us until we are able to accept the life that is available to us in Christ. The wrath of God is not God beating you to death. It is the fact that the wages of sin is death. When born into this world, we were born dead spiritually. That is the wrath of God upon sin, and the only solution to that is in Him, in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
It is interesting that in this passage in 1 Thessalonians that we just read, that he is talking about putting on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet. It is interesting to me, because over in the book of Ephesians, Paul again uses the Roman armor as an example of what we put on in regard to our salvation. Obviously I think the possibility, in both cases, he could have been observing a Roman soldier at that time, and just equating these illustrations. That is good teaching. Jesus used seed, soil and all kinds of things to amplify and explain spiritual truth.
In the book of Ephesians, they are both tying into not only a warning to us, as to what to look out for, but also an admonishment to us, that we are in the light and, therefore, live as children of light. That is who you are, a child of God. So be one of those. Jesus, being God, lived like that.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
The devil has schemes. He is extremely smart and accurate in what he is doing. He has got schemes for you. You need to stand against those schemes. You cannot stand in your own armor. You do not have any. Our struggle in this world is not against flesh and blood. It is not against people. We think it is against people, but our struggle is against what it says.
1 John 2:16
16 For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Our struggle is against the world, the flesh and the devil. He is talking about the fact of rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world. Do you realize that every war that we have ever fought or been involved in is prompted by rulers and authorities and powers of people, that is, governments? What if somebody called a war and nobody showed up? What is bringing about the conflicts going on in the world today? Leaders. Well, then get rid of them. Why? If you got rid of them, then maybe we will get rid of conflict. What caused World War II? Was it German people or was it Hitler? An authority in high places, gaining power of military and all the other things to exercise that power. So what was it? It was a leader. Why did Italy enter into World War II? It was Mussolini, having a relationship with Hitler, wanting to take over the world. Who were we fighting against? Rulers of other countries. Winston Churchill determined that these men are not going to take over his country of England. It is entrusting that free countries are always being attacked by bondage countries. Free countries are not attacking other people. They are not interested in starting wars with other countries. Bondage countries are always interested in taking freedom away from free people. When the pilgrims came to America, what did England do? Take over. Why? They do not want you to be free. I want you to be in bondage to our king. So they came over to try to defeat them in war. Who brought that about? People? No. They wanted to be free to practice their religion and start over. When are to realize the world we live in, the leaders we have in office will predicate how we will live our lives to much degree. We are not just fighting against our own flesh and blood. We are fighting against the things that put pressure upon man that sometimes cause unbelievable decisions.
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.