We live in an ever-changing world.  Fads, philosophies, and people come and go but these three graces remain. They are the essence of the Christian life.  Learn how they can improve your life today.

1 Corinthians 13:13

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Our text is captivating.

The Apostle Paul, moved by the Holy Ghost, wrote a scathing letter to the Corinthian church.  Not only were they excusing appalling sin, but also they were fighting over the spiritual gifts. To cut through the confusion, God draws their attention to the significance of faith, hope, and love.

Faith, hope, and love are exalted as the trinity of Christian graces that rise above all others.  They abide when all else fails. 

Faith may waiver, hope may hang its head, and love may wax cold, but they can never be lost.  They are given at the new birth and they hold our hand through death.

Love is the greatest because, without it, nothing else matters.  ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-3)  On it hangs all the law and the prophets.  Love for God and love for your neighbor is the essence of every commandment.  (Matthew 22:35-40)

Some say that love is the greatest because it lives on in Heaven.  They propose that there is no faith or hope in Heaven because they have ended.  I suggest a small but significant difference.  Faith and hope do not disappear in Heaven, they are fulfilled!  Just as Christ did not come to end the law but to fulfill it, so faith and hope will not end but will be fulfilled!

There is no need to exercise faith when it has become sight. In Heaven, our highest hopes will be satisfied, the Object of our faith will stand before us, and we will dwell in the perfect love of God forever.

What a day that will be!

“What a Day That Will Be” Song

There is coming a day,
When no heart aches shall come,
No more clouds in the sky,
No more tears to dim the eye,
All is peace forever more,
On that happy golden shore,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

There’ll be no sorrow there,
No more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no pain,
No more parting over there;
And forever I will be,
With the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Faith, hope, and love are a triad of graces that embody the Christian experience.  The Christian life begins with them and lives by them.  They provided the way of salvation and paved the path of redemption.  God expects us to develop their potential and exhibit their beauty as He conforms us to the image of Christ.

Before we learn how they improve our lives, let’s take a moment to define these vital words.

Faith

Faith is the measure of our personal confidence in God.  It is trust in Who God is and reliance upon what He said in His Word without verification by sight or experience.  Faith moves God’s hand, makes the unseen a reality, and gives us access to the eternal.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hope 

Hope is the expectation of good based on the character of God and the promises of His Word.  Hope is the light that pierces through doubt, confusion, fear, and pain.  It is born in faith, sustained by the Word, empowered by the resurrection, looks for Christ’s return, and focuses on Heaven.

1 Thessalonians 1:8

For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

1 Peter 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Psalm 119:81

CAPH. My soul fainteth for thy salvation: But I hope in thy word.

Titus 2:13

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Colossians 1:5

For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

Love 

Love is the decision to affectionately and unconditionally commit yourself to the needs of another at your expense without thought of return.  Agape’ love is not an emotion.  It is a commitment.  Love is more than a feeling.  It is a deep commitment to sacrifice for the benefit of the loved.   God loves us and He teaches us to love others with this divine love.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 14:21

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 15:13

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Romans 5:8

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 13:10

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

1 John 3:11

For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

What marvelous truths!  No wonder God said, “Faith, hope, and love, these three…”

Now that we have a biblical understanding of these concepts, we will look at 8 occurrences of these graces mentioned together in Scripture.

1. JUSTIFIED BY FAITH – REJOICING IN HOPE – RESTING IN LOVE

Romans 5:1-5 

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ saves the soul.  Believing that Jesus is the Son of God Who died in your place to pay for your sins, was buried, and rose again is the only remedy for the eternal damnation of sinners.  At salvation, we are justified.  Our sins are removed from our record.  God looks at us just as if we never sinned.

Hope makes the heart rejoice.  How can we be downtrodden when Almighty God is on our side, blessing our lives, and preparing a place in Heaven for us? Rejoice today for the goodness of God in your life.

What do we put our weight on in the shifting sands of life?  The love of God!  It never  changes.  The world may shift and shake but underneath are the everlasting arms of our loving God!

2. FAITH SAVES – HOPE WAITS – LOVE WORKS

Galatians 5:5-6 

“For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.  [6]  For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”

Only Faith in Jesus Christ can save a sinner.  Verse four contrasts those who are fallen from the grace of salvation because they expect to be justified by keeping the Old Testament law.  The believer understands that their only hope of being righteous in the eyes of God is through faith in Christ.  We wait (expect fully) for the hope (anticipation) of the end of righteousness by faith – Heaven. 

The Law or rites such as circumcision have no saving power.  Only faith in Christ redeems the soul.  Faith works by love.  Here is a powerful idea!  Love works!

Love is an action, not a state of being.  It was the love of God that conceived salvation’s plan.  It is love for God that constrains us to live for Him.  It is love for our neighbor that compels us to action.  Truly, love works!

3. UNIFIED IN FAITH – CALLED IN HOPE – FORBEARING IN LOVE

Ephesians 4:2-5 

“With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,”

All believers are unified by one faith.  There is only one faith that can save.  It is faith in one God, one Saviour, one redemption.  We live in a polytheistic world that embraces countless gods of many faiths.  Christ excluded them all.  In John 14:6, Christ declared that He is the one and only way to God.  

All believers are called in one hope.  The “calling” is the hope of Heaven.  One day all of the saints will be assembled in the presence of God.  We will sing His praises, cast crowns at His feet, and serve Him for eternity.  There will be no sorrow, suffering, or death in that glorious city.  What hope is ours!

Until we get to Heaven, we must live together in this sin-cursed world.  We are sinners living among sinners.  Even the best Christians still wrestle with the desires and dreadfulness of the sin nature.  We will have bad days.  We will offend one another.  

What should we do?  We must forbear one another in love.  God expects us to overlook the shortfalls, forgive the offenses, sympathize with the struggle, assist in the distresses, and humbly, patiently, love each other through it all.

The rule of the Christian life is “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” Click To Tweet

4. WORK OF FAITH – LABOR OF LOVE – PATIENCE OF HOPE

1 Thessalonians 1:3 

“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;”

The Thessalonians had an active faith.  They were busy with the work of the Lord.  Works can’t save the soul.  Instead, they are proof that a soul has been saved.  Salvation changes your priorities.  This new life will be born out in changes to your schedule.  Make time for God.  Every child of God should be busy about the Father’s business.

Love compels us to labor.  Work is the performance of an action.  Labor denotes the exertion of work and the weariness that comes with it.  What keeps us going when serving God hurts?  Love. Love gladly assumes the toil sacrificing for its object.

The expectation of good produces patience.  We can wait knowing that good will come.  We can endure trials, afflictions, reproaches, and persecutions when we see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Our hope is in Jesus Christ!  His promises are sure!  

5. PROTECTION FOR THE HEAD AND HEART

1 Thessalonians 5:8 

“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”

Paul compares the Christian to a soldier often.  May we never forget that we are in a spiritual battle!  We have an unscrupulous enemy with a devilish army seeking to destroy God’s testimony and deceive the lost into Hell.  We need protection!  God has given us the weapons of light.  (Ephesians 6:13-17) 

In this passage, we see how the pre-eminent graces protect us.  Faith and love are a breastplate.  This piece of armor protects the heart.  Faith indicates the actions and love signifies the motivations.

The hope of salvation is a helmet that protects the head.  There is a battle for your mind.  If Satan can corrupt your mind, you lose.  Faith in Christ secures immediate salvation.  Glorification (going to Heaven) is a future expectation.  In this sense, our salvation is both a present possession and a future hope.

The heart needs to be kept from sin and the head from error.  Faith, hope, and love are our protection.

6. LABOR OF LOVE – ASSURANCE OF HOPE – ENDURANCE OF FAITH

Hebrews 6:10-12 

“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.  [11]  And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:  [12]  That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

Once again we see the labor of love.  Love is the greatest motivator.  It presses us to serve and sacrifice.  This verse teaches us that God will not forget our labor of love.  Serving God has eternal rewards.  Are you investing in eternity?

A full assurance of hope stimulates our faith and love.  The confidence that God will keep His Word means that good things are coming our way.  Hope until the end.  Don’t doubt.  Don’t get weary in well-doing.  Hope thou in God!  He will see you through.

Only through faith can we access the gifts of God.  Faith is the currency of God’s Kingdom.  Faith to obey mixed with patience to continue unlocks the promises of God and secures our eternal inheritance.  We are called to live by faith.

7. KEEPING FAITH – LIVING HOPE – LOVING JOY

1 Peter 1:3-8 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,  Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:  Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:”

Faith not only saves us and keeps us safe.  Not that our faith can keep us saved.  We can’t keep ourselves saved anymore that we could save ourselves in the first place.  

Saving faith births us into the family of God.  We are kept (protected) by the power of God through faith unto salvation.  A baby can’t be unborn and a Christian can’t be unsaved.

The word “kept” means “ to be a watcher in advance” or “to mount guard as a sentinel.”  God is protecting our salvation!  Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith.  He finishes what He started!

We have a living hope!  Our hope is not vain speculation or empty assumption.  It is resting on the Living God, through faith in His living Son, relying on His living Word.  

We love Jesus.  Even though we have not seen Him, we have experienced His salvation and enjoyed His presence.  We know we will see Him one day in Heaven.  Faith mixed with love fill us with unspeakable joy. 

8. FAITH AND HOPE IN GOD – LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER

1 Peter 1:21-22 

“Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.  [22]  Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:”

Our faith and hope should be in God.  He alone is worthy of full devotion.  People will disappoint you.  God will never let you down.  He is faithful.  

Our love for God moves us to love others.  Faith and Hope are reserved for God alone.  Love is for everyone.  We should love people like Jesus would love them if He was walking in our shoes.

CONCLUSION

1 Corinthians 13:13

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Faith, hope, and love are exalted as the pre-eminent Christian graces that rise above all others.  They abide when all else fails. 

They should be sought after and practiced above every spiritual gift or worthy endeavor.

They will enrich your life and bless those around you.


You can listen to the audio sermon here.

 

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