Faith, Hope and Love Abide

(1 Corinthians 13:13)

There are a few scriptures in the bible that are so well known that many people, even non-Christians know them or recognise them when they hear them. For example, John 3:16 or Psalm 23. And this verse too is another of those that are well known, especially among Christians.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Faith Hope Love
Geometrically speaking, the strongest design that can be made is a triangle. And triangles are used to strengthen many building structures so they do not break or fall. Likewise when someone is trying to be located, authorities will triangulate their position to pinpoint exactly where they might be.

So too this triangle of faith, hope and love is powerful and strong, and in this triangle also the way to Christ and the way of God is located.

Faith

Faith is the first and foundation arm of this triangle and faith is the key to all things in the Lord. We come to Him through the grace of God, which is given freely to all who seek Him. Grace is God’s gift to us. But we only enter His grace through faith.

The power of faith is well recorded throughout the bible and we are told how critical faith is in Hebrews 11.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – (Hebrews 11:6)

If we desire to please God, and we do desire to please Him, then we must start with faith. Pleasing God begins on a foundation of faith.

And it is not a blind faith, just believing for the sake of believing. Yes, we believe in the existence of God and in the appearance and coming of Jesus Christ to this earth. But more than that we believe that through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died for us, and by entering into His death through baptism, we have been set free from sin and set free from law so as to become new creations in Jesus Christ. We have died and been resurrected in Jesus Christ through entering into His death and resurrection in baptism, ready to walk forward with Jesus to find the salvation promised to those who have faith.

Hope

The second arm of this triangle is the hope we hold through our faith that we will be saved. And we see hope working together with faith to bring us to salvation in Jesus Christ.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – (Hebrews 11:1)

Here in this verse we see the clear linkage between faith and hope. We hope for the salvation that is to be ours in Jesus Christ, and it is by faith that we are assured this will come to pass.

It is the hope of salvation that carries us forward. We know and have experienced the evil of this world and our hope is that we will inherit a better life in Christ Jesus. Faith assures us that this hope is not in vain for in Jesus Christ this hope will be achieved, as long as we hold fast to our faith.

Love

The final arm of this triangle is love, specifically the love of God. As we read in this chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, love is the most important thing of all for love never ends.

Love is of God for God is love as the apostle John tells us.

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. – (1 John 4:7-8)

It is the work of the Holy Spirit in us to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ who bears the stamp of the nature of God the Father. Thus, as God is love, so too Jesus Christ is love and we are being transformed into His image.

The work of the Holy Spirit in us is to teach us how to walk in love. We are being trained to live lives based on love so that all we say or do is founded in the love of God.

And this is not an emotional thing but rather a behavioural way of living.

Emotions, and emotional love are based on feelings. Feelings come from the spirit of man and they are uncontrolled. Emotions often lead people to do the wrong things because they are not aligned with the will of God.

But the love of God is a behavioural love that is built around control. Every action and every word the a person should do or speak will be a considered and thought out response when they are living in the love of God.

This is why we are told,

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. – (James 1:19-20)

When we stop and take stock before speaking or acting, we are operating in the love of God. Anger is emotion and a person controlled by anger is not acting in the love of God. Thus, we must listen carefully, then stop and consider, weighing up the words and our response in the light of reason rather than emotion, and then we will be able to respond from within the love of God.

Is this easy to do? No it is not, at least not by ourselves. We need to be trained how to do this and that is the work of the Holy Spirit. We see also that we are being trained in love by the Holy Spirit as He works within us.

…and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – (Romans 5:5)

We are trained in love and God’s love is poured into our hearts when we receive the Holy Spirit. We cannot walk in love by ourselves without the training of the Holy Spirit. As we learn to walk in the spirit and put to death the passions, desires, lust and faults of the flesh, we learn how to extend that outside of us to walk in love with those around us.

Walking in the spirit is about learning first how to love ourselves and live in love, and then to live in God’s love with those around us, whoever they are, both the good and the evil. Just as God shows no partiality between people, so too we need to come to that same place.

And we see also the link between love and hope in that same scripture, hope hope does not put us to shame, or disappoint us, because we have received God’s love within through receiving the Holy Spirit.

Abiding

And so we see these three, faith, hope and love are linked together to bring us to the fulness of our walk in Jesus Christ. The three work together and act together so as to lead us to God.

We initially hope for salvation from the wickedness of this world as we seek a better place. We find assurance of this hope in the faith we hold in Jesus Christ. And we receive the love of God through grace as we walk with Christ.

And as we walk with Him we learn the ways of love and so are transformed into the image of God through Jesus Christ.

This is why in this verse Paul says that the greatest of these three is love. All are important, but only love survives into eternity. Consider for a moment, when we live with God and Jesus Christ in their eternal kingdom, will we need faith? Will we need hope? As the scripture above tells us,

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – (Hebrews 11:1)

But when we are in His presence and in the presence of God, we will have received the reward of faith and the hopes we held will be achieved. Paul suggests this also when he wrote to the Romans saying,

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? – (Romans 8:24)

When we see the things we hope for, they are no longer hopes but are realities. When we are living with Christ in His eternal kingdom and have received the salvation we currently hope for, our hopes will be complete. And likewise the faith we hold now will be completed for we will be with Him in whom we have believed.

But love lasts forever. The kingdom of God that lasts into eternity is a kingdom of love. Like God, live never ends and so that is why we see here that while faith, hope and love abide, the greatest of these is love for only love lasts forever.

Now we need the strength of all these three working together to bring us into the fulness of God’s will. Now we cannot live without the power of these three working together. But only love will last into eternity and until we are finally with Christ, we must press forward in the strength of this triangle of faith, hope and love.

 

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