1 Corinthians 13 — Faith, Hope & Love — The Three Cornerstones of Being a Christ Follower

Posted: July 31, 2015 in 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 13 — This will be the 16th and final blog on the Love Chapter as 1 Corinthians 13 is often affectionately called and we will end it with a review of its most famous verse, 1 Corinthians 13:13 which in the NIV states, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” These three qualities of life are the basis of Christian belief. When you boil down our theology to its barest essence, it is these three things. Without faith, hope and love and without love being the greatest of these qualities, then our beliefs are meaningless, our acts are meaningless. The reason is that when we have these qualities we are intimating the very nature of God.

Without faith in the existence of God and without faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, there is no Christianity. Faith, as Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Simply put, the biblical definition of faith is “trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove.” This definition of faith contains two aspects: intellectual assent and trust. Intellectual assent is believing something to be true. Trust is actually relying on the fact that the something is true. When we have faith in God, it means not only do we give intellectual assent to His existence but we also rely on it. Some will grant you that Jesus existed because of the overwhelming evidence outside the Bible that He did exist (intellectual assent) but it is a whole nother thing to trust that He says He is the Son of God, God in the flesh, and rely on it (trust). Our faith in God means that we believe that this world is not random and meaningless because it was made by a Creator. Our faith understands that the reason that the world is in disrepair is not because there is no higher power but rather because it was once perfect as is our God but we, man, in our free will decided to depart from obedience to our Creator through sin. Our faith thus allows us to see why Jesus was so absolutely necessary to break into human history. It was necessary for Him for complete the sacrificial system established in the Old Testament and be the permanent sacrifice for sin to reconcile us to God. Faith is believing in that which you can see and prove. We express that in our daily lives by not withholding the gospel message because we have faith that even the worst criminal can be redeemed through Christ’s sacrifice. Faith is believing in those that we love – seeing beyond what they are now and to what they can be in Christ. Faith is believing in and relying on God to have our best interest at heart no matter the circumstance. Faith is believing that fact with abandon so that we live lives sold out to Him no matter the cost to us personally. Through faith, we believe in and rely on the promises made by God in His Word to the point that we cannot be shaken by anything that the world throws at us.

Hope. Hope is also a necessary ingredient to the Christian faith. Without it, we might as well withdraw from the world and die. Hope is the attitude and focus of faith. Hope is believing God’s promises to be true even when there is overwhelming evidence for us to give up hope. Hope allows Christians to carry on amidst persecution. Hope allows Christians to endure torture and punishment for not renouncing the name of Jesus Christ. Hope allows us to cling to its rope in the midst of life’s storms. As mentioned in this blog yesterday, there have been some really dark valleys in my life where it was simply difficult to exist. Simply taking breaths took concerted effort. But, yet, there was something in me that keep me putting one foot in front of the other. There was that hope that things would get better. Without the Holy Spirit making us breath at times in life, we would curl up and die. In Christ, there is hope. Through in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, He picks us up and carries us at time. It is hope that keeps our heart beating. It is hope that gives us the will to live. It is hope that God is working out His plan for our lives even in the valleys. It is hope that helps us see the valleys as part of our future testimony. It is hope that sees the mountaintop when we are in the valley. It is hope that gives us strength to know that if God did call us home right now this moment that we have a home in heaven that is far above anything that we know and can imagine in our limited human intellect and emotion here. It is hope that frees our soul frees us from the shackles of this world. It is hope that grants us peace. It is faith that gives us reliance. It is hope that gives us power and freedom. All of these things are necessary for us to love.

Love. Without love, life is hopeless. Without love, there can be no faith. Through faith, we can have hope. Through hope, we can love. But love is the most important aspect of the Christian faith. If we do not have love, we are just clanging cymbals. We are just an out of tune piano. We are just a guitar that needs tuning. We may have all the necessary ingredients to be a great Christ follower but if you do not have love as the basis for it all then we are not Christ followers at all. Love is action. Love is the tires on the NASCAR race car of faith and hope. Love puts faith and hope into action. Love moves us to act. It was love that caused God to send His Son into human history. So, love is the very essence of God Himself. Love is what changes the world from the inside out. Hate never has. Hate only begets more hate. The love of Jesus Christ radically changed the world as we know it. Peaceful protests in India brought the British Empire to its knees in India. Peaceful protests in my homeland of the American South led to radical change in my part of the country when you compare South Carolina in 1955 to South Carolina in 2015. The same could be said for every state of the Old South. It was peaceful protest that brought change. It was love that exposed the former structure of oppression as wrong and that must change. Love changes things. We are called as Christ followers to love in the face of hate. We are called to stand true to the truths of the gospel regardless of those who persecute us for believing in God’s truth. It is love that motivates us to care. It is love that believes that people can be changed by exposure to it. It is love that motivates us to continue believing in someone even when everyone else has written them off. It is love that allows us to make sacrifices for others without expectation that we will be praised for it. It is love that makes faith and hope real. It is love that makes us doers of the word rather than just readers of it. It is love that takes us from intellectual assent to feet on the ground soldiers for Christ. Without love’s motivation, it is all just words. Without love, we might as well just pack it all in. Without love, there is no faith and there is no hope.

Oh Father in heaven, help us to be motivated by love in everything that we do so that we can be more like You daily as we progress in our Christian walk. Help us to love others as much as You love us by having sent Jesus to rescue us from ourselves. Help us to be motivated by love and not by what someone can do for us. Help us to have Your Nature so that we give of ourselves to others. Help us to stand up for others when there is nothing to gain for us. Help us to stand on Your Promises so strongly that we are free to love others with abandon because we know that our heavenly home is far greater than anything that we hold dear here. Help us to rely on that fact so that it frees us to love uncommonly, dangerously, so that the world will know more of You through the actions of love. Amen.

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