1 Corinthians 13:13

Posted in I Corinthians, I Corinthians 13

Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

1 CORINTHIANS 13:13

1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now abideth faith, hope, charity,
these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

I was surprised to learn how often “these three” occur together in the New Testament: RM 5:2-5; CL 1:4-5; HB 6:10-12; GL 5:5-6; 1TH 1:3, 5:8; 1P 1:21-22! They are meant as a unit. The loss of any would ruin all. That’s why Paul uses the singular “abideth” here. These three are to be seen as one. They are the triple star that will always shine. Even in glory these three will take on heavenly forms and last forever. The important things are not prophecy, knowledge, and tongues, but faith, hope, and love. They are pre-eminent, and nothing may stand with them. The three often overlap, and distinguishing between them is sometimes impossible. With this truth ever in mind, we will try to study them:

I. FAITH

Faith, derived from a root word that means oneness, means union with God. Being saved, the first step of faith, is a matter of allowing a bond to be established between a man and God. This faith-bond makes us sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ.
The “man of faith” is the man who allows this process of union to progress by coming into more and more oneness with God. That means the man of faith dies more to self daily. His thoughts, wills, dreams, and desires must become identical to God’s. “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (GL 2:20). The phrases “In Christ” and “Christ in you” also denote oneness. This union provides our power. When did Moses confront Pharaoh? After meeting God at the Burning Bush. When did Elijah call down fire from Heaven? After he had listened to God (1K 18:1). When did Jacob receive the blessing? After wrestling all night with God. We are powerless because we don’t know God. People have soured on the church because they don’t see God here. Our teenagers leave by droves because the God of Elijah they have been taught is not like the God of John Marshall they see.
Where is the God of Elijah? Is He obvious in your life? Since faith abides, we can still have the power our forefathers did. It is not a thing of the past. You will find it when you get serious about knowing God. Take your Bible, find a quiet secluded spot, and tell God you are going to stay with Him until you are aware of His presence. Ask for nothing but Him. Seek re-creation rather than recreation.
The cure for our weakness and sin is not to dwell constantly on our shortcomings, but to concentrate on God. In the days before anesthetics, one surgeon would tell his patients before surgery, “Take a good look at your wound, and then don’t take your eyes off me.” The same is true for us. Look at your sin; realize its terribleness; then concentrate on God, “As seeing Him who is invisible” (HB 11:27). When we do this, we will better understand why and how our hearts are purified by faith (AC 15:9).

II. HOPE

Hope has four component parts:

A. TIME

Hope always looks to the future. Hope fastens on future happiness and waits for it. Without hope, we would be miserable. Men cannot live without it. Hope is our “anchor of the soul” (HB 6:19) in times of storm.

B. DIRECTION

There is always some goal to the time span. Hope’s object is the thing promised. Faith looks to the word of the thing: hope to the thing of the word. Our thoughts are not aimless, but focalized on some definite object. We don’t just look over a vast ocean and say, “It’s so pretty out there.” Nor do we only say, “It’s going to get better.” We have definite objects–the promises of God.

C. CONFIDENCE

The goal will occur. Anticipation is certain to be filled. It’s not wishful thinking. Hope now has almost the exact opposite meaning that it had in the New Testament. In our day, it includes an element of doubt. “I hope to go to Heaven” is now a statement of doubt, not faith. Our hope is often nothing more than that which worldly men have. This is a grievous loss. Hope is the assurance that the good promised to believers will occur: “God said it; I believe it; that settles it.” Displaying such confidence will bring at least three positive results:

1. Evangelism – First century Christianity thrived by taking people from the depressed classes–slaves, women, outcasts–and giving them living hope. We spoke to them with authority about an optimistic future. Our pessimistic generation needs that same bold message.

2. Optimism – We will know all will be well. The man of hope believes (RM 8:28).

3. Holiness – “Every man that hath this hope (assurance of second coming) in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (IJ 3:3). If you truly plan to see Jesus face to face, you’ll be more careful in this life.

D. DESIRE

The goal is valued and wanted. Faith sees things both good and bad; hope sees only the good. Faith sees heaven and hell; hope sees only heaven. Hope is the sweetest friend that could ever keep a distressed soul company. It is liberty to them that are in prison. Hope makes a dark present bright with light borrowed from a far-off future (Vince).
Hope, the next best thing to actual possession, is the earnest of heaven. It is God’s pledge that heaven will be ours. As Christians we have much in possession, but more in prospect. Hope neutralizes, if not annihilates, the misery which great afflictions might otherwise make. Hope allowed Paul to say, “. . .these light afflictions, which are but for a moment” (2C 4:17). This desire of hope is what keeps our dreams from turning into make-believe fantasies. Faith perceives what is to be done’ hope gives cheerful readiness to doing it. Without hope, we will not keep our hands to the task of making our dreams come true.
By faith, dreams are conceived in our hearts. But they have to be fulfilled in the harsh, nitty-gritty, everyday, ugly world. You won’t stay in the trench long without the confidence and desire of hope.
Dr. Johnson said that our powers owe very much of their energy to our hope. The desire to receive a blessing from God is often the element lacking in our lives. And when desire dies, hope dies; and when hope dies, the dream dies; and when the dream dies, men pass the generation gap and settle into complacency. Many believed the Reformation could sweep Scotland, but only John Knox had enough of hope’s desire to say, “Give me Scotland or I die!” God gave it to him. No wonder Mary, Queen of Scotland, once shuddered, “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than an army of ten thousand men” (They Dared to be Different, McPherson, p. 82). Many in England watched the faith of John Wesley, but he alone said, “The world is my parish.” God gave it to him. Wesley’s faith combined with hope’s desire brought the blessing.
Don’t only be faithful; be hopeful. Settle upon a worthwhile goal through prayer, believe it can be achieved, desire it, and God wil give it to you.

III. LOVE

Love–the greatest gift of all. Why?

A. LOVE CONTAINS THE OTHER TWO.

Love “believeth all things” and “hopeth all things” (1C 13:7). We join in union only with what we love and hope only for that which we love.

B. LOVE GIVES LIFE TO THE OTHER TWO.

Without love, faith is cold and hope is grim. Love is the kindling flame that brings life and warmth to both.

C. LOVE IS THE EVIDENCE OF THE OTHER TWO.

It is the celestial fruit:
FAITH says: I am His and He is mine.
HOPE says: He has prepared good things for me.
LOVE says: I must walk worthy of such blessings.
Love is our testimony that faith and hope abide within. The man of faith knows sacrificial deeds of love cannot nullify the good things promised to him by God.

D. LOVE KEEPS THE OTHER TWO UNSELFISH.

Faith and hope hold us up and keep our spirits strong. Love removes any selfish motives and translates our blessing to others. Faith and hope bring pieces of heaven into our soul, and love sees to it that those bits of heaven are shared with those around us. Whitefield was a mighty man of faith and hope. His union with God expressed itself in love through his preaching. With a big stone in hand, a ruffian once said to Whitefield, “I came to break your head, but by the grace of God you have broken my heart.” William Penn also lived in union with God and shared that inner peace with those around him. He lived for many years in the midst of six warring Indian tribes in harmony and peace. Penn loved the Indians and was so just in his dealing with them that his colony was never attacked. While others were building forts and displaying guns, and hence involved in trouble and war, the flowers of prosperity and peace blossomed in the footprints of William Penn. Do you long for things that won’t pass away? Here they are: FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE ABIDE.

Faith, Hope, Love

Posted in I Corinthians, I Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13:13
Faith, Hope, Love
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

1 Corinthians 13:13 (Holman)   Now these three remain:   faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

I was surprised to learn how often faith, hope, and love occur together in the New Testament:  Romans 5:2-5, Colossians 1:4-5, Hebrews 6:10-12, Galatians 5:5-6, 1Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8, 1Peter 1:21-22.  The three are to be seen as a unit, as one.  Losing any ruins all.

Faith, hope, and love remain.  They are triple stars that will always shine.  Even in Heaven they will take on heavenly forms and last forever.

Precisely distinguishing between faith, hope, and love can be difficult.  They often overlap.  Keeping this in mind, we will try to examine them individually.

Faith, based on a root word meaning oneness, denotes union with God.  The first act of faith is conversion.  This occurs when a relationship is established between a repentant sinner and God.  This faith-bond makes us His children.

A person of faith lets this process of union progress into ever increasing oneness with God.  For this to happen, we must die more to self daily.  His thoughts, wills, dreams, and desires must become ours.

This union of faith is the fountain from which the power of faith flows.  Moses confronted Pharaoh only after he had met God at the burning bush.

Elijah called down fire from Heaven after he had listened to God (1 Kings 18:1).  Jacob received the blessing after he wrestled all night with God.  We have power only to the extent we are in vital union with God.

Is the God of Moses, Elijah, and Jacob obvious in our lives?  He should be.  Since faith remains, God’s power is not meant to be relegated to the past.

We are supposed to have the same power our forefathers did.  This happens when we grow serious about bonding with God ever more fully.

In your daily quiet time, take your Bible, find a quiet secluded spot, and stay with God until you are aware of His presence.  This “magic moment” of union with God is, to me, the purpose and crowning jewel of our private devotions.  Faith, oneness with God, remains.  Use and enhance it.

Hope consists of four parts.  One, time.  Hope always looks to the future.

Two, direction.  Hope is not aimless.  It focuses on definite objects.  We don’t just look over a vast vista and say, “It’s pretty out there.”  Nor do we wistfully say, “Things are going to get better.”

Hope always has a specific goal, the written promises of God.  Faith believes the word of the promise; hope enjoys the promise of the word.   Rooting hope in Scripture keeps our dreams from turning into make-believe fantasies.

Three, confidence.  Hope is not wishful thinking.   Hope is convinced the goal will occur.  Its anticipation is certain to be filled.

Hope now has almost the exact opposite meaning it had in the New Testament.  In our day, it includes uncertainty.  “I hope to go to Heaven” is now a statement of doubt, not certainty.

Our hope is often nothing more than what unbelievers have.  This is a grievous loss.  Hope is a bedrock assurance that blessings God promised to believers will occur.

We live in a harsh, nitty-gritty, ugly world.  We will find it increasingly hard to succeed in the trenches without the confidence and desire of hope.

First century Christianity thrived by giving hope, deep-seated confidence, to people from the depressed classes–slaves, women, outcasts, the poor.  Early believers spoke with authority about a “for sure” future.

This future-confidence is not only a source of happiness.  It also serves as a seed-bed for holiness.  When people know for sure they will someday see Jesus, they prepare for it.

“Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure ” (I John 3:3).  If we know we will see Jesus face to face someday, we’ll be more circumspect today.

Four, desire.  Hope’s goal is always valued and wanted, not dreaded.  Faith dwells on good and bad things; hope sees only the good.  Faith focuses on Heaven and Hell; hope considers only Heaven.

Hope is the sweetest friend a sad person can have.   It makes a dark present bright with light borrowed from the future (Vince).  Hope fastens on future happiness and enjoys it today.

Hope may not annihilate the misery of afflictions, but can neutralize it.  Without hope, we would be miserable.

Hope, the next best thing to actual possession, is God’s pledge Heaven will be ours.  Christians possess much, but have more in prospect.  Hope remains.  Enjoy it.

Faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest of these is love.  Without love, the very credibility of Christian existence is at stake.

This is the dilemma confronting my own denomination.  We fought a generation-long battle to return Scripture to its rightful place of authority.

Now we find ourselves Bible conservatives facing a crisis of love.  We argue over who the true conservatives are, who is most faithful to the Bible, who has caved in more to the culture.

We wage “right us” vs “wrong them” wars with gusto.  Adding to the sadness is, we tend to do these things without one trace of love expressed toward those we disagree with.

Love, the greatest of all, gives life to faith and hope.  Without love, faith goes cold, hope grows grim.  Love is the kindling flame that brings warmth to both.

Love, the greatest of all, proves faith and hope dwell in us.   Faith says, I am His.  Hope says, He will bless me.  Love says, I must walk worthy of Him and His blessings.

Love, the greatest of all, keeps faith and hope unselfish.  Faith empowers us, hope upholds us by keeping our spirits strong.

Love keeps us from hoarding these blessings selfishly, and helps us convey them to others.  Faith and hope bring God and Heaven into our soul, love sees to it we share God and Heaven with those around us.

We all want to give our lives to things worthwhile.  Here are three traits worth our efforts:   faith, hope, love, and the greatest of these is love.