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.