There are a number of Christian icons that are accepted as a part of our culture.
For example, John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” is displayed at virtually every sporting event in the world.
The “love chapter” – 1 Corinthians 13 “…love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…” coupled with Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “The Wedding Song” is the foundation of, seemingly, most weddings in the U.S.
Closer to home, we have the great “faith chapter” (or better yet, the faith and hope chapter) of Hebrews 11 “…by faith…Abraham obeyed…”
A deeper understanding of these three themes of “love, faith, and hope” will help us survive, and thrive in the upside-down world we currently live in.
In Matthew 22:36, the Pharisees, in an attempt to test and silence Christ asked “…which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”
How is to love God and love our neighbor related to the law – the ten commandments? In summary, the first five pertain to loving God, and the second five relate to loving others.
Chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians then, talks about the depth and breadth of love – true agape love. This love is complete, unconditional, and love in its highest and purest form.
It should be our guiding standard for living, now and forever.
But, Chapter 13 ends with an unusual sentence in verse 13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
What does this mean?
Faith and Hope
The great faith chapter of Hebrews 11 starts out with a definition of faith, which actually combines faith and hope:
“Now faith is –
- confidence in what we hope for, and
- assurance about what we do not see.”
What type of faith is Hebrews 11 discussing?
Faith is multi-dimensional and includes:
- salvific faith – the gift of faith to which we become justified,
- the faith we share to lead others to Christ, and
- living faith, which is our sanctification process.
- all the same faith and gracious gift of God, just different dimensions of faith.
Chapter 11 of Hebrews, is all about “living faith.”
So how are we to live by faith? Here are a few examples, from Hebrews 11, of this living faith:
- “We understand that the universe was formed at God’s command so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
- Although we did not see the earth created, is not our assurance about creationism, and what we do not see, the very definition of faith?
- This is also known as “ex nihilo” or “out of nothing” – contrary to false evolution, God created the universe by speaking it into existence.
- In the new 2021 Administration, climate change is starting to dictate how we are to live. No longer oil, gas, and coal but solar and wind. No longer combustion engines but electric.
- But, Genesis 8:22 directly contradicts climate change – “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”
- Ask yourself, “what is living by faith in the age of climate change?”
- Do you proclaim God’s creation and continuity, or do we succumb to the “possibility” of climate change, hoping not to cause any friction? How are we different from the world?
- “Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family…”
- Now, Noah was actively building this ark for 120 years, and was certainly abused, ridiculed, and derided.
- As believers how do we respond when we mention the second coming, the rapture, then end of the world. 2 Peter 3:3 states “In the last days’ scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires…where is this coming he promised?”
- Can we persevere when we are called racists, white supremacists, and accused of hate speech because of our biblical beliefs? – or do we just remain quiet?
- “Moses…refused to be known as the son of Pharoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”
- Do we try to hide in the identity of the world, or do we stand out as light and salt, believers praying for the salvation of the lost?
- “Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice…reasoning that God could even raise the dead.”
- What are we willing to sacrifice to please God?
- Hebrews 10:25 states we are to “not give up meeting together…encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
- How do we live by faith in attending church, connect groups, and meeting the needs of others? Are we bold or do we play it safe? Do we fear that God is not sovereign over matters of life and death or in control of the virus?
- “They were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.”
- Even many non-Christians, especially conservatives, feel isolated and aliens in their own country because of the new leftist agenda.
- As believers, are we confident in what we hope for and assured in what we do not see – a heavenly country? This is a mindset we need to develop and live by – we are true aliens – even more so now.
- Do we share with other conservatives the truth of salvation, or just agree with their MAGA principles?
It should be understood that the Holy Spirit didn’t indwell the believer until the church age. Yet these believers boldly lived by faith.
The greatest of these is love
Remember the ending of 1 Corinthians 13 – the greatest of these is love? What did that mean?
When we are finally united with Christ, two things – faith and hope, will change, but love won’t.
- Faith fades into vision – our assurance in what we did not see is now visible to us.
- Hope fades into possessions – our confidence in what we hoped for is now our eternal heavenly possessions.
- Love never diminishes – Love remains forever, and simply becomes stronger and more fulfilling.
Hebrews 11:6 teaches us “Without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
We are saved by faith, but we must also learn to live by faith – confidant in our hope, and assured, through faith, in what we do not see.
Are we living by faith?