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What the Bible says about Faith, Hope , and Love
(From Forerunner Commentary)

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

In I Corinthians 13, the Bible reveals love's supreme importance to life. Paul directly compares love's value to faith, hope, prophecy, sacrifice, knowledge, and the gift of tongues and indirectly with all other gifts of God mentioned in chapter 12. He in no way denigrates the others' usefulness to life and God's purpose, but none can compare in importance to love.

The Corinthians took great pleasure in their gifts, just as we would, but a gift's relative importance is shown in its temporal quality. That is, there are times when a gift is of no use. But love will never end; it will always be of use.

Indeed, the receiving of gifts from God - unless accompanied by and used with love - have the potential to corrupt the one receiving them. God's gifts are powers given to enhance a person's ability to serve God in the church. However, we have all heard the cliché, "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." If gifts are not received and used with love, they will play a part in corrupting the recipient, just as they were corrupting the Corinthians. Love is the attribute of God that enables us to receive and use His gifts without corruption.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

1 Corinthians 13:13

Paul writes, "The greatest of these is love." In its own way, faith is primary, as it precedes the others, but it does not remain the most important. Faith, however, is the foundation on which the other two operate (see Hebrews 11:1).

Hope, we could say, makes the other two fly. It gives impetus to them. We can believe or have faith in something, but if we do not hope in it, we will do nothing. We can believe that love is the right thing to do, but we will never take action on it unless we hope, unless we have a solid expectation of the fulfillment of whatever we love. Depending on how powerful it is, hope can move us along with intensity and enthusiasm to see how all our knowledge of God can be acted upon and fulfilled to its greatest capacity.

The first thing to note is that our hope did not accrue to us because of our merit; it was given to us. It was not owed to us; it came as a gift. We did not ask for it. In fact, we could not ask for it because we did not even know what to ask for.

This is important to see in light of the welfare mentality that has infected quite a large segment of society. Satan hammers this mindset into our minds from the time we are born. Governmental systems like socialism are evolved or devolved out of this mindset, but it began with Satan the Devil. It tells us that we are owed things: People owe us things, God owes us things, and governments owe us things. This plays terrible tricks on our attitude toward God, our parents, society, and government. It warps our approach to other people, making us seem far more important than we really are. It makes us neglect our duties and responsibilities, and the result is that we look for government or for God to do everything for us. It perverts our hopes by destroying initiative and the inclination to serve.

God called us with a purpose in mind, and eventually, that purpose is to serve Him and all of mankind fulltime. But we must be motivated to do so, but if our hope is always that somebody else will do it, somebody else will take care of it, somebody else will take care of me, initiative and responsibility are devastated. God has granted us the capacity to hope to motivate us to do things on our own, to use initiative to step out and act.

So God, in His mercy, gave us a living hope. Even as we had no control over our conception in our mother's womb, we had no part in this either. It was entirely a creative act on the Father's part to start us on the road toward a new creation, a creation He has purposed from the very beginning.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Resurrection From the Dead

1 Corinthians 13:13

Paul penned these immortal words, which one commentator called "the eternal trinity": faith, hope, and love. We continuously need these three factors, which is what "abide" implies. Our need for them never ends; we need them throughout life, every day without end. We live by faith, and the other two are directly connected to faith. They are, in fact, the three building blocks of a successful, abundant life. They are inextricably bound, tied to our relationship with God, and they are the qualities that make us run or work correctly.

Think of it this way. We are God's invention. He built us, and as our manufacturer, He designed us to function and produce. Automobiles run on gasoline. They do what they do because of the way they were designed and built, and they move only when fueled by gasoline. Movement is a key here: We run—move—on faith, hope, and love. These qualities nourish us, giving us strength to function as God intends. Every living human being, or who has ever lived, was intended to function by these qualities, but only the faith, hope, and love that comes from God will work to produce true success.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Perseverance and Hope

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

First, notice that the "eternal trinity of virtues" is mentioned here: faith, hope, and love. Second, notice that the word endurance (translated in the King James as "patience") should be translated either as "endurance" or "perseverance." Third, the grammatical structure of the sentence in the Greek makes Jesus the object of our faith, hope, and love—not the promises.

The Person of Christ is the object of our faith, hope, and love. In other words, our faith, our trust, is in Jesus. Our love is because of Him and toward Him, and we persevere in hope toward Him. All of these spiritual qualities exist in us and are profitable for us because of a Person.

This is an important distinction. Our relationship is with a Being, not a book, not words on the page—a Person. We can have enduring hope, not only because of what He has done in the past when He died for our sins as our Savior, but because of what He is doing in the present as our High Priest—and what He will do in the future because of His promises and His character.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Perseverance and Hope

Hebrews 10:22-24

The first thing Paul lays out in this transition is a three-step trigger to prime the Hebrew Christians' latent memories so they will be armed with foundational incentives to rouse themselves spiritually and start moving forward. In verses 22-24, he makes three exhortations.

First, "let us draw near." In other words, get moving! He says, "Take advantage of this privilege of coming before God, and believe without doubting, knowing your sins are forgiven and remembering that God is faithful and merciful to forgive." Recall that in the performance of their duties, the priests had to wash their hands and feet before entering the holy place. This is why Paul mentions water. He is alluding to the Hebrews' need to become clean. He urges them to repent of their lackadaisical attitudes and to meet with their Maker in prayer.

Second, he commands them to "hold fast your profession." Paul uses a similar phrase five times before this. Apparently, lackadaisical drifting was a particularly common problem for them. He wants them to show by their conduct that they believe in what God has promised in the resurrection from the dead. In short, he advises, "Remember your conviction in the awesome hope of our calling." These people were allowing the world to get them down; they were succumbing to a "what's the use" resignation. They were not busy confirming their souls. Paul exhorts them to continue, to persevere in the grace God had already shown them, not wanting them to waste it by failing to look ahead and be persistent. He presses them to yield to God and to allow themselves to be reassured that He is faithful to His promises.

Pay special attention to the third exhortation in verse 24. The word "consider" is very emphatic. He urges them to think upon and to strive for unity by giving conscientious care to each other. He wants the Hebrews to give special attention to their brethren's circumstances, trials, temptations, weaknesses, and needs. They need to "fire each other up" to promote love for God and for each other and to carry out our common responsibilities. Christians do this by setting a good example, by occasional suitable exhortations, by acts of kindness, and by expressions of appreciation.

Notice that as this exhortation begins, Paul calls upon the "big three" Christian virtues: faith, hope, and love. These would form the foundation of what the Hebrews must do if they were to reverse their slide toward the Lake of Fire. These virtues must be implemented because they affect the quality of a person's relationship with God. Because a Christian has God's Spirit, these virtues are already part of him. However, each individual must himself choose to use them to turn his life around; no one can do this for another. Of course, it is understood that God is always there to help a person do this.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Power: Our Shield Against Apostasy


 




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