Three Pillars Of Christianity

Faith_Love_Hope

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

The Christian faith is built on three pillars, pillars we call “Faith, Hope, and Love”. These three are like a Trinity. They always go together. But the greatest of the three is Love. Let’s examine these three pillars.

Let’s Start By Defining “Faith”

We could look up the word “faith” in the Webster’s dictionary and find a good, worldly definition. But instead I’d rather define “faith” by the Book of Books, God’s Holy Bible. We are told in Hebrews that faith is a certain trust in the character of God. We read:

Hebrews 10:38-39 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

The just shall live by faith”. Those who are “justified”, that is, are in a right or upright condition before God live by faith. This particular phrase is found several times in both Old and New Testaments. God spoke to the Prophet Habakkuk, promising that He was going to bring judgment on Israel. But even as God punished unbelieving Israel He wanted His people, the remnant of believers, to not be discouraged but to trust in Him. God told Habakkuk:

Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

What did God tell Israel about faith? He said “his soul (the professor of salvation) which is lifted up (who lifts himself up or has faith in himself) is NOT UPRIGHT in Him (not in a right relationship with God)”. The person whose faith is in themselves and in their own abilities are nor in an upright place with God. Why? Because we ALL are sinners. We ALL are frail. We ALL fail the entrance exam into Heaven. Then the Lord says …

“… But” …

Oh how I love the “buts” of Scripture! How pleasant it is to hear the bad news, then God gives us a “BUT” followed by good news, great news! Did He not say,

The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 a)

Oh, what bad news! All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God! (Romans 3:23). We all deserve death. That’s the bad news. Then God throws in a “BUT”:

BUT the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

God tells Habakkuk “Here’s the bad news – destruction is coming. Israel My nation will be destroyed. But look up, Habakkuk! BUT the just (those who are saved and are upright before Me) shall live BY FAITH. Not faith in oneself, but FAITH IN GOD. You see, everyone has faith.

Every candidate running for office has faith.
The rich man has faith.
The poor man has faith.
The prideful man has faith.
The Pharisee has faith.
Even the atheist has faith.

These people – everyone – has a Merriam-Webster dictionary faith. But the faith that matters is the faith placed in the right Person. What does Our Jesus say?

Mark 11:22 … Have faith in God.

Not in yourselves. Not in your abilities. But in God’s abilities. In God’s faithfulness. What does the Bible say about God?

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no {trial} taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

God is faithful. This is a lesson that we all must learn. The Apostle Peter was called by Jesus to be an Apostle. The Apostle Peter followed Jesus faithfully. The Apostle Peter was part of the inner circle (Peter, James and John) that Jesus was grooming to lead His early Church. But Peter had a problem.

Peter thought he was bullet proof!

Jesus told the disciples in

Luke 22:28 “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

No sooner than Jesus finished saying this He looked into Peter’s heart and found worldly faith there. Peter was puffed up. As Jesus made His promise to the Apostles I can hear Peter thinking, just as I have often thought of myself in times past:

I’ll get a throne from Jesus! Great. Well, of course, I deserve it!”

While Peter is thinking this Jesus interrupts his thoughts, saying:

Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

The devil can see our pridefulness, our misplaced faith, and often uses that pride of self sufficiency to shake up our lives. Even as we are shaken, if we be Christ’s, He prays for us, and watches over us. Jesus prayed for Peter “that thy faith fail not”. His faith would be tested by “a crowing rooster” (verses 33-34) and a little girl. The proud Peter says:

Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death

But not long from now Peter will deny the Lord three times, and fall into a pit of despair. But Jesus prayed for Peter. Jesus prays for us. He prays that our faith will be properly placed, not in ourselves, but in HIS power.

Too often we, like the Apostle Thomas, have our doubts. After Jesus resurrected He appeared to the disciples, but the Apostle Thomas skipped church that day. When the disciples told Thomas about Jesus’ visit he said:

John 20:25 … “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe”.

Jesus heard that. He watches over His people. Eight days later Jesus reappears to ALL of the Apostles, then tells Thomas:

John 20:27 … Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

John, I heard what you said! So here, do what you said. Touch the wounds. It’s Me!”

Thomas cries our “my Lord and my God”. Thomas’ faith was in HIMSELF, not in Jesus, but now is in Jesus. Thomas was faithless before, but now has faith. Jesus says this:

John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

This is the Biblical definition of faith. It is to believe in the character and promises of God though you have not seen Him. The Book of Hebrews states:

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith believes in what God has said because God said it. Faith is tied closely to hope. Hope is assurance in what has not yet happened because of Who said it.

Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Faith believes in God, not in myself. Faith trusts that God can do what He said He will do. Faith believes in the Work of Christ on the Cross, and believes that this work sufficiently fulfilled the Law of God. What did the Apostle tell the Galatians?

Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

No animal sacrifice, no holy day, no human work that I can do will bring me into a right standing with the Holy and Just God of the universe. None! My salvation is utterly dependent upon that which Jesus did on the Cross of Calvary. I am a child of God because the Father is please with His Son. I am a child of God because I believe in and have surrendered to Jesus’ Lordship. He is my Elder Brother, my Savior, my Master, my All.

Jesus Christ died loving me so that I can live loving Him.

Because of Calvary I am in a right relationship with the Eternal Triune God. I am indwelt by God the Spirit. I am in the Family of God the Father. I am a priest following Jesus Christ my High Priest. This is what faith is.

How Is Hope Different From Faith?

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

We defined “faith” as a surrendered trust in the character and promise of God. So what is “hope”? Hope is the cousin of faith. If you have a present faith in the Biblical God then you are not frightened by the future. The God Who saved and continues saving me today will save me days, months, years from now.

Because of hope I do not worry about tomorrow.

The Psalmist said:

Psalm 16:7-9 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me: because [he is] at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

Hope” is faith in the future, faith because our God transcends all time. If I am in a right state with God because of Christ then:

Proverbs 14:32 … but the righteous hath hope in his death.

The world has no true hope, just as it has no true faith. But for the Christian we believe God is in control of our tomorrows. When we lose a loved one who loved Jesus then hope lifts our hearts up. The Apostle said:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

Jesus Christ did not go to Calvary for nothing. He not only conquered Satan and Sin, but Jesus conquered the grave! He lives! And if He lives,
I will live with Him one glad day!

Faith in Christ Jesus is what saves me now. Hope is believing that the Lord Who saved me will not let me down – ever!

Jesus’ friend Lazarus was sick unto death, and His friends Mary and Martha sent word to the Lord. “Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick!” (John 11:3). When Jesus hear this, He stayed where He was for two more days (John 11:6). When Jesus got ready to go He told His disciples:

John 11:14-15 “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sake that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

Jesus purposely delayed until Lazarus died. Why did He do this. So that His Disciples would believe in Him. God often delays answers to prayer to strengthen our faith. These men who are following Him would be severely tried once Christ ascended to Heaven. They need to have a rock solid faith in Jesus. So Jesus heads out to Bethany. Martha meets Jesus, heartbroken, for Lazarus her beloved brother is death.

John 11:21-22 “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

Martha’s faith was tested, but not gone. She HOPED in Christ. Jesus told Martha:

John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

Hope is faith working, even when our current senses tell us that the worst has happened. Hope is believing that Jesus promised never to leave nor forsake us. Hope is believing that our Savior can save us, not just today, but tomorrow, the next day, and long into eternity. Hope is to roll the stone away though Lazarus stinketh, knowing that Christ has him still in His hands. The Apostle said:

Romans 8:24-25 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, [then] do we with patience wait for [it].

Faith is that which saves us, but genuine faith is always accompanied by a certain hope. For instance, Jesus has promised us a mansion. I have never seen that mansion, but Jesus said:

John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Jesus promised us all a mansion. Have you ever seen it? Neither have I. But I know it is true. Why? Because I believe in Jesus. He has proved Himself to me time and time again. He has never let me down, though I have failed Him many times. If Jesus has done the MOST for me at Calvary, will He not accomplish all that He promised? This is hope. Hope tills the ground and plants the seed, believing that God is faithful. Our God is the God of hope.

Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Spirit Who indwells the believer puts hope in our hearts. Hope keeps us going, knowing that our God is faithful. A hopeless farmer would never till a field or plant a seed.

1 Corinthians 9:10 … he that ploweth should plow in hope …

It is hope that kept Abram going for a hundred years, trusting that God would eventually give him an Isaac. Abram against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which the Father told him, so shall thy seed be (Romans 14:18).

Our hope is not in us, nor the politician, nor the doctor.

Psalms 39:7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

Psalms 38:15 For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.

Psalms 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

Psalms 146:5 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:

My hope is not in my health, my stuff, my bank account. No Beloved, my hope is in Christ Jesus. “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24). Our God is able!

The Greatest Of These Is Love

I have made a feeble attempt to explain faith and hope to you today, but I cannot leave without looking at the final pillar of Christianity. It is “love”.

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

Faith and hope will abide forever, even into eternity. But that which is greatest is “love”. Why? Because “love” is the strength, the power behind faith and hope. I have faith in God because God loves me unconditionally. God said

Jeremiah 31:3 “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.”

God did not have to save any one of us. The angels fell, and God never offered them a redeemer. We fell, and God offered His own dear Son to us for our sins.

1 John 3:1-2 (ESV) See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when {Jesus} appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

God loves me when I’m unlovable. God loves me when I fail. God loves me when I don’t listen. God loves me though I sometimes sin. God loves me anyway. One day I shall be in glory with my Savior and Lord forever. One day I shall be given Heaven to explore, and a new body to explore it in. Why? Because God loves me. Not because I’m worthy, but because God is love.

1 John 4:17-19 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us.

Do you know Him? Do you know my Jesus? Have you placed your faith in Him? Do you hope for the future because of Him? I pray you do, dear One, for He loves you so. Run into His arms this very day, by God’s Spirit and His Word I pray. Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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