Faith, hope, and love are three application pillars or personal spiritual virtues that every believer in Christ has the privilege of developing and applying. Faith is the foundation, hope is built upon faith, and love is the result—the visible structure (1 Thessalonians 1.3; 1 Corinthians 13.13).
- Faith, hope, and love are personal spiritual virtues mentioned together in many New Testament passages. When you examine the passages you see that they are applications that result from our relationship with God and citizenship in his kingdom, from our position in Christ, and from our supernatural Christian way of life. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13.13, places faith, hope, and love as more foundational than spiritual gifts. Faith, hope, and love, and especially love, engage the believer and his spiritual gift together in service to a degree that the believer and his spiritual gift without faith, hope, and love cannot attain (1 Corinthians 13.13; Galatians 5.5-6; Colossians 1.4-5; 1 Thessalonians 1.2-3 and 5.8).
- Because we are believers in Christ, we have the potential through spirituality (walking by the Holy Spirit; Galatians 5.16, 22-23) combined with the knowledge of the word of God (Romans 10.17; Philippians 1.9) to possess and apply faith, hope, and love (Galatians 5.5-6; John 15.12; Romans 5.5; 1 Thessalonians 5.8).
- Faith (pisti~, pistis; pisteuw, pisteuo) is the conviction, the acceptance, the belief that what God has said is true. Every time and in every particular circumstance that we rely or depend upon God and his Word, we are living by faith. Faith is common to the entire human race. Though faith is used by everyone every day, faith must always have an object and the value of the faith is in the object of the faith. One’s faith can grow stronger so that one believes God more often and in harder circumstances. Faith responds to Bible doctrine (Romans 10.17) and becomes stronger through testing and practice (Romans 4.4-5; 1 Peter 1.8; John 20.29; Hebrews 11.1-3). Faith emphasizes certainty.
- Hope (elpi~, elpis; elpizw, elpizo) is the confident expectation that something that God has promised to happen will happen. Hope is not wishing for something to happen. While faith is our certainty that something is true, hope is our eager anticipation and expectation as we wait for God’s promised event to happen (1 Thessalonians 4.13; Titus 2.13; Hebrews 10.23). Hope emphasizes expectation and eager anticipation.
- Love (agaph, agape; agapaw, agapao) that God wants believers to have and apply is his love poured into us and then demonstrated through us to others. The value and strength of love comes from the one loving and is not dependent upon the character or value of the one loved. The Holy Spirit produces God’s love in us; there is no other way. Since divine love is God’s produced love in and through us only by the Holy Spirit, this love has its source in God and expresses God’s character. Love is first and foremost an attitude that wants and seeks not harm, but God’s good for another person; it is unconditional (John 13.34; 1 John 4.7; Romans 13.8, 10; 1 Corinthians 13.4-7; 16.14). Divine love is the visible expression, the demonstration of God’s life in us.
- So what do we do about faith, hope, and love? We ought to think “I want to trust God and his word in this present situation and eagerly expect him to do what he says he will do; while I am living by faith and hope, I choose to express God’s love to others no matter what the circumstances may be.
Sunday, March 25, 2001