Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Faith, Hope, and Love

Romans 5:1-11.  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

I mentioned this a few weeks back, but I didn't have the Scripture to back it up.  I was recalling R.C. Sproul's sermon on this passage and how this hope is so much different than what we normally see as hope.  Most people when they hope, they want something but are not sure of getting it.  When we hope in Christ, however, we can know for certain that he will bring about what he promised.  (Philippians 1:6) If he promised to begin a good work in you, he will bring it to completion.  You can be certain of this.  This is the true hope that only Christians have.

Now, I might as well complete the triad.  Romans 8:31-39

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
   “For your sake we face death all day long;
   we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This hope is certain because we know that God is faithful to all his promises.  He will not promise something and then not bring it about.  If he's given you the Holy Spirit, then he will not take that away from you, and you will not lose your standing with God, which Christ was faithful to bring.  It has nothing to do with mistakes we make every day, thoughts we think or lingering sins.  It has to do with God's glory.  Hebrews 4:15, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin."

1 Corinthians 13:8-13

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

This is the selfless love that only God can give.  It's not romantic love or even friend love, but simply a love that expects nothing in return.  If you love with agape love, then you love because you can, not because you want something out of it.  Only God can give us this love.  We don't have it on our own due to our inner sinner nature.  If you have a friendship that disappoints you or love that leaves, then it's not love.  If you give to the poor, sing in the choir, obey your parents, and have the Bible memorized, but always argue with your friends, insist on your own way, and never forgive, then you don't have love and you do not know God because God is love. (1 John 4:8)  True believers have the Holy Spirit living inside of them, therefore, they can love without expecting anything back, and because of this love they can have faith that God will keep his promise and hope with a certainty that Jesus will return and finish the salvation that he started in your life.

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