1 Cor. 13:4-13
I want to direct your attention back to vs. 13.
The apostle Paul says, “But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest is love.
- When the apostle Paul wrote these words the brethren in the church at Corinth were foolishly arguing over their spiritual gifts.
- Those who had the gift of healing claimed to be of greater importance of those who had the gift of knowledge.
- And those who had the gift of miracles were exalting themselves over those who had the gift of prophecy. It was a mess.
- And here in chapter 13 the apostle Paul says “All of those spiritual gifts will come to an end”; vs 8.
- And instead of pursuing the spiritual gifts, pursue “faith, hope, and love; the greatest of which is love.” The spiritual gifts were precious but they were never meant to be the focus of the Christian life. Faith, hope, and love should be our pursuit.
We all know how important “faith” is.
- In Heb. 11:6 we are told that “without faith it is impossible to please God.”
- In Romans 1:17 we read that “The righteous will live by faith.”
- And in Eph 3:12 we are told that it is only because of our faith in Christ that we can boldly and confidently stand before God.
- Over and over the scriptures emphasize the essentiality, the necessity of a sincere faith.
And we all know how important “love” is.
- Here in this chapter in the first 3 verses, the apostle Paul says that you can have miraculous powers; you can have great knowledge and wisdom; and you can be generous to the poor and give totally of yourself, but if you don’t have love, “it profits you nothing.”
- In Mark 12 when a scribe asked Jesus “what commandment was the foremost of all” Jesus responded “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and then He went on to answer that the second foremost commandment was to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
- And then in John 13, Jesus commands us “to love one another and that our love for each other will identify us as His disciples.”
- So, we know how important love is; in fact the apostle Paul says that of the three, “faith, hope, and love, the greatest is love.
But now, what about “hope?” Of the three, “hope” is probably the least talked about and yet, the Bible indicates that it has an essential part of, not only our Christian walk, but also our salvation.
- Why is “hope” so important?
First of all we need to understand what “hope” is.
- The word “hope” here is not talking about something you wish for.
- A child at Christmas “hopes” they get that special gift they want.
- You might hear someone say, “I hope to go see my kids this week.”
- That is not what the apostle Paul is talking about here.
This word “hope” here literally means “a confident expectation.” It is a certainty!
- You hear some people say, “I hope God will forgive me. I hope God will save me. I hope I will go to heaven.”
- Do you know why people, perhaps some of us, say that?
- We say that because we are basing our “hope” on our own human performance.
Listen, we “all fall short of the glory of God”; there are none perfect…but if we are “walking in the light as He Himself is in the light”; if we are living a faithful life in service to Christ, our “hope” is not based on how perfectly we walk; it is based on how “perfectly” Christ walked.
- What does the song say? “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’s name.”
And look at what the apostle Paul says in Titus 1:1-2. He says, Paul, a bond-servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
- Our “hope” is not based on our human performance. Our “hope” is based on “Christ’s” sinless sacrifice, and God’s promise of eternal life, and the fact that it is “impossible for God to lie.”
Now, It may be that some need to repent, and they may need to be more obedient, but for those who are daily “keeping the faith and fighting the good fight”, don’t say, “I hope God will save me.”
- I dare to say that is an insult to our God and indicates that He can’t be trusted.
- Instead, put your confidence in the Father and the Son, and say, “Thanks be to God, salvation is mine.”
Now, let me show you how important, how essential your “hope in Christ” is. Look with me at 1 Thess. 1 starting in vs. 2. The apostle Paul says:
We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;
Look at this Paul says, “Even as faith produces work; even as love produces labor; in the same way hope produces steadfastness; endurance; perseverance; or patience.
- Our hope is what makes us endure; it is what makes a man or woman forbear trials or whatever temptations might beset him or her.
- Our hope, our confidence in the promises of God, produces an inner strength that causes us to hang on.
In the last 2 years, as God’s people, we have been through a lot.
- We have had the Covid 19 virus; the mandatory wearing of masks; the temporary cancelation of our worship assemblies and Bible classes, and the suspension of our fellowships.
And then individually some of you have experienced and are continuing to experience serious health issues; and some of you have lost family members and friends that are close to you.
- When we go through these kinds of trials or temptations what is it that keeps you and I from giving up; from turning away from God?
- What causes an individual who is battling cancer and who cannot come to worship services to continue to send her contribution?
- What causes an individual to press on after they have lost a child, or a wife, or a mother?
- What causes an individual to return kindness to those who insult, or assault them?
- What causes us to keep trying to teach and reach out to others when it seems to do no good?
- It is our hope. Our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ…our hope in an eternal reward in heaven that produces endurance!
- Hope is so important.
Look at this found in 1 John 3:3. John says: And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He (our Lord) is pure.
- Satan hits us with every temptation imaginable; he is always “seeking someone to devour.”
- He may use the temptation to lie, to steal, or to cheat. (There is a lot to be gained if you will only lie, or cheat, or steal)
- He may use sexual temptations (I mean, no one will know); temptations for self-gratification; temptations for power or influence.
- He may use emotional temptations; temptations to get angry; to be depressed; discouraged.
What is it that motivates us from giving in to those temptations?
- What is it that motivates us to be pure, just as our Lord is pure?
- John says It is our “hope that is fixed on our Lord. “
Look at Romans 8:24-25: For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
In vs. 24 the Greek actually says, “For by hope we were saved.”
- Isn’t that strange?
- We might say that we are “saved by grace”; Eph. 2:8
- And we might say that we are “saved by Christ”; Acts 4:12.
- We might even mention that we are “saved by the blood of Christ”; Rev. 1:5.
- But the apostle Paul says here in Romans 8, “For by hope we were saved.”
And then Paul goes on to says in vs. 25 that we haven’t realized what we “hope” for, but with “perseverance we eagerly wait for it.”
- Let me ask you, when you responded to the gospel and were baptized, why did you do that? Was it because of “Hope?”
- “Hope”…confidence that your sins could be forgiven; confidence that eternal life could be yours; confidence that you could have and a home in heaven ?
- Isn’t that what motivated you and I to be saved…and then that same hope or confidence motivates us to “press on toward the goal”, no matter what we might encounter or endure, for the salvation that awaits us.
I guess that is what puzzles me today. For some here this morning, I don’t know why you have not come to Christ. But it seems to me if you understand the “hope” that He offers, you would not delay. But if you refuse, well there is no hope.
Look at 1 Thess 4:13: But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.
- The apostle Paul doesn’t say that “we will not grieve.” What he says is, “We will not grieve like those who have no hope.”
- When a brother or sister in Christ falls asleep or dies, our hearts are broken.
- And yet we find comfort because we have hope…we have confidence knowing that they are at rest and will ultimately find their place in the Father’s house; John 14.
While those who have not fallen asleep in Christ …well there is no hope; there is no confidence in the assurances of God, and we are left to hopelessly grieve.
- In our worst times hope makes all the difference in the world.
And then another verse that we are all so familiar with, Heb. 11:1: The writer says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
- The word “assurance” – in the King James Version is translated “substance” and that is probably the best translation.
- The word “assurance” or “substance “ is the Greek word “hupostasis” and it means “to stand under”…it speaks of that which is a bulwark…that which holds up and supports something else.
- In the context of this passage the writer is saying that our “Faith is what holds up the things we hope for.”
- Faith is what holds up our confidence in a heavenly home; our confidence in salvation.
So what happens if our faith grows weak? Well, our hope will grow weak.
- And what if our faith fails? Then everything we hope for is lost.
- And remember what our hope motivates us to do? It motivates us to endure; to be pure; and it motivates us to be saved; and it gives us “comfort when a brother or sister falls asleep in Christ.”
For the sake of “hope” we should strive daily to keep our “faith” strong; strong by reading and studying our Bibles; by being in the worship assemblies; and by attending Bible classes.
In fact, let’s read Heb. 6:9-12. In the context of this passage some new converts to Christ were being tempted to leave Christianity and go back to Judaism.
- You might say that their faith had grown weak…and the Hebrew writer expresses his concern for them…and he encourages them to stay faithful to Christ.
- Starting vs. 9 look at what he says:
But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Hope in a heavenly home; hope in salvation; hope in eternal life…motivates us to persevere; motivates us to be pure; motivated us to be saved; gives us comfort in times of sorrow; and motivates us to keep our faith strong.
- Our Lord paid a high price to give us hope…let’s not be sluggish, but be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises that hope assures us of.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023