Faith, Hope, & Love (Part 1 of 3)

Last Sunday night I preached to my congregation. Now, I am the worship leader at my church, so getting up in front of people and talking was a different medium for me. I am used to having an instrument in front of me but not a podium. To say the least, I was definitely out of my comfort zone; however, I did major in communication and grew up doing theater in high school so there was still a feeling of familiarity to those days.

My sermon was based out of 1 Corinthians 13:13 which says, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (NLT). I talked about what each individual word (Faith, Hope, and Love) meant in the biblical perspective. This sermon revealed enough to me that I realized I would not have enough time to share it in 30 minutes, so I have decided I would like to share it with you in three parts. Each part I will be posting corresponds to each word (Part 1 – Faith, Part 2 – Hope, Part 3 – Love). Not only will I be giving a summary of each word, but they will also be building upon each other as I move to the next part (Hope will require the understanding of faith; Love will require the understanding of both Hope and Faith). I am excited to see where this journey will take us! If you’re ready let’s dive in!

Faith – Our Foundation

Let’s first begin by defining “faith“. Now I would usually go to a dictionary to find a definition for a word, but the Bible has already defined this word for us in Hebrews 11, the passage commonly known as the “Hall of Faith”:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” – Hebrews 11:1 NLT

By this definition we understand that “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen.” Faith = confidence. Confidence of what? Confidence “that what we hope for will ACTUALLY happen.” Awesome (I will talk more in part 2 about what hope really means). Now that we know what “faith” is, what does it do? Well, “it gives us assurance.” If you think about whenever you are confident in a situation it means that you are SURE about the outcome. Faith provides us an assurance. It is our foundation upon which we can grow and mature. Christianity begins with faith. I really like how the Message paraphrases this verse:

“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.” – Hebrews 11:1 MSG

As I spoke to my congregation I gave them this example: A chair.

Everyone that was in the sanctuary was sitting down. It requires faith from everyone, whether you are a Christian or not, to trust that a chair will hold you up. You can look at it, study it, work out the theoretical physics of how it will hold you up but those are only the facts. It’s not until you trust it by sitting in it that you finally have faith in that chair.

That’s a very physical example of faith because it’s something we can see, but the verse finishes out, “about things we cannot see.” Let’s take another example that fits better with the whole phrase now: money.

In today’s society most of our money is managed electronically. We never see the transaction of our physical finances. We see numbers on a screen but that’s it. In the same way we have faith that even though we can’t physically see our money we are sure we have it. We have faith that those numbers on a screen mean something.

Just a few verses down from our definition of faith we see another example of what it means to have faith:

“By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” – Hebrews 11:3 NLT

If you were there when the universe began then you should definitely be in a hall of fame somewhere, and I really want to shake your hand! That is if it wouldn’t fall off… The reality is no one saw the beginning of the universe but because of our faith we believe it “was formed at God’s command.” It says “what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” HA! This is cool (Something I will talk more about when addressing “hope”). Once again it confirms our definition of “assurance about things we cannot see.”

I asked my congregation if anyone had seen Jesus physically. I meant as in ever talked to him face-to-face, shook his hand, shared a meal, etc. you get the picture. No. No one today has physically met Jesus. This is where faith plays an important role. You see, even though we may have never seen Jesus we have proof he existed and did what he did. It’s called the Bible. We have the proof, now we take the next step – having faith. Placing our faith in what the Bible says means we believe it even when we don’t see it. Just a few more verses down, Hebrews says this:

“All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” – Hebrews 11:13-16 NLT

In reference to some of the characters of the hall of faith this passage is saying they died never seeing the promise (which was Jesus Christ) fulfilled. BUT because of their faith they knew something better was coming. I really like how the Message puts it:

“Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that— heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.” – Hebrews 11:13-16 MSG

Whenever I see the word foreigner or nomad or transient in these passages I like to replace them with the word “alien.” This really is what it means. They understood they were aliens to this world. It’s funny because we always look away from our world to seek out these strange green creatures but the reality is we are the aliens. The world in which we currently live is not our home. We do not belong here. Just like the scripture says, the hall of faither’s “accepted the fact that they were (aliens) in this world…they were after a far better country than that— heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them” (Hebrews 11:13b, 16 aliens added). What is waiting for us is our hope

Further Readings:
  • Hebrews 11
  • Romans 1:17
  • Romans 10:9

The Recrudescence

Recrudescence – a reawakening after a period of brief sleep.

That’s just it. We need a Recrudescence. Christianity has fallen asleep. We’ve been in a slumber, and we are about to receive a rude awakening. This message is not going to be encouraging. In fact, these words will be hard for me to say and harder for others to hear. I am guilty of my own speech, but my honest plea is to bring about a Recrudescence for all believers in Christ.

Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” – Ecclesiastes 1:2b

Everything in this world is useless. Not one physical thing here on this planet will last. Every beautiful mountain, forest, and river; every book you read; every promotion you get, possession you own, pleasure you have. Useless. Why? Because in this world we all have the same fate. Death. We perform our own requiems with our personal desires. We banter before the dust of the deceased! The actions that we take lead us one step closer to six feet under, and we refuse to talk about it. We’re messed up. Our design has been desensitized. We are ignorant of mortality. We are ignorant of immortality! Death does not disturb us and eternal life is entirely missing. That is why I am writing.

My honest hope is that the preceding paragraph has awaken you to the futility of seeking purpose of life in vain.

Then why live?

“Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13b

So what does this mean?

Let’s look at what it means to “Fear God.”

In order to understand what this means we must first look in the Gospel of Matthew. At the end of chapter three John the Baptist baptizes Jesus. The Bible says, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” – Matthew 4:1. One of the temptations was to bow down to Satan and he said he would give Jesus all the worldly possessions. The passage reads, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give to you, if you will fall down and worship me.'” – Matthew 4:8-9. The way in which Jesus responds to Satan explains what it means to fear God. “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, 

“You shall worship the Lord your God

and him only shall you serve.”‘”

-Matthew 4:10

Notice that I have quoted a quote within a quote within a quote: a passage from the Bible (quote 1), Jesus speaking (quote 2), and a scripture reference that Jesus addresses (quote 3). To understand what Jesus is referencing we must turn back to Deuteronomy. Here we find the direct quote saying,

“It is the Lord your God you shall fear.

Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.”

-Deuteronomy 6:13

Moses then expands on this a little further in chapter 10 of Deuteronomy. He says, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to (1) fear the Lord your God, to (2) walk in all his ways, to (3) love him, to (4) serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to (5) keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?” – Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (numbers added in reference to following sentence.)

5 specific things were spoken in this passage about the relationship between God and man:

(1) Respect, (2) Following, (3) Love, (4) Serving, and (5) Obedience.

Paul best sums this up as he addresses the Christians in Rome by saying, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” – Romans 12:1

This brings us back to where we started. Understanding that death is inevitable requires us to offer our lives in fear of God and keeping his commandments. The fear of God is essentially worship. It is Respect, Following, Love, Serving, and Obedience. It is releasing everything in this world that you possess and allowing God to take control of it.

Our worship will in turn demand us to keep his commandments. Moses gives us a list of those in Exodus 20:3-17. Briefly speaking they are: (1) No other gods before me, (2) No idols, (3) Do not take the Lord’s name in vain, (4) Remember the Sabbath day, (5) Honor your father and mother, (6) Do not murder, (7) Do not commit adultery, (8) Do not steal, (9) Do not bear false witness, and (10) Do not covet. Jesus later turns this around and clarifies the commandments with two phrases telling us what to do instead of fearing what not to do. In response to a Pharisee he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40

I leave you with one final passage. Matthew 15:7-9 Jesus responds to the Pharisees saying, “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 

‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,

teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”

So I ask you: Do you fear the Lord or do you follow the commandments of man?

This is the Recrudescence.

A Final Prayer:

“Father God You are greater than anything this world has to offer. Your grace is overwhelming. I pray that Your will be revealed in my life. I have been asleep, following the ways of the world for far too long, and I am desperate to seek Your kingdom here in the world You made. Awaken me to a life of everlasting worship. I offer all I have to you because I know that you are all I need. Thank You Lord for giving me life to worship and glorify You. Thank You for saving me from eternal punishment. Keep me on the path of righteousness that my good deeds would reflect who you are and what you have done for me. To You be all the glory!