“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. .. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4-10
"…remembering without ceasing your work of faith, your labor of love, and patience of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3
“ Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…And we boast in the hope of the glory of God…. we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit...” Romans 5:1-5
“ let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith... Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…" Hebrews 10:22-24
”“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
If the Apostle Paul thought these three theological virtues were worth discussing together, it's probably worth looking at how God intertwines the three of them in our lives today.
A Greek mathematician who wrote during Paul's time gave this explanation for Paul's chosen word for faith: “"A demonstration of the certainly of a thing by sure arguments and indubitable reasons." In other words, faith is what we get when God has so convinced us He is right that we reorder our lives to follow him. Paul writes in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. Faith is a response to truth that we absorb and embrace. I hear language about faith as if it is a process in which we bring our emotions together and really focus ourselves so we feel strongly that we believe something. If we feel strongly enough we will be people of faith. Faith and feelings will intersect, but faith – the foundation of truth that we absorbed and embraced - should inform and steady our feelings, not be driven by our feelings.
The Bible does not present faith as a feeling. Faith is obedience in response to God’s persuasion. “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.” - Elton Trueblood
The Holman Bible Dictionary defines it this way: “the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future.”
- (Romans 15:4)
- “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
- (Colossians 1:5) -
”For the hope that is laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard in the word of the truth of the gospel.”
- (Galatians 5:5)
- For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.
So hopes builds on the firm foundation of faith. Hebrews 6:18-19 says, “The hope set before us…as the anchor of the soul.” It is meant to keep us stable through the storms of life. As Billy Graham said, "I've read the last page of the Bible. It's all going to turn out all right."
- Romans 5:5
“For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
- Ephesians 5:2
”…and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.”
- Galatians 5:14
- "For all the law is fulfilled in one command: "You should love your neighbor as yourself."
While agapao has multiple meanings, in the plainest sense, it involves choosing, embracing, and doing the will of God. In other words, it is “doing what the Lord prefers.” Sir Charles Villiers Stanford once noted, "To love as Christ loves is to let our love be a practical thing and not a sentimental thing." The grounding of this kind of love is not the emotion; the grounding of agapao love is commitment and action.
If you have trust and obedience in response to God's persuasion, you have faith; if you have true faith, you will have a confident expectation based on your foundation of truth (hope). If you have true faith and hope, you cannot resist doing what God prefers (love).