Can Our Faith and Hope be Enough to Please God?

Why does he say,”Love matters more than Faith and hope”?

Pastor Colin Smith’s teaching sheds light on the question, “Why does Paul, the apostle of Christ, say that love is greater than faith and hope?”

In a message given by Colin, he teaches, “The Bible gives us the negative and the positive effects of our lives on earth. The negative keeps us from Christ, because of our arrogance, pride and self-confidence, which tempt us to stay distant from God, in order to continue what we’re doing. The same behavior, when we finally realize the futility of it, can be the positive catalyst which finally draws us to Christ.”

Let’s take a look at this verse [1 Corinthians 13:13 | NIV]

“… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

In Vs.13, Paul says,  Hope, Faith, and Love are all essential and eternal, but then he identified love as “the greatest” of all. 

How is this possible? How can love be greater than faith and hope?

Pastor Colin refers to another bible teacher, Bishop Riley, who explains it like this, “Love is the greatest grace, for it is the one quality exemplified by God (because God is love) and reflected by believers.

God doesn’t need faith. And God doesn’t need hope, because he knows the future. And certainly he knows the present as he has it secured in his hand.”

Pastor Colin continued, “With misty eyes I said, ‘Oh, what a beautiful passage from Paul!’ He describes three frightening possibilities. The first is to worship without love.

And the second frightening possibility is to have the faith to move the mountains, but to have no love. And the third, the most frightening possibility of all, is the possibility of sacrifice without love. If you give all that you possess generously to the poor and others, but you do not love, you gain nothing.”

It’s true that God doesn’t need faith or hope.  As we read in 1 John 4:8, ‘God is love.’ Scripture never says that God is faith or hope, though he is the object of our faith and hope, to be sure. And the more love his people have, the more they’re like their Father God.

In vs 13. Paul encourages us to keep reflecting on God’s love. And what God has done through his son, Christ Jesus—the miracles that he performed and his death on the cross [death of a righteous person on behalf of unrighteous people, so that he might bring you to God] is the evidence of God’s love for his children.  

In summary, Paul, the apostle of Christ is saying: Love matters. In spite of all your gifts, your knowledge, your prestige, your faith, your ministry, your sacrifices, your services, your good deeds; If you don’t love, God counts it all as nothing.

When I heard this message, it made me question how some of us live and how we show our love. When I found myself wrestling with “The World’s love vs. God’s love”, I had to take my questions and confusion to God in prayer, saying “Lord, I see that some of us truly love you. But what I don’t understand is, How can one worship you on one hand, and hate others on the other hand?

How can one sit near your altar, worshiping you—even speaking in the tongues of men and angels—then leave your presence and regard others with hatred and indifference, the total opposite of your love? I’m not judging, rather I’m asking all this in the name of Jesus. Amen!”

Surely, two days later, God shed light on my confusion, speaking to me through someone dear, who reminded me of this verse, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” [Romans 3:23]

Indeed, we are all sinners. I’m as a sinner just as they are. That is why we’re in need of a Savior, Christ Jesus. I thanked God for the reminder of who we are, and who He is. 

Dear Lord, 

I see that love is indeed greater than faith and hope. Love is essential to your nature. I thank you, Lord, for your unwavering love. How good it is to trust in you! And my hope in you keeps me going, especially when I struggle with pain in my flesh, weakness, and discouragement. Loving Lord, help me by filling my heart with your love, that I may give this love to those you have placed in my life. May others know that I belong to you because of how I love. I praise you only, O God of love. Amen!

The Fire of God’s judgment did not Harm Him. It Only Burned Away the Sin— Our Sin!

When the Lord revealed himself and his purpose for my life through visions and dreams, I was astonished! I wondered, “how” and “why” would he choose me? I felt little, insignificant and not worthy of his name. I had no hope of measurIng up to God’s standard of holiness. I found it hard to believe that I could be forgiven and loved by a Holy God, when the world and many of the people around me had represented themselves as holier and better than me for most of my life.

But God himself touched my heart and called me to follow him. In response I submitted to God’s will. I vowed to say, “Here I am, Lord” no matter how difficult the task might be. 

The more clearly I see God’s sovereignty, the more I’m aware of my own powerlessness and inadequacy to do anything of lasting value without God. 

It’s important for us to see God’s holiness as the prophet Isaiah saw in [Isaiah 6].

Isaiah’s life may have been as brilliant as a diamond, as he was a righteous man of God. But when you lay a diamond against a perfectly black background, and shine the right light upon it, you can see every flaw and imperfection – even flaws that were invisible before. When Isaiah’s righteous life lay against the background of God’s perfection, it looked different. 

When Isaiah had a vision of the holy God [Isaiah 6: 5] he said, “Woe to me!” He cried, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”  For Isaiah, it was most disturbing to see the holiness of God. Why? Because he saw his utter lack of holiness, when compared with the glory of God.

Then in the vision a burning coal was applied to his lips.  Indeed, this was a spiritual transaction for Isaiah, and if we are willing, this could be our transformation too, to be forgiven and loved. The same principle works on our behalf in regard to Jesus’ death on the cross. Our sin was placed upon Him, and He was burned with the fire of God’s judgment. Yet because He was holy and righteous Himself, the fire of God’s judgment did not harm Him, he rose on the third day; it only burned away the sin—our sin.

Our entrance into heaven does not depend on how well we live our lives based on whatever our beliefs are. If that were true, there wouldn’t be any hope for me or you. We can’t live a Christian (or any other religious) life perfectly—nobody can. But when we reach out Christ in faith and repentance, he accepts us unconditionally.  We need never be concerned whether or not we are capable of living a good enough life to enter heaven. The good news is: that our salvation does not depend on our work for Christ, but Christ’s work for us.  Our work is never done. But his work was completely done for us on the cross. We can rest our life, death, and eternity on him with complete confidence.

Let’s not forget the penitent thief who did everything wrong all his life. At his life’s end, he was hanging on the cross next to Christ. He entered paradise just as Abraham, David, Elijah, Mary and the rest of God’s family did before him. Why should a thief go to heaven? Because he reached out to Christ when he had the opportunity. 

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” 

[Luke 23:42-43]

As Jesus prayed for his enemy, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  and he also promised Paradise to the thief. That was the beginning for the thief; he was about to discover more… 

Happy Easter My Friends!