At a Lakeland, Florida revival service in 1988, recently deceased Kansas City prophet Bob Jones explained the church’s future:
“The year 2000 would reveal the glory of God. You haven’t seen anything. Wait till you see the next two years! The year 2010 would reveal the FAITH OF GOD. It’s not to have the faith “IN” God, it is to have the faith “OF” God. And it’s going to be those that have that earring in and hear what God is saying. And what you’ll do, you’ll proclaim it. And you’ll bring it into being.”
Wow! Who wouldn’t go for that? Man oh man:
“NO LONGER LIVING WITH FAITH IN GOD, BUT HAVING THE KIND OF FAITH THAT
GOD HAS, WE CAN SPEAK AND WHAT WE SPEAK COMES INTO BEING.”
Awesome! That sure would lighten the workload. Pressure and aggravation levels would vastly go way down for pastors and parishioners alike. This prompted Jones to say, “You haven’t seen anything yet!” I guess not! Shazaam!
But then again:
“WHEN THINGS SOUND TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY,
REMEMBER, THEY MUST FIRST BE TRUE TO BE GOOD.”
Jones’ words have been in vogue much longer than 2010. Entire Bible Schools and Bible Colleges and Churches are based on Jones’ prophecy. As a matter of fact, people by the droves have become so addicted to his words, that like airplanes, they need the strong power and momentum of the FAITH “OF” GOD just to keep themselves aloft and flying. In their faith-flying school, they have graduated from FAITH “IN” GOD to the FAITH “OF” GOD. And you do not realize yet, though you will as these teachings move along, that they literally leave FAITH “IN” GOD forever behind, and they fly in a much higher dimension called FAITH “OF” GOD.
When I think of this, it makes me think of Hannibal Lecter’s words to Clarice Starling in “The Silence of the Lambs,”
“YOU FLY BACK TO SCHOOL NOW, LITTLE STARLING, FLY, FLY, FLY.”
Faith “Of” God Airlines now flies to all major American cities, as well as to the major cities of the world.
Where did Jones, and many others like him, get this from, namely:
“THAT WE SHALL BE MOVING FROM FAITH ‘IN’ GOD TO THE FAITH ‘OF’ GOD?”
“THAT WITH THE FAITH ‘OF’ GOD, WE WILL SPEAK AND WE WILL BRING TO PASS
WHAT WE SPEAK WITH THE FAITH ‘OF’ GOD, EVEN AS GOD SPOKE IN
CREATION AND BROUGHT IT TO PASS?”
I assure you, he did not get this from the Word of God, and it didn’t originate with him. We have to give credit, or should we say, discredit where discredit is due. We must trace it roots, and more than that, reveal what an unbiblical and bogus and destructive prophecy it really is. Why? Because entire religious systems today are built on the content of what Bob Jones and others have prophesied!
When preachers and teachers start messing around with FAITH, they are tampering with that upon which man’s entire salvation is based. That is exactly what Satan wants, namely to move man away from FAITH ‘IN’ JESUS CHRIST to something more exotic sounding like the FAITH ‘OF’ JESUS CHRIST. When the fact of the matter is, when it comes to sinners being saved:
“EVERY SOUL LOST IN SIN CAN DO NO MORE, NOR REACH ANY FURTHER,
THAN FAITH ‘IN’ GOD’S SON JESUS CHRIST.”
“WHEN A MAN IS LURED TO GO BEYOND THE HEART OF HIS FAITH TO
SOMETHING BETTER, STRONG CHANCES ARE THAT HE EVENTUALLY
WILL MAKE HIS CORE BELIEF SECONDARY, IF NOT
CAST IT OFF ENTIRELY.”
He then will get a far-away, mystical look in his eyes, because he now lives in a world of fancy and imagination, as he floats to God only knows where. He has lost his core center, and now begins to live on the fringes. Like Herod and John the Baptist, he cuts the head off from truth for the dance of a seducer.
I. FAITH – MATERIAL SUBSTANCE OR SPIRITUAL DYNAMIC
At the outset of an extended discussion about FAITH, you must know what modern “Religious Humanism” here puts forward, and it is this:
“THAT GOD LIVES AND ACTS BY FAITH, EVEN AS CHRISTIANS LIVE
AND ACT BY FAITH.”
“EVERYTHING THAT GOD IS AND DOES IS FAITH BASED, AND EVERYTHING
THAT CHRISTIANS ARE AND DO IS FAITH BASED TOO.”
“GOD IS A FAITH BELIEVER AND CHRISTIANS ARE FAITH BELIEVERS.”
You say, “What in the world is this? I thought that God is the One to be believed in, and that we are to do the believing in God?” Yes, you are right, that is Biblical Christianity. To say that God is a believer and lives by faith even as we are believers and live by faith, is as ludicrous as saying that men impregnate women and women impregnate men who each have 9 month pregnancies and then give birth. Excruciating for me to even think about for more than one second!
Nonetheless, that God lives by faith and God’s children live by faith are the internal wheels that move huge segments of modern so-called Christianity. Hear it:
“THIS IS THE EPICENTER OF MUCH OF MODERN RELIGION, THAT THE GOD OF
FAITH AND HIS CHILDREN OF FAITH ARE FAITH CO-EQUALS.”
Now I know that this is blowing some of your minds. And blow minds it does by the score. As it always is, if the imagination fantasizes about a thing long enough, it sinks into an INFATUATION AND A DELUSION. That delusion begins to ferment, even like an intoxicating liquor received into the stomach will continually be sending thick clouds to the brain.
I see it happen again and again, namely, that anything that can make us equal with God will, like Eve and Adam, lead people to eat the whole enchilada. Ooooh, SO WE CAN MOVE BEYOND FAITH IN GOD TO GOD’S KIND OF FAITH. Ooooh, so we can live on the God level. Give me another bite of that Senor Satan!
We will return to all of this in depth, but first we must see that what the Christian church traditionally has understood by faith –TRUST – is not what is meant by faith by those who believe that God and His sons and daughters live by faith. You see, the Bible uses two words which in essence mean the same thing. In the Old Testament you will find the word TRUST over and over again. In the New Testament you will find the word FAITH over and over again. We read on Psalm 25:2,
“O my God, in Thee I TRUST.”
It can also be put in the New Testament version,
“O my God, in Thee I FAITH – BELIEVE.”
Faith at its heart is TRUST, trusting God when things make sense, and trusting God when things don’t make sense. In fact, faith is totally trusting God when He doesn’t make sense. Tony Campolo was once confronted by an atheist who was one of his students. The young man told Campolo, “For me to believe in God, I have to have a God that I can understand.” And Campolo replied, “God refuses to be that small!” Though I don’t agree with Campolo on other fronts, I agree with him here with a big AMEN.
FAITH IN GOD IS TRUST IN GOD! That is the guts of the entire Bible and the Christian Faith. Without TRUST – the entire Christianity thing is a BUST. TRUST in the Lord with ALL YOUR HEART, otherwise it is like taking the “T” out of trust, and then all you do is RUST. If you take TRUST from the center of FAITH, all that happens is that Christianity is as worthless as the ever-growing scrapheap and junkyard of dead religions. TRUST IN GOD IS A MUST! Otherwise all we do is collect DUST before we are turned back into it.
Now then, a well-known and very influential modern religious teacher by the name of Kenneth Copeland tells us something totally different about faith:
“FAITH WAS THE RAW MATERIAL SUBSTANCE THAT THE SPIRIT OF GOD
USED TO FORM THE UNIVERSE.”
Laying aside for the moment the statement that the Spirit of God formed the world by faith, which we will address at length later, faith is defined by Copeland as a,
“RAW MATERIAL SUBSTANCE.”
If you will, faith is not trust in God, but faith is instead some sort of raw stuff in us that is in God too. RAW is a word which suggests something like unprocessed crude oil! Now then, when I first read this, it hit me like a dirty oil filter in the face. Where in the world have I been? I had been taught all my life from the Bible that faith was a SPIRITUAL REALITY, and not a MATERIAL REALITY, let alone RAW MATERIAL. Ergo, to be low on faith means that like a car we are low on oil. Oh well, it’s time for a faith-oil change anyway, and while You are at it God, give me a lube job too, and be sure to change the faith filter as well!
Listen to me, using another analogy, and it is more a warning than anything else. This stuff is not from the Bible’s MAIN STREAM OF FAITH. Fact:
“WATERS RUNNING IN THE SAME CHANNEL ALWAYS RETAIN THE SAME COLOR,
TASTE, AND BREED THE SAME KIND OF FISH THEN HOW DID
THIS FLYING CARP EVER GET IN HERE?”
Before you get sidetracked with a picture of a bucket of dirty faith, we must get this straight in our minds from the Bible:
“FAITH IS A SPIRITUAL DYNAMIC AND NOT A MATERIAL SUBSTANCE.”
We must get our heads out of the raw material realm and into the pure spirit realm. So we read in II Corinthians 4:13,
“But having the same spirit of faith….”
It does not say:
“But having the same raw-material substance of faith.”
Faith is a spiritual dynamic produced in us by the working of God’s Spirit in our spirits. And when we are full of the Holy Spirit we will also be full of faith. We read in Acts 11:24 about a man named Barnabas,
“for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith….”
“IF YOU ARE FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, YOU WILL BE FULL OF GOODNESS AND
FAITH. BUT IF YOU ARE EMPTY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, YOU WILL
BE FULL OF BADNESS AND UNBELIEF.”
Like it or not, everyone here is full of something, depending on whether you are full of the Spirit of God or not. You will either be filled with spiritual praise to God, or your mouth will be like a jukebox filled with carnal platter.
Or again, faith as material substance sounds like some sort of faith tablet that the pastor can prescribe to a parishioner who is struggling with DOUBT. You know, “Take two of these faith tablets every four hours and call me in the morning. You ought to be “FAITHING” better by morning. Faith by Copeland’s definition is a material substance that you can see, feel, handle, and swallow. Whatever, to call faith a raw-material substance is to grotesquely distort the Bible and the Christian faith beyond recognition. Copeland and his ilk totally rename, replace, and redesign faith. His concept of faith is a total fabrication and a bold-faced lie. But as we shall see later, it is all by design. There is a method in the madness here that results in a totally different faith religion.
It reminds me of the father who was eating a rack of pork spareribs, and his little daughter asked him, “Daddy, do spareribs come from people?” Daddy said, “No honey, they come from pigs.” You ask, “Does this material-substance faith come from God”? My response, “No friend, it came from demons – doctrine of demons, and you will see why as we go along.”
How does the Holy Spirit produce faith (steadfast trust) in the heart of man? Nothing abracadabra here! No hocus-pocus or sleight of hand. No sending in for faith pills. No money orders for faith. We receive that steadfast adherence to, reliance upon and trust in God through the hearing of the Word of God. We read in Romans 10:17,
“So faith (pistis) comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.”
Speaking of doubt a few paragraphs earlier, there is only one thing that can clear the mind of doubts – TRUTH. FAITH/TRUST comes by HEARING THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD. listen:
“WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF DOUBTING BUT THE DISAPPEARANCE OF TRUTH?”
Newsweek and Time magazines, and most of the major TV networks, prevent faith, and if you already have faith they have the great potential to weaken and even destroy your faith. Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Copper of CNN aren’t exactly “Faith Boosters.” The evolutionistic Discovery Channel is more interested in what cavemen wrote on cave walls than on what God wrote on the tables of stone. Today’s news and evolutionary documentary channels are nothing more or less than faith traps, and once they get a hold of you, God will seem more and more remote, the narrow path less and less discoverable, until you barely have anything left of God in your life.
We are told that 70% of Christian young people who go to secular colleges and universities have their faith severely weakened or destroyed. Nor will a message from the current president strengthen your faith in or draw you closer to Jesus Christ. Only staying in the Bible, having prayer and fellowship in true Bible churches, and listening to pastors who preach the whole counsel of God, will birth and strengthen faith in you in the midst of these anti-faith, anti-God apostate last days. The God of the Word and the Word of God is the only “Safe-Faith Refuge.”
II. GOD OF FAITH OR FAITH IN GOD
Now then, let’s get to the real guts of all of this. The teaching that GOD LIVES AND WORKS BY FAITH is a total religious hoax! Nowhere does the Bible teach, suggest, or even hint that God has faith, lives by faith, or operates by faith.
The little son asked his daddy, “Daddy, where would clouds take us.” Dad explained to his son that clouds are thin like fog, and if you sat on one, you would fall all the way through to earth and be killed. Of course, the little boy looked like he had been cruelly yanked by his ankles out of the sky by his dad. The truth sets us free, but not always without the disappointment of being so yanked out of our illusions.
The fact of the matter is this:
“IF GOD HAS FAITH, AND LIVES AND ACTS BY FAITH, THEN GOD IS NOT THE
TO-BE-BELIEVED IN ONE, BUT ONLY ONE WHO BELIEVES
LIKE ALL BELIEVERS.”
Now then, the wind of the Holy Spirit will not only blow some shingles off from the roof of Copeland’s “FAITH OF GOD CHURCH,” but more than that, He will blow the entire thing to pieces.
Let’s start here! According to Hebrew’s 11:1,
“Now faith (pistis) is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction
of things not seen.”
FIRST let’s begin with the latter half of the Bible’s definition of FAITH first,
“FAITH IS THE CONVICTION OF THINGS NOT SEEN.”
And that of course first of all includes faith’s conviction of the existence of the God Who we cannot see. Faith then sounds almost naïve and even childish, and that is exactly the point. True faith is CHILDLIKE, and unless we believe like little children, we will never enter the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 18:3)
We read about God in Hebrews 4:13,
“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open
and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
Everything is seen by God. All things! Nothing is hidden from God. There are no hiding places from God. He not only sees all of us, but sees through us as well. Nothing escapes his Divine sight.
Adam and Eve played the first hide-and-go-seek game with God. (Genesis 3:8) They even tried to cover their nakedness with fig leaves sewn together. (Genesis 3:7) What a wasted camouflage! The hiding was over before the seeking began, and their camouflage pants and skirt went out of date before they put them on. It may be fun to play hide-go-seek games with your kids, but God’s kids find out very quickly that there is no fun in playing hide-go-seek games with God. We say, “Here we come, ready or not.” God says, “I’m already here, like it or not.” Every place we hide He is there already.
It can never be said of God, “Out of sight, out of mind.” That may be true of man, but never true of God. We are never out of His mind and we are never out of His sight. God is the only One of Whom it can’t be said:
“Sorry, you escaped my mind, and that is why I forgot your birthday.”
No, God has never missed one of your birthdays, and He never will. He saw you before you were born, He saw you when you were born, He has seen you and will see you every second of your life, and He will see you when you die. You are not an occasional thought in the mind of God. He can’t get you out of his mind, and He can’t get you out of His sight. He sees all and He knows all.
“GOD AND FAITH ARE CONTRADICTIONS, BECAUSE FAITH IS FOR THE UNSEEN,
AND NOTHING IS UNSEEN TO GOD.”
Why would God, Who sees all things, need faith which is the conviction of things not seen? Thinking of God with faith is like picturing Him as a blind God walking with His seeing-eye dog named Faith. Otherwise in His travels He would bump into planets and stars, for He can’t see a blessed thing without His faith pooch.
The requirement laid down by God for Christians in this time-space dimension is stated in II Corinthians 5:7,
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Our entire life here on earth is a BLIND TRUST WALK – FAITH WALK WITH GOD. Here what I am about to say:
“WHAT REALLY AND ETERNALLY MATTERS WE CANNOT SEE, AND ALL THAT
WE CAN SEE ONLY TEMPORALLY MATTERS.”
Now then, in total contradistinction, it must be said of God that,
“He walks by sight, not by faith.”
Faith inside of God would be a totally useless and demeaning thing. It would die of boredom! It would be pointless and eternally irrelevant. Unless you have some weird idea of God sitting in an armchair and saying to the angels, “Has any one of you seen my FAITH GLASSES, I can’t see a thing without them.”
Thinking of God having faith demeans Him. It lowers His Divinity and and insults His ability. In I Corinthians 13:12, it is said of us who live by faith:
“Here we see through a glass darkly.”
And a glass often gives a false, and even a faint representation of an object. That is why we need FAITH/TRUST, for only then is the unseen made clear to us. God does not see through a glass darkly and therefore needs faith too. God has X-ray, infinite, all seeing, perfect vision. One day in glory, our vision shall be unclogged and unblurred from this body, and we shall have the full light of sight. Until then, we live by that which compared to God is a very imperfect state of life.
SECOND, our discussion of faith is not yet complete. According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is not only the conviction of things not seen, but,
“FAITH IS THE ASSURANCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR.”
How would it set with you that one day you were praying to God about the future of America and world affairs, and you asked Him about them. And then you heard Him say to you:
“I AM HOPING THAT IT WILL ALL WORK OUT OKAY.”
Or perhaps you asked Him about something in your life that you have sought Him for, and He responded to you:
“WELL, I’M STILL HOPING.”
How does that grab you? It has been said about hope and I believe rightly so:
“HOPE IS THE ANCHOR OF THE SOUL.”
But given the Lord’s words to you, suddenly, because of God’s tentativeness and uncertainty about the future, your soul is now anchored in mud. In fact, no longer is hope the anchor of your soul, but it has become the suspense of your soul. Hope now is filled with shadows, and it betrays all peace of mind. Hope begins to give way to hopelessness. It sends your own personal Dow Jones plummeting. Help!
Hear it is! We read in Isaiah 46:9-10,
“Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me.”
“DECLARING THE END FROM THE BEGINNING AND FROM ANCIENT TIMES THINGS
WHICH HAVE NOT YET BEEN DONE, saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.”
Do you now feel your hope anchoring itself again in Divine certainty? God is not into predictions and prognostications. God does not play the odds. God does not deal in possibilities and perhapses. God is not into could-bees and would-bees and might-bees and should-bees. God does not have to adjust or eat crow because of the unexpected. God is not caught off guard because He gets blindsided. God does not have to hold committee meetings to make adjustments for the future. In short:
“YOU WILL NEVER HEAR GOD CALL AN EMERGENCY MEETING WITH THE
TRINITY AND SAY, ‘WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE WE TO DO NOW?”
We are told by the prophet Isaiah this:
“GOD NOT ONLY KNOWS THE FUTURE, HE DECLARES IT. GOD DOES NOT READ THE
FINAL CHAPTER OF HISTORY, HE WROTE IT. GOD NOT ONLY KNOWS THE
BEGINNING. HE KNOWS THE END OF ALL THINGS.”
More than that, as if we needed more:
“WHAT GOD PURPOSES FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE END OF THE WORLD IS
ALREADY ESTABLISHED. HIS FUTURE PLANS ARE NOT COMING TO PASS
AS MUCH AS THEY ARE ALREADY DONE.“
And so we read in Psalm 33:11,
“The counsel of the Lord STANDS FOREVER (not will stand, not might stand,
they are already standing), the plans of His heart
from generation to generation.”
Hope is the only thing that can take a man out of a dismal present into the promise of a brighter future. God is not in a dismal present awaiting and hoping for a brighter future. We are, but He isn’t. God never has a dark day hoping that things will brighten up tomorrow. God does not hope against hope. All of His FUTURE GOOD PLEASURE AND PLANS FOR HIS CHILDREN are already established in eternity.
Finally, if God lived by hope, who or what in the world would He put His hope in? In us? God have mercy on Himself! No, a thousands times no! Get this clear;
“WE ARE NOT THE UNSURE OBJECT OF GOD’S HOPE, BUT GOD AND GOD
ALONE IS THE OBJECT OF OUR SURE HOPE.”
We read in Acts 24:15,
“having a HOPE IN GOD, which these men cherish themselves, that there
shall CERTAINLY be a resurrection of both the the righteous
and the unrighteous.”
Yes indeed, for the believer in Christ, the grave shall be the new body’s dressing room for heaven, and dust and ashes shall be the seed-plot for immortality. HOPE IN GOD – IT IS THE SUREST HOPE IN ALL THE WORLD. The unrighteous shall be raised in their rot and decay and worminess unto an eternal hell.
Now hear it:
“GOD NEITHER HAS NOR LIVES BY FAITH OR BY HOPE.”
Why? Because there is no such thing as the unseen to God! And because there is no future to God, for God is eternal. There are no yesterdays or tomorrows in eternity, and therefore there is no past nostalgia or future hope with God. God is eternal, and eternity is timeless. It is truly mind boggling that everything is already fully and perfectly accomplished before God. He sees the beginning, the middle and the end all at once. No surprises! It is a done deal, and it is established.
Satan is always too late in his plans and attempts to foil God’s purposes. In fact, it must drive him batty to find that he is not only and always a day late and a dollar short, but he also finds out that all of his dastardly schemes and doings were already incorporated into God’s sovereign good will and trumped. It must drive him nuts to constantly discover that in the end he has been outmaneuvered and outflanked by Divine wisdom and power. Ole Wiley Coyote Satan again and again defeated by Road Runner God. (Forgive me Lord, I just couldn’t let the analogy go by.) There Satan stands again and again with egg all over his stupid face, for as Romans 8:28 says,
“ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THOSE WHO LOVE GOD.”
So we read words like these in Romans 8:24,
“…but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope
for what he sees?”
Therefore God does not need hope. He sees His fully accomplished ends as well as His perfectly begun beginnings, and everything in between. It may all look like a hodgepodge to us on occasion, but it all makes total sense to Him. He hopes for nothing. He does not reminisce about the good old days. Nor does He hope for better days ahead. Hope therefore has no place in God! Listen:
“IF GOD HAD TO HOPE, WE WOULD BE FOREVER HOPELESS.”
Our faith and hope are in God Who assures us in Ephesians 1:11 that He,
“…works all things after the counsel of His will.”
History is not moved along by a chancy, impersonal force or some sort of nebulous cosmic power. You know the science fiction salutation, “May the FORCE be with you.” What force? Who knows, but so many believe that there has to be something out there moving things along. It somehow comforts people to be able to think about some overriding force. It makes them feel less alone in the universe, just so the force is not a personal God. That becomes too threatening and forceful, and takes away their independence. Just keep the force neuter, A NEUTER AND IMPERSONAL FORCE will do just fine, thank you.
But God tells us in no uncertain terms that there is always the overarching, all-wise loving purpose and awesome power of God at work in the universe. In all things and in every life! Don’t think for a moment that anything, no matter how catastrophic it may appear, dams the stream of God’s purposes from flowing through history to completion. God will work, and nothing and no one will stop Him.
Disappointed in prayer? Don’t be! The Lord works it all out and He never has and never will fail. We have every reason to be eternally hopeful born of a dynamic faith! That is why Paul can state in Romans 8:24,
“For in hope we have been saved….”
And as the Palmist states in Psalm 71:5,
“For Thou art my hope; O Lord God, Thou art my confidence
from my youth.”
The line is drawn which God cannot step over into faith and hope. If He could, he would no longer be the eternal God, but would be temporal man. Listen:
“THERE IS NO FAITH ‘OF’ GOD OR HOPE ‘OF’ GOD.”
There is only:
“FAITH ‘IN’ GOD AND HOPE ‘IN’ GOD.”
“GOD IS NOT FAITH, AND HE HAS NO FAITH, BECAUSE FAITH IS
IRRELEVANT TO HIS CHARACTER.”
“GOD IS NOT HOPE, HE HAS NO HOPE, BECAUSE HOPE IS IRRELEVANT
TO HIS CHARACTER.”
But as we are about to see:
“GOD IS LOVE, AND HE HAS INFINITE LOVE, BECAUSE LOVE IS THE
VERY ESSENCE OF HIS CHARACTER.”
It will become very clear up ahead why religious people like Bob Jones, Kenneth Copeland, and many others want God to live by faith and hope. Or, if you will, why they want us to believe that both God and man are on the faith level! It is all a contrived religion but with a very specific purpose, and it is this:
“TO BRING GOD INTO THE FAITH LEVEL NOT ONLY BRINGS GOD DOWN
TO OUR LEVEL, BUT IT BRING US UP TO GOD’S LEVEL.”
Bingo! There it is! We will look at it more in-depth up ahead in Pt. 2.
III. FAITH – HOPE – LOVE
We read in I Corinthians 13:13,
“But now abide FAITH, HOPE, LOVE, these three, and the greatest
of these is LOVE.”
There they are, THE BIG THREE, with the LOVE the biggest of all. Faith, hope, and love are the very heartbeat of the Christian life. Faith in God, hope in God, and the love of God are at the heart of our salvation and Christian life. In the life of the saved sinner through the blood of Jesus Christ, they are the GREAT THREE DYNAMOS, with LOVE BEING THE MOST DYNAMIC OF ALL.
When I think of the LOVE OF GOD, I am always mindful of His great sacrificial love shown to us in John 3:16,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but
have everlasting life.”
During WWII, Irena Sendler got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive. Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids. Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking which covered the kids/infants noises. During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants. Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi’s broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.
Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out in a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted. In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected. Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming. Later another politician, Barack Obama, won for his work as a community organizer for ACORN.
We must note something very special here in I Corinthians 13:13! As great as FAITH and HOPE are, they are not the greatest. LOVE is the greatest! By that very superlative – GREATEST – the Holy Spirit is telling us that FAITH and HOPE are GREAT, but they are less than superlative. LOVE IS THE DIVINE SUPERLATIVE in God’s value system. God says so! We must never, never forget this. When the Lord says to His own one day, “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” the well done will be about nothing less than THE DIVINE SUPERLATIVE – LOVE.
Why is LOVE THE GREATEST? We read in I John 4:16,
“God is LOVE, and the one who abides in LOVE abides in God, and
God abides in him.”
“GOD IS NOT FAITH, AND GOD IS NOT HOPE. GOD IS LOVE, AND
THEREFORE LOVE IS THE GREATEST.”
It is as simple and profound as that.
“GREAT BELIEVERS IN GOD ARE NOT NEARLY AS GREAT AS GREAT
LOVERS IN GOD!”
“GREAT HOPERS IN GOD ARE NOT NEARLY AS GREAT AS GREAT
LOVERS IN GOD.”
Yes I know that this may throw you a love curve ball that you first miss by a mile with your faith bat and your hope bat. But, believing in God and hoping in God are Christianity 101 and Christianity 102! Loving like God is ADVANCED CHRISTIANITY 103. And no one gets to Heaven without completing all three courses.
“THE GREATEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE ALWAYS THE HARDEST.”
We may have completed and passed THE FAITH COURSE and THE HOPE COURSE, which are basic requirements. But if we flunk THE LOVE COURSE, we flunk all three, for it is alone LOVE that validates our faith and our hope in Christ.
It is very significant to note that those who teach that GOD LIVES BY FAITH and that GOD LIVES BY HOPE, often reverse I Corinthians 13:13 to say:
“But now abide LOVE, HOPE, AND FAITH, and the greatest
of these is FAITH.”
Many churches are named FAITH CHURCH, but you will seldom find a church named LOVE CHURCH. More than that, you will find far more seminars and revival services on the dynamic of FAITH than you will on the dynamic of LOVE. That is because in their estimation, FAITH IS THE GREATEST. But what they fail to understand is this:
“GOD IS NOT FAITH, GOD IS NOT HOPE, GOD IS LOVE.”
So it is that in the modern church, many fellowships major in minors, and minor in majors. Their required-course curriculum always is headed by:
“FAITH TO MOVE MOUNTAINS.”
Their optional courses may include:
“LOVE TO MELT HEARTS.”
It is so apparent in Pentecostal circles, of which we are a committed part, there is far more often emphasis on the LOVE OF POWER than there is on the POWER OF LOVE. I am sure that this is also true trans-denominationally. You will often hear the phrase THE NEXT MOVE OF GOD. Most always that refers to the POWER OF GOD, but not to the LOVE OF GOD – GOD MOVING IN POWER but not GOD MOVING IN LOVE – FAITH POWER but not LOVE POWER. We want God to perform miracles rather than we becoming God’s miracle of AGAPE LOVE.
“GOD GIVES FAITH AND GOD GIVES HOPE, BUT GOD IS LOVE, AND THAT
IS WHY LOVE IS THE GREATEST BY AN ETERNAL-DIVINE MILE.”
We must never forget Ephesians 2:8, and praise be to our gracious God for it,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Take that along with I John 4:8 and the truth is this:
“WE ARE SAVED FROM OUR SINS BY BELIEVING IN JESUS CHRIST,
AND THEN WE LIVE THE TRUE CHRISTIAN LIFE BY ABIDING IN
THE GOD OF LOVE AND THE GOD OF LOVE ABIDING IN US.”
Faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. Not one of them is optional in order to be pleasing to God. They are all great, but only one is the greatest.
I never cease to thrill in amazement at the words found in John 1:14,
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…
The only way that love could save us was to become us, live amongst us, and die as us. Who but the God of love would think of such a thing, and who but the Son of God would do such a thing, and who but the Spirit of God could conceive such a thing?
A grandfather found his grandson, jumping up and down in his playpen, crying at the top of his voice. When Johnnie saw his grandfather, he reached up his little chubby hands and said, “Out, Gramp, out.” It was only natural for Grandfather to reach down to lift the little fellow out of his predicament; but as he did, the mother of the child stepped up and said, “No, Johnnie, you are being punished, so you must stay in.”
The grandfather was at a loss to know what to do. The child’s tears and chubby hands reached deep into his heart, but the mother’s firmness in correcting her son for misbehavior must not be lightly taken. Here was a problem of love versus law, but love found a way. The grandfather could not take the youngster out of the playpen, so he crawled in with him. For God to get us out of our sin and punishment, He came in with us. He got as close to us as possible. He became man, and miraculously got into our humanity with us so He died for us and as us. There is no greater love!
God did not spare Paul and Silas the suffering and imprisonment, but He did come down into the prison with them. God did not keep the three Hebrew children out of the fiery furnace, but He went into the furnace with them. God will not always deliver us from trouble and heartache, but He has promised His loving and gracious presence in every situation of life. (By Fred W. Parsons, These Times, March 1969.)
I have sat in wonder and amazement every time I have watched Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in the movie Shawshank Redemption. I am spellbound each time I hear Andy say to Red,
“GET BUSY LIVING OR GET BUSY DYING.”
But more than that is the line written to Red in Andy’s buried letter:
“REMEMBER RED, HOPE IS A GOOD THING, MAYBE THE BEST OF
THINGS, AND NO GOOD THING EVER DIES.”
I say AMEN! Who is going to get picky at this point that love is the best of things. For Andy, hope is what saves, even as the Bible says in Romans 8:24,
“For we are saved by hope…”
Yes, that is how you get busy living and you stop dying.
As Craig T. Kocher in his commentary states:
“Christian hope is fundamentally different from optimism. Christian hope locks its steely eyes on the devastation of the world around it, and readily acknowledges that things may not get better. Christian hope does not bury its heat in Yule-tide cheer and artificial lights, but like an Advent wreath glowing stronger and brighter each week, this hope pushes its way into the brokenness of the world clearing a path in the wilderness so the true light might burst into the darkness.”
Kocher then goes on to cite a story told by Tom Long, about a rabbi Hugo Grynn, who was sent to Auschwitz as a little boy. In the midst of the concentration camp, in the midst of the death and horror all around them, many Jews held onto whatever shreds of their religious observances they could, without drawing the ire of the guards. One cold winter’s evening, Hugo’s father gathered the family in the barracks. It was the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish Feast of Lights.
The young child watched in horror as his father took the family’s last pad of butter and made a makeshift candle, using a string from his ragged clothes. He then took a match and lit the candle. “Father, no!” Hugo cried. “That butter is our last bit of food! How will we survive?”
“We can live for many days without food,” his father said. “We cannot live a single minute without faith and hope. This is the fire of hope. Never let it go out. Not here! Not anywhere!” (Pulpit Resource, Logos Productions, Inc, 2005)
There is nothing and no one who can illustrate faith in God like a child. Childlike trust in God is the essence of faith. There is no professor of theology, no lecture on faith that come close to an 8 year-old’s heart of faith in God. He is Danny Dutton from Chula Vista, California, and the following is taken from his third grade homework assignment. I just wonder if any of us could do as well? Danny writes,
“One of God’s main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn’t make grownups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way He doesn’t have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.
God’s second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn’t have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because He hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in His ears, unless He has thought of a way to turn it off.
God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn’t go wasting His time by going over your mom and dad’s head asking for something they said you couldn’t have.
Atheists are people who don’t believe in God. I don’t think there are any in Chula Vista. At least there aren’t any who come to our church.
Jesus is God’s Son. He did all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn’t want to learn about God. They finally got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified Him. But He was good and kind, like His father, and he told his father that they didn’t know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said, “O.K.”
His dad (God) appreciated everything that He had done and all His hard work on earth so He told Him he didn’t have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So He did. And now He helps His Dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones He can take care of Himself without having to bother His Father. Like a secretary, only more important.
You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.
You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there’s anybody you want to make happy, it’s God. Don’t skip church or do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides, the sun doesn’t come out at the beach until noon anyway.
If you don’t believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can’t go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He’s around you when you’re scared, in the dark or when you can’t swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids.
But… you shouldn’t just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can take me back anytime he pleases. And this is what I know about God. Amen!!!*
We are only half way through. Be sure to look for Faith Of God – Faith In God Pt. 2 coming soon. God bless you.