The church, today, is at a critical place of transition. With a whole world of events playing into increasing distinctions between generations, there is a critical need for definition for biblical principles. Cultural values are inevitably lost from generation to generation. At the cusp of a dramatic shift in society, the church of the future is at risk of losing vital distinctions.
There are iconic terms within the Bible which are used to describe the wholeness of the Christian life. Offering biblical definition to Faith, Hope, and Love can provide the believer with the essential elements which make up the foundation of living a life pleasing to God. But these terms are not fully understood by all believers.
When mature Christians talks about faith, they have a distinct idea of what it means. To them, faith is more than just an idea or belief, it is their identity and their life. More and more, as younger Christians are faced with an ever widening pluralism in society, faith has taken on a new meaning. To the average young person in the church, the Christian faith is just one among many. With so many different ideas about God, a singular means of understanding Him is seen as narrow and bigoted. With tolerance being the theme of a generation, the distinctions of Christianity are the first to fall under attack.
There are so many discouraging qualities that can cause us to lose our hope. With a struggling economy and a negative outlook on American politics, not much time is given to rest on the hope Christians have for the future. This is playing a divisive role in the spiritual development of young Christians today who are becoming more convinced that there is little left to hope for.
I would dare say that many Christians do not have a clear understanding of what biblical love is. For several generations now, love has been distorted by society. It was a popular song by the Beatles in 1967 which stated, “All you need is love.” Even before that time, love was seen as the proverbial band-aid to all of the world’s problems. But something has been lost in the distinct quality of love which Christ taught about in the gospels.
Instead of turning to the Scriptures for guidance, many young Christians are turning to the world to shape their thinking. Placed up against science, the Bible is seen as inferior. Measured up against other religions, Christianity is considered to be intolerant. Compared to popular opinion, spirituality is portrayed as ignorance. This is what the Church is up against when faced with defining their faith for the future.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13 esv
Our culture has lost an important set of distinctions which have characterized the historical Church since the time of Christ. The apostle Paul was faithful to teach on these three terms which could be used to outline many of his epistles. Faith, Hope, and Love are the innermost workings of Christianity and they are essential for the life of every believer. Because these terms have been misinterpreted, it is essential that we offer definition to their biblical purpose.
The Bible defines faith as substance and evidence. It is more than just a set of beliefs, it is the essential element which gives us clarity and certainty in the promises of the Bible. Is is foundational to the truths of God’s Word and without it we cannot even begin to know or please God.
Unlike wishful thinking, hope is confidently anticipating what God has promised He will do. This confidence shatters unbelief because it is built upon the authority of God’s Word and is sustained by the work of the Holy Spirit. Hope is the process which brings the believer through trials and is the product of patience in tribulation.
Love cannot fully be realized until it is experienced through the grace and mercy of Christ. Until we see love in it’s purest intent, we will only posses a corrupted version of it. Love is the fruit of a proper faith and hope. When a believer trusts in God for all things, they can fully express worship to God and love as Christ loves.
This is the core message of Worthy of the Gospel. We want to make sure we lay down the foundation so that the next generation understands the fundamentals of their faith. As we challenge people to seek God, we constantly come back to these core elements. To understand these terms requires continual dedication to refine our thinking. It’s not enough to simply settle for a simple definition. These terms take life in every situation in our life and require constant consideration and remembrance. As we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, we will draw closer to Christ in our sanctification and deeper in our understanding of faith, hope, and love.