Faith, Hope and Love
by Cornelius R. Stam
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. - 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Paul had been discussing, in I Cor. 13, some of the miraculous signs that were to vanish away as God’s revelation became complete. But faith, hope and love, he declared, would abide as a triune evidence of true Christianity.
These three are all we need in the present "dispensation of the grace of God." Any church where faith, hope and love are found in abundant measure is a "full" church. It may have but a few members, but what greater blessing could it wish for than faith, hope and love in its fellowship?
Faith, hope and love are a trinity often referred to in St. Paul’s epistles. Each is of basic importance in its way, and none can exist without the other two.
Faith is of primary importance. "Without faith it is impossible to please [God]" (Heb 11:6), and how can there be hope and love without faith?
Hope holds the central place among the three. Hope in the Bible is more than a wish; it is the opposite of despair, an eager anticipation of blessings to come. Hope is the Christian’s experience, his living with eternity’s glory in view.
Love is the crowning virtue of the three; it is the fruit of faith and hope, and is greatest in the sense that it is "the bond of perfectness." Moreover, love is eternal. Some day, for every true believer, "faith will vanish into sight; hope be emptied in delight" and love will reign supreme.
May God help us, in our fellowship with each other, to evidence a full measure of faith, hope and love.