“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.” (I Corinthians 13:13)
Anyone who is familiar with the Bible will realize that the topics of faith, hope, and charity are foundational to the Christian’s life. Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please him.” On the subject of hope, Hebrews 6:19 says that it is “an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast.” And I Corinthians 13:2 declares that if I “have not charity, I am nothing.” However, have you ever considered why God says that “the greatest of these is charity”? Here are some thoughts that may bring to you some certainty on this truth.
- Faith – Christ Received in Your Heart – Ephesians 2:8 states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith.” Certainly, the Bible is clear that the only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ. Sin separates mankind from God, but Christ died on the cross to atone for those sins and bring reconciliation between God and man. In Ephesians 3:17, Paul prays “that Christ may dwell in your heart by faith.” Faith comes when you realize the gospel of Christ is true.
- Hope – Christ Realized in Your Heart – Once a person has placed his faith in Christ for salvation, he is instructed to grow in the knowledge of Christ through the study of Scripture. Romans 15:3 says, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Through this growth and knowledge, he will begin to see the great hope that he has in Jesus Christ. It is important to point out that this hope is not just wishful thinking. This hope is described in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary as “the highest degree of well-founded expectation of good.” What is this glorious expectation and hope that the Christian has in Christ? Colossians 1:27 says, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery . . . which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Hope comes when you realize that the promises of Christ are amazing.
- Charity – Christ Revealed in Your Heart – After a person has placed his faith in Christ and begun to learn through the Scriptures all that God has promised him, he will soon realize that he cannot keep this to himself! I John 4:11 says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Charity comes when you realize that the love of Christ must be shared. It is great when a person comes to salvation in Christ through faith. It is even better when he begins to grasp the great hope that he has in the promises of Christ. But it is the greatest when he begins to show God’s love to everyone around him!
By Pastor Timothy Benefield, Golden Valley Baptist Church. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.