"FAITH, HOPE, LOVE"
I. "WORK OF FAITH"
A. There are many who think that these two entities are mutually exclusive.
1. By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God not of works lest any man should boast.
2. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
B. So often as Paul is speaking of works he is referring to the works of the law whereby the Pharisee's were attempting to obtain a righteous standing before God.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
1. The works of the law can never make you righteous.
2. Our righteousness is imputed to us by God through our faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ.
C. Paul however is commending them here for their work of faith.
1. If I have true faith, my faith will be manifested by my works.
2. My works are not my endeavor to obtain favor from God or to develop a righteous standing before Him, but they are an expression of my appreciation for all the goodness that God has bestowed upon me.
3. My works are a natural response to the grace of God.
4. The very declaration that Jesus is the Lord of my life, implies my submission to His will. My obeying His commands.
5. He commands me to deny myself, to take up my cross and to follow Him. He commands me to be His witness. In doing those things, they are not works to seek to be righteous before God, but they are the obedience of faith.
D. Some imagine that Paul and James are at variance with each other. Not at all.
1. Paul speaks of the kind of faith that produces works.
2. James speaks of the kind of works that demonstrate true faith.
What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (or can that kind of faith save Him?)
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
3. True faith is manifested by our works.
E. True faith is more than just a verbal affirmation of the truth, it is a demonstration of the truth.
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which [was bestowed] upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
1. Paul's labor for the Lord was not an endeavor to obtain a righteous standing before God, nor was it an attempt to earn him salvation.
2. It was his response to the grace of God that was bestowed upon him.
II. THEIR WORKS OF FAITH WERE THEIR LABORS OF LOVE.
A. I believe that love is one of the strongest motivators in the world.
1. We remember the love that Jacob had for Rachel. He longed to have her as his wife, and because he had nothing to give for the dowry, he struck a deal with his uncle that he would serve him for seven years that he might take her as his bride, we then read that beautiful verse in Genesis
And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him [but] a few days, for the love he had to her.
2. Our work for the Lord must be motivated by love for Him if it is to be recognized by Him.
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.
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.
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.
B. Before Jesus commissioned Peter to the ministry His question was, "Lovest thou Me?"
1. With the affirmation of the love Jesus then said, "Feed my sheep, tend my lambs."
C. The labor of love is never a burden, but a joy.
I work so hard for Jesus, I often boast and say, I've sacrificed a lot of things to walk this narrow way,
I gave up fame and fortune, I'm worth a lot to Thee, I then I heard Him say to tenderly,
I left My home in glory and counted it but loss, My hands were nailed in anger upon the cruel cross.
So now we'll make the journey with your hand safe in Mine,
Just lift your cross and follow close to Me.
D. In the book of Revelation the complaint that Jesus had with the church in Ephesus was that though they had great works and labored for Him, they had left their first love.
E. Paul said that it was the love of Christ that constrained him.
III. PATIENCE OF HOPE.
A. The hope was for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
1. They were living in the hope of His immediate return.
2. This is alluded to through the whole epistle.
3. They were patiently waiting for the Lord to return.
B. The Bible does exhort us to patience as we wait for the return of the Lord.
1. James said,
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it.
2. Paul said in his letter to the Romans,
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
But if we hope for that we see not, [then] do we with patience wait for [it].
3. Peter said,
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation.
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
C. It is sad, but many have given up the hope of the return of Jesus Christ, and as Peter has said, they question, "Where is the promise of His coming?"
D. Hope gives sustaining power.
a. It is a sad day when a person gives up hope, for they then enter into despair.
E. The psalmist exhorted:
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and [why] art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him [for] the help of his countenance.
F. Jeremiah said,
[It is] good that [a man] should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
G. Paul spoke to the Romans about rejoicing in hope as they were patient in tribulation.
1. In his second letter to the Thessalonians he will pray that the Lord will direct their hearts into the love of Christ and the patient waiting for Him.
H. In the book of Hebrews we are exhorted,
That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
1. Speaking of Abraham the author said,
And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
2. He exhorts us in chapter 12 to run with patience the race that is set before us.
IV. FAITH, LOVE, HOPE.
A.Work of faith; Labor of Love; Patience of hope.
B. Paul ties the three graces together in I Corinthians 13
also, "Now there abides these three, faith, hope, love, he then adds, but the greatest of these is love."
C. Our these qualities manifested in my life? In your life? in the life of the church? I hope so, I pray so.