Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

We Need to Keep on Keeping On

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.

(1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NKJV)

But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:8 NKJV)

Faith, Hope and Charity

These are the permanent gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13.  They are important aspects of our relationship with the Lord.  They encourage us to “keep on keeping on.”  Paul mentions these three aspects of our relationship with the Lord twice in 1 Thessalonians.  The Thessalonians had wondered what happens to those believers who die before the Lord returns. Are they without a future?  Do they have “no hope?” This letter answers that question.

Faith

Saving faith is confidence in the Lord.  It means that we trust Him.  It is often expressed by the word belief or believing.  The word faith is used in different ways in the Bible.  Sometimes it is THE faith, that is, it is the body of truth that we believe.  Sometimes it is a command.  The Lord says to repent and to believe the Gospel.  Sometimes it is the permanent character of the person, that is, it is the believing one.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him (the believing one) should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Sometimes it is a gift when it comes to our practical relationship with the Lord as in 1 Corinthians 13:2.  But in all cases it means that we have enough confidence in the Lord and His word to follow His instructions and to believe in His promises. A work of faith would have to be a work that we do because the Lord and not man has instructed us to do it.

Hope

Hope in the Bible has to do with our future.  Before we were saved, we had “no hope (Ephesians 2:12).”  But believers have a secure future.  We can look forward to dwelling in the Father’s house (John 14).  The theme of this first epistle to the Thessalonians is that by trusting in Christ they have been delivered from the wrath to come and they are to look for His Son from heaven (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).  Those who died before the Lord comes will not miss out but will be included when the Lord returns. 

Hope has nothing to do with hoping to be saved.  It has everything to do with believing that the Lord is going to return and that those who are saved will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Those who are unbelievers or lost will be left to endure the tribulation period and to ultimately die and go to hell.  We all need something that encourages us, and the early Christians were suffering persecution and martyrdom, but their encouragement and their hope was in the Lord’s soon return.  While His return has not happened yet, His promise is sure.  It is still that promise which encourages the believer to remain faithful to the Lord.  The timing of His return has not been given to this generation.  But the encouragement that it could happen at any time is encouraging unless we have our hope in the riches and pleasures of this world.  Because our hope is in an unfulfilled promise, we must have patience and wait for the fulfillment.  That is why hope teaches us patience.

Charity

Charity or love is a divine attribute that only God Himself can truly say He has.  He loved the world as in John 3:16. This attribute requires us to forget about self and to put the Lord and His Son first. We also put the welfare of others ahead of our own.  Instead of wanting our will to be done, we want the Lord’s will to be done.  Our prayers should be self-sacrificing prayers.  Who can say that we have lived up to that concept of love?  Putting others first.  Selling all that we have and giving to the poor.  Loving our enemies and praying for those who despitefully use us.  Taking up our cross (not our burdens but the instrument on which we are willing to die) and following the Lord.  Who of us has done that?  And yet that is why our labor should be a labor of love or of self-sacrifice.

Summary

It would seem to me that while we might fall short with regard to always having confidence or faith in God’s promises on a daily basis, while we might not always love as God loves us, while we might have times when we wonder if God really is going to return, yet we need to remember that these are the things that help us “keep on keeping on.”  In the last verse quoted, faith and love cover the heart (breastplate).  Our affections are going to be controlled by Whom we believe and by our confidence in His love.  Hope provides a helmet.  A helmet protects the mind.  Unless we believe that the Lord is going to return and that He could return today, our minds may wander and Satan may use his fiery darts of doubt to discourage us.  Let those of us who are believers continue in our work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope.

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of October 13, 2019
Next Page »