The Fundamentals of Christianity, by Pastor Samuel Obafaiye
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
In the time of Paul, Corinth was one of the most important cities, commercially of the day, controlling much of the shipping between the East and the West. It was a city heavily steeped in Greek culture, its idolatry and immorality. Paul established the Church, after spending 18 months living there. After preaching in the synagogues and getting thrown out of there, Paul set up the Church next door to it. After he had left, he received disturbing reports that the church was having problems with immorality, divisions, and Greek culture affecting the religious beliefs. Paul wrote the letter that became 1 Corinthians, during his time ministering in Ephesus. He wrote it to try and correct some of the practical and doctrinal problems that they were facing. It is during this letter where we find Paul emphasising to the Corinthians the very heart of Christianity.
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
– Today, the society we live have serious doctrinal problems, sadly many churches have the same problem too. More sadly, many Christians also have the same challenge. These surround three essentials of Christianity: faith; hope and love.
Jesus stated that these will become a challenge in the last days (Lk. 18:1-8)
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Paul was telling the Corinthians that when all else was stripped away, he wanted to find that the church excelled in these three areas.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-3
Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
1 Thessalonians 5:5-8
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Faith is often thought of as something that requires blind trust because no evidence exists to confirm it. This is not how the Bible defines faith. Rather, the biblical definition is a confident trust or belief in God that is often based on recognising God’s nature and His fidelity to His promises.
In a way, our faith is so much more difficult than the faith of those first Easter disciples. After all, they were there. They saw the horror of the cross, the torture, the pain, the death of the One they loved. And then witnessed firsthand the unimaginable, the incomprehensible they saw, they touched the risen Jesus. For us, we just have to take it by faith.
The children of God in old times demonstrated great faith in God. We His children today must understand that faith is fundamental to our Christianity.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Hebrew 11 talks about the hallmark of faith. People that believed God, to the extent that it was counted as righteousness. People that subdued nations. People that moved the hands of God. We must do the same today. Faith still abides and works.
However, there are times when our faith is tested. So we need to demonstrate something more than Faith.
Hope is something that is very difficult to separate from faith, as the two are intrinsically linked.
All that is in the world is hopelessness. All religions and societies try to promote their own versions of hope that is false. E.g. killing of people to enter paradise, die for the cause of religion to have 70 virgins in the afterlife, etc. Christianity is the only religion that brings hope to the soul of man because it is rooted in the completed work of Jesus Christ who paid for all of our sins on the Cross.
Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.
It’s hope that keeps us going on. It’s hope that makes living worthwhile.
Hope is important, especially if we are just a little uncertain. Faith is one thing, firm and strong. But as the glimmer of doubt sneaks its way through, as we humbly acknowledge that we can’t know for certain, hope gets the rest of us the rest of the way through.
1 Corinthians 15:19-20
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Love is also misunderstood in our world. It has been distorted, redefined, and perverted so that all manner of vices are described as love (e.g., self-love, same sex marriage, animal love, etc.) The Bible describes true love as being self-sacrificial rather than self-seeking. It seeks what is best for others rather than self and is based on God, who is love (1 John 4:8). True love is appropriately defined in one of the Bible’s most famous passages:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16).
The New Testament, of course, was written in ancient Greek. And for them, love was an important concept. So important in fact that the ancient Greek language of the bible has at least three words for love: Eros, Philia, and Agape. Eros was the kind of desirous love, longing love, purely sensual. Philia, signifies brotherly love. Perhaps at its core, it’s the love for those who are like us.
Agape love originates from God. It’s unconditional, spontaneous, unearned. Agape love is not based on the condition or the behaviour or the worthiness of the one loved. It represents God’s love for humankind, and our special love for God.
Agape love is the Christian love. And it’s not just a state of being. Agape love is a directive for action. Feelings may be seasonal, but the obligations of agape do not change. It’s a function of will, not a function of what we feel like doing.
Faith hope and love are essentials of Christianity and can’t exist without each other. Hope cannot exist except there is faith, and love cannot be exercised without hope. We first need the faith to believe, the hope to endure, and the Love to make it manifest.
Father let my faith in You be steadfast, unshakeable.
Father do not let may hope in You fade away
Father help me to abide in Your love till the end
Sermon preached on October 5th 2014