Faith, love and hope

We came across this passage in our college bible study today. I saw something interesting (or perhaps more accurately I believe God showed me something interesting).

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. – Colossians 1:3-6

The gospel is the word of truth. It speaks of the hope that is stored up for us in heaven. And this gospel is bearing fruit and growing. What fruit is it bearing? The faith and love that spring from the hope spoken about in the gospel.

We often cite love as fruit, but also note that it seems the passage logically speaks of faith as fruit. Our trust in God springs from our hope in heaven. I believe the hope Paul talks about here is the hope of glory he constantly comes back to throughout the book of Colossians. The question that sprung to mind was the manner in which faith springs from hope.

I think the answer also lies in the passage. It is grace. The gospel of hope is bearing the fruit of faith and love among the church at Colosse, since the day they heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. Here, we see two key ways in which the gospel of hope bears the fruit of faith.

The first is hearing it. This accords with Paul in Romans 10:17 when he speaks of faith coming from hearing the message, and that this message is heard through the word of Christ. This message must be the message of hope. The message of salvation, of the kingdom of God, is ultimately a message of hope. This is why Christ in us is called the hope of glory. But how does faith come from hearing? It is the gift of God. I believe this is the point Paul goes on to expound in Romans 11, and in it we see that the basis of election is God’s grace, not our works, which simply adds to the point that faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

The second is is understanding God’s grace in all its truth. God’s grace here is qualified by the phrase ‘in all its truth’. I believe this simply serves to show that grace and truth are not divorced. What is the grace being understood here? It is grace in all its truth. It is every facet of grace. It is the grace of faith. It is the grace of spiritual wisdom and understanding (Col 1:9). It is the grace of love. And the sum of grace is Jesus Christ. He is the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14). So the Colossians have understood Jesus. They have understood that it is in Him they have redemption, the forgiveness of sin, and have been rescued into His kingdom (Col 1:13-14). And there is now a hope stored up for them in heaven, the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light, which the Father has qualified for them to share in, because of what Jesus has done (Col 1:12). Faith springs from this hope by understanding that the hope was purchased by the blood of Christ. Christ is the solid rock of hope.

Faith springs from hope through grace, and grace came through Jesus Christ. Christ is at the center of everything. It is Him who purchased our hope. It is Him who preaches this hope to us. It is through Him that God opens our ears to hear this hope. It is through Him that we are given faith to trust in this hope. And it is through Him, our Mediator, that we will continue to be supplied with the strength to endure and be patient, as we wait for His appearing, at which our hope will become reality, and our faith will become sight.

And now it is not surprising why Paul thanks God for the faith and love of the church at Colosse. It is simply because it is from God, it is through God, it is of God, and it is to God. He is the giver of everything and He is the sole recipient of all due glory. We are to praise the glory of His grace!

So when our faith and love are in decline, I believe the remedy is to fix our eyes on the hope to which we are called to. This hope is the riches of the glorious inheritance of the saints. We are to fix our eyes on the solid rock of hope. It is a living hope. It is Jesus Christ, and the blood-bought hope he offers to all. He is the author of our faith.

And He is the perfecter of our faith. Faith springs from the hope He purchased. And love is the perfection of faith. It is only faith working itself through love that counts (Gal 5:6). If He is the perfecter of our faith, then surely He will supply that love. We need only continually fix our eyes on the gospel of hope. Because when we do, we are willing to let go of all else. And only then can we truly love one another, because of the surpassing hope that we have stored up in heaven.

Hope in God! And He will graciously grant you faith, expressing itself through love. And until He returns or calls us home, we will continually live in the assurance of this living hope. There is no better place than that.

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