Chapter 1: In Search Of Love

Paul concludes his inspired discourse on love with the declaration that 'there are three things that last forever; faith, hope and love.'

At this point in time we might not realize the full significance of these words, but this is destined to change . . . when the economies of the world collapse, when money no longer has any value, when the food stores are closed for lack of produce, when most or all of us are unemployed, when trouble is everywhere, and violence threatens around every turn, then we can expect that God's children will cling to these words with every tendon of their spiritual energy. At that time there will certainly be little else to cling to.
Yet these words have a present as well as a future relevance, for we have been told that . . .
'Faith, hope and love are the great moral powers of the soul.' (3T188)
We might even say, therefore, that what food, water and fresh air are to our physical life, faith, hope and love are to our spiritual life, for . . .
'It is through the exercise of faith, hope and love that we come nearer and nearer to the standard of perfect holiness.' (3T187-8)
More than this, if our faith, our hope and our love are in short supply, our personal ministry, whatever that may be, is doomed to failure for, "if these are inactive, a minister may be ever so earnest and zealous, but his labour will not be accepted of God, and cannot be productive of good to the church." (3T187)
If faith, hope and love are of such importance, and if these are the keys to success in all of our endeavors in the interests of God's kingdom, then we must find out, as a matter of utmost urgency, just what we can do to promote the development of these powers in our souls? Where lies the pathway that leads to the eternally flowing fountains of faith, hope and love?
God has not left us without answers. Our first answer is found in Paul's letter to the Galatian believers. Here Paul declares that . . .
'The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.' (Galatians 5:6)
Notice from these words that love is an expression of faith. In other words, love is something that grows out of faith. From this we deduce that if we want our hearts to be filled with that very special ingredient called love, we should not focus on love, or on being more loving, but on faith - for love is the fruit of faith.
If this is the case, then, as ducks after water, we should go in search of faith.
But just how do we increase our faith? Once again Paul provides the answer. He tells us that . . .
'Faith and love spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven.' (Colossians 1:5)
This means that if we want increased faith, an increased faith that will lead to increased love, we should not focus on either our faith or our love. Rather, we should go in search of hope, for hope is the source of faith, which, in turn, is the source of love.
It is obvious, therefore, that we can never make ourselves more faithful or more loving by trying to be more faithful or more loving. The only way that we can have increased faith and increased love is to have increased hope, for the Word of God assures us that as our hope grows, so will our faith grow, and as our faith grows, so will our love grow.
This then leads us to ask yet another vital question, and that is, How can we have increased hope? Paul again comes to our aid. He reminds us that . . .
'Faith and love spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you.' (Colossians 1:5,6)
So here we have an inspired succession of thought. The gospel is the source of hope, hope is the source of faith, and faith is the source of love.
This means that the key to a changed heart, the key that will give us victory in the Christian life, the key that will give us success in our personal ministry, is a right understanding of the hope that is held out for us in the gospel. Through the knowledge of the true gospel, and of all that it embraces, we will be filled with hope, a hope that generates faith, and a faith that generates love. This is why Paul preached the gospel at every opportunity.
He knew that . . .
"The gospel of His grace ALONE can cure the evils that curse society." (COL254.2)
"When the gospel is received in its purity and power, it is a cure for the maladies that originated in sin."
Paul surely understood that
"The gospel is adapted for spiritual food, to satisfy man's spiritual appetite. In every case it is just what man needs." (RY131; 1SM245)
This is good news indeed. All of us have defects in our characters, and in our own strength there is nothing that we can do about these defects. No matter how hard we try, we cannot change our characters, nor can we make ourselves more hopeful, or more faithful, or more loving. Yet, according to the sure word of Scripture, we can come and feast at the gospel table; we can come and learn about the God of infinite compassion, the God of the gospel, the God who now holds out to every one of us a hope that is absolute, a hope that is so exciting and so inspiring that it fills all who understand it with faith and love.
The Gospel That Motivates

On the authority of Scripture we have been told that the gospel is the source of hope, faith and love. We do need to realize, however, that here we are not merely speaking of a fleeting hope, or an academic faith, or a passive love. According to Scripture, the gospel instills in us a hope that endures, a faith that works, and a love that expresses itself in active labours for God and for the good of our fellow man. Paul brings this fact to light in his first letter to the Thessalonians. Here he states:
'We continually remember before our God and Father . . .
your work produced by faith,
your labour prompted by love, and
your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.'(1 Thessalonians 1:3)
We deduce, therefore, that the gospel is the source of a hope that endures, which promotes a faith that works, and which, in turn, fills us with a love that loves to labor for the glory of God and for the good of God's creation.
What good news this is! The need of a sleepy lethargic church, the need of all of us, therefore, is not condemnation, or intensive training in hope or faith or love, but a right understanding of the gospel. When the true gospel is understood, enduring hope will take root, and practical faith and active love will be the fruit.
The Gospel Test

In his letter to the Galatian believers, Paul was astonished that they should so soon turn from the true gospel and embrace a 'different gospel', one which, according to him, was no gospel at all. Clearly there were a number of 'gospels' in those days - just as there are today. But we do not have to have doubts about the gospel that we believe in . . .
If we are not a motivated church, if we are not a people who are filled with enduring hope, working faith and active love, then we need to examine the gospel that we have embraced . . . Is it perhaps a gospel that is no gospel at all?
Many writers have published articles that claim to present the true gospel. In like fashion, this writer feels inclined to make the claim that the remainder of this document outlines the true gospel. Together with the claim, however, I would like to present my reader with the sure proof. If the gospel presented herein fills you with hope, faith and love, you will know that it is the true gospel; if the good news outlined in what follows inspires you to work, to labour, and to endure in the interests of God's kingdom, then you will know that this really is the good news of God's grace - the good news that speaks of a gracious heavenly Father who poured out His infinite kindness, in limitless measure, upon a people who are totally undeserving.
'Your aims are altogether too low. You have not used the great moral faculties of the soul, - faith, hope, and love. These powers are given us not to lie dormant, but that through their exercise the soul may be brought into harmony with heaven.' (RH07-22-84.17)
Therefore, 'since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.' (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
At this point my reader is invited to consider a condensed version of the gospel by clicking here, or you may proceed to the next chapter.

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