"Sound Doctrine" - (Titus 2:1)

Faith, Love, Hope

Michael Garrison

Paul remembered the Christians at Thessalonica because of their "work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 1:3). In these three phrases lie much of each Christian's responsibility before God. It is hoped that a study of each will benefit and encourage the faithful to greater service in the Lord's kingdom.

Work of faith. Paul first mentions their work of faith. Every Bible student should know that the faith that saves is an obedient one. Paul wrote to those in Rome and declared that Jesus is God's Son "according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations..." (Romans 1:4-5).

It will help us to know what the term "work" means. According to W.E. Vine's Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words, this word "denotes... a deed, act". James asks, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith 'Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God. Ye see how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:21-24). Abraham was justified by his works or acts. So are believers today.

An inactive faith will save neither saint nor sinner. To prove one's faith in God, God requires obedience. Note the characteristics of saving faith: "By faith Noah... moved with fear, prepared an ark... By faith Abraham... obeyed and he went out... By faith Abraham... offered Isaac... By faith they [the Israelites] passed through the Red Sea as by dry land... By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encompassed about seven days" (Hebrews 11:7, 8, 17, 29, 30).

This should suffice to show the honest student of truth that "faith" is much more than simply "mental assent".

In becoming a child of God, the "work of faith" is of great importance. God requires the unsaved believer to repent (Acts 2:38), confess his or her faith in Christ as God's Son (Acts 8:36-38), and to be immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 8:36-38). Once one has been saved, "we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). Some of these works are studying, teaching others the gospel, keeping oneself pure and unspotted from the world, living a life of holiness before God and men.

Labor of love. Next Paul mentions the Thessalonians' labor of love. The term "labor" denotes toil resulting in weariness, laborious toil. The Thessalonians had a love they really toiled at. Their love was not merely in words, but also in deeds.

In defining "love" W.E. Vine says: "Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered. Love seeks the welfare of all, Rom. 15:2, and works no ill to any, 13:8-10; love seeks opportunity to do good to 'all men, and especially to-ward them that are of the household of the faith' (Galatians 6:10). We note that Paul did not remember the love of the saints only, but their labor of love. Their love prompted them to action".

John informs us of true love: "But whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:17-18). Action, then, is the proof of our love, even as it is of our faith. See 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 for more details on love and its importance.

Let us remember that true love includes labor.

Patience of hope. Patience is a much needed quality in our service to God. Patience means "an abiding under". The hope the saints had then, and should have now, is of eternal life in heaven. This will come after the judgment (Matthew 25:46). Peter tells us of the "inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:4). In John 14 Jesus taught there are many mansions in His Father's house, which is in heaven (Matthew 6:9)

Patience is something we must learn. It does not come automatically or naturally. We are often anxious about many things, but we need to learn patience. No one knows when Jesus will come to judge the world except the Father, according to Jesus Himself in (Mark 13:32). Only those who have the work of faith and labor of love can enjoy the patience of hope of a heavenly home.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that "without faith it is impossible to please Him [God]; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Let us cultivate in our lives the work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope.

It Just Slipped Out... Of What?

Bryan Matthew Dockens

When excusing themselves for uttering profanities or curses, the kind of words which should never escape our mouths (Ephesians 4:29), many will say, "I'm sorry; it just slipped out". But what did those corrupt words slip out of, exactly? Jesus explained, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things" (Matthew 12:34-35). That is to say, bad words don't "slip out" of good hearts; they come from bad hearts. Therefore, "Purify your hearts!" (James 4:8).

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