'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
There are some words used in the Bible that seem to defy analysis and human comprehension because of the breadth and scope of their meaning. They convey concepts that describe spiritual activity in the lives of every true Christian. That is because these are words the Holy Spirit has chosen to reveal to us how God is working in our lives, and to help us cooperate with Him in changing us into the image of Jesus Christ. These words are compacted, but God would have us "unpack" them. In doing so, we see more clearly what He is doing, and what is occuring in us, so as to encourage and strengthen us in yielding to His process.
"Simplify, simplify, simplify!", it has been said. Reduce it to the lowest common denominator. And of course there is the KISS advice often given, "Keep It Simple Stupid". There are things that seem to defy being reduced to a very short statement. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit reduces many concepts to their lowest denominator so that it can be easier for us to grasp, and retain. However, facts and principles that are stated simply, can seem veiled and unclear, and they provoke us to dig deeper, and seek greater insight and understanding. There is one short verse penned by the Apostle Paul that says so MUCH in so little space and in so few words. In this instance he is a "man of few words"! In this article we will look at THREE of the words the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle to use, to inspire us.
Most are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13. Notice verse 13: "And now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." The word "abide" can carry the sense of the present, but also progressive action. Commentators have written volumes upon volumes about EACH ONE of these words, "faith", "hope", and "love". Love is referred to throughout chapter 13, but the first two "abides" are not mentioned by name. Everything begins when God INITIATES His GRACE. It all begins in Him. And so it is with these three words.
In my home I have an antique piano stool, the old three legged type. It performed very well, apparently, without anyone falling from it (as far as I know...). But if only ONE of the legs was missing...well, I believe you see what I mean. The scriptures contain many references to the number "three". There is the three fold cord that is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Then there is the most familiar and important "three" - Father, Son (Jesus), Holy Spirit. These three words or "abides", Faith, Hope and Love, are incredibly important for us to understand - so that WE may "abide". They are unseen, spiritual realities. We "see" them by the Spirit in our spirit. But why did Paul use these three WORDS where he did, and the way he did?
First is FAITH. There is the "Christian Faith", which may encompass almost all that is concerned with Christianity as a religion. It is a FAITH religion. There is much hard evidence for the tenants of Christianity, but there is an enormous amount of what some refer to as "circumstantial" evidence. However, we must accept many things BY FAITH - it is a faith religion. This then involves personal "faith". This is faith that is not of human origin. It cannot be self-generated, it cannot be "worked up", or acquired from thin air. It can only be RECEIVED.- which means that it must be GIVEN. But it must be received BY faith; a willingness to receive on our part. But - even this ability to believe, to have faith as we receive God’s gift of faith - even this is enabled by Him (Romans 1:17). This faith will ALWAYS "abide"! This is where our salvation begins - with FAITH - as a gift of the grace of God.
The second is HOPE. The first "abide" is the precursor of this one. With faith, we can now HOPE! Oh what a blessed thing hope is! We have heard that "as long as there is life, there is hope"! But, praise God, even when we have NO life, THERE IS HOPE! This is not referring to the common definition which takes hope to refer to a contingency - something that may or may not occur. That hope CAN be an agonizing hope, a foreboding, apprehensive hope - a hope with NO ASSURANCE, that many times ends in disappointment, and even heartsick dispair. The hope that "abides" is an ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY, based on abide number one, faith, God’s gift! With this hope, we can have JOY in our hope! A pastor said to his congregation "WHERE is the JOY of our salvation!" Hope springs from faith, and joy from that hope! (Romans 15:13) There is hardly any way to over emphasize the grandeur of hope, that springs from faith! From this hope comes our consolation, encouragement, and comfort as we wait for deliverance from trials, troubles, and concerns - and finally, for salvation in eternal life (2 Thessalonians 2:16). Yes, there are hopes in our lives that are contingencies that may or may not be realized. This is not what Paul is referring to here - this is certain hope. But, even our "hopes" that are uncertain are caught up into this CERTAIN HOPE, because God is working ALL THINGS for OUR GOOD. (Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 15:19) No temporary fulfillment or lack of fulfillment of a worldly hope can compare to those hopes PROMISED by Jesus and GUARANTEED to be fulfilled. (Colossians 1:5-6) His hope will sustain you like nothing else of this world can. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17) With THIS hope, all WILL turn out right...because it will lead to the next abide...
Number three is LOVE. The word "love" is so universally trivialized today. There are about as many difinitions as there are people using it. One could wonder why Paul listed this one last. Now we will see why. As we have examined briefly the first two, we can see that each progresses upward to the next, facilitating the next, and each embodying the previous one. We can begin to see that Paul is moving to a WHOLE from its parts, in one verse. There is nothing of which there is as much of, as LOVE. There is more of love than anything. There is more love than galaxies, planets, solar systems, black holes, space, and even time! Time will end and BE no more! The universe will consume away in a flash and flame of fire (2 Peter 3:10-13). Before there WAS, God IS! He is "I AM"! When there was only God, there was only LOVE - GOD IS LOVE! (1 John 4:7-11) What a small word is the word "is"! But to say God IS Love says about all that CAN BE SAID! The Love-God fills everything even beyond the mind’s comprehension of what everything could be. When God decided upon His plan to bring many children into His family, he was facilitating a magnification of this Love - HIMSELF! He is glorifying Himself by bringing many children into glory (Hebrews 2:10). Love and God are, in a very real way, interchangeable. This love is the capstone, the destiny of all things - past, present, and future.
We have now moved from Faith to Hope to Love. This is set. There is no other way. It is inexorable. It will happen, as long as we are led by the Holy Spirit. This actually begins in verse 31 or chapter 12, in referring to "a more excellent way". As we progress in each of the abides, we do not leave one when progressing to the next. Each is embodied in the next all the way into LOVE. This PRINCIPLE is also used in 2 Peter 1. In chapter 13 of 1Corinthians, Paul describes this love - the love that IS God, as God in the Holy Spirit lives and moves in us. Paul in chapter 13:13 tells us HOW TO GET TO THIS LOVE. This Love - that IS God - is the goal and the crowning achievement made possible by Jesus’ death on the cross. There are some completely amazing things which Jesus said the night before his crucifixion on that last Passover evening. Jesus must have felt that there was so much He wanted to say to His disciples, but so very little time to say it. This is Jesus' prayer to the Father that night for His disciples; not only those there that evening, but for all disciples looking forward down through the ages . He was also thinking of you and me. God foresaw us before we were born. David said He saw him been knit togeter in his mother womb.
Even then He saw us now.
"Neither pray I for these alone, but for THEM ALSO WHO SHALL BELIEVE on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one IN US: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even AS WE ARE ONE: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me...that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:20-23,26 KJV)
This is one of the most IMPORTANT TRUTHS in all the Bible!
Jesus is IN US. God the Father is IN US because WE are IN Jesus. If He is in God the Father, and We are IN Christ, we ARE ALL IN EACH OTHER. We - all Christians are all One IN Jesus, IN God. (Ephesians 1:17-23) We are all ONE IN CHRIST with God. This is made possible by our progressing into the "abides", into LOVE. Being a child of God is such a close relationship as to be almost unimaginable. Only the Trinity is closer in oneness and fellowship. We will even judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3), so we apparently will live in wonderful closeness and fellowship with God, entrusted with authority higher than the angelic realm. We will never be as God is God, but we will have a wonderful oneness with God - a closeness of love and relationship beyond what we can begin to imagine now...this is perfect "abiding". How important three little words can be! The final reference to this love occurs in chapter 14:1, first part. Some versions do not capture the force of the Greek. Some say "seek after", or "pursue". The force is stronger, something like what we would do in pursuing an enemy, or treasure, or something upon which our lives depended: "Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire this LOVE - make it your aim, your GREAT QUEST...!" (Amplified Bible)
Pursue this LOVE, through Faith, and Hope - above all else. This is the "MORE EXCELLENT WAY" of 1 Corinthians 12:31! As long as we are seeking these, we are seeking only GOD, and the greatest of these is Love. There is no way to miss our destination if we follow this path. Other abilities and gifts of God, however useful they may be, will eventually outlive their usefulness, and end. Paul was reminding the Corinthians of this. Evidently some were ambitious for prestige and notoriety, and neglecting what is really important, and what will endure. In this verse, we have a microcosm of the whole will of God for us. These are the graces that will endure and sustain us when our zeal is faltering, we are discouraged and low, or when we begin to feel we just cannot go on, or when our time is over here and we really CANNOT go on...
We can face tomorrow now - because: "NOW ABIDES faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love!" (1 Corinthians 13:13)
When He was on the cross - WE were on His mind...
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