1 Cor. 13: 13---the Meaning and Importance of Hope

"And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity." Cor. 13:13 In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul uses the word faith in a narrow sense as one of the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.

In this narrow sense faith alone is not sufficient for salvation because it is an act of the intellect prompted by the will.

In the American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828, Noah Webster defines faith in a secular, theological and evangelical sense:

1. Secular: "The assent of the mind to the truth of a proposition advanced by another; belief, on probable evidence of any kind.

2. In theology, the assent of the mind...to the truth of what God has revealed.

3. Evangelical: "...justifying, or saving faith, is the assent of the mind to the truth of divine revelation, on the authority of God's testimony, accompanied with a cordial assent of the will...."

When for example, Libertarians advocate the proposition that human beings fully own themselves, possess autonomous moral powers and rights to acquire property---variously defined as personal wealth,pornography, drugs, abortion and sexual license---and that all of this is known by reason (mind), their advocacy rests entirely within secular faith.

Though necessary for salvation, faith is not sufficient by itself as even the devils have this faith said James:

“Do you believe that there is only one God? Good! The demons also believe — and tremble with fear” (James 2: 19).

This is why James says,

“…it is by his actions that a person is put right with God, and not by his faith alone” (James 2:24).

Just as secular faith is the foundation of Libertarianism, theological and/or evangelical faith is both the foundation of the Christian life and of good works. While charity completes and crowns the foundation in a blessed eternity and is therefore the greatest of the three virtues, hope is the anchor of the soul:

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain...." Hebrews 6:19

While the secular faith of Libertarianism is assent of the mind and will to propositions advanced by others, its' paradoxical secular hope is a self-deceptive desire that intellectual assent be classified as “reason” rather than what it really is---secular faith.

In the evangelical sense, hope is the grace implanted in regeneration by which a soul anchors itself to Jesus Christ and waits in long-suffering anticipation for eternal things promised by Him. Hope is supported by the love of God, encouraged by His promises and fixed on Christ and his righteousness.

In this sense, faith in Genesis as real history is bound up with hope in what will come into being in the future age, beyond the general resurrection. According to Paul and early Church Fathers, the entire visible creation was without corruption before the fall of man and this incorruption will be restored at Christ's Second Coming. Paradise then--earth renewed and made pristine---is our earthly home. Thus faith in the incorrupt world before the fall is linked specifically with hope in the future age of paradise.

But where hope--defined in the theological and evangelical sense--is either weak or nonexistent, then the foundation of faith in Holy Scripture will eventually slide into the shifting sands of one's personal predilections, causing Christian theologians and intellectuals to fall victim to the same destructive relativism and pluralism that infects the whole of the modern secular world. They will inevitably dehistoricize the book of Genesis and succumb to the persuasive powers of this world and its fashionable ideas, such as evolutionary theory, a naturalistic faith hiding behind a pretense of scientific objectivity.

Without hope we can neither bear up under nor endure the suffering, evils, fashionable winds of change and persuasive philosophies of this temporal world. Without hope---the anchor of the soul--we will lose any adequate notion of the future age of paradise.

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@Linda Kimball