Summary: Healings, tongues, prophecies, and many other supernatural gifts won’t continue throughout eternity. But God’s Word says there are three things, three virtues, that “remain,” that do continue. If they are that important to God, then we should be expending much effort to have these three things manifested in our lives right now.
As important as they are, spiritual gifts (prophecy, tongues, healing, etc.) are temporary. They are for this Church Age from Christ’s first coming up until His return to earth. After His Second Coming, when we are face to face with the Lord for all eternity, we will not need tongues or prophecy or words of knowledge or discerning of spirits and the like. Our bodies will have been raised incorruptible, so we won’t need gifts of healing. Spiritual gifts that help and bless us now, in our earthly, mortal existence, will not be needed when we have been raised immortal and live in the very presence of God.
But the Scripture speaks of three very important virtues that remain; they are timeless (vs. 13)—faith, hope, and love. If these virtues are so important in God’s eyes that they will “remain” even after the present gifts of the Spirit become unneeded, that tells us that we should even now be diligently seeking them.
Peter and John and the other apostles knew how important it was for them to grow in faith. I find that my faith is increased through a number of beneficial influences.
Faith matters, so much so that without faith you cannot please God! Think how you would feel if your own children didn’t believe the things you told them. Then try to imagine how God must feel when he sees His children on earth doubting His promises.
Hebrews 11, the famous “faith chapter,” reminds us that faith is a long-term virtue. Faith doesn’t just turn God on and off for our convenience like a light switch.
This great chapter tells us that “by faith Abel ... Enoch ... Noah ... Abraham ... all died in faith, not having received the promises.” God in these verses praises them because they were “still living by faith when they died.” Not every thing you are believing God for will be achieved in this life. For example, the promise of heaven will not be realized by believers until after their death. Or the second coming of Jesus, which has not occurred in millions of Christians’ lifetimes, yet we still absolutely believe it, because God has promised it will happen in His timing.
And of course the faith that matters ultimately is, in the words of the apostle Paul, whether we have come to "repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21, NASB).
So whether it’s for an immediate need or for the long haul, let your daily prayer be that of Christ’s apostles: “Lord, increase my faith.”
Is your soul cast down today? Are you feeling disturbed and disquieted within? I admit, I have felt that way at times. And most likely many of you do too from time to time.
That is normal and predictable in this fallen world, where the terrible effects of sin manifest themselves all around us. But you don’t have to stay cast down and disquieted.
The remedy is “hope thou in God.” This is a conscious choice we must make. Christians are hopeful people. Christians have reasons to be hopeful people. In Christ God has saved us, forgiven us our sins, healed us, filled millions with His Holy Spirit, delivered us from addictions and bondages, given us work to do in His kingdom, and promised us we will spend eternity with Him. These and more are reasons for hope!
Like faith, hope deals with the unseen. As Paul writes, if I already see and have that which I’ve been hoping for, then it’s no longer hope. I already have it. But hope, he writes, is “for what we do not yet have.” And our part is to continue to hold that God-inspired hope and to “wait for it patiently.”
My late wife discovered early in our marriage that she had a medical infertility condition. But we held strongly to our hope for children and prayed often for them. It took patience, and the Lord answered our hopeful prayers. Seven years into our marriage, God healed her, and she subsequently bore us four children, now adults, happily married, raising their children, and all serving the Lord. We had lived out the reality of Proverbs 13:12—“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” God was faithful to us, and He will be to you too.
So continue to hope, coupled with prayer and faith, for those things God has spoken to your heart. Some are for this life. Others are for later, such as “the blessed hope” of Christ’s second coming (Titus 2:13).
In all cases, “hope thou in God,” and let your daily prayer be: “Lord, fill my heart with hope.”
Love! Remember our opening verse: “The greatest of these is love.” Jesus said that loving God and loving our neighbor are the two most important commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).
The apostle John identifies the Source of all love—“We love Him [God], because He first loved us.” Our part is to reciprocate, to respond to God’s love, by loving Him and our fellow man, our “neighbors.”
Do you love someone? Then tell them. I recall once telling my father, “We love you, Dad. You’re a great Dad.” And he got choked up with emotion. I too feel that favorable emotion when my kids tell me (and they often do) that they love me.
Do you love Jesus? Tell Him often, and live it out in your daily life—“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15, NASB). Spend time with Him in prayer and worship. Think often about Him. Express your love to Him. Remember, He’ll give you an eternity to be in His presence and to love Him and receive His love. Don’t wait; love Him deeply and openly now!
Do you love your family, your friends, perhaps some of your coworkers or fellow students? Tell them, show them. And speak well of them always, because “love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Both Jesus and the apostle Paul tell us that the greatest virtue is love. So let your daily prayer and desire be: “Lord, let me know the fullness of your love, and let me reciprocate it to you and to my neighbor.”
In sum, your walk with the Lord will take great leaps forward if, every day, you focus on growing in these three abiding virtues of faith, hope, and love. They will bring a wonderful harvest here in this life, and they will carry over into eternity with the Lord.
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©2005, 2016, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.