Faith, Hope and Love
A local church must be composed of elect people, those who have been saved by the grace of God. One problem today is the presence, in the church family, of unbelievers whose names may be on the church roll but not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Every church member should examine his heart to determine whether he has truly been born again and belongs to God’s elect.
Faith, hope, and love are the three cardinal virtues of the Christian life, and the three greatest evidences of salvation. Faith must always lead to works (James 2:14–26). It has been said, “We are not saved by faith plus works, but by a faith that works.” If the Thessalonians had continued to worship their dead idols while professing faith in the living God, it would have proved that they were not among God’s elect.
Love is also an evidence of salvation: “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:5). We are “taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:9). We serve Christ because we love Him; this is the “labor of love” that Paul mentioned. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
The third evidence of salvation is hope, waiting for Jesus Christ to return (1 Thess. 1:10). The return of Jesus Christ is the dominant theme of 1st and 2nd Thessalonian letters. Unsaved people are not eagerly awaiting the Lord’s return. In fact, when our Lord catches His church up into the air, unsaved people will be totally surprised (5:1–11).
Faith, hope, and love are evidences of election. These spiritual qualities are bound together and can come only from God. For further evidence, see these passages: 1 Corinthians 13:13; Romans 5:1–5; Galatians 5:5–6; Colossians 1:4–5; Hebrews 6:10–12; 10:22–24; 1 Peter 1:21–22.