The Forgotten Element

by Lester Young

My new book Kingdom Keys: A ‘How-to’ Guide for Flourishing in the Kingdom of God, is now available on Amazon.   Here’s an excerpt from the chapter “The Forgotten Element”:

“And now abide these three, faith, hope and love…” (1 Corinthians 13:13). That’s a very intriguing particular verse of Scripture, wouldn’t you say? It identifies the three universally and eternally continuing elements. (For those of you who thought that title belonged to Earth, Wind and Fire, well…you just have a seat over there quietly in the corner, and we’ll call on you at another time.) Two of the three, however, have something the remaining one doesn’t. So, let’s play “Which one of these things is not like the other?”.

If you’re not exactly sure what I’m referring to, here’s a hint: do a roll call of the fruits of the Spirit. As listed in Galatians 5:22-23, they’re Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness and Temperance. See anything missing? That’s right, Hope isn’t found anywhere in that group. It doesn’t possess the lofty status of being known as one of the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit – and yet it is a member of the even more elite fraternity of the three most powerful and enduring substances there are, period. Why is that? Why is hope not one of those well-known fruits?

The first thing we’d probably better do is develop a ‘working’ understanding of just what hope is. If you recall, we briefly touched on it in the latter part of Chapter 8, the chapter on ‘Faith.’ We found that our English translation ‘hope’ comes from the Greek word elpis, which can be defined as ‘earnest expectation or anticipation.’ Interestingly, it carries with it a connotation of, and can also be rendered as, ‘faith.’ So, we find that the two, hope and faith, have a very close and intricate relationship, though they’re not at all the same thing.

Okay, then, so how are they related? What’s going on between the two of them? Well, as always, we can get the insight we need from the Scriptures. First, let’s take a look at Hebrews 11:1, which states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…” According to this verse, faith is an actual substance – a ‘tangible commodity,’ if you will (though, of course, in the spirit realm). If you look up the Greek word hupostasis in your trusty Concordance, you’ll not only find the English translation ‘substance,’ you’ll see that it also means ‘set under’ (as in ‘support’) and ‘essence.’ So, putting these together, faith is characterized in God’s Word as ‘an essential building material.’ (Kind of hard to wrap your brain around? That’s alright, just stay with me; we’re going someplace here.)

What, then, does faith build? Well, according to Hebrews, pretty much everything there is. Verse 3 of Chapter 11 says, “We understand that through faith the worlds were completed thoroughly [from start to finish] by God’s Word, so that things which do not appear [actually] made [or caused ‘to be;’ generated] the things that can be seen” (paraphrased). And, this is in total agreement with verse 1: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for…”

Okay, so we have our building materials. We have our ‘spiritual’ wood, nails, concrete, plate glass, shingles – everything we need to build a structure. Or do we? Even though we may indeed have all the ‘hardware’ we need to put the house together, we haven’t yet considered a very important piece of the construction process, without which we cannot go forward, at all.

Looking for another hint? How’s this one: what does an architect do? He draws plans, exact plans; so that the builder will know precisely both what to make and what’s needed to make it. Without the floor plans, the blueprint, the pattern to make the structure, what can the builder do? Regardless of the amount of materials on hand, there’s nothing that can be done with them, so they’ll just sit around unused until the instructions arrive.

Our hope – our expectation – is the pattern, the blueprint that faith uses to construct by. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for (of things earnestly expected or anticipated)…” (Hebrews 11:1). Without earnest, intense expectation, our faith just kind of meanders around twiddling its thumbs – it really has nowhere to go and nothing to do, because it has no blueprint by which to make anything. We can see a striking picture of this in the very beginning of the book of Genesis. In verses 1 and 2, recall that “God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void…”

Faith, hope and love, these three – the creative mix. Faith is the building material. Hope is the blueprint. And, Love – well, Love is the fuel that makes the whole construction yard go. It’s the greatest force of the trio, the greatest force of all. But, make no mistake; if any one of the three are missing, the entire ‘production’ process will grind to a screeching halt – or never really start up in the first place. But with all three, and with only those three, God created the heavens and the earth, and everything in them. And, with only those three, we can re-create our world according to the image that He gives us (Exodus 25:40).

One more thing…

I suppose it would be somewhat rude to put forth a question and then leave it unanswered. So, let’s see if we can come up with a solution for “Why isn’t Hope one of the fruits of the Spirit?”

Ah, God’s Word will never let us down. Romans 15:33 tells us, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace [as you] believe, so that you abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Now, as I looked at that verse, the first thing that struck me was, “Well, since He’s the God (that is, the Source) of hope, why doesn’t He just fill us with hope and be done with it, instead of going about it some roundabout way?” Then I took off the stupidity and remembered, ‘If God said it or did it, it must be for a good reason – the best reason.’

After fiddling with it for some time, what was actually being said started to come clear. It’s like this: if you put some flour, milk, sugar, and a couple of eggs in a bowl and mix them together, pour the concoction into a pan and stick it in a 350-degree oven for forty minutes, what do you have when you pull it out? Lamb chops? No, you’ve got cake! And, if you repeat that scenario tomorrow, what will you get then? Uh, cake. It’s always gonna be cake. Why? Because those are the ingredients of ‘cake.’

In that same light, Romans 15:33 gives us the ingredients of ‘hope’ – joy, peace and active believing (that is, not just the abstract concept of ‘belief,’ but actually believing toward some promise or goal). When you have those ingredients in that environment, you’re going to get ‘hope.’ Earnest, intense expectation will well up within you; you won’t have to try to drum it up yourself.

Let’s take a closer look at those ingredients. Starting with belief, it should go without saying that if you’re not actively believing for something, you have absolutely no reason to have or need hope, do you? But if you are, then you do, right? Okay, moving on…

Regarding peace, we know from Chapter 4 that the rest inherent in peace is a direct result of ‘active’ believing; as Hebrews 4:3 declares, “For we which have believed do enter into rest.” In other words, if you’re actively exercising your faith toward a promise of God, there will be a rest there; because we believe we’ve already received when we prayed (Mark 11:24), and we know that all His promises to us are “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20).

You’ll also recall from Chapter 3 that joy is a spiritual response to some benefit or gain, as witnessed in Isaiah 9:3: “They joy before [the LORD] according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” It stands to reason that we would actively believe the Lord only for something that would bless or benefit us (or someone we’re praying for), right? I mean, who prays to God for a plague of locusts?? So, because our faith is active toward some benefit or gain (and all of His promises fall into that category), it follows perfectly that we would be filled with all joy as we abide in that place and state of believing.

Stop and think about it for a moment. If you have those three elements in the same place at the same time – active faith toward a promise of God, the restful peace that’s inherent in believing, and joy stemming from the benefit of that promise – doesn’t your intuition tell you that ‘expectation’ for fulfillment of that promise will automatically be there, too? You can just sort of sense that it would be.

When those ingredients are found together, hope is the result, period. They are what make hope ‘hope.’ So, hope is not listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit because its makeup – its ‘cellular DNA,’ if you will – is actually composed of several of the fruits of God’s Spirit. And, because He’s the ultimate Source of all those ingredients, He is indeed the God – the Source – of hope. I hope that answers it for you.

Kingdom Keys: A ‘How-to’ Guide for Flourishing in the Kingdom of God is full of down-to-earth insights about how to walk successfully and prosperously in God’s Kingdom right here on earth. It’s available for immediate download on Amazon (Kindle-format only at this time).  Get it, read it, and please let me know what you think.  Thanks very much for your interest, and I hope my book greatly blesses you!

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2 Comments to “The Forgotten Element”

  1. Thank you so much for this detailed and systematic presentation of Hope, Lester! Now the pieces of the puzzle come together. Congratulations on the launch of your ebook! I wish you all the best and I pray for many readers who will surely be blessed by it! Blessings, Dee

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