These Three Shall Remain

You are loved “Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.” St. Augustine wrote:

“…[if] in their [dreams, visions, spiritual gifts] silence He alone spoke to us, not by them but by Himself: so that we should hear His word, not by any tongue of flesh nor the voice of an angel nor the sound of thunder nor in the darkness of a parable, but that we should hear Himself whom in all these things we love, should hear Himself and not them: just as we two had but now reached forth and in a flash of the mind attained to touch the eternal Wisdom which abides over all: and if this could continue, and all other visions so different be quite taken away, and this one should so ravish and absorb and wrap the beholder in inward joys that his life should eternally be such as that one moment of understanding for which we had been sighing – would not this be: Enter Thou into the joy of Thy Lord?(Confessions of St. Augustine, Book 9, pp. 158-159) *

“Not by them, but by HIMSELF!” This is what He wants with us. As Paul wrote in his famous “love chapter” 1 Corinthians 13…

“Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass. For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial; but when what is perfect comes, then what is partial will disappear. When I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child; now that I am an adult, I have no more use for childish ways. What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete—as complete as God’s knowledge of me. Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-13 GNB – emphasis added)

What Augustine is saying here is that once we have had sweet fellowship with the living Christ face to face, nothing else is important any longer. Have you, like many of us, started out moving in the gift of tongues or prophesy or interpretation of tongues and dreams, visions, miracles, etc.? Or maybe you were absorbed in biblical knowledge and reading books of wisdom from the writings of past saints or reformers? But then one day you awake to the fact that God is doing away with them in YOU! Paul even says that these are things that spiritual children seek after and do and that a time comes when we grow up into something far greater! I know that many who believe in and camp around these verses in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 to 14 about spiritual gifts like to say that they will not be done away with until Christ returns or we are in heaven. Then we have the other crowd that says that with the death of the last of the twelve apostles God put and end to these “spiritual gifts.” I am not here to argue either point. The whole point that the apostle Paul and Augustine are making here is that it is our Father’s desire that we grow up into the fullness of Christ! Paul says, “What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face.” What now? What then? The context is spiritual children vs. spiritual adulthood. We only get a dim image of Christ through spiritual gifts. Mature saints are no longer all concerned about “their giftedness!” They have moved on. They only want to see Jesus and hear HIS voice, not their own or their own “profound” thoughts! It is so sad that carnal men have taken the gifts of God for service to one another in the body of Christ and used them to divide it and seek ascendancy over one another. How immature!

“The measure of our spiritual life is no greater than our heart; the knowledge that is in the head is not the measure of spirituality, the way for your release, emancipation, increase, abundance is the way of the heart. Spirituality is not mental agreement on things stated in the Word, it is the melting of one heart to another – to all saints.” ~ T. Austin-Sparks

When we have placed into us a God given hunger to see Jesus face to face in the Spirit and hear His sweet voice because of our love for Him, all these other things lose their appeal by comparison. Paul explains that when that which is perfect is come the imperfect will be done away with. And what is “that which is perfect” that we grow into? John wrote,

And _we_ have known and have believed the love which God has in us; God is love, and the one abiding in that love abides in God, and God in him. By this love has been perfected with us, so that we shall be having confidence in the day of the judgment, because just as that One [Jesus Christ] is, also _we_ are in this world. [There] is no fear in love, _but_ perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. But the one fearing has not been perfected in that love. (1 John 4:16-18 ALT)

We are made perfect in the love of God and it is in this love that we are as Christ in this world for God is love! In Ephesians chapter four we are often reminded by the clergy of verses 11 & 12, about the so called “five fold ministries” and their teaching ends there with the emphasis on them! But Paul did not end the chapter with verse 12! Paul went on to speak of the perfection of the saints of God IN THIS LIFE not pie in the sky by and by!

“until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge [Grk. epegnosis – the full intimate knowing] of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine [Grk. didache – teaching], by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (Ephesians 4:13-15 RSVA)

We are to grow up in every way INTO Him! It is in this mature perfecting of God who makes us one with His Son that we are made perfect in the love of God for all mankind… He in us and we in Him. It is here that all these divisive doctrines made by the caprice and cunning of men from the scriptures cease to divide us any longer (Notice how Jesus never engaged in divisive arguments over the doctrines of men). We are made perfect and one in God’s LOVE just as Jesus was. Agape love is self for God and self for others, so much so that the time comes that self is no longer an element to be considered, but our lives are hidden in Christ! At this point we can rightfully say with Paul, “For me to live IS Christ and to die is gain.” “Meanwhile these three remain, faith hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.” Father, please do what you have to do to mature us in your love. Amen.

* I would like to give a special thanks to Susanne Schuberth for bringing this quote from Augustine to our attention in her blog article, “Jumping into the Unknown”

24 comments on “These Three Shall Remain

  1. Another great and inspiring article by you, dear Michael! ⭐ Thanks so much for a special thanks! 🙂

    I just replied to you on my blog and I thought I could share a part of that comment on here, too. Reflecting on the WHY God lets us suffer by taking everything that He had given us beforehand in order to bring us to spiritual maturity, I was reminded of an analogy. That’s what I wrote in my response on EPL.

    “Imagine we would attend an exhibition, let’s say an art gallery. There is a highly talented painter who wants to show us his works of art and, best of all, he does not sell them because it’s a charity event. Therefore he gives them away for free. Looking a bit closer to that setting, we might suddenly detect people who scramble to get the best painting. Yet the painter is standing in a corner all alone. Nobody is interested in him. I guess that’s just about the way God might feel at times when confronted with our fleshly desires. A saddening picture, indeed, don’t you think?”

    Every blessing to you,

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, I am glad you copied your comment over to my blog. Once again we are tracking on the same revelation. I will also bring over one here what I answered to your comment from your blog…

      “Yes, Susanne, your analogy is accurate, but a sad one. To think that this is how people treat the Giver as nothing as long as they get their gifts or only ‘love Him’ as long as He keeps gifting them. Yet, when one has sought out and received the greatest gift of all that our Father has to give, His agape love, that person seeks out the ‘Artist in the corner’ and wants to know this Person who paints from His heart! They want to KNOW Him to the very depth of His heart and will accept no shallow substitutes. I think that this is what Augustine was really saying.

      May we all be so gifted and not settle for anything less than “the greatest of these is love.” Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply.”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Tony says:

    Signs follow believers. We aren’t to chase after them Signs point to something. If they point to anything but Jesus then they’re being misused. The gifts are not to draw attention to yourself. Each has its purpose in the body of Christ.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pat Orr says:

    Michael, thank you for this post and also what you commented on Susanne’s post. Your statement about the flesh hitch hiking on the spirit ( spiritual experiences) spoke much to me. I still believe that God has enough grace to make a perfect heart. So, I continue to have hope.

    Pat Orr

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Hi Pat. I love where you are at in Christ. YES! God does have enough grace to give you a perfect heart, for THAT is what the good news of the NEW Covenant is… He makes ALL things new and the old things are passed away. Or as Paul put it, “If any man be in Christ he is a NEW Creation.” As for hope, dear Pat, it is one of the three things that remains. Hope burns eternal.
      Love you, dear sister!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Allan Halton says:

    Thanks, Michael, good word. I too have heard arguments (which you outlined in your post) over what Paul meant by “when that which is perfect is come.” The very context of 1 Corinthians 13 shows what Paul had in mind. Love. When love is come, then that which is in part is done away because it is no longer needed. Tongues cease, for love says it all. Prophecy is no longer needed; love swallows it up. Knowledge is no longer necessary; love is a kind of knowledge that surpasses knowledge. Jesus, reduce us to love!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Hey, Allan! It is so good to hear from you again on here. What a great comment. It shows your depth and experience IN Christ. Yes, the language of love is heart to heart and it says it all. We become perfect communicators for God in His love. God looks upon the heart, not the head, for out of the heart come the issues of life and death. Knowledge passes away as well. What our best scientists thought about the universe just ten years ago, now they no longer hold as true! This happens in every area of knowledge except ONE. That is when one comes into the perfect knowing of who our Lord is and becoming ONE with His heart. Yes, this knowledge surpasses knowledge, Well said, my brother! Yes, Jesus reduce us to love! Amen

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Like many others, I spent years being considered a substandard Christian because I didn’t speak in tongues, prophesy, or get “slain in the Spirit” and fall over when I was expected to. This article makes it clear all that is childish behavior that disappears when we live in Jesus’ love.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Michael says:

    I would like to thank my dear wife, Dorothy, for commenting for the first time on our blog. Dorothy has been behind the scenes editing each blog that we post. For years she edited our website articles, laid out our books for printing and then printed them on our laser copiers and then help with the binding operation. She has also give us much help with her knowledge of the English language, word processing, desktop publishing, HTML and webdesign. Her prayers have had much to do with God’s hand in my life through the 48 years we have been married and I am grateful for her.

    As you can see from her comment, Dorothy is a woman of few words. I am glad that this latest blog has spoken encouragement to her heart. Yes, my dear, your love has remained strong for me, our friends and family through our many trials that those who rely on the lesser gifts would never have survived. You have been a living example that “the greatest of these is love.” Thank you, so much.

    Love you, dear,

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ken Dawson says:

    I loved the article and it did my heart good to see your wife post her comment and your heartfelt response to it–its nice to see love in action.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Lori J. says:

    Michael – good, good words. Thank your for this perspective. And Allan — thank you for the link to that song. I haven’t heard it, or thought of it, for years! I’m happy to have it in my Favorites and will enjoy it often!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you, Dorothy, for your precious comment. Thank you, Michael, for your dear response.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Ken Burgess says:

    Hey Dorothy, what a treat to read your comments. Somehow you and my wife can say more with less words than anyone I know. Michael and the body are so blessed by your love and humility.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Becky Johnson says:

    Michael, this was wonderful. Thank you. Thank God! It is a shifting that happens ever so slightly until we look up and say, “Oh. This is different now. I am differnt now.” A subtle shift by the grace of God. I am seeing it in many people’s lives. My own included. And so when I read this: “But then one day you awake to the fact that God is doing away with them in YOU!” It was so powerful I had to look away for a moment. Yes! That’s it. Thank you again for letting this life be loved through your fingertips and out through the key board.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Becky, It is good to hear from you again. I want you to know that your comment totally blessed me! It always blesses me to find out that God used something I wrote to give clarity, understanding and life to one such as you and my dear Dorothy as well. We are NOT a pariah just because God has been healing us and growing us up into the greatest of all His gifts, hearts filled with His love, while those lesser ones fade way into the background of our thinking and desires.
      Love you, my sister!

      Liked by 2 people

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