Scriptural Insights from Biblical Overlooks, Pt. 5

Scriptural Insights from Biblical Overlooks, Pt. 5

Study Guide, September 10, 2023

Pastor Clay Olsen

Our ‘Overlook’ today takes an interesting turn, because it turns out to be more of an ‘Upper-look’ than an ‘Overlook’. How many have ever visited the Cascade Range of mountains in the West? They extend from British Columbia through Washington State and Oregon and into Northern California. But in Oregon there are three mountains, side by side, and all over 10,000 feet, and they are called the ‘Three Sisters’ mountains. And the story from history is that they also carry another trio of names that is quite remarkable. For in the 1840’s members of a Methodist mission named the three mountain peaks – Mount Faith, Mount Hope, and Mount Charity.

When Sharon and I were first married we lived in the Sangre de Christo Mountain range of Colorado. And Spanish explorers named it that because of how often there was a reddish hew over the mountains, so they called it ‘The Blood of Christ’…Sangre de Christo in Spanish. Isn’t it inspiring how many sites around the Earth have names related to Biblical faith and life…and rightly so… ‘the Earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains’.

So back to our ‘overlook’, or our ‘upper-look’ for today. It takes us to considering these amazing Biblical virtues of the trinity of Faith, Hope, and Love. So lets first look up at Mount Faith. We often think of the great ‘faith’ chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11, where it tells us of the faith of the great heroes of the Bible. However, before it begins describing the out-workings of faith in their lives, the writer describes to us what faith really is. Notice: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.” Heb 11:1-2 NASU

So, what is faith? Isn’t it belief and trust? Yes, belief and trust are certainly parts of faith. Parts of faith you say? Yes, because Biblical faith also has the components of assurance and conviction. When you read Hebrews chapter 11, every time you see ‘faith’ read it as ‘assurance and conviction’ and watch how it impacts your understanding of ‘faith’!

Plus, Biblical faith is not just an acknowledgement that something is true, rather Biblical faith involves the investment of you! Say what? Biblical faith is not just an objective agreement, but also a subjective conviction. For example: To have faith about Jesus Christ is one thing, but to have faith in Jesus Christ is quite another.

To illustrate further: Faith and belief are often used interchangeably. And that’s fine, as long as it’s clear that the humanistic use of say, ‘belief’, is quite different from the Biblical use of ‘belief’. For those who have been reading through our 2023 Bible Calendar readings, you read John 6 on Thursday. And one striking thing about John 6 is that Jesus completely turned many people’s idea about ‘believing’ upside down on its head, or on their heads. Because for many ‘religious only’ people then, as well as for many ‘religious only’ people today, belief and faith are mostly professions of their heads, rather than possessions in their hearts. And what we mean by ‘religious only’ people is that ‘religious only’ people follow some religious tradition, but they do not have a personal ‘relationship’ with Jesus Christ.

So let’s look at what Jesus said that took ‘belief’ to the next level…to the ‘relationship’ level: John 6:51-58- “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” NASU

Again, Jesus completely redefined, or properly defined, what believing in God, believing in the Messiah, is really all about. And He was not symbolically talking about the Lord’s Supper, which He wouldn’t even introduce to His disciples for another year, rather, He was declaring to all people that Biblical belief, Salvation belief, involves, receiving Jesus Christ, or taking Jesus into your very life to become a part of you, just as you would take food and drink into your body to become a part of you! Remember, the Gospel of John equates ‘believing’ with ‘receiving’…equates ‘faith’ with ‘following’. It’s not a head profession, it’s a heart and life possession. It’s also why the Apostle Peter referred to Christians as ‘Partakers’…as those who have taken in the very life of Jesus Christ into their lives.

It’s also why we encourage those who have not yet come into a saving relationship with Christ, or are not sure of their relationship with Christ, to make sure by asking the Lord Jesus Christ to come into their life with His forgiveness for them and with His eternal life for them. Just like when partaking of food and drink, you are uniting yourself with those, so when you receive Jesus in saving faith, your desire is to unite your life and your spirit with Jesus’ eternal life and His divine spirit. And of course, only you can answer to God if you have done that, and we pray that you have, or will make sure of that…even today!

Oh, look up there…it’s Mount Hope! Hope is another word, that if not defined and described and then used Biblically, it, too, loses its real meaning and power. For, again, the difference between ‘humanistic hope’ and ‘Biblical hope’ is like night and day. For most people who have not yet given their lives to Christ and received Him into their life, they live with a ‘hope so’ religious belief system. They have built a life habit of ‘hoping’ that even though they have built their lives upon their own will and their own wants and dreams and desires and plans without seeking first God’s will and living by His words and His principles and His plans, still, they hope they will be just fine. But that’s the same false hope as Jesus described in Matt 7:24-27- “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell — and great was its fall.” NASU

When it comes to ‘hope’, the question is not ‘Do you have hope?’ The question is ‘What kind of hope do you have?’ Is it ‘shifting sand’ hope or is it ‘rock solid’ hope? Remember the opening words to that great hymn, ‘The Solid Rock’… ‘My hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness.’ Like faith, hope, too, stands or falls based upon its foundation. Only when your faith and your hope are built upon the foundation of the truths of God’s word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is your life secure. Otherwise, regardless of whatever a person believes or hopes, they have built their lives upon sand. And when the judgment of God comes, how great will be their fall.

Remember, every godly hope is a Biblical hope. It has a basis on a promise from God’s word, a principle from God’s word, or a message from God’s word. The question is never first, what a person is hoping for, but first, what is a person basing his or her hope upon? Is there a Biblical foundation for that kind of hope? If not, then their hope is a ‘humanistic hope, and just like anything built upon sand, it’s going to fall! You either build your life upon worldly hope…shifting-sand hope, or upon Biblical hope…rock-solid hope.

And another joy about Biblical hope…about rock-solid hope, is that it also grows things in us; or rather, God grows things in us through it. Rock-solid hope in your heart and mind produces courage in your soul and spirit! God produces courage in you, or God often uses His body, His sons and daughters, to plant courage in you, or to encourage you…to encourage you to draw near to God to receive His mercy when you mess up…to encourage you to press on in hope when feel you haven’t performed as you had hoped…to encourage you to stand for God again when you think you have fallen again.

Oh, wait, now we’re also looking toward Mount Charity…toward ‘Mount Love’. Much of what God wants us to learn about the love of God He wants us to learn it through working together and serving together in the lives of God’s people. Why do you think Jesus spent so much time talking about that? John 13:34-35- “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” And in John 15:12-14- “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. NASU

I think of that song by the Christian group DC Talk that said: “Luv is a Verb”. Remember that one? Part of it said: “Luv is a word that requires some action, Words come easy but don’t mean much, When the words they’re sayin’ we can’t put trust, We’re talkin’ ’bout love in a different light, And if we all learn to love it would be just right…Hey, tell me haven’t ya heard? Luv, is a serious word Hey, I think it’s time ya learned I don’t care what they say I don’t care what ya heard, The word luv, luv is a verb.” “Is the tune rolling through your head?” But love is truly a service word, an action word of treating others by the Golden Rule and serving others in a godly way.

Love is also a word that is more misunderstood and misused than is rightly understood and rightly used. In fact, since that had been the case throughout history, that’s why God had the Apostle Paul both define what love IS and what love is NOT in a chapter in 1 Corinthians. And most of us have both come to know and to love that chapter and description, so let’s consider it through doing a little exercise.

As you hear a word or phrase, let’s identify together if it ‘Is love’ or if it’s ‘Not love’. Here we go: ‘Boastful’ – ‘Not love’; ‘Irritable’ – ‘Not love’; Kind – ‘Is love’; ‘Rejoices about injustice’ – ‘Not love’; Rejoices about truth’ – ‘Is love’; ‘Patient’ – ‘Is love’; ‘Arrogant’ – ‘Not love’; ‘Keeps a record of being wronged’ – ‘Not love’; ‘Endures through every circumstance’ – ‘Is love’; ‘Demands its own way’ – ‘Not love’; ‘Never loses faith’ – ‘Is love’; ‘Is always hopeful’ – ‘Is love’.

Now, let’s go back over the passage: 1 Cor 13:4-7- “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” NLT

By God giving us this definition and description of what love is and what love is not, we have a way to both identify true love and false love. And why this is so important is because it not only gives us a way to evaluate when our thoughts, words, and deeds are loving and when they are not loving, it also gives us a way to identify if and when other’s thoughts, words, and deeds are loving and when they are not loving, regardless of what they themselves may claim. And why this is evaluation of ourselves concerning if our thoughts, words, and deeds are loving or not, as well as identifying if and when other’s thoughts, words, and deeds are loving or not is because this virtue of ‘Biblical love’ is what determines the outcome of what God had the Apostle Paul also say about this mountain top issue. Let’s look: 1 Cor 13:1-3- “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” NLT

When we come to understand that God measures everything a person achieves, everything a person acquires, everything a person accomplishes, everything a person builds or experiences or tries to do in their works in their family, their church, their community, and more…God measures all of it and each of it through this filter of: ‘Is love’ or ‘Is not love’. And whatever ‘Is love’, particularly for the Follower of our God, who ‘Is love’, will have gained great reward and everlasting good. But whatever ‘Is not love’ will be counted as having ‘gained nothing!’ Everything that is ‘not love’ for the Follower of the God of Love will be forfeited. And everything that is ‘not love’ for the unbeliever will only add to their sentencing of their final judgment in separation from God.

We cannot, we dare not underestimate what God is looking for in us as we deal with our families, as we serve in our church, as we work at our vocation, as we seek to impact and influence our community and our country, and so on…for whatever is not done through Biblical love, which can be tough love, the way Jesus dealt with the unrepentant and the false teachers, but still, as treating others as Jesus did with godly love…then our voices will simply have been noisy gongs and clanging cymbals, and our deeds will have accomplished nothing, and we will have gained nothing.

That’s why ‘Love’ is called ‘Mount Love’, because if you are going to make a mountain out of something in your life, this is the one that you really want to make a mountain out of: Mount Love!