Faith, hope and love keep our focus where it should be – on Jesus.
By Bob Regazzoli, Pastor, Australia
Editor’s note: When I was a pastor, I was intrigued with the words “inward, upward, and outward” to describe our calling and mission. Others used “belong, believe, become,” to help their congregation understand their mission and purpose. In GCI, we use Faith, Hope, and Love for a specific reason. The phrases, “inward, outward, and upward,” and “believe, belong, become,” place the focus on us and our response to God. They focus on our works and our response to our calling. Faith, hope, and love are focused on Jesus and our participation with him. He is our hope; he is love, and we only love him because he first loved us; he is our faith, and it is his faith that sustains us. Faith, hope, and love keep our eyes on the center – Jesus. Australian pastor, Bob Regazzoli addresses this in the following lead article. – Rick Shallenberger
In his January video message, President Greg Williams announced that the theme for GCI this year is “Faith, Hope, and Love in Action.” The Christian life is often described by the apostle Paul as a life of faith, hope, and love.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:3)
This is the Christian life in action.
Following his Gospel, Luke wrote the book of Acts. This is often referred to as “The Acts of the Apostles” but in reality, he records the ongoing acts of the resurrected Jesus and his work through the Holy Spirit in the church. Luke begins this book with the following introduction: “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach…” Jesus’ ministry continued, and it continues today.
Luke’s account in Acts records the activity of the Holy Spirit as he led the members of the church in carrying out the Great Commission. Those who believed Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit, and we see their life of worship, discipleship, and reaching out to others with the love of God.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)
This activity wasn’t something which was devised by humans. It was inspired and led by the Holy Spirit. In this book, we see some dramatic events occurring as the apostles carried out the mission entrusted to them. But we also see Christians going about their everyday lives, and as they follow the lead of the Spirit, serving in various ways in the life of the church.
In Acts 9 & 10, we read of Peter raising Dorcas from death. Here was a woman well known for “always doing good and helping the poor” (9:36). Following this, Peter stayed in Joppa with a tanner named Simon (9:43). He welcomed Peter into his home and showed hospitality. Peter was then sent to baptise Cornelius, a Roman centurion. “He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly” (10:2).
There were some great miracles recorded, plus the miracle of conversions, and then the simple acts of service with Christians living out their faith. “Faith, Hope, and Love in Action” is Jesus in action, through the Holy Spirit, in the lives of all Christians.
Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches, and without him, we can do nothing. At times, we may feel that we’re not doing all that much. It’s easy to feel discouraged, to become weary in our Christian walk. The challenges we face can appear quite daunting. As Paul reminded Timothy:
For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands, for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:6-7 NRSV)
Each day we need God’s Spirit to be rekindled and renewed, to participate in Jesus’ faith, hope, and love. We never forget that Jesus is God’s greatest gift to us.
Imagine it’s January 2024, and you’re looking back on the previous year., What would you hope for our fellowship and our local congregations? I pray we see a healthier church, with Spirit-led worship, devoted discipleship. And like Dorcas, may we always be doing good, as we put Jesus’ faith, hope, and love in action as we serve one another and our neighbours.
We have different ministries within the body according to our gifting, and we know that it is God who will add the increase. Every good gift comes from the Father above, and he, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are with us always.
Let’s continue to ask for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us as we go about our everyday lives, and in this way, our service to God in participating with Jesus. Faith, hope, and love will certainly result in the activity and actions which will bring glory to our great God, because they will be his acts!
5 thoughts on “Whose Acts?”
Great insight ! Love the vision casting.
Thank you. Simple encouragement for implementation: Fast often. Jesus’ instructions.
Wow! This puts the Acts of the Apostles in the only right way to view Acts! It records the work of the Holy Spirit in God’s children as they participate in Jesus’ continuing ministry! Thank you, my Brother for helping us to see this from Our Father’s perspective! Your Brother in Christ, Joe Elam
Bob, your insights from the Book of Acts (Acts of the Holy Spirit) are inspirational. With Jesus as our faith, hope and love, the focus will no longer be on our responsive works. Then believers can fulfill the exhortation of Jesus: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Much appreciation for the article and the gentle nudge to acts, actions and activity.
Much to think about here. Personally, I see a proper focus in “inward, outward and upward” and in “believe, belong, become.” In my mind, Jesus is the first and core, so “inward” is not navel-gazing; it is the filling of the Spirit. And our “outward” (our “acts”) cycle around to “upward”–giving all glory to God. Likewise, I see “believe” pointing the focus first to Him in whom we believe, our inclusion of “belonging” by His completed work on our behalf, and our ultimate “becoming”–not by our works/acts, but by God’s sovereign declaration of who we are in and with Jesus. “Faith, hope and love” may also be fair mnemonics but, like the other two examples given, they require up-front explanation to comprehend the intended meaning. And while we surely don’t want to shortchange the work of our Triune God, the scriptural examples in the article show the participatory acts of believers as God invites and allows us to come alongside Him in His work. People do acts. Maybe a full title for the book of Acts could be “The Acts of God–Through the Lives of the Apostles and Other Followers.”