They begin stating that they thank God always when they pray for their unwavering faith in God and their love for the saints. The community exudes these two qualities because of the hope they have, this hope that came to them when they heard, believed and understood the word of truth; the Gospel. Do you remember Paul writing to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthains 13. Slap bang, in the middle of the two chapters on the gifts, he writes about love. At the end of the love chapter, he says "And these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." At the end of it all guys, when the rubber meets the road of the Christian life, after all the conferences, after all the worship sessions and sermon CDs, the rubber meets the road: does your life exude faith, hope and love? These three fruits only come by the receiving and the understanding of the Gospel.
As Jesus explained in Matthew 13, when the seed of the Gospel message takes root in the good soil, it produces a harvest, it grows a powerful tree, a powerful believer who bears much fruit. God's gospel is an accomplishing gospel. It's purpose is to conform you and I into the likeness of His Son, JESUS. We will exude the same fruit that Jesus did: Faith, Love and Hope!
Let me explain:
When one receives and believes the Gospel, there is a hope that is stored up in heaven according to Paul in Colossians 1. What is this hope? I have three:
1. Jesus. He has given us Himself. Jesus is our treasure. Jesus is heaven. Paul knew this when he said "To live is Christ. To die is gain." Whether he lived or died, his whole being rejoiced in knowing and loving the person of Jesus. God said to Abram in Genesis, before he entered into covenant with him, "I am your shield, I am your exceedingly great reward." Our reward, our treasure one day isn't the gold streets or the huge mansions - it's JESUS! We'll have him forever. To walk with, to talk with, as much as we like. He gives us Himself.
2. Eternal life. We won't just have Him for ten minutes or one week. We will be with Him forever. Eternal life in the kingdom of the King of heaven! We will get to worship Him, be with our fellow JESUS lovers in the most beautiful place in the galaxy...Forever.
3. Eternally secure. There will have no fear that we'll lose our position in Him and with Him, ever. No matter what happens, we will be secure forever.
These 3 hopes comes through receiving and understanding the Gospel. When one really "gets" it and sees the beauty of the good news, it produces this unwavering hope in the hearts of the believers. And it's from this hope that two fruits become really apparent according to Paul: 1. An unwavering faith in God and 2. A love for the saints. These are two things that people can't conjure up or hype up in their own strength. It's effortless and come about with ease...they are fruits of the gospel, they come by GRACE!!!