Reading 7 – Sabbath, December 14, 2019
“BEARETH, BELIEVETH, HOPETH, ENDURETH ALL THINGS”
By Tzvetan Petkov, Bulgaria / USA
“Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” 1 Corinthians 13:7.
Many times, divine love is misun- derstood and confused with our human feelings, emotions, and abstract concepts. In addition, the understanding or interpretation of love is generally inherited from different cultures and religions. One of the most impressive parts of the epistles of the apostle Paul is his description of divine love and its indispensable necessity in the character of a Christian follower. In 1 Corinthians 13, he emphasizes that love is the most important quality and gift of the Spirit that the believer should have. Being highly educated, the apostle used an excellent system of instruction, leaving no doubt or room for misinterpretation. In verses 4-6, he describes what love is not. In verse 7, he describes what love is. Thus, we are directed to God Himself, who is truly and revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In verse 7, the words “all things” are repeated. In Greek, the word for this phrase is panta, which means literally “each and every one.” It may be used as an adjective and also as a plural characteristic. Many Bible interpreters have paused at this expression, seeking to understand if its meaning is literal or is only a metaphor for “many.” But, in the Biblical context, we see that this meaning is repeated on several different occasions in reference to the plan of salvation and the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ. For example, He died for everyone. God the Father loves everyone, good and bad. Matthew 5:45.
Christ wants everyone to be saved and no one to be lost. These and many other verses make it plain that the gift of God and His great salvation are offered equally to all, in the plurality of humanity, and to each and every single individual; and there is no exception to God’s grace. John 3:16. If a person fails to receive the saving grace, it is because of his personal choice, not because the hand of God is short. The same principle applies here to the gift of love. The one who receives this special measure of the Holy Spirit becomes Christ-like. The word “all things” is the assurance that all who receive the gift of love are partakers of His divine nature indeed, members of His heavenly family, sons and daughters of God.
Bears all things
“Bear” in Greek is the word stego and means to cover, to protect, to preserve in silence. This quality of divine love is seen in Christ’s life as His perfect dedication to saving the human race. He covers, protects, and preserves sinners by giving Himself as the payment for the race, choosing to suffer and assume the guilt that is not His, for the purpose of saving the sinner and giving him a second chance. Christ was and is sinless–holy. However, He voluntarily took the fallen human nature upon Himself. “But our Saviour took humanity, with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man, with the possibility of yielding to temptation. We have nothing to bear which He has not endured.”–The Desire of Ages, p. 117. He became obedient unto death, taking the sins of the world upon Himself.
There is no more exalted expression or demonstration of love than the life and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. His followers will demonstrate that same quality. Moses was told to get away from the people, rebellious Israel, so that God might destroy all of them and raise up a new generation from the children of Moses. But Moses pleaded with God and interceded for his disobedient fellowmen. In a similar manner, the apostle Paul interceded for his fellow Israelites, saying that he would choose to lose his own salvation if only his fellow Jews could be saved. Romans 9:3. Stephen, the godly deacon chosen by the early Christian church, gave no place to anger or vengeance when he was stoned by his fellow countrymen. In his dying prayer, he pleaded earnestly for God to forgive their sins, because they did not know what they were doing. Acts 7:59, 60. Dear brother, dear sister, you can also have this gift and divine love. Let us pray that the Lord will cleanse our hearts and minds from all hatred, evil thoughts and words, anger, envy, and jealousy, and fill us with the divine perfume, the sweet fragrance of divine love.
At the same time, the protective quality of divine love is demonstrated in the parabolic comparison of believers to watchmen who are commissioned to sound the alarm, to blow the trumpet. Numbers 10:9, 10. The trumpet was sounded on a daily basis in Israel to proclaim the hour for worship and to announce the time for meetings, war, and other religious and civil gatherings. One who receives divine love will not be passive. He will not be indifferent to his neighbor’s suffering. He will not be like Cain, who said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9), but will sigh and cry for Israel’s transgressions. “And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” Ezekiel 9:4.
In the time of the gold rush, two friends got lost in the snowy wasteland of Alaska. The temperatures were very low, and one would freeze to death if the proper precautions were not taken. One of the men was strong, but the other was very weak and frail. Often, as they walked, they had to stop, because the weaker man was unable to go on. The stronger man would help him, carry him, massage his frozen legs, look for food, and do everything possible to save his friend. After many days, when the two men finally reached safety, the stronger man confessed that his weak friend was the reason he himself did not freeze to death. By helping him and constantly working with him, he himself was warmed up and survived the bitter cold. Similarly, when we work for the salvation of others, when we preach, teach, warn, and protect our fellow believers, we ourselves are warmed up and thus are able to express Christ’s love to others.
Believes all things
The word “believe” in Greek is pisteo. This means to believe things to be true, to trust, and to have confidence. Once again, the greatest example of trust and belief is our Lord Jesus Christ. He believed from the beginning that the plan of salvation would be completed, that the human race would accept God’s merciful hand. Satan and his fallen angels would oppose Him and war against Him, but victory over sin and death would be achieved.
During His life on earth, Jesus used only the power that is available to human beings. By living faith, He received the power to live a holy life, overcome temptation, and be man’s example and substitute. That is why His followers are said to have the characteristics of keeping the commandments and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12. The same faith that Christ has is imparted to His followers. The same strength of the Holy Spirit that sustained Him is entrusted to the believers as they faithfully follow the instructions given in the holy Scriptures.
“A knowledge of the riches of this grace, will ennoble and elevate the human soul, and through connection with Christ, it will become a partaker of the divine nature, and obtain power to resist the advances of Satan.” –Christian Education, p. 27.
In the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus described this faith as a small seed that grows, bears fruit, and connects His children with the heavenly kingdom. The apostles received this faith when they were converted and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the early rain. To the believers at the end of time is promised both the early and the latter rain. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, everything is possible. “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26. This faith moves mountains and enabled the apostles to preach the gospel successfully and perform healing miracles. So also you, sister and brother, are privileged to obtain the same gift of the Spirit, faith for all things, the faith of Jesus, and successfully fight against the power of evil. Do not hesitate to ask, because those who ask will receive.
There is an inspiring story about Angela Yuan. Her son Christopher was a good student and an obedient son. However, after his teenage years, he turned his back on his mother, ran away from home, and wasted his life on drugs, homosexuality, and criminal activities. His mother was so devastated that one day she decided she would take her own life. However, the minister of her church helped her to understand that divine love is unconditional, immense, and forgiving. This changed her life and filled her heart with faith and hope. She started to look for Christopher, fighting spiritually in prayer and perseverance. Many times one becomes desperate and is able to view the future only by faith.
Today, Angela and her son Christopher have overcome their doubts. They are traveling around the globe, sharing their experience of faith and victory. “Never give up” is the conclusion of this suffering mother. Pray and have faith.
The apostle James presented faith and works as inseparable con- cepts. True faith moves the believer to action and obedience. “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James 2:18. Faith is the engine of every honest Christian, giving him power to practice the wisdom, love, and obedience found in God’s word. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews, in chapter 11, presents a gallery of men and women of faith and their supernatural achievements. And James mentions that prayers will be answered only if they are based on faith and one does not waver like the waves of the sea.
Love and faith are similar, for they are not based on feelings or emotions but are living principles encompassing incredible power to change a person’s way of thinking and speaking and to plant a new character in his heart. Through faith and love, God’s law is imprinted upon one’s heart and becomes part of his soul. “As Christ lived the law in humanity, so we may do if we will take hold of the Strong for strength…. And they will receive not only wisdom, but strength. Power for obedience, for service, will be imparted to them, as Christ has promised. Whatever was given to Christ–the ‘all things’ to supply the need of fallen men–was given to Him as the head and representative of humanity. And ‘whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.’ 1 John 3:22.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 668.
In Greek, the word “hope” is elpizo, meaning confidence, hope. Without hope for the future, it is not possible to survive. So many things can go wrong. Even the rotation of our planet is subject to divine power, and by faith and hope we assume that it will continue, even though there is no guarantee for it. On March 16, 2011, National Geographic published the observation that the axis of the earth has shifted by four meters as a result of the earthquake in Japan. Scientists did not know how to explain this, even though they expected extreme irregularities in nature. Only by hope and confidence in God can we overcome anxiety and navigate a straight course to the harbor, even while not being able to see it. “Mourn not as those who are hopeless and helpless; never, under any circumstances, give way to despair; but from grateful hearts, from lips touched with holy fire, let the glad song ring out, ‘Jesus is risen; He lives to make intercession for us.’ Grasp this hope, and it will hold the soul like a sure, tried anchor. Believe, and thou shalt ‘see the glory of God.’ John 11:40.” –Gospel Workers (1892), p. 467.
Believers who cherish hope also have a positive attitude. They do not panic when things go wrong or do not come out according to their expectations. The gift of hope makes it possible not to depend on circumstances for our choices and moral standards but to press forward even when there is no visible sign of success.
Charles Darwin had a daughter, Anne Elizabeth, whom he loved very much for her virtue, energy, and lovely character. One day, when she was around 10 years old, she became very ill, and the medical doctors did not give much hope for her recovery. Charles Darwin prayed earnestly to God, asking for healing and salvation for his lovely daughter. However, day by day the condition of Anne Elizabeth became worse, and she passed away. Charles was so devastated, so disappointed, and so angry with God that he did not attend his daughter’s funeral. Years later, the grieving father remembered her and wrote: “Our poor child, Annie, was born in Gower St on March 2d, 1841, & expired at Malvern at Midday on the 23d of April 1851. Her dear face now rises before me, as she used sometimes to come running down stairs with a stolen pinch of snuff for me, her whole form radiant with the pleasure of giving pleasure.”
His faithful, believing wife tried everything she could to help her grieving husband, but not much could be done. Some of those who knew Charles Darwin stated that the theory of evolution was his revenge against God because He did not heal his beloved daughter. When we give up hope, we lose our connection to the light. Our purpose in life dissolves into doubt and becomes disoriented. The suffering of our soul can be incredible. Let us never give up hope, because God is unchangeable yesterday, today, and forever. His love is unconditional; His power, almighty; His knowledge, omniscient. God is omnipresent, and He loves humanity so much “that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
In the Greek language, the word “endurance” is hupomeno, which means to endure patiently, to abide, to suffer. When endurance and patience are connected with love, faith, and hope, the true character of the divine gift is demonstrated. The gift given by the Spirit is not a temporary emotion but is a continually working power that accompanies the converted soul from the beginning to the end of his life. Endurance and patience are especially necessary and part of the characters of God’s people, the 144,000. Revelation 14:12 says: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
Endurance was demonstrated in the life and work of our Lord Jesus Christ every single day of His ministry. After His baptism, He was led by the Spirit to the desert, where His spiritual endurance was tested. The Scriptures say that after He faithfully resisted the temptation of the enemy, the devil left Him. If we endure patiently in our battle against the “rulers of the darkness” (Ephesians 6:12), the evil one will flee from us as well.
When we receive the Spirit of God and are refreshed, blessed by the gifts and qualities of His divine nature, we enjoy the presence of His holy angels and His protection. However, if we do not endure and persevere, cooperating with the Lord’s gift, He may leave us and stay outside the door, as described in the condition of the Laodicean church, where Christ is portrayed as standing at the door and knocking. Revelation 3:20. In one parable, Jesus warned the believers that if they did not persevere in faith and obedience and if they did not connect themselves to God’s saving grace, the evil spirit would return from the desert, bringing with him seven more, and possess the empty heart that was once cleansed and purified by God’s Spirit. Matthew12:43-45. The Spirit of prophecy relates this parable to those who “… rejoiced in the love of God; but, like the stony-ground hearers of the parable, they did not abide in His love. They did not surrender themselves to God daily, that Christ might dwell in the heart; and when the evil spirit returned, with ‘seven other spirits more wicked than himself,’ they were wholly dominated by the power of evil.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 323. How sad will be the condition of that erring soul when the judgment takes place. We thank God that we are still living in the time of grace. Repentance is available. God is stretching His loving hand toward every erring sinner, offering forgiveness, grace, and salvation.
To be faithful unto death is a basic condition for salvation and participation in the heavenly kingdom. Revelation 2:10. However, patience and endurance are not qualities that come from human nature; rather they are a gift given through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Divine love is demonstrated by patience, hope, faith, and bearing all things. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 8. Divine love is the perfect reflec- tion of God’s character. Having the gift of love in our lives means to have God in our hearts, to be a temple of His Holy Spirit, to be daughters and sons of His heavenly family, to be part of His divine kingdom, to be the light of the world!
Let us repeat with the prophet: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. Amen