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1 Corinthians chapter 13 suggests that whereas some gifts of the Spirit will end, the gifts of faith, hope, and love will endure, and that love is the greatest gift of all:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Paul speaks of a future time when perfection comes and the imperfect disappears (verse 9) but faith, hope and love will remain. Since God is love, there is no difficulty in comprehending the eternal nature and reality of love.

But why will we still need faith when we come face to face with Christ Jesus, the initiator and propagator of faith (Hebrews 12:2). And what place will hope have when all our hopes have been realised? What is the relationship between faith and hope? Why do all three gifts remain? I’m just thinking aloud here.

What is the spiritual relationship between faith, hope and love when perfection comes and the imperfect disappears?

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When we come face to face with Christ in heaven, there will still be much that has to happen. We will still need to have faith in the outworking of a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness will dwell. We will still need to hope in the glorious finale when everything is restored, in Christ, to how it originally was, all of creation and every living creature united in perfection, to the glory of God the Father.

Although perfection exists in heaven, there is unfinished business to be completed in the cosmos. Heaven is not about OUR hopes, for we are focused on God, concentrating on him and how he will eventually achieve his cosmic righteousness in his creation, through Christ. Our praise and service will still be employed by him, for his glory. We know not what work we will be assigned in heaven towards that end, or for how long. After all, God has a track-record of not being hasty with anything he does. Since when has God been in a rush to do anything?

Just this morning I alighted on this old hymn, and as I sang the verses (in solitary confinement in my home, for I would not inflict my piano-playing-cum-singing on innocent hearers) the combination of faith, hope and love was eloquently expressed by Christopher Wordsworth (1807-85) to the tune Charity (by John Stainer, 1840-1901). Bear with me as I recite all six verses, for I see in them the distinct division between our hopes and faith here on earth, and the ultimate supremacy of love in heaven once all is all in God:

Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost – taught by Thee, we covet most of Thy gifts at Pentecost, holy, heavenly love.

Faith that mountains could remove, tongues of earth or heaven above, knowledge, all things, empty prove without heavenly love.

Though I as a martyr bleed, give my goods the poor to feed, all is vain if love I need; therefore, give me love.

Love is kind and suffers long, love is meek and thinks no wrong, love than death itself more strong; therefore, give us love.

Prophecy will fade away, melting in the light of day, love will ever with us stay; therefore, give us love.

Faith, and hope and love we see, joining hand in hand, agree; but the greatest of the three, and the best, is love.

When Philippians 2:9-11 has been fulfilled, then (I suggest) love will remain supreme, but until that distant day is reached, our heavenly estate will still call for faith and hope as the creation of a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell will be worked out. Our getting to heaven won’t be the finale. This will be the finale:

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

I suggest that, even when we get to heaven, there’s a way to go before that ultimate climax, when "that which is perfect" has arrived (Romans 13:10).

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  • Thank you for such an uplifting response. – Lesley Jan 3 at 9:45
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Romans 13 would seem to suggest that faith and hope will pass away and charity will remain.

Thus it is the greatest of the three.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. [KJV]

  1. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. [KJV]
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"Faith" in this passage refers to "faithfulness".

In this passage, I believe that the word "faith" is used not in the sense of "believing in God" that it is often used today, but in the sense of "faithfulness": the adherence to promises, without deceit or the human frailness that causes promises to be broken. The word is used in this sense in many places throughout the Bible, when it talks about faith. For instance, Abraham was faithful not just because he believed in God, but because he adhered to the agreement he made with God.

Faith will remain because the perfected world to come will be a fulfillment of God's promises to us, and it won't be done away with in contravention to those promises, and also because the perfected humans who dwell in that age will dwell in unity with God, and thus will no longer be unfaithful towards each other.

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