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Discover Spirituality of Faith, Hope, and Love

Toward the end of Augustine’s life, he received a special request from a man who was seeking biblical answers to life’s ancient questions such as “What is to be sought in life above everything else?”

Augustine tells the man that he will find the answers to his many questions about life in the answers to these three basic questions: 1) What should be believed?, 2) What should be hoped for?, and 3) What should be loved?

In this sixth lesson, you’ll learn three ancient ways to deepen your faith, hope, and love.

About the Applied Theology Project
In this new book and course by Drs. Frame and Childers, you’ll explore an ancient, Trinitarian approach to the study of theology and spirituality found in the great theological works of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. These thinkers have outlined for us a transformational way of doing theology that is eminently Scriptural and involves our whole being – not only our minds, but also our hearts and lives.

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Toward a Theology of Faith, Hope, and Love

By John Frame and Steve Childers

We learned earlier that toward the end of Augustine’s life, he received a special request from a man named Laurentius, who was seeking biblical answers to life’s ancient questions such as “What is to be sought in life above everything else?” Laurentius knew that Augustine was a great theologian and famous philosopher who had written many long books. But he mustered up the courage to ask Augustine to help him with his questions by writing a small, easy-to-understand handbook on the essence of Christianity.

Augustine’s Theology of Faith, Hope, and Love

In response, Augustine summarized all of Laurentius’s questions into one single question: “Perhaps this is exactly what you wish me to explain briefly and to sum up in a few words: how God is to be worshipped.” Augustine then answers his own question, regarding how God is to be worshiped and honored, by referring to the three virtues of faith, hope, and love found in 1 Corinthians 13:13. He writes:

You would have the answers to all these questions if you really understood what a man should believe, what he should hope for, and what he ought to love. For these are the chief things—indeed, the only things—to seek for in religion.

Augustine tells Laurentius that he will find the answers to his many questions about life in the answers to these three basic questions: 1) What should be believed?, 2) What should be hoped for?, and 3) What should be loved? Then he writes a small handbook showing that the essence of: 1) our faith is found in the Apostles’ Creed, 2) our hope is found in the Lord’s Prayer, and 3) our love is found in the Ten Commandments.

Augustine’s brief “Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love” soon became the basis for the education of clergy in the Middle Ages. History professor Gerald Bray writes, “It (Enchiridion) played a major role in shaping the spiritual outlook of the Western church for over a thousand years.”

Luther’s Theology of Faith, Hope, and Love

Eleven centuries later a former Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, dedicated his life to continuing Augustine’s tradition of helping people cultivate the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love by using the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments.

Like Augustine, Luther became well known in his lifetime as a great theologian and author. One day when he went to a barber shop to get a haircut, his barber, Peter, asked the famous Reformer how to pray. Luther responded graciously by writing a letter to Peter about prayer, a letter we know today as the short book “A Simple Way to Pray.” In this letter, he reflects Augustine’s teaching on the strong connection between prayer and the Bible, encouraging Peter to base his prayers on the Bible as a way to help increase his faith through prayer.

Luther identified with Peter’s struggles in prayer and shares with him a practical method he found helpful. He encouraged Peter to divide his prayers into “a garland of four strands” to help him pray through the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten commandments. For example, in praying through the Ten Commandments, Luther writes:

I divide each commandment into four parts, thereby fashioning a garland of four strands. That is, I think of each commandment as
• first, instruction, which is really what it is intended to be, and consider what the Lord God demands of me so earnestly.
• Second, I turn it into a thanksgiving;
• third, a confession; and
• fourth, a prayer.

Luther encouraged Peter to use this same method to deepen his faith, hope, and love by praying through the twelve affirmations of the Apostles’ Creed, the six petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments.

Calvin’s Theology of Faith, Hope, and Love

In 1535, when the fifty-two-year-old Luther wrote this letter to his barber in Germany, there was a young scholar in his twenties, living in Basel, Switzerland, named John Calvin, whose ministry was just beginning. His theology and life were being significantly shaped by Luther and Luther’s spiritual Father, Augustine.

Calvin’s heart was broken for the multitudes who didn’t know Christ, especially his “French countrymen” whom he saw as hungering and thirsting for Christ, but without even a “slight knowledge of him.” So he decides to follow the example of Augustine’s “handbook” and Luther’s letter to his barber, by writing his own brief summary of the essence of biblical Christianity in a way that could be easily understood. Calvin affectionately called it his “short” work and “little book.”

Following the historical Christian teaching and tradition modeled by Augustine, the catechisms of the middle ages, and Luther’s letters and catechisms, the nucleus of Calvin’s “little book” consists of three chapters that expound the meaning of: 1) the Apostles’ Creed, 2) the Lord’s Prayer, and 3) the Ten Commandments.

In response to the pressing issues of his day, Calvin subsequently added appendices that became three more chapters. In 1536, Calvin titled his “little book” The Institutes of the Christian Religion. During the next 23 years, in response to many more issues, he updated the book and published several new editions until it became four long books in its final edition in 1559.

Calvin’s Institutes became one of the most influential works in the history of Christianity. But Calvin never abandoned the original purpose of his “little book,” found in its subtitle as “the whole sum of godliness and whatever it is necessary to know about saving doctrine.” Instead, he saw his later editions as needed clarifications and applications of this “sum of godliness.”

During the years Calvin was writing and updating his Institutes, he was also writing and updating a catechism, called the Geneva Catechism, to help children also learn a brief and simple summary of the essence of biblical Christianity. Again, in the writing of his catechism, Calvin follows the examples of Augustine, Luther, the church in the middle ages, and his own Institutes, by structuring it around: 1) the Apostles’ Creed, 2) the Lord’s Prayer, and 3) the Ten Commandments.

Toward a Theology of Faith, Hope, and Love

In the first century, the Apostle Paul also summarizes the heart of biblical Christianity when he writes: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). So we seek a theology that encourages faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love for God and others. In Applied Theology we’re seeking to recapture for today the biblical, historical, and practical theology of faith, hope, and love, championed by the great theologians of the past.

Therefore, the goal of the Applied Theology series of books and courses is to help us develop our faith by renewing our minds in the biblical truths of the Apostle’s Creed, and our hope by renewing our affections as we pray the Lord’s Prayer. However, the ultimate goal of our faith and hope is to bring honor to the Triune God by our love for him and others as we obey his Ten Commandments.

A mind that is renewed by biblical faith and a heart that is aflame with biblical hope results in a life that honors God by loving him and others deeply and well.


We help underserved church leaders develop churches that transform lives and communities

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Your employer may also be able to double your gift.

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The young John Frame teaching at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia

Dr. John M. Frame has distinguished himself as a prolific author and one of America’s foremost theologians and philosophers—significantly shaping the thought of Evangelicalism today. Many of today’s most influential Christian leaders and authors, like Tim Keller and John Piper, readily acknowledge the significant impact John Frame has had on them.

“I should like to think that tomorrow’s Reformed leaders will add John Frame’s name to that list; I believe they should.” – J. I. Packer

Commenting on the continuation of protestant reformation theology since the time of Martin Luther and John Calvin, J. I. Packer writes in his foreword to Frame’s Systematic Theology:

“Three parts of the world have since made major contributions to the Reformed heritage, each engendering its own conflicts and loyalties:

  • England saw the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Puritan development, from William Perkins to John Owen, exploring life in Christ in and through the Holy Spirit;
  • nineteenth-century Holland produced the Kuyperian theology of human and Christian culture within a Reformed frame; 
  • and the twentieth-century witnessed, within the conservative Presbyterian world, the ongoing quest for Reformed methodological authenticity, in which B. B, Warfield, Geerhardus Vos, J. Gresham Machen, and Cornelius Van Til are, by common consent, the leading names.

I should like to think that tomorrow’s Reformed leaders will add John Frame’s name to that list; I believe they should.”

After 49 years of distinguished service as a seminary professor at three seminaries, Dr. John Frame retired in 2017. But his influential writing ministry continues today. Although widely known and deeply respected in church leadership and academic circles for decades, his works are now, finally, becoming well known to the general public.

Framing John Frame: 4 Parts

With the goal of helping introduce Frame and his writings more widely to the general public, Childers wrote this four-part series below called “Framing John Frame,” that was later published as the foreword for the book, John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume 1, by P&R Publishing. The goal of this series is to help more people begin mining the rich theological, philosophical, and practical gems that have for too long been mostly in the hands of academics and church leaders.


The Applied Theology Project

Since 2016, John Frame and Steve Childers have been collaboration on the Applied Theology Project. The mission of the Applied Theology Project is to provide accessible, affordable, seminary-level courses to underserved church leaders in their language and adapted to their culture wherever they live and serve.

The vision for the Applied Theology Project is to use the latest advances in educational technology to help bring all the loci of Systematic Theology to the millions of church leaders, especially in the developing world, who have no access or cannot afford high quality traditional seminary education. – John Frame

Childers and Frame have written 9 book manuscripts so far and published their first four online courses called Foundations of Theology, Essentials in Theology, Perspectives in Theology, and Applications in Theology – on the Pathway Learning online library of courses. Books and courses on Justification in Theology, Gospel in Theology, Theology of Faith: Apostles’ Creed, Theology of Hope: Lord’s Prayer, and Theology of Love: Ten Commandments coming soon.


We help under-served church leaders
develop churches that transform lives and communities.

Why Look Forward to Your Resurrection

On Easter we’re reminded of the good news of God’s love for us displayed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Drs. John Frame and Steve Childers help us better understand our resurrection from the dead and life in the new world to come in this brief excerpt from their upcoming book and course, “Theology of Faith.”


Applied Theology Project Series

Theology of Faith: Biblical Exposition of Apostles’ Creed

By John Frame and Steve Childers

Christians believe that there is a new world coming when Jesus returns,[1] in the power of his Holy Spirit, to restore fallen humanity and creation by establishing God’s kingdom on earth forever.

The resurrection of the dead
The concluding affirmation of the Apostles’ Creed is, “[I believe in] the resurrection of the body.” The Nicene Creed added these words to strengthen it: ”We look forward to the resurrection of the dead.” On that final day, Christ, by his Spirit, will resurrect from the dead every person who has ever lived – beginning with all those who have believed in him.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (1 Thess. 4:16)[2]

All believers will be raised from the dead, except for those alive at his return, and restored to God’s original purpose by reuniting their glorified souls, that were in heaven, with their glorified bodies, that were in the earth. Paul writes,

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Cor. 15:51-53)

What will happen to believers who are still alive at Jesus’ return? Paul tells us, “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17).[3]

When Jesus returns, all believers who are dead will be raised and given glorified bodies, and all believers who are alive will also be given glorified bodies. Then all of them will be miraculously and spectacularly joined with Christ forever.[4]

The life everlasting in the world to come
When Jesus returns, he will not only restore fallen and corrupt humanity, in body and soul, to the Father’s original design for their flourishing. He will also restore fallen and corrupt creation. Paul writes, “The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).

Jesus describes this coming restored creation, over which he will rule, the “new world” (Matt. 19:28). The Greek term for “new world,” palingenesia (παλινγενεσίᾳ), means regeneration and rebirth. Paul uses this same Greek word to describe the Holy Spirit’s regeneration and rebirth of all believers at their conversion. (Titus 3:5) Just as all believers experience regeneration and rebirth by the power of God’s Spirit, so will all creation experience regeneration and rebirth at Christ’s return.

This regeneration of our fallen world will include a purging and cleansing of all forms of evil and corruption. On that final day, when Jesus sends his angels to separate all the righteous and the wicked, he teaches that they will gather out of his kingdom “all causes of sin” and all law-breakers. (Matt. 13:41) The Greek term for “causes of sin” is scandala (Σκάνδαλα), meaning “stumbling blocks.” Not only will God’s Spirit purge the world of “all lawbreakers,” but he will also purge the world of all the stumbling blocks to believers that the disobedient have created.[5]

When Jesus returns, the kingdom paradise that the Father prepared for his children before his creation, the kingdom that was thwarted by Satan and sin in the garden, and the kingdom that the Son inaugurated on earth by his death and resurrection, will finally come to earth in all its fullness forever. John describes it like this:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,[6] and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new. (Rev. 21:1-5)[7]

Paul describes the blessedness of this eternal “world to come” as the believer’s “inheritance” that God guarantees will one day be ours by giving us his Holy Spirit when we believe. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:13-14).

Martin Luther beautifully summarizes the meaning of our belief in God the Spirit as Restorer in these five statements:

  • I believe that I cannot by my own understanding or effort believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and kept me in true faith.
  • In the same way he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it united with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
  • In this Christian church day after day he fully forgives my sins and the sins of all believers.
  • On the last day he will raise me and all the dead and give me and all believers in Christ eternal life.
  • This is most certainly true.[8]

[1] The Scriptures teach that there will be certain “signs of the times” preceding the return of Christ and the end of the age. Theologian Anthony Hoekema gives us a helpful description of these signs as being grouped in three categories: 1) Signs of God’s grace, e.g. the proclamation of the gospel to all nations and the salvation of the fullness of Israel (Rom. 11), 2) Signs of opposition, e.g. the tribulation, apostasy, and the Antichrist, and 3) Signs of God’s judgment, e.g. wars, earthquakes, and famines. Although some of these signs will be dramatic in nature, Jesus warns us not to see them as only spectacular and catastrophic events. (Luke 17:20-21) Jesus also warns us not to use these signs as a way of trying to determine the time of his return. (Mark 13:32; Matt. 24:36) He told his disciples that he didn’t know the time, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matt. 24:36). Since the Bible does not give us an exact sequence and order of these signs, we must not try to create a detailed, specific timetable of future events as some Christian traditions have done (Dispensationalism). But Christians should learn how to “see the signs” when they appear and think about how they could be signs of Jesus’ imminent return. Hoekema give us several practical examples of how God means for these signs to help us grow spiritually by thinking more about the return of Jesus. See Hoekema, A. A. (1994). The Bible and the Future, Eerdmans, chapters 11-12.

[2] Paul writes, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, (have died) that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13). Paul does not want his readers to lose hope about their future with the Lord, simply because other believers have died. Some Thessalonians seem to have believed that Christians would not die before Jesus returned. Paul is reassuring them that those who have died in Christ will be raised from the dead and united with all believers who are living when Jesus returns.

[3] It’s a mistake to interpret this passage as giving us any more specific details about this event and what follows. Paul is not teaching that Jesus will miraculously scoop up all his followers to snatch (rapture) them out of this corrupt world before his final judgment on all who are “left behind.” When he writes, “and so we will always be with the Lord,” he’s not teaching that all the believers who are caught up with the Lord and each other “in the clouds” will be staying up in the clouds forever. Instead, Rev. 21:1-3 shows us the opposite, that heaven (holy city, new Jerusalem) will come down to earth in all its fullness.

[4] The terms that Paul uses in 1Thessalonians 4 for Jesus’ “coming” (parousia, Παρουσίαν in verse 15) and our “meeting” (ἀπάντησιν in verse 17), reflect the political rhetoric of the Roman Empire used to describe military or political dignitaries making official visits. Paul’s words imply that believers will meet the Lord “in the air,” not as an act of departing from fallen creation, but as a majestic act of welcoming their victorious, conquering Lord and King back to the world he created. Paul’s emphasis is on the majestic, final union when Christ’s purified bride is fully united to the groom forever. Apparently, when that final union first takes place, it will not be on the surface of the earth, but above it “in the clouds.”

[5] The Apostle Peter describes the coming day of the Lord as a time when “the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (2 Pet. 3:10) The Greek word heurethēsetai (εὑρεθήσεται), translated “exposed,” is used in the earliest Greek manuscripts and can be translated “found, revealed, and discovered,” possibly conveying the exposure and revelation of the righteous and unrighteous works that have been done on the earth. Peter is teaching that God’s final judgment of the whole earth with fire, will be like God’s earlier judgment of the whole earth with water during the times of Noah (2 Pet. 3:5-7). During the flood, the earth was not completely annihilated but purged of all its wickedness. So, when Peter writes that “we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13), he’s not referring to a totally new earth that is completely different than the present one. Instead, he’s referring to a gloriously renewed and restored earth that remains in continuity with the present one – but is completely without any form of corruption. In the same way that God will make us recreated bodies from our dust, God will also make a new, recreated world after being “burned up” and “dissolved”. The world will be a new creation, but not a totally new creation. We’ll still recognize the earth and the world as we know it, but it will be fully redeemed, restored, and glorified to flourish according to God’s design – just like our new bodies.

[6] Heaven and earth will no longer be separated with God “up in heaven,” where his will is done perfectly, and man “down on earth” where God’s revealed will is not done perfectly. When Jesus returns, the “first heaven and the first earth will pass away.” In 1 Peter 3:5-13, the Apostle Peter describes the “passing away” of the “old world” and its transformation into the “new world.” When Jesus returns, heaven will come “back down” to earth like it was in creation before the Fall, when God’s presence was with his people (Immanuel) on earth. But it will be far better than Eden.

[7] The Greek word John and Peter use to designate the “newness” of the new earth is not neos (νέος), meaning new in time or origin, but kainos (καινὸς) meaning new in nature or in quality. Similarly, when Paul says in Romans 8:20-21 that creation waits with eager longing to be set free from its bondage, he’s referring to how the present corrupt creation will be delivered from all its corruption when Christ returns to make all things new – not become a totally different creation.

[8] Martin Luther’s Small Catechism: The Creed, The Third Article.


Reference: Applied Theology SeriesA Theology of Faith, Hope, and Love: Exposition of Faith in the Apostles’ Creed, Chapter 5, “God the Spirit as Restorer”  by John M. Frame and Steven L. Childers


About the Applied Theology Project

The mission of the Applied Theology Project to provide accessible, affordable, seminary-level courses to underserved church leaders in their language and adapted to their culture wherever they live and serve. This series of courses and books is designed to help you understand all the major doctrines of the Christian faith and learn how to apply them to your life and ministry in practical ways.


We help underserved church leaders develop churches that transform lives and communities

WAYS TO GIVE

Online
Give using your credit card or bank draft through our secure online form

Phone
Call us at 407-682-6942

Mail
Send a check:
Pathway Learning, P.O. Box 2062
Winter Park, FL 32790

Matching Gift
Your employer may also be able to double your gift.

Give a Gift of Stock
You may give securities either by transfer of the certificate of ownership or through account transfer arranged by your broker. In each case, you avoid the tax on any potential gain and receive a deduction for the full fair market value of securities. To give a gift of stock, email us at staff@pathwaylearning.org, call us at 407-682-6942, or write us at P.O. Box 2062, Winter Park, FL 32790.