These are not three sisters, but three very vital Biblical concepts.
GRACE: God’s marvelous gift of a measure of grace (I Corinth. 1:4) actually comes down to the simple truth of our God-given freedom to choose for ourselves whether or not to serve God or to thumb our noses at Him. God’s grace built and maintains the living existence of our fleshly house, but He parked His control at the door because He allows US to LIVE in it. He leaves it to us to bless Him for the privilege, or curse the landlord if we think we can get by with it.
FAITH: The essence of faith is simply the free choice to believe the truth of God’s Word and promises, or to doubt them or reject them altogether. He made it starkly clear that “All things are possible to him that believeth,” (Mark 9:23) and that He is ready to give us “Days as of Heaven upon the earth” (Deut. 11:21), but He made it just as clear that the recipients have to be only those who believe Him (exercise faith) for it.
HOPE: Hope exists where something good is yet unrealized. It is born of faith, made possible by grace. GRACE is essentially God’s created image in us to think and decide for ourselves. FAITH is the belief for the receipt of God’s provisions, and HOPE is our patient waiting for the product of God’s grace and our faith. Grace is our endowment of free will, Faith is the activity of free will, and hope is the free will in waiting.
When we subject these three subjects to careful, merciless scrutiny until we arrive at their bare essence as they relate to our humanity, we finally arrive at the simple, obvious, self-known reality of our God-given attribute of free will. That part of us is a vital, essential, core quality of who all humans are. It is there by God’s gift of grace upon His decision to make man in His very own image of freedom. So long as God is free, we are also free. In fact, if we ever in this physical world cease having that core attribute, the entire human race will suddenly die in a pile! We can live with one leg or one arm, or even without good sense, but freedom to choose is a piece of our being just as much as our soul or spirit. Without God’s image within of free will we are all corpses—instantly!
It follows, then, that if we get the notion that once we use that freedom to accept God’s gracious gift of salvation but that we then lose the will to reject it, we have foolishly mocked the reality of God’s gift of freedom that makes us who we all are. It also follows that a natural by-product of such an erroneous concept is the “God is in control” misapplication that flourishes in Christendom today. Yes, God is in control of His natural laws, including the maintenance of His image in us, but He has made it starkly clear that He has put ourselves in control of our own freedom to choose. We truly reap what we sow. When we as a nation elect a madman to rule us, we turn God’s stomach when we justify it with, “Well, God is in control, so I guess this is God’s will.” Such a doctrine moves God even closer to letting us have our madman.
Without free will as an essential part of who we are all our natural lives, there is no such thing as “Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord…”(Isaiah 1:18), since all He would have to do is press a few buttons and we would automatically obey His own choice of whether we were to be a Paul or a Hitler. If God predicated our fate upon His own fore-ordained will, there would have been no reason for a Savior, since He declared openly in His Word that, “God is not willing that any should perish” (II Peter 3:9).
But the very essence of our God-installed freedom of will is our ability to choose for ourselves APART from God’s own will, and so freely suffer the consequences. It is the same whether our will is individually, corporately, a family, a church, a city, a nation, or a world of people. If this were not true, God would have had no inspiration to urge the Apostle John to even write the Book of Revelation, which describes the consequences.