“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
This year, Protestants around the world celebrated the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation. Many of you may have read posts on social media quoting the five Solas that well summarize the work of Christ to redeems us. One of the five Solas is ‘Sola Fide’, in faith alone. It’s only by ‘faith alone’ (the object of our faith is Jesus Christ) that we are saved. Martin Luther, the great theologian from the Reformation era, proclaimed we are “justified by faith alone”. This doctrine is what sets the protestants message of faith apart from the rest of the religions of the world.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
Hebrews chapter 11 has been called the ‘Hall’ or the ‘Champions’ of faith. Many Old Testament key figures are listed in this great chapter. The writer of Hebrews gives the members of this “Champions of Faith” only one criterion for recognition. They all acted in faith towards God, which fueled their perseverance under extraordinary situations, trials, and tribulations. None of these were called out for their family relation, good works or for living a sinless life. The sole criteria for making it into this group was faith. We should all be grateful that it wasn’t by earning faith by works or by living a sinless life. God took imperfect men and women and transformed them by the faith. God would make provision for the savior to come in due time. Similarly, believers today have faith in Jesus Christ, who lived on this earth two thousand years ago. Neither the champions of faith of Hebrews 11 or believers today actually saw the incarnate Messiah, but by faith believed the promise of God. The primary purpose of this chapter is to encourage Jewish believers to endure under persecution and uses the examples of men and women in the Old Testament as examples of God’s people enduring by faith. Another name that could have been given to this chapter is “Faith that Endures”.
The Bridge between the Old and the New
Hebrews chapter 11 does an excellent job bridging the Old and New Testament . I’m not saying Old and New Covenant because some of these mentioned lived before the Old Covenant and are counted among the righteous by faith. These “Cloud of Witnesses” (Heb. 12:1), are just as much a part of God’s kingdom as the church. Their faith was in the coming Messiah, with salvation coming through Christ. So enduring faith is the bridge between the two. This should be of great encouragement to us that God used fallible and imperfect people to accomplish His purpose. This should give us confidence needed to run the race set before us (Heb. 12:1).
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:7-8