You need it to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)
Without it the gospel will not profit you. (Hebrews 4:2)
If you don’t encourage it daily, it will atrophy. (Hebrews 3:13)
Yet you can’t fake it or make it up--as the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Matters of faith are extremely important. Faith is intentional and focused. Faith is neither blind nor purely emotional but a work of the Spirit that fuels righteousness.
The book of Hebrews was written to a brave and desperate people. Jewish believers had reneged on their centuries-old customs and religious traditions to put their faith in Christ. No more mandatory temple visits. No more animal sacrifices. They were ostracized and persecuted by traditional Jews and misunderstood by Gentiles. They were few in number. They were desperate. They needed to know if their faith in Jesus Christ was secure. Was he really Messiah? Had they truly secured the destiny of their souls? The anonymous Spirit-lead writer of the book of Hebrews wrote to give them confidence and peace.
People often say that God works in mysterious ways—but according to Hebrews Chapter 1, there is no mystery about Jesus Christ’s identity:
· He is God’s son
· Heir of all things
· Creator of the world
· Radiance of God the Father’s glory
· Exact representation of God the Father
· Upholder of all things by the power of His word
· Purifier of sins
· Better than angels
The same chapter tells readers who Jesus is not:
· He is not an angel
· He is not merely a good man
· He is not a fraud
As the true Mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament law which was strategically designed to point to his perfection and away from weak attempts at earned righteousness. The law was only a shadow of things to come. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins! (Hebrews 10:4)
Sin however, is a real problem for flesh that's under the curse of death. (Do you ever think of death as a curse? Like there was a time before the curse? And if only there was a redeemer to offer true love's kiss, or the shoe that fits...the curse could somehow be lifted?)
God breathed into us the breath of life and one day he will take it back. It's his after all. A lifetime of organic meals, healthy relationships and positive thinking isn’t enough to change the fact that the wages of sin is death. But the Heir of All Things, Jesus, does the unthinkable for the timid first Christians of old and the timid Christians of today—He becomes like us: flesh and blood.
He endures the cross--and sin's wretched mantle of abuse, perversion, rage, addiction, hatred, denial, indifference, greed, lust and everything ugly rendering our mortal enemy, Satan, who has the power of death, powerless, (2:14). Jesus calls those who he frees from slavery, “brethren” and “little children,”(2:14). Despite our failures he is not ashamed of us (2:11) and promises that as a merciful and faithful high priest he has completely made propitiation for the sins of the people (2:17). No one is more worthy of your faith, than Him. Because in at least one way, he is not like us. Jesus Christ is God.
The gospel (the good news that our redeemer has come to lift the curse) must be united with faith to equal profit. People put "faith" in all matter of things that are unfaithful and suffer. It is not faith itself that makes something worthy—it is the object of faith that intrinsically possesses or lacks value. Determining the value of the object of faith is of paramount importance because it will shape beliefs, ideas and even imagination. And for better or worse, there will be consequences. It’s precisely why those early Jewish believers were concerned and it’s why the book of Hebrews was written.
Saving faith initiates a spiritual transaction that shows up loud and clear in our lives.
The righteous in Christ need not "shrink back" as Hebrews 10:38 warns, but live out loud--by faith in the assurance and conviction that Christ will indeed preserve our souls. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (11:1).
Chapter 11 lists nineteen “By Faith” statements to illustrate what faith accomplishes in the world, after it has been unleashed in the heart of believer.
· By faith we accept God spoke creation into existence
· By faith Abel offered
· By faith Enoch was taken up and didn’t see death
· By faith Noah prepared
· By faith Abraham obeyed and lived as an alien in the place God sent him
· By faith Sarah received
· By faith Abraham offered up Isaac
· By faith Isaac and his son Jacob blessed their sons
· By faith Joseph made mention of the exodus
· By faith Moses was hidden
· By faith Moses refused to be called the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.
· By faith Moses left Egypt and kept the Passover
· By faith the Israelites passed through the Red Sea
· By faith the walls of Jericho fell
· By faith Rahab the harlot, survived
By faith, kingdoms were conquered, acts of righteousness were performed, promises were obtained and the mouths of lions were shut. By faith others were tortured, experienced mocking and scourging or left imprisoned in chains. By faith, some received back their life while others were sawed in two, (11:33-39).
Faith in Christ will save your life and cost your life, but the reward of knowing the One who upholds the world by the power of his word is greater than all the treasure in the universe. Indeed all our wealth and knowledge and progress is but a bauble in the hand of the Almighty! So let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance to the finish line.
Faith in Christ is an anchor in the uncertainty of life's storms, a pair of wings to rise above them and when necessary, a multi-layer structural suit of Kevlar to tear directly through them, "therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need," (4:16).
"Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles and run with endurance the race set before you. "