JohnSWilson3 Blog

“By faith…”
January 17, 2012, 11:51 am
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

As I read Chapter 11 of Hebrews time and again “by faith” is obviously the key word and makes this chapter one of the key chapters of the New Testament if not the entire Bible. I think though too often many take this as a chapter of just an historical account alone, i.e. in the “old days” God’s people lived by faith and so today we are to do the same. While I see that as well, what if God has something more to open up to us about this chapter? What if we saw it more in light of the previous chapter and the following chapter, what if we saw it in light of the letter itself and even the eternal purpose of God from before eternity? As I write that last sentence the obvious thought that came to mind is that this is how we should read and look at anything written in our Bible. I have been trying and learning to do this in these blogs, chronologically going through scripture to see Christ and learning to live by Him together with my brothers and sisters. I too can get myopic as I write about certain parts of the writings.

As we read any of the letters in the New Testament, just like the Pharisees before us, we can too often focus on the outward things. In the letter of Hebrews we can look at the outward things the author says in helping the ekklesia stay true to living by Christ. But this is looking at the cart before the horse. This is looking at it from a soul perspective, doing this versus doing that, which tends to cause me to do exactly the opposite of what the author was intending, actually moving me into a form of legalism instead of forward in Christ. The heart is pretty deceptive, even more so when we really are not living a shared life in Christ with brothers and sisters.

If you have been slandered, have been the one gossiped against, whose integrity has been maligned based on hearsay and not truth that does something inside you, in your spirit to your soul. Will I by faith love? Paul told the Galatian ekklesias, who were in danger of falling back into legalism, that “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Paul told the Roman ekklesia that “everything that does not come from faith is sin,” it misses the mark of God’s eternal purpose, the increase of the expression of the Son in His body, full of love, grace, and truth.

I am realizing more and more now that love really is the expression of faith, not just words in the Bible. Loving others sacrificially, no matter the circumstance, is expressing faith. In our gatherings while we speak about the things of Christ, He is this and He is that, what about living by faith in love for one another? My guess is that the things about Christ, the things of Christ are the elementary things that the author mentioned in Chapter 6, whether it is from the Old or New Testament writings, or even the analogies of Him we see in the world around us. They teach us about Christ. The concern is that if this is all our gatherings become, our focus being only about Christ, then it is only about knowledge, which puffs up. But when we hear Him, who lives in us, and by faith love others in word or deed a new door opens, a new reality occurs, in learning to live by His life. At least this is something that is becoming more and more real to me today.

Perhaps this is a kind of cycle in organic church life, perhaps as we are learning to live a shared life, especially when we have a season of growth in new believers or receiving those from institutional church in our gatherings we help others put on their “training wheels,” to express Him, seeing Him as our everything in the scriptures and in the analogies, learning to participate together. Perhaps this is what those with an apostolic function did first, helping each member see their freedom in Christ to participate. These are the elementary steps of faith, learning to participate together in freedom and love for one another. Then the things of life happen and the “training wheels” are taken off, difficult circumstances occur, and we are called to live by faith in love for others. It becomes a part of our experience, obtaining a witness, which God commends. As I look at scripture this seems to be the theme of the life of Christ in the ekklesia. In this trying situation the author of Hebrews takes a positive position: “We are of faith!”

Then the author immediate says “now faith is the reality of things being hoped for, the proof of things not being seen.” (1) Notice the words used by the author. If you are in Christ, isn’t this what you have experienced as well? This is something that is other than this world, spiritual. Living by faith seems to bring one closer to the reality of our life in Christ. This new door, if you will, of seeing life from His perspective, actually moving beyond the things about Christ, brings us into living by His Spirit, which is reality. The author said at the beginning of his letter, Christ is the reality of God. To live by the Spirit is to live in reality, totally other than this world. This is what is commended in Chapter 11 of Hebrews. This is how we live together, by faith in love for one another by His life, seeing life from His perspective.

Each of these men and women that are mentioned in Chapter 11 lived by faith. If you read the specific accounts in the Old Testament you can see that this life of faith was mostly progressive, it was learned. These “older persons” learned to ride their bikes using the “training wheels” they were given and when the difficult things of life happened they decided to trust God and love. Each story gives us a glimpse of how they lived by faith and loved and interestingly enough each is a wonderful picture of the different types and shadows of Christ in the Old Testament. In each story the author doesn’t argue about the details of interpreting the stories, only how in certain events each lived by faith expressing itself through love. Each had an incredible vision of the purpose of God, of the love of God. Each had the spiritual sight that God was far more worthy of their devotion than the things of this world. To live by faith is the only thing that counts, it is the only thing that is “well pleasing” to God. And what is amazing is that while we have all of the promises of God now revealed in Christ, these Old Testament brothers and sisters only saw them from a distance but still lived by faith!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

(1) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 657.


2 Comments so far
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Absolutely real John.. the life of the Spirit, our union in Christ. Love every word you wrote here my brother..You have spoken my heart and many others.. Thank you once again for sharing your insightful seeing our life in Christ.. and Christ in us!

Comment by Joseph Black

Hi Joseph, thanks so much, been mulling this one over with the Lord for a bit. Amen.

Comment by John Wilson

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