Hebrews 11:17-40, Luke 13:34-35, James 1:2-4
The Basketball Hall of Fame is on my bucket list of places to see. All those great players, all those great teams; it’s a glorious place for a basketball fan to visit. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would be pretty cool to see too. Out of the great many singers and bands who have risen up the charts, only a select few make into the Hall. But enough Hall of Fame talk, because Hebrews 11 isn’t really a Hall of Fame or a Hall of Faith, despite it sometimes being described that way. Let’s put a cease-and-desist order on that.
Halls of Fame are meant to separate the greats from the not-greats, the famous from the ordinary. No one visits the Basketball Hall of Fame and walks away thinking he can imitate Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, or Yao Ming’s 7’6” height, or Michael Jordan’s gravity-defying dunks. You leave a Hall of Fame in awe of their greatness, not hoping to imitate what you see. But that’s not the point the writer of Hebrews is making.
Hebrews 11 exists for your imitation. God didn’t give us this section of the Bible for us to think, Look at these great followers of God. Too bad I’ll never be like them. The barrage of “by faiths” in the chapter are meant to weave us together with these Bible characters, joining us with them in the unfolding story of God’s glory. Like these saints of old, we, too, can walk by faith. God did great things through them, and He can do great things through us too.
In other words, Hebrews 11 doesn’t exist to museumify those who came before us. It is there to motivate and encourage us to believe that if these folks could live by faith, so can we. We know the crucified and risen Christ too. We’ve been joined to Him by faith, and we can walk through our temptations, sufferings, and joys, looking to Him. So go ahead and plant that church, start that Bible study at your office, invite your Muslim coworker over for dinner. Do it all by faith, trusting God to lead you and help you each step of the way.
Our biblical ancestors show us that by faith we, too, can endure and walk with God. We can look to the crucified and risen Lord Jesus and endure with Him till the end. There’s a great cloud of witnesses, testifying that faith is what we need to follow Jesus. So whatever lies ahead of you today or tomorrow, go by faith in the gospel of grace.
Written by Jeff Medders