Friday, July 01, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 38

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

The Substance that is Faith

The Writer ends chapter 10 with these words "But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:39, NASB 95)" And it is this closing thought in chapter 10 that we must see as the reason why the well read chapter 11 treatise on faith exists. But how often, have you actually seen this flow put together?

But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. (Hebrews 10:39-11:2)

Who can read these thoughts and not sense that the faith we bandy about in modern western civilization is watered down. We do not expect much from our faith. We tend to mark the day of our salvation by when we prayed a simple "prayer of faith." The Writer of Hebrews marks salvation by having a faith that:

  • Will not shrink back when the Christian life has a cost.
  • Will preserve the soul.
  • Provides assurance of salvation.
  • Is proof within the heart that God exists and that He loves us.
  • Will be the driving force behind actions that gain God's approval

This is a much richer and fuller view of faith and is consistent with Paul's view:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Our salvation does not come by works, but by faith. And the Writer of Hebrews says the same, "we have faith to the preserving of our souls." But Paul and the Writer of Hebrews have works that flow from faith--and this is vitally important.

It is so important that a significant percentage of Hebrews is devoted to examples of faith in the lives of the "men of old." Faith in God has always the basis by which we have gained God's approval. Even in the Old Covenant times and before, this has been the way of things. The key distinctive of the New Covenant is not salvation by faith, but free and open access to the Father in heaven.

And so we will begin to look at these faithful lives with the hope that through them and the Holy Spirit, abundant faith will arise in our hearts and we will become strong and able disciples of our Lord.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.

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