Hebrews 12:2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Oh for faith to trust Him more. I have read Hebrews 11:1 in just about every translation humanly written. Trying to extract just a little more from this nugget of pure gold that I find so daring and interesting. The Amplified Bible says, “Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” A lovely woman who is a mother and grandmother visited our church with her daughter recently. Her daughter has experienced a life changing encounter with Christ. Chains of addiction fell off instantly, fear and anxiety replaced with peace and joy, her heart and mind infiltrated with the Holy Spirit and bubbling over. She cannot hide the Light of His Love turned on within her. Speaking with the two after service, her daughter sharing the wonderful thing that the Lord is continuing to do in her and through her. It is truly amazing – no doubt a miracle. Her mother interjects, “I want that kind of faith.” She continued to explain. She is no stranger to church and religion. However, she has never been set on fire deep within her soul. She lacks passion, but wants it very much. As she paused, I told her you already have it.
You were born with eternity in your heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) So was I… The inner longing for more. The constant survey and analysis of creation is not experienced by any other creature but humanity. The yearning for truth when it comes to our life in longevity. The drive and desire to find purpose and fulfill it. Friend, that is all spurned from the eternity that God the Father placed in your heart as He created you in your mother’s womb… on purpose. (Psalm 139) Dissatisfaction is only the result of a lack of completion. It is not fatal but fuels us to dig deeper and search for more. Are you with me so far?
Not only did God knit eternity in your heart, like a mother sewing her name and address in her child’s jacket, but He also gave you a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) He apportions it to everyone. However, it is up to you and me how to use it. Freedom is a wonderful thing. It also a very weighty responsibility. Our flesh wants to put “faith” in what we can see, reason out, and/or feel. But that is not faith at all. Faith is assurance not reliant on that which is experienced with physical senses. I am so thankful that God had the foreknowledge in our creation to give us faith. It would be vital in reversing the curse put on us by sin.
Why Jesus? I am preparing to do a wedding for a friend. She believes in God. Her fiancé and his family are of the Catholic faith. The bride’s family thinks Jesus is a good person but have on faith in Him. I have been asked not to mention Jesus in their wedding service. Now before I start getting advice, I went to the Lord on this one. Every relationship in my life is my ministry to be the Light of His Love and carry out the mission of evangelism. This challenged me on many levels because my life is in Christ alone. I have zero access to the Father except through Jesus. Do you believe in Jesus today? Have you fully invested your faith in His Existence, Sacrifice and Resurrection Power? If not, why not?
Hebrews 11:39-40 (ESV) And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
The Great Hall of Faith found in Hebrews 11 following our faith definition ends with this statement. God had a plan that would not allow fulfillment to these men and women of faith. What was missing? The Messiah. Jesus. The Word had not yet come in the flesh to atone for the sins of mankind. These folks were in waiting. Are you in waiting today? Have you called out to Jesus? God is not enough. Our sin precludes us from the promise and fulfillment. Without the Grace of God offered through the Blood of Jesus, there is no restoration of our relationship with God so we are bystanders who have misplaced our faith and will not receive that which is hoped for.
The problem is the Bible or Word of God is our death sentence without grace. (Galatians 3:22 & 26) The Word of God is alive again by the Resurrection Power that brought Jesus Christ from death to life. It is in the moment I exchange my sin to accept the Keys to the Kingdom by faith that everything changes. Jesus is the Word of God. It all seems rather confusing but I am trying to help you dig up the seeds of faith misplaced by false doctrine and unsound teaching so you will live in absolute and total freedom that is impossible apart from Jesus Christ. He is the Life Giver. He is the Soul Restorer. He is the Promise Deliverer. But Jesus is more than a name and His Word more than red letters in the Bible.
Before Jesus went to the Cross – He was constantly pointing the people to have faith in God. (Mark 11:22) In John 14:1, the potential of the Cross becoming clear and Jesus tells them, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” Faith was about to come alive. In John 14:6, Jesus tells them that He is the Way (to God), the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Friends, we need Jesus. He is a non-negotiable factor in our fulfillment. To take hold of hope begins with Jesus and ends in Him as well. I cannot access the Father or the Kingdom without fully investing my faith in Christ. I know the crucifixion is violent. To see a man tortured and killed most unpleasant. I realize the Blood is messy. It is all necessary to experience God and a new life with faith fulfilled and hope accomplished.
Why Jesus? Jesus changes everything. Without Him, it is impossible to please God because faith pleases Him. Not just any faith, but taking the faith entrusted to us in creation and depositing it all in Jesus Christ.
I Timothy 1:12-17 (ESV) I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
The words of Paul grip my heart today. “Formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor and insolent opponent…” He is talking about Jesus. “But I received mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.” He was a Jew. A religious man who was fully invested in the church (aka synagogue). He was a Pharisee – well versed and studied to be approved. Yet, when the Messiah came, he didn’t recognize Him. He acted ignorantly in unbelief. Before you skip this thinking it does not apply to you, it is important to examine your heart today like I am doing with you. Jesus must be the focus of our faith…always. His Presence must be the driving force of our pursuit. His Spirit must be welcomed within us. We have a long list of demands of God some humble and noble while others selfish in nature. However, the baseline and foundation of faith that experiences fulfillment begins and ends in Jesus Christ. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. It is important to “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” This is the exhibition of faith in our life that fans the flame of passion within us to push through, keep going and cling to hope completely. To finish the race of faith requires running the right race. The only way to be an active participant in the Kingdom of God is to first be granted access through Jesus Christ. This is how revival happens. Not with perfect performances or overwhelming emotions – it is Jesus. Faith in Jesus that cannot be contained and overflows in the Body. Why Jesus? It’s all about Jesus.