By Not Known
Faith works! That’s a simple statement to make after walking through the ‘portrait gallery’ of faithful men and women in the era before Jesus (Heb 11). Christians have long discussed the relationship between faith and works.
Technically, it’s a discussion about justification and sanctification. The modern discussion has been running for over 30 years and is associated with a view called the ‘new perspective’ on Paul. However, whether it’s new or old perspective, Luther, Calvin, Paul or James – one point is clear. Faith is far far more than mental assent to propositions about God or the Cross of Christ. Faith is a life-changing certainty of what we do not see and is essential to our pleasing of God (Heb 11:1,6).
Look again at Hebrews 11. These women and men did remarkable and risky things because of faith. Abel sacrificed his best for God, Abraham left home and family then became a father, Moses’ mother hid him from infanticide, Rahab changed sides and sheltered enemy spies … and so on and so on.
There’s a deeply personal challenge for all of us here. What risky deeds have we done simply because of our Christian faith? What big life-changes can we point to? We say we have faith, but where are the faith-works?
Note something else. The faith that works is not faith in faith (positive thinking) nor faith in ourselves (egotism). It is faith in God. Faith can be compared to an electrical lead. The lead must be intact, but what matters is the power source to which it is connected. God in Christ is the object of Christian faith.
Our faith is in the same God as the heroes of Hebrews 11. As the writer points out, they did not see the things that they trusted God for (eg Heb 11:1,13-16, 39-40). However, they did trust God. The faith that moves people is a faith that trusts the faithfulness of God. This is key and it is amplified for us after and in Jesus. In Jesus we see the character of God in a personalised and human form (Jn 1:14; Col 2:9). Thus we are called to be faithful in Christ Jesus (Eph 1:1) and it is faith in the gospel concerning him that brings salvation (Eph 1:13).
There’s another personal challenge here: to what extent is my faith focussed on Jesus rather than elsewhere?
Finally, it’s humbling to read Hebrews 11. These people did so much by faith, yet caught only glimpses of God’s nature. How much more do we see of God in Christ Jesus? How much more should we be moved by faith? How much greater should our faith-works be?