Monday, October 19, 2020

The Walk of Faith

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter 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" (Hebrews 12:2).

Last Friday we saw that faith means trusting God for the future and obeying Him in the present. In Hebrews 12, the author applies the examples he has recounted in the preceding chapter. We also must trust God, even in the midst of persecution and hardship. We can trust Him because throughout history, He has always been faithful. He has always brought to pass the future He promised, and when we see this we have more confidence than ever that we can trust Him for our future as well.

Jesus is the greatest example. God promised Him the kingdom, and so “for the joy set before Him,” Jesus was willing to endure the cross. God gave Jesus the reward He had promised, and Jesus “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” as the eternal Melchizedek. When we look at Him, we are encouraged to remain faithful and obedient in the present (Hebrews 12:1–3).

The author of Hebrews goes on to tell us that we can expect hardship in the Christian life. If we don’t undergo discipline, it proves that we are not children of God, because God chastises His children in order to make them grow in righteousness. Discipline is always unpleasant, but God’s goal is to work into our hearts “a harvest of righteousness and peace” (Hebrews 12:4–11). Thus, in the midst of present pain, we must maintain faith in the future reward of maturity and holiness.

The alternative to perseverance is to allow a root of bitterness to grow in our hearts. Instead of enduring discipline with an attitude of faith and trust, we become angry at God. When we are angry at God, we decide that we have a right to sin, and so we may fall into sexual immorality and other forms of godless behavior (Hebrews 12:15–16).

Those who don’t persevere in faith and fall away from the kingdom will experience the wrath of God. As he said back in chapter 2:1–4, so he says here in chapter 12:18–29, that the new covenant is more glorious than the old, and therefore it is more serious than ever if men reject it. At Mount Sinai the earth quaked, and those who rebelled were slain; but in the new covenant, both heaven and earth are being shaken, and those who rebel will face the God who is a “consuming fire.”

Hebrews 12 has strong warnings but ends on an encouraging note. We are receiving the kingdom and should practice the acts of worship and thankfulness. Giving thanks to God keeps our minds and hearts from bitterness and keys us into the life of faith. How should you apply this truth to your own situation?