Hebrews 12:1-2 (NRSV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
The verses from Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds each of us that in when we are interpreting the Scripture we need to base some of our interpretation off the people who have went before us. We should not reinvent the wheel so to speak in interpreting the Scriptures. In interpreting Scripture we all need to know what the methods that others before us were and know the pros and cons of each of these methods. In having this knowledge we as interpreters (everyone of us is an interpreter, whether you know it or not) will be able to pick and choose the best method or methods of interpretation for our interpretation of the Scriptures.
However, this is not to say that the Holy Spirit does not have a huge part in our ability to be able to interpret the Scriptures. Without the Holy Spirit we would have very little, if any, ability to properly interpret the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV) states “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Secondly, this verse reminds us that we can use the faith walk of the great cloud of witnesses who went before us to learn how to properly live our lives as followers of Christ. Hebrews chapter 11 is known as Faith in Action or the Hall of Faith. This chapter describes the people whose lives displayed great faith toward God. By reading and studying about each of these people we can learn something about what our faith walk with God should look like. For example, Hebrews 11:17-19 (NIV) states:
“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
From Abraham we can learn that trusting in God can require us to trust and obey God to an extreme level. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Remember this was the son in which God promised He would make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the sands. Abraham was faithful and obeyed! Verse 19 states “Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”
This is amazing faith!
Abraham believed that even if He sacrificed Isaac to God that God would raise Isaac back to life and therefore fulfill His promises through him. I ask myself if I or followers of Christ today have this much faith? If God asked one of us to give 10 percent to our church instead of having cable TV, or have a junk car instead of a new one and give the money to the poor would we obey?
Why did Abraham, or the people described in Hebrews chapter 11, have so much faith in God?
Simple, they had a personal relationship with God and believed God’s words and promises for their lives in their hearts not just their minds. These people walked with God on a daily basis and spent time getting to know Him. In today’s busy world it’s hard sometimes for me to spend enough time reading the Bible and praying to God.
I have heard that based on surveys in the past in the universal church the average follower of Christ only spends 10 minutes a day reading the Bible and praying to God. I ask myself is 10 minutes a day really going to maintain a relationship with God that is conducive to having great faith and trust in Him?
We also must believe God’s promises in more than just our minds. We must believe them in our hearts. Our minds can be led astray, however once our heart’s are purified by the Holy Spirit coming into our life it’s much harder to be led astray. So how do we learn to take God’s words and put them into our hearts instead of just our minds? One way is by spending quality time with God in His Word and in prayer. Another way is by letting the Holy Spirit clean out and rearrange the rooms in your heart. A final way is to not only watch how God has been faithful in your life. but to actually remember these events.
A third and final point is that all followers of Christ are in the Hall of faith so to speak. No we are not mentioned specifically in Hebrews chapter 11, however the world and other followers of Christ are watching our walk with Christ and learning from our walk with God. So then what is your walk with Christ modeling to others and is your faith walk with God what you want it to be?
Photo Courtesy of Sapphire Dream Photography