“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval” (Heb. 11:1-2).
Christian faith produces righteous deeds.
Hebrews 11 has been called “The Heroes of Faith,” “The Faith Chapter,” “The Saints’ Hall of Fame,” “The Honor Roll of the Old Testament Saints,” and “The Westminster Abbey of Scripture.” Those are appropriate titles because this chapter highlights the virtues of faith as demonstrated in the lives of great Old Testament saints. It also reminds us that without faith, it is impossible to please God.
Such a reminder was necessary for the first-century Hebrew people because Judaism had abandoned true faith in God for a legalistic system of works righteousness. Its message is valid today since our devotion to Christ can easily degenerate into a religion of rules and regulations.
While affirming the primacy of faith, the writer of Hebrews doesn’t undermine the importance of righteous works. Quite the contrary. He exhorts us “to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (10:24) and to pursue holiness so others will see Christ in us and be drawn to Him (12:14).
Yet righteous works are the by-product of true salvation, not its means. As the apostle Paul wrote, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Apart from faith, all attempts to please God through good works alone are as useless and offensive to Him as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). That’s why Paul gladly set all his Jewish legalistic practices aside, counting them as rubbish. He wanted only “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil. 3:9).
This month we’ll study the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11. As we do, remember they weren’t perfect people. But their faith was exemplary and by it they gained God’s approval. I pray that’s true of you as well.
Suggestions for Prayer
- Thank God for the gift of faith.
- Undoubtedly you know people who are trying to please God by their own efforts. Pray for them and take every opportunity to tell them of true salvation through faith in Christ
For Further Study
Select one of the individuals mentioned in Hebrews 11 and read the Old Testament account of his or her life.