When the inspired writer of the Hebrew letter wants to help Christians on our faith journey, he gives us a long list of people of faith. These folks never knew Jesus. Not one of them was a Christian because Christ had not come into the world when they were alive. They could not obey the Gospel and become a disciple of Christ. Jesus would come but not in their lifetime.
The writer is addressing the need for disciples of Christ to live by their faith no matter what it costs. He points us to look at Jesus as our perfect example of making the sacrifice. I sometimes wonder whether I can really make a comparison of my life to the Lord’s in this regard. Stephen could do so. He stood up for the truth of the Gospel. He lived by his confessed faith and the unbelievers surrounded him and stoned him to death. James the apostle was arrested and them slain with the sword by a political pagan who had no regard for God nor anyone who called upon Him.
As I look at the list of Hebrews 11 we must journey all the way back to the sons of Adam and Eve. Abel chose to sacrifice his offering before the Almighty in faith. It created so much jealousy in his brother Cain(because his offering was not one that God could accept) that he murdered his brother. We could recount many of the Old Testament men and women who took their faith in God and their faithfulness to His Word so seriously that they suffered exceedingly. In the list that has been preserved for us in Hebrews 11 there are listed those who conquered and defeated their enemies. Then we find the list of faithful who were stoned, sawn in two, put to death with the sword and living destitute, persecuted and mistreated. Prisons were for some. Floggings and chains were the destiny of others.
In the midst of the list the author says, “Others were tortured and refused to be released”. The picture is painted that these faithful ones held to their faith. It meant more to them than life. Why? “So they might gain a better resurrection.”
Before the admonishing for us to endure in our race as Christians, never to give up, never to turn aside from living by faith and living for the hope that is in the resurrection of Jesus; he writes: “These were all commended for their faith.” Above all else, I would want this to be true for us to are making our journey today. For that to happen our faith must be more important than anything else in this world. Family, fame, riches, pleasure or any other personal quest cannot stand between us and the allegiance we have given to God. We have made a covenant with Him. Let us never break it, no matter what. Let us willingly sacrifice for Jesus anything we may have to offer Him.
Call Max if you want to visit about keeping God first and foremost in your life.