Hebrews 11 is one of my favorite passages in the bible. I find it comforting to read about all these imperfect people who found favour in the eyes of God. And it had nothing to do with how good they were but rather who they worshiped and the faith they had in Him. God was able to use these people in spite of their inadequacies.
Reading it this time and with the help of a few commentaries it took on some new meaning. All the people listed in this Hall of Faith lived prior to Christ's death on the cross and His gift of salvation and yet they all found favour in God's eyes. It is apparent that the righteousness of Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham is apart from law-keeping as they all lived before the law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai. After Moses, again nothing is mentioned about them keeping the law. It's still all about faith. It's not about how well they followed all the rules. I think sometimes we think that the old testament and the new are two separate books and are based on two different sets of rules but if that were the case then how did any of these imperfect people find favour in God's sight? It wasn't because of anything they did but rather their faith and trust in God that brought them that favour.
I am reminded of Romans 4 where in the previous chapters Paul shows that all men are lost sinners, destined for eternal judgment, and incapable of attaining righteousness by their own efforts. He then sets forth the gospel, declaring that what men could not do by law keeping, Christ has accomplished by His atoning death, so that men can be saved by faith in Jesus Christ, apart from works. Now the question in the minds of Paul’s Jewish readers will be, “Wait a minute! Paul is saying that it is impossible for men to be saved by law keeping and that salvation comes only by faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. How, then, were the Old Testament saints saved?” Paul answers this question by taking the greatest Old Testament hero of all time – Abraham – and demonstrating that he was not saved by law keeping (for the law did not yet exist), but by faith (in the coming Messiah).
The writer to the Hebrews is doing precisely the same thing. While he makes much of Abraham, he broadens his argument to include all the Old Testament saints. It was not only Abraham who was saved by faith, apart from law-works; every Old Testament saint was saved “by faith” and lived heroically “by faith.” It has always been “by faith” and not of works.
Excerpted from https://bible.org/seriespage/25-chapter-11-right-you-hebrews-111-6.
Once in a while I end up in a conversation with someone who seems to be convinced that there is more to salvation than just faith in Christ and His gift of salvation. And while true faith will cause us to desire to please God, we can never use our works to convince ourselves that we have faith. We can never work hard enough or follow enough rules to get us into His hall of fame. The only thing that will get us in that great hall is what God sees in our heart.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Hebrews 12-13, Jude 1