Study 12 THE PERFECTER OF FAITH - JESUS
MORE STUDIES IN HEBREWS 11
by Francis Dixon
Scripture References: Hebrews 11:35-40; 12:1-2
This final study in Hebrews Eleven is actually taken from Hebrews 12:1-2! In these two verses the writer sums up his great discourse in which he expounds the principle, the power and the possibilities of faith. Although we have taken many studies on this theme and section of scripture, we have omitted many important references to those who lived and worked by faith and ”of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38). In this study we need to begin by emphasising the fact that all the heroes of faith who appear in Hebrews Eleven were imperfect. Because of this we are not to take any one of them as our example of a life of faith. We are to receive encouragement and inspiration from them, but faith was not perfected in them. Where can we see the principle of faith perfectly portrayed? The answer is - Jesus. He is the supreme example of faith. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that we are to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” for He alone, as the perfect Man, had perfect faith. In order to make this final study practical in its application to ourselves, notice the following sequence of truth in Hebrews 12:1-2.
1. As believers we are all running a race.
This is what we are told in Hebrews 12:1. Paul spoke of the Christian life as a race - look up 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, and compare the last phrase in Hebrews 12:1. We as believers are running a race. Notice that:-
- The course for the race is already set (end of verse 1). The Lord has set the course and He leads us in it and along it (Psalm 16:11 and Psalm 37:23).
- Running the race is a strenuous business. It is a race, not a walk, and certainly not a dawdle! The writer says, “Let us run …”
- It requires courage and perseverance. There are difficulties, obstacles and enemies in our path, and thus perseverance and endurance are needed.
- If we are to win the race there must be sacrifice. It is important to notice that all do not win - look up 1 Corinthians 9:24. To win, ”everything that hinders” must be thrown off and ”sin” must be judged and put away. Weights are lawful things but they are not beneficial (1 Corinthians 6:12); and sin is s-i-n, which must not be tolerated in any shape or form - look up 2 Timothy 2:19.
2. As we run the race we are surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses, all of whom have run the race before us.
Notice in verse 1 that the word is “witnesses” and not ”spectators”. The popular idea is that those who have gone to Heaven are now watching us run the race down here. The real point made here is that the heroes of faith mentioned in Hebrews Eleven, and all others who have lived by faith, witness to us of the power of faith - as Abel, for example, who “still speaks, even though he is dead.” (Hebrews 11:4).
3. Though these witnesses encourage us in the race they all failed in the race, and they are not perfect examples of faith.
We emphasise this again because it is so important in view of what follows. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Gideon and Samson all failed. Where, then, is there an example of faith which is perfect? Is there one in whom faith has been supremely revealed in its working? Yes, there is!
4. The perfect example of faith is Jesus.
Notice that it was Jesus, as man and as our representative, who perfectly demonstrated the power and principle of faith. We think of Abel worshipping by faith, of Enoch walking by faith, of Noah working by faith, of Abraham obeying by faith - but the Lord Jesus is the supreme illustration of faith. Think of Him worshipping, walking, working, obeying ! As the perfect man He perfectly trusted God. He is the Author of faith, the One who takes precedence over all others.
5. The faith of Jesus was operative throughout the whole of His life, in all His ministry, and in His death.
In verse 2 the writer tells us four things which cover our Lord’s life, ministry and death, and which reveal His faith.
- ”For the joy set before Him…” This is what faith is (Hebrews 11:1). He showed His great faith as a boy in the temple - look up Luke 2:49; and when He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem - look up Luke 9:51.
- ”Endured the cross…” By faith Abraham offered Isaac, and reasoned that God could raise the dead (Hebrews 11:19); but by faith Jesus offered Himself, believing that He would rise again - look up Matthew 16:21.
- “Scorning its shame…” He not only endured it but He despised it, because He knew that after the cross would be the crown - look up Matthew 16:21 and 27.
- ”And sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” This could not be said of Abel, Enoch, Noah etc. …only of Him. Jesus is there now (Hebrews 2:9).
6. Therefore, as we run the race we are to look to Jesus, the supreme Example, the Leader and Vindicator of faith.
How great the words are in Hebrews 12:2! - “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus”; but the Greek word literally reads, looking off unto Jesus. Do you see? - not looking to Abel, or to Enoch, or to Noah, but looking off from these to Jesus, for only with Him will the vision be satisfied. Here is the secret of the life of faith, of running the race with patience, without weights and sin to encumber us, and of being a victorious, holy and useful Christian – “looking off unto Jesus” - away from sin, away from self, away from failure, away from people, and away from circumstances - to Jesus.
7. As we contemplate Jesus as the Perfecter of faith we must remember that He is the One who perfects faith in us.
He is ”the author and perfecter of our faith”, and although the word “our” should be omitted it is nevertheless true that He does initiate faith in the believer, bestow faith upon the believer and maintain faith in the believer, because faith is the gift of God (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:8-10 and Philippians 1:6). The faith we possess is His gift to us, and He perfects it in us. One meaning of the word “Perfecter” is this: He is the One who brings us safely through to the end. Therefore, let us look off unto Jesus, to Jesus only, always and for ever. He will never change, He will never fail, and He will never let us go – look up Hebrews 13:5-6! Thus, we conclude this series of studies by “Looking off unto JESUS…”