For the next 20 weeks, I’m planning to speak about the people of faith who are mentioned in the faith chapter (Hebrews 11). To speak more strictly, I want to testify about the God that these people of faith have experienced. If we want to better understand Hebrews 11, we must study the whole context of the book of Hebrews. If we want to better interpret and understand the Bible, it is always important to observe the wider context of the scripture. For example, if we want to better understand Hebrews 11, then we must observe and study Hebrews 10 and 12 together with it. In addition, we must study the whole context of the book of Hebrews.
In order to understand the faith in the book of Hebrews, we must study the Word about faith in both the Old and the New Testament. Above all, we must learn of Jesus, who is the main body of faith, and study what Jesus said about faith. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the founder of faith (Heb. 12:2). To say that Jesus is the founder of faith means that Jesus is the original author of faith. We call those who write books authors. True faith comes from the author of faith, Jesus. In addition, our faith can be perfected through Jesus. Jesus is the one who perfects our faith.
As I came to believe Jesus and study the Bible, I found myself several times studying deeply in the book of Hebrews. It’s because the book of Hebrews helped me to better understand the Old Testament. Among the New Testament books, the book of Hebrews refers to the Old Testament the most. The book of Hebrews is the biblical book that best interprets the Old Testament in a Christ-centered way. I sometimes call the book of Hebrews the Old Testament of the New Testaments.
The Old Testament is actually the foreshadow of Jesus. In contrast, the New Testament unveils Jesus, the personhood of the shadow in the Old Testament. In that sense, when you study the book of Hebrews, you are able to understand Jesus through the whole Bible. To use a theological expression, you are able to understand the Bible as the redemptive plan of God. In particular, the book of Hebrews that uncovers the mystery of Melchizedek, who is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament, truly gives amazing understanding and revelation. The writer of the book of Hebrews says that we have faith of a child if we still do not understand about Melchizedek (Heb. 5:11-14). God wants us to leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity (Heb. 6:1-2).
God considers our faith as the most precious thing. Faith is the treasure of treasures. We cannot please God without faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6). God-pleasing faith is believing that God exists and He rewards those who seek him. Rewards follow faith.
Faith is different from belief or conviction. A belief is something created by men. Even those who do not believe in God are able to accomplish amazing work through their belief. The problem is that the root of the belief is in men. In addition, a wrong belief can lead many to death. Hitler was a man of a strong belief. However, because of his wrong belief, numerous people had died. However, the root of biblical faith is in God. The object of biblical faith is clear. The object of our prayer is God alone. In addition, the content of our faith is based on the Bible. Faith based on the Bible is the safest and the healthiest.
Jesus compares faith to a mustard seed. Comparing faith to a mustard seed means that a mustard seed-like faith can grow gradually when you plant and cultivate it well. In addition, Jesus said that we will be able to move mountains and do impossible things if we have a faith like a grain of mustard seed (Matt. 17:20). Faith is truly and amazingly powerful. The Bible tells us that we have been saved by believing in Jesus and received a right to become children of God (Jn. 1:12). The Bible tells us that we receive answered prayer through faith. We receive healing through faith. Faith is the power to overcome every kind of hardships. Faith is the power that transcends the limitation of men. Elijah’s prayer of faith brought fire and rain from the heaven. There is blessing to those who believe (Lk. 1:45). As we study Hebrews 11 together, I pray that weak faith becomes strong and little faith becomes great. As we study Hebrews 11 I would like all of us to memorize the faith chapter. I bless you, soldiers of faith.
Reverend Joshua Choon-Min Kang is the senior pastor of New Life Vision Church, located in Los Angeles. This is one of the weekly letters he writes to his congregation. For the original, visit www.nlvc.org.