Scriptural Text: Hebrews 12:2
Welcome to increase. It is another episode on The Gospel Exposition Blog. We believe that you are being blessed by our previous posts and this piece is also going to tremendously bless your life. Kindly read through as we go deep again in the abundance of God’s riches, wherein we enjoy His fullness.
The topic we are considering today is “Looking unto Jesus – the author and finisher of faith“. After today’s article, we would, by the help of the Holy Spirit, know what faith is, the difference between faith in the old and new covenant and what looking unto Jesus means.
Faith, according to the definition in Hebrews chapter 11, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11 (KJV)
- Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
It is important to know that this definition, although applicable today, is in the context of the “believers” (the elders) before Christ. How do I know this? Verse two says by it, that is, by the faith, the elders obtained good reports – good testimonies.
Hebrews 11 (KJV)
- For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
Also, verse four downwards was in the context of the faith of the elders. Heb.11:4-40.
Faith at the dawn of creation was exemplified in the lives of the elders from Abel down to the prophets and we learnt how these elders were commended by simply believing the promises of God. However, not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. This is because God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole. Their lives of faith was not complete apart from ours. God’s plan was that their faith would be made complete and perfect at the birth of our faith.
Hebrews 11 (KJV)
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
Therefore, we have a better faith and our faith is the faith in the son of God – Jesus.
Galatians 2 (KJV)
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by THE FAITH IN THE SON OF GOD, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
To define the New Testament faith, therefore, keeping up on Hebrews 11:1 definition, we would define it as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things (we believe we have) received in Christ”. Christ is both the substance and evidence. He is the perfect fulfilment of God’s promises. That is where it differs from the faith of the elders – Old Testament faith.
Let’s study our introductory text for more understanding.
Hebrews 12 (KJV)
- looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of “our” faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Studies have shown that the “our” is not in the original text, and as a matter of fact, KJV had it italicized to show it is not part of the original text. In essence, Hebrews 12:2 is read as “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith…” Christ is the author and finisher of faith. That is, Christ is the beginning and end of faith – He is all there is to faith. In Him our faith depends from beginning to end. Jesus is the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. That is why our faith is “the faith in the son of God”.
It is important to note that faith has something, in fact everything, to do with believing.
- These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
What was seen as faith in the journey of the elders was their belief in the promises of God. They embraced and were assured of it. In other words, they trusted that the promises would come to pass. In like manner, faith is believing Christ our Lord.
Faith then was believing that God would do it, faith now is believing that God has done it in Christ. That said.
Now, getting closer to today’s lesson, believers should know that Christianity is faith and race – a walk. Galatians 5:25. Furthermore, let’s check the concluding part of the text below.
Hebrews 12 (KJV)
- Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Although, we are surrounded by the many witnesses of faith – faith of the elders, we are to set our gaze on Christ and learn how He walked while on earth so as to walk in the same. Christians are given examples of faith of the elders to learn how believing the promises of God made Him testify to their faith. Even though they did not receive the promise, simple act of believing was accounted unto them as faith. Jesus was the centre of God’s promise the elders believed. The promises of God culminated in Jesus Christ. Faith, now, is believing in Jesus.
Jesus’ exemplary life is the life expected of the believer. And this teaches us focus and endurance. Let’s look into the concluding part of our introductory text.
Hebrews 12 (KJV)
- looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Christ was focused and patient all through, keeping eyes on the goal. What was the goal? It is obvious from that verse that it is “the joy that was set before Him”. Yes! The joy that was set before Jesus was the focus and driving force that got Him going. It is important to know that the joy was not to sit at the right hand of the throne of God for He was there already, that was where He was before taking on human form for the salvation of the whole world. John 17:5. So, what would the joy be? The bible says “the joy of the Lord is your strength“. Nehemiah 8:10. The joy before Him was seeing us strong, saving us from the stronghold of darkness into His own light. The book of Isaiah, Chapter 12 and verse 2 says “Yes, indeed—God is my salvation. I trust, I won’t be afraid. God—yes God!—is my strength and song, best of all, my salvation!” (MSG).
Therefore, He endured the cross and despised the shame. He gave no room for distractions, seeing us becoming strong – getting us saved. He saw the best in us when the devil already had us in the worst state. That joy was to see us come to our best – our reality which we have lost to the devil from the beginning.
Now, this is the message in “looking unto Jesus” in three sentences:
(I) Shift focus from every other thing to Jesus.
(II) Our gaze on Christ should be steady and endless.
(III) Christ is the substance (the real deal) and every other “thing” is passing shadow (ephemeral).
Although, the world presents to us so many distractions, however, we put our attention on Christ with full and steady gaze on Him.
By looking unto Jesus, you:
- Shift focus from yourself unto Jesus
Study the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21. Believers should never think highly of themselves than necessary and also always trust God who works all things out in us by His own power.
- Shift focus from difficulties unto Jesus
Luke 5 (KJV)
4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will LET DOWN the net.”
6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.
7 So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
As believers, we do not let difficulties around us make us lose focus on Christ. No matter what we are going through, let us hold fast to our faith.
- Shift focus from worries unto Jesus
Matthew 6 (KJV)
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
33 But seek FIRST THE kingdom of God and His righteousness, AND ALL these things shall be added to you.
Believers need not worry and get anxious for anything. Philippians 4:6-7. Also, Mark 6:30-44 corroborates Matthew 6:32 above that Jesus is compassionate and understands every need per time.
- Shift focus from persecutions unto Jesus
John 16 (KJV)
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
In our Christian walk, persecutions and tribulations would come but our eyes should be fixed on Christ. We should never allow persecution to weigh us down to the extent of neglecting the saving power of Christ at work in us. We therefore forge ahead, looking steadily and steadfastly unto Jesus Christ.
- Shift focus from the world unto Jesus
Colossians 3 (KJV)
- Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
Taking eyes off the pleasures of this world is an important sign of believer’s maturity. However, this seems, to many, unattainable because they do focus on the world. When one’s gaze is fixed on Christ, the works of the flesh would gradually die and one would live unto righteousness. It is important believers know that sin is no go area for them and this is best achieved by looking unto Jesus alone.
In conclusion, it is expedient we know that Christ authored and championed the believer’s faith, and so we look unto Him in the same faith He birthed us, learning from Him alone until the end of time when we become like Him. For He is able to keep us on our feet – in the faith, standing tall in His bright presence. This is our assurance, the substance we hope for, and being sure of its receipt in Christ, we rejoice and glory in Him. Hallelujah!
We are sure you enjoyed this post. We would be glad to have your questions and comments if you have any. Check us again on Thursday for another life transforming Word of God. Thank you.