Perseverance is, for the follower of Jesus, essential to pleasing God. Our walk of perseverance in following Jesus is a walk of faith, and our reward will often be found in heaven on not on earth. In what area of your life is God asking you to trust him?
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised… 38 my righteous one will live by faith…
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 10:36, 38, 11:1-16
Faith is part of perseverance. Or perseverance is part of faith. The two link together, and as we have read through chapter 10 of Hebrews and seen how drawing near and staying near and living in reverent fear link together, the perseverance of the follower of Jesus is essential to pleasing God in our lives. We now marry that virtue with the element of faith, without which we cannot please God.
Our walk of perseverance in following Jesus is a walk of faith.
We apply our faith to matters which are beyond our understanding. Creation is a matter of faith. It was in ancient times, and even more so now that we have the revelations of science to help us understand God’s creation. The paths of creation and science do not have to run in divergence. Somehow they intersect, and I do not know fully how. I have faith, however, that God oversaw the beginning of the universe and I have confidence that science will intersect with such faith somewhere and sometime.
We apply our faith in offering worship to God. In Abel’s case, his genuine and pure offering to God incited rage in his brother, who killed him. Our acknowledgement of God and our worship of Jesus may become the target of our brothers and sisters in this world. Abel offered his worship in faith, and even though he is dead, we see that his example continues to speak to us. Even when there are consequences to our faithful worship, we persevere with trust in God.
Enoch shows us that to please God we must live in full faith: Enoch was commended as so faithful that God rewarded him with heaven without experiencing death. Enoch did not receive the wages of sin (Romans 6:23), which shows us how far faithfulness is from a life of wanton sinfulness.
Noah followed God in faith by building an ark for a flood which had never been known or experienced before. He revered God so much that he stepped out in faith and in doing so, received righteousness as his reward. We see in his example that although deeds of faith please God, faith in God’s ability to save (in this case, from the flood) results in the gift of righteousness before God.
This same idea is found in Abraham’s story, in which he believed God and was credited with righteousness (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3). Abraham obeyed God’s direction to journey toward a promised land with no understanding of exactly when and where it would materialize. He and Sarah had to rely on their faith for the child who would fulfill God’s promise to provide descendants as numerous as the stars.
The point of these examples is summarized in verses 13-16. Every one of them was full of faith, and not a single one of them saw or received the things promised in life. They welcomed them from a distance, saw them on the horizon, and realized that they were aliens on earth, and that their reward was heaven. God prepared a heavenly city for them, and we will see them there.
What reward or promise or consolation of God are you waiting for? What if you never see it materialize? Will you continue to persevere in faith and trust in the Lord? Pleasing God isn’t a deal we strike with him: you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. We may live a life of faithfulness and then only receive our reward in heaven. Is that enough? These examples tell us it should be…