Faith, the gift of grace.
The apostle Paul makes it crystal clear that faith is an amazing gift that God gives to those who don’t deserve it. It’s the same faith that Abel had. He was the first to be persecuted because of his faith. Abraham had it too. Jesus, who died, had faith in His Father who brought Him back to life. Resurrection Faith is pretty powerful stuff. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves – it is the gift of God. It is not based on deeds, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
It’s something that we could never earn even if we had a million years. Which we don’t. And that is God’s reason for the gift. He loves us and wants us to live. So, how do we get this gift? The Scriptures say that we Gentiles were not seeking God. “And Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I was found by those who did not seek Me; I became visible to those who did not ask for Me.'” (Isaiah 65:1; Romans 10:20) How does God, whom we are not looking for, show up with His gift of faith?
God sends messengers. First His prophets, then His Son who sends His disciples proclaiming the good news….. eternal life for those who would believe.
How then shall they call on the One in whom they have not trusted? And how shall they trust in the one they have not heard of? And how shall they hear without someone proclaiming? And how shall they proclaim unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim good news of good things!’ But not all heeded the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘LORD who has believed our report? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Isaiah 53:1; Romans 10:14-17)
Those with faith are sent as messengers who show up with the good news. Not all will heed the good news, and that’s sad. Jesus gave the reason why some have God’s gift and others refuse it. His explanation is simple enough for me to understand. They hated the light that would expose their evil deeds. (John 3:17-21)
So, why are all those witnesses in Hebrews chapter 11 commended for their faith when faith is a gift? God first became “visible” to them. He showed up first. He is the same God whom we now see in Jesus. They were commended for trusting in God, even to the point of death. God’s love compelled them to worship and obey. And Father was pleased. I am sure God commends them for His gift of faith something like this, “Well done, you stayed in My light.”