Enduring Faith 

“Oh the delivering power of a vision big enough, heavenly enough, divine enough to swallow up all of our petty and personal interests!”   T. Austin-Powers 

I recently heard a comment by a speaker that did not sit well in my spirit.  The speaker was exhorting his listeners to rise to a greater level of faith.  I was in full agreement with that until he made the observation that all the faith we muster on this side will be gratified when we “get to heaven” where faith will no longer be needed.  I think that this is a notion that is commonly held by most Christians and is in fact the underpinning of much fundamentalist and evangelical theology.  It is part of the basic salvation scenario that is unexamined by most people.  But is it true? 

It is certainly not true of those heroes of faith named in the “hall of fame” described in chapter 11 of Hebrews.  We really need to ponder the implications of this chapter and the following chapter, especially Heb 12:1.  For these righteous ones, passing into “heaven” did not mean an end of their faith.  We need to ask ourselves why their attention is focused on us, the Church here on earth.  Their focus is actually on a City and, unlike most Christians today, the City they are focused on is the New Jerusalem (that’s us!) and not on the Old Jerusalem which is in bondage along with all her children (Jew, Moslem and Christian).  What explains this focus?  The reason is that again, unlike most Christians, these saints have come to understand the fullness of God’s thoughts and the scope of His plan for the Church here on earth.  His passion has become their passion and like Him, they are looking for a people in this realm who share that passion, a people who know who they are in Christ and who are pressing into perfection.  These saints in the spirit realm need an enduring faith that the great plan of God will one day be manifested in a body of overcomers in this physical realm. 

Do not make the mistake of assuming that the cloud of witnesses described in Hebrews is only composed of Old Testament saints.  If you envision Paul sitting out there somewhere by the river of Life enjoying the heavenly scenery, you do not understand Paul or God.  Paul -- like the other New Testament writers, as well as every saint since then -- is invested in us and in our journey toward attaining the fullness of the stature of Christ which he preached about.  You see, it is all about the Church here on earth coming into perfection.  Christians really need to let go of their selfish individualism, their carnal imagery concerning the spirit realm and their emotional attachment to Old Jerusalem and man-made doctrines.  Like Abraham and like Paul, we need an overcoming faith that even death cannot destroy.