"THESE ALL DIED IN FAITH"
By Ian Potts
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Hebrews 11:13
In Hebrews chapter 11 we read of a number of God's people who are set forth as examples of those who lived by faith, for "the just shall live by faith" Hebrews 10:38. This wonderful chapter sets forth many acts of faith, many examples of those who looked to God, who embraced His promises, who believed Him at His word. These were such who looked past all that the eye could see naturally, who put to one side every natural objection, every contrary argument, every rational cause for doubt, all natural reason, all carnal wisdom, but instead rested in God's promise, rested in His faithfulness, trusted in His truthfulness and looked, with God given faith, to Him and Him alone for salvation. They were a people who were steadfast, patient, enduring unto the end, counting Him faithful who promised.
As those who were made just, not by their own deeds, but by the work of God for them, the saints in Hebrews 11 lived not by sight but by "by faith". For the just shall live by faith. Here we see a people whose principle of living was faith. They are set before our gaze not as examples of those who lived by their own abilities, their own strength, their own righteousness, their own judgment, but as living examples of the work of God, as those in whom God wrought, as those who were shown their own worthlessness, their own sinfulness, their own depravity by nature and their vital need of a Saviour - those to whom God made promises and to whom He gave faith to look to Him to fulfill those promises. They are shining examples of God's work of faith in His people, examples of the just who live by faith.
Yes, those in Hebrews 11, were those who lived by faith (10:38), but they also "died in faith, not having received the promises" Hebrews 11:13. Many face death without faith - but not these. Oh! what a terrible prospect to face death, to career blindly towards it, without faith, without hope, without Christů But these, these died in faith. Yes, they looked past this earthly scene, past this earthly pilgrimage unto a heavenly country, a city of habitation, confessing themselves to be "strangers and pilgrims on the earth". They looked for the One who had been promised who would come to establish a heavenly kingdom, who would deliver from sin and from death, who would bring in everlasting righteousness and an everlasting salvation. They looked to the promise of the resurrection from the dead in Him. Abraham believed this. He had seen this typified when God gave him the child of promise, Isaac (a figure of Christ, who would be the true seed of Abraham) and God told him to offer him up as a sacrifice. Abraham believed that if he slew Isaac God would raise him up again. In this he looked for the Saviour to come, knowing that God would raise Him from the dead. "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence he received him in a figure." Hebrews 11:17-19. But Abraham died in faith, not having received the promises but looking for the coming of Christ, of whom Isaac was but a figure.
These who died in faith looked forward to the coming of Another - One who would also live by faith, and who also died in faith. They looked "unto Jesus the author and finisher of (our) faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the same, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" Hebrews 12:2. Yes, Jesus, the 'Just One', also lived by faith, but He too, also died in faith. He endured the cross, despising the shame, looking for that promised unto Him by the Father. He looked by faith for the salvation of all those given to Him in eternity past, whose sins would be laid upon Him and taken away in His suffering upon the cross, washed by His precious blood shed for them. He looked by faith towards His resurrection from the dead with them in newness of life. He looked by faith to be united to that Bride promised to Him from all eternity, to be perfected for ever in Him by the blood of His cross. Yes, He looked by faith to see the "travail of his soul" and "be satisfied" Isaiah 53:11.
Christ lived by faith, for He indeed is "the author and finisher of faith". Having lived by faith He also died in faith - but by His death He accomplished all that which His faith looked for, all that which it hoped for. By His death He wrought salvation for all His people. By His death He fulfilled all the promises which that people look to by faith. By His death He took away sin, and conquered death, and him who had the power of death. By His death He delivered His people from sin, the law and condemnation. By His death He brought in everlasting life and righteousness for all who believe on Him. Yes, by His death He brought life. Eternal life. For Christ died in faith and "the just shall live by faith". This act of faith, this greatest act of entering the dark abyss of death, trusting in the Father that all that had been promised would be fulfilled, did indeed fulfill all that had been promised. By faith Christ revealed the righteousness of God in judgment against the sins of His people (Romans 1:17, 3:21-22) as the Father did to the Son all that had been promised in covenant with Him from before the foundations of the earth - for "it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief" that He might make His soul an offering for sin, in order that "He shall see His seed" and prolong His days that "the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand" Isaiah 53:10. For by faith Christ justified His people, that they might become the righteousness of God in Him. By faith, through His death, He gave them the greatest gift - eternal life in Him (Romans 6:23).
What a work of God is seen when He gives His people that faith that can sustain them through both life and death. True saving faith by which they can face death, trusting in the Saviour who saves from death. And what a glorious work of God it was when the very Saviour to whom they look, the promised Seed, also by faith faced death, bringing that people through the rivers of death in Him, suffering the outpouring of the wrath of God upon Him in their place and raising them again on the third day in Him in the newness of everlasting life, having neither spot nor blemish, but having the very righteousness of God put to their account in Christ, that they might live for ever with Him to the praise of His glory!
Do you know what it is to have faith to look to Christ? Have you 'died in faith' with Christ, being crucified with Him? Have you risen with Him the other side of death, justified, that you might 'live by faith'? Are you among that number who have had their sins washed away in the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God? Has God shown you your need of salvation?
If so, you will join in wondrous thanks with all God's people for the faith of Jesus Christ, by which we live, "who loved us and gave Himself for us".
For "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20.