I love Hebrews chapter 11. It’s sandwiched between the end of chapter 10 and the beginning of chapter 12, both of which speak of endurance. This means that faith (11) is the meat in the sandwich of endurance (10 and 12). To use another metaphor, the writer is saying that faith is the fuel that drives the vehicle of endurance. What you see is a driving vehicle. But what’s propelling the vehicle is the invisible fuel. In the same way, what you see in Abraham’s or Joseph’s or David’s life is endurance. But what propelled their endurance was faith. If their endurance had been propelled by sheer will-power, they never would have survived. And if their endurance had been propelled by visible things, they never would have pleased God. Because faith is the conviction of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen (11:1).
Hebrews 11 defines faith. But what I love about this chapter is that it doesn’t just give me a dictionary definition and some verbal marching orders. It doesn’t just say, “This is what faith is. Now, go exercise faith.” Although this would be enough, Hebrews 11 goes above and beyond. It’s personal. I am not just given commands to obey, but footprints to follow. And I love footprints. I need footprints. Hebrews 11 pulls Christian doctrine out of the stratosphere and sets it down on the dusty, pothole-filled, treacherous path called life. Then, it shows me those narrow and worn places where others have stepped, stepped firmly, and stepped safely. It tells me where the “great cloud of witnesses” walked (Hebrews 12:1). And it tells me that I can walk the same way with the same result. I love this.
I have realized, though, that people leave footprints before they’re dead. There are living examples of persevering faith, too. People I know and respect.
So a while ago, I decided to make the inside cover of my Bible my personal, living extension of Hebrews 11. I ask men of God who have impacted me to sign it (especially preachers, since I think that God has called me to preach). These men of God are as varied in their styles and strengths as the men and women of Hebrews 11. This is good, because I want to be balanced, like Jesus. Some of their footprints are wider or longer than others. Some leave small, consistent steps. Others seem to bound. But all are going the same direction, and doing it consistently. They are all men that I want to follow in some way. They are all men that I want to follow in the way.
John Piper was the first one to sign my Bible. He signed it after preaching at a Biola
University chapel held in their gym. Along with signing his name, he wrote a verse reference. Every other man who has signed my Bible has done the same. Here are the verses they wrote:
John Piper – Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Art Azurdia III – Acts 20:24
“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
Howard Hendricks – 2 Timothy 2:2
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
John MacArthur – 2 Corinthians 4:5-7
For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.
D.A. Carson – Nehemiah 8:10
Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
C.J. Mahaney – 2 Timothy 1:9-10
…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…
What verse would you write in my Bible if I asked you to sign it? I think I’d be greatly encouraged to read your verses. Let me know (and quote your verse) in the comments. You don’t have to preach or be famous to be a Hebrews 11 example. You just have to walk with God with wholehearted, enduring faith.
This is my Hebrews 11. These are some of the living footsteps that I want to follow. God help me. God help us all. May it not be our generation that leaves the trail overgrown and unrecognizable. May it not be our generation that blazes a new trail instead of following the proven path. May we walk the narrow road, finish, and finish well—one step at a time.
Choose well whom you will follow. But once you have chosen, follow hard. Follow hard.