Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12.2.
Faith is an absolute essential if I am to have any relationship with God. In the previous chapter to the one from which this morning’s verse is taken, the author of the letter to the Hebrews has said, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists” (Hebrews 11.6). Faith is, quite simply, the channel through which anything and everything that I would receive from God must flow to me. “The promise” comes to me “by faith” (Romans 4.16). It is “by faith” that I have “gained access … into this grace” in which I now stand” (Romans 5.2). It is “through faith” that I have been saved (Ephesians 2.8), am justified (Romans 3.26) and have received the righteousness of Jesus (Romans 3.23).
But where does my faith come from? Well, I am told here this morning that its author is Jesus. The primary meaning of the word translated “author” — archegos — is “an originator”, “a beginner” in the sense of someone who starts something off. So the disciples were quite right when they said to Jesus, “increase our faith” (Luke 17.5), for faith comes from him. But how does it come from him? Paul tells me: “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10.17); and “word” there is again rema not logos as it was in Paul’s description of the sword of the Spirit which I encountered a few days ago in “Spiritual Weapons” (9 October 2008). As I said then, rema denotes “a definitive divine utterance … a specific word given in a specific situation to accomplish a specific purpose”.
So faith comes when Jesus speaks a specific faith-birthing word into my heart, and I hear it. It is then that I begin to place my trust in him and to rely on him. He has “authored” faith in me. It is like being given a book that has on the cover …
The Faith of Neil
The Lord Jesus Christ
And just as every book has an ending, so has this one. And I know, in general terms, what the ending is. I know that it will end with my being with Jesus and seeing him as he is (1 John 3.2); and at that point, of course, faith will no longer be needed, for the purpose and object of faith is to make me “sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11.1). Then, however, on the last day, on the Day of the Lord, all my hopes will be fulfilled … “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19.25-27). And my book of faith can be closed.
But it is Jesus who has already written that final page of my story of faith just as he wrote the first one. He is not only the author but the “completer” or “finisher”. That is the literal meaning of the word teleiotes which the writer of the letter to the Hebrews coined specially for this verse. I am not allowed to turn to the end of the book yet … indeed I am not allowed to even turn to tomorrow’s page … but I do have this wonderful assurance this morning — that because Jesus himself is the author and the finisher of The Faith of Neil, it will, like all the best stories, end with me and all those who belong with me in the Kingdom, “living happily ever after”. Praise God!