THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH
By Michael McPherson
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – (Hebrews 12:2)
The Greek word used for “finisher” in this text is teleiōtḗ which is also translated as “perfecter.” It means consummator: the one who brings to complete conclusion (consummation or finish) the life of faith. The Lord in his human incarnation received the will of God which was birthed within his mind (knowledge) and spirit (that which persuades the mind to act). Here we have a definition of faith: an in birthing of God’s will and a spirit of obedience within the believer.
Christ perfectly obeyed God’s will even unto death. And not just any death, but a shameful death on a tree. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." (Galatians 3:13)
The Lord was perfect, without fault, in his faith in God.
Perfect example of faith
The word teleiōtḗ occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures. The Lord was the picture perfect, highest example of faith possible in a human. Therefore, we must examine his faith, because this is the faith, the faith of Christ, that brings the Church (all believers) into unison and perfection.
“And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for works of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ.” – (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Note that verse 13 should be read “until we all reach unity in the faith of Christ and in the knowledge of Christ, which makes the believer perfect (mature and complete) in Christ. It is the faith of Christ and the endurance of his obedience that every believer is to attain. This is the common faith that unites true believers. For it is the will of God that his Church be perfect (complete) in this faith. (Matthew 5:48, Colossians 1:28)
In his human form sustained by faith
In his human form the Lord Jesus was sustained by faith built on knowledge of the Father, love, obedience, holiness, the indwelling Spirit and perseverance based on the expectation of the joy to come.
Knowledge of the Father
Hebrews 12:2 tells us the Lord is the creator of our faith, and the leader or head of the faithful. First, he had insight, a spiritual view into the joy to come. A joy which he never realized in his time on earth. But a joy, a glory which he knew existed with the Father before the foundation of the earth.
“And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:5)
“When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:3)
This spiritual insight and expectation of joy came from a knowledge of God, a knowledge that the Father willingly gives to all who diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
“Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:2-6)
The Lord was then fully obedient to the will and word he received from his Father.
(Hebrews 5:8) “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”
(Philippians 2:8) “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross.”
(Isaiah 53:5) “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by his scourging we are healed.”
(John 10:17) “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
(John 6:38) “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.”
(John 5:30) “I can do nothing by Myself; I judge only as I hear. And My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
(John 12:50) “And I know that his command leads to eternal life. So I speak exactly what the Father has told Me to say."
(John 5:19) “Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”
(Luke 4:43) “But He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose."
(Mark 4:34) “Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish his work.”
Power from the indwelling Holy Spirit
“and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased." (Luke 3:22)
The Lord’s perfect obedience to the will of the Father gave him the power to accomplish everything God had ordained. It was the Holy Spirit within Christ, in his incarnation as a human, that enabled him to pull down strongholds, give mercy and forgiveness, persevere and to proclaim the Gospel with effect.
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I say to you, I do not speak on My own. Instead, it is the Father dwelling in Me, performing his works.” (John 14:10)
“He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.” (Luke 17:6)
Faith is intimately tied to the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The stronger the faith, the more power is given to accomplish the will of God. The weaker the faith, the less power is given.
It goes without saying; the Lord was given a measure of faith, by God, stronger than any human would ever have. When he spoke of faith able to uproot trees and move mountains (Matthew 17:20) his frame of reference was his own faith. A faith that could calm the storms and raise the dead, enable him to walk on water and turn water into wine. (Matthew 8:26, John 11:38, Matthew 14:26, John 2:1-11)
I believe the Lord was truly amazed at the lack of faith in God Almighty which existed on the earth. To the Lord, great faith was the norm; it was all he had ever known. For before the foundation of the world, he had loved his Father with all his heart, soul, mind and strength.
"And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." (John 8:29)
The essence of holiness is that the believer is set apart for God’s use and purposes and is wholly devoted to Him. The believer resists defilement from the things of the world and the desires of the sin nature. Thus, the Lord Jesus describes holiness in this text as always doing the things that please the Father. The faith of Christ, therefore, is always marked by holiness.
1 Peter 1:14 – “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”
Perseverance even unto shame and death
One of the characteristics of the faith of Christ, is he remained faithful to God under the burden of agonies and death. The Lord in his human form experienced fear and sorrow. Yet, in these times, there was a well, a fountain of water that seemed to spring up, reminding the Lord of who God is, his promises, his faithfulness and the joy to come. In this way the Lord was an example for the brethren.
“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:36-39)
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)
When we read the Psalms of David, a man wholly devoted to God, often he expressed fear and sorrow. But despite his circumstances, as with our Lord, David always ended his verses with praise to God.
This enduring, in birthed faith in God was the only way Abraham could have lifted his hand to slay his son Isaac. It was Abraham’s remembrance and trust in the character, promises, decrees, commandments and faithfulness of He who created the heavens and the earth.
Therefore, the keys to strong faith include knowledge of the Lord, knowledge of Him as Savior and Master, knowledge of the faith and love of Christ, holiness (devotion) and obedience to the will of God.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)
When the wisdom of God and love of Christ is shed abroad in your heart, and you are both holy and obedient, your faith will be strong. Praise God.
The race every believer must run
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
In Hebrews 12 we learn that there is a race set before everyone who professes faith in Christ: the persevering obedience of faith. Perseverance is defined as endurance. And race is defined as a competition, a battle, a fight, or struggle. In other words, to endure or continue in obedience to faith in Christ, the believer must endure a struggle. Fighting against you will be your own flesh (sin nature), the Devil and all the allures, systems, idols and people of the world.
The life of faith is a struggle. Thus, in the New Testament, there are repeated exhortations to believers to resist sin: sins which easily overcome and to which you are most susceptible. The image set before us is like a wrestler who gets the upper hand in a fight and overcomes his opponent. Such is the sin we must wrestle day in and day out: sin that aims to defile the unbeliever and weaken his faith.
“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:3-4)
In the above verse, the Apostle reminds believers that in their struggles no blood has been shed. In other words, the battle may seem tough, but it could be worse. Therefore, consider what the Lord Jesus experienced, he who is our example of faith. Endure the struggle, do not quit the fight; for the victory will be yours if you endure and continue in faith.
The fight of faith
“But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
The most powerful way, and the only way God has ordained to overcome sin, and gain victory, is to grow-up into Christ: to become perfect and complete. When you put on the mind of Christ, set your mind on the things of God, and do the works of Christ, you will walk in the Spirit and not satisfy the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
The prize goes to those who complete the race
Hebrews 12:2 describes the “joy set before Christ” which was the object of his faith. This joy before him enabled him to endure the agonies of hell and the shame of the cross. So, what is this joy?
“fixing our attention on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of the faith, who, in view of the joy set before him, endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
The Scriptures say it is the happiness and glory (honor and praise) that comes from sitting down at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 2:9) This is the same object of faith, and joy that is set before believers in Christ. It is the expected joy of eternal life, as royal priests and sons and daughters of the Most High.
“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6)
Your inheritance in Christ
We have already described what it means to abide in Christ and for Christ to abide in you (LLG School of Ministry class “The Faith”). Now I want you to see the magnificence of your inheritance in Christ. If you are a born-again believer, and the Spirit of Christ is within you, today your spirit is with Christ sitting at the right hand of the Father.
My dear brother and sister, you are a royal priest in the Kingdom of God. (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:9, Exodus 19:6) And the Lord earnestly wants you to embrace and grow-up into your inheritance. Today, your spirit is in Christ, joined with him in his Kingship. As a member of the royal (majestic, kingly) household of God, you must be holy as he is holy and perfect as he is perfect. You must put on the clothes of Christ, the garment of the bride. (Galatians 3:27, Romans 13:14) For this is the will and command of the Lord Almighty.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:11)
Treasure in Heaven
According to your measure of faith, great power and blessings await you. Treasures of wisdom, faith to move mountains, the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, righteousness, the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, patience, holiness, kindness, and power to proclaim the Gospel. All these things the Lord has ordained, for his sons and daughters, before the foundation of the earth.
And out of this treasure you will have power to bring down strongholds, and crush the enemy of God under your feet. (1 Corinthians 15:25). You will be able to break the yokes of bondage from the oppressed, give sight to the blind, feed bread to the hungry and water to the thirsty. All these are spiritual things I speak of. Treasures the Spirit within gives fully to the man and woman perfect (complete) in Christ.
The bondage of sin and the Devil will be lifted from your brethren. The scales of blindness on their eyes will fall and they will see and know truth. The sheep will be fed by the Word of God – the bread that comes from Heaven. And finally, your brethren will be filled with the fountain of life that springs from the Spirit of Christ.
These are heavenly treasures no man-made idol or experience can equal. For what is born of God is truly great.