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Together to the Kingdom

We must encourage one another, support one another, and hold one another accountable.
Read Time: 5 minutes

In Acts 1:6, the disciples ask the risen Christ, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”1 This a perfectly normal question given all the wonderful things they had witnessed the past three years. But it was not to be, as Christ had other plans for his followers: the spreading of the good news to the Roman world and beyond.

We, too, as we look out into a world of chaos, immorality, and violence, can ask the same question. “Lord, is it not time to set up your Kingdom?”

Perhaps we are struggling with a health issue, family strife, loneliness, and sadness over a lost loved one. We long for a time when “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21:4). Even the Apostle Paul wrote passionately about this in Philippians 1:23-24 (NKJV)

“For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless, to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” 

This brings us to Hebrews.

Hebrews 11 is often called the “Faith Hall of Fame.” It is a powerful reminder of the faithfulness of God and the power of faith to transform lives. Take, for example, verse 40. The author here concludes with a profound statement that encapsulates the central message of the entire chapter: 

God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 

This statement is the culmination of the author’s argument about the nature and power of faith. It speaks to the idea that God’s plan for humanity is not just about individuals but the collective whole.

To understand the significance of this statement, we need first to examine the context in which it is made. Hebrews 11 is a powerful meditation on the role of faith in the lives of God’s people. It begins with a definition of faith: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Heb 11:1). From there, the author goes on to illustrate the power of faith through a series of examples from the lives of Old Testament heroes.

Hebrews tells us about Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, and others and how they all demonstrated faith in God through their actions. The writer is trying to show that faith is not just a mental exercise or an emotional feeling; it is something that is lived out in concrete ways. By faith, these heroes were able to accomplish incredible things and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Joseph recognizes this when he reveals himself to his brothers in Genesis 50:20

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

However, the writer of Hebrews is not just interested in telling stories of faith for their own sake. He has a deeper purpose in mind. He encourages his readers to persevere in their faith journey, even when the going gets tough. He is showing them that faith is not a guarantee of an easy life but a guarantee of God’s faithfulness.

This is why the writer of Hebrews ends the faith chapter with verse 40. God had planned something better for us. He is saying God’s plan is not just about the individual heroes of faith he has just mentioned, but it is about all of us. God’s plan is to make us all perfect (mature) together.

What does this mean? It means God’s plan is not just about saving individuals from sin and death and giving them the Kingdom. It means God’s plan is to create a community of people fully devoted to Him and one another. It means God’s plan is to create a people who reflect His love, His grace, His mercy, and His justice to the world. Take the prophet, Micah. He asked the question: 

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Mic 6: 6-8). 

Those heroes of faith Hebrews mentioned were not perfect. They were flawed, just like the rest of us. But they were able to accomplish great things through their faith in God. God’s plan is to use all of us, flawed as we are, to accomplish even greater things through our collective faith. 

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Heb 6:10).
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Heb 13:16). 

This message is incredibly empowering. It means that we are not alone in our faith journey. It means we are part of a larger community of believers striving toward the same goal. It means we can learn from the examples of those before us and draw strength from their faith.

But it also means that we have a responsibility to one another. We cannot just focus on our own faith journey; we must also be concerned with the faith journeys of those around us. We must encourage one another, support one another, and hold one another accountable. We must work together to build up our ecclesias, redeeming the time that God, in his grace and mercy, has provided all of us before His Kingdom comes.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.
All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.
I needed clothes, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you looked after me. I was in prison, and you came to visit me.”
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
(Matt 25:31-40).

Rich Dineen,
Boston Ecclesia, MA

  1. 1 All Scriptural citations are taken from the New International Version, unless specifically noted.
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