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All Saints' Day

In the epistle to the Hebrews, the author takes us on a kind of tour of thought declaring to us a full and complete picture of Jesus Christ before teaching us about faith and life in Christ.

He begins by telling us this most important point, "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son." As modern day Christians we know God because we know His Son, who speaks to us as our Shepherd, our King. The writer goes on to say, "He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature..." Who is God? Look at Jesus. What is God like? Look at Jesus. How does God love? Look at Jesus. What does God say? Listen to Jesus. How righteous is God? Look at Jesus. How gracious is God? Look at Jesus. You get the point.

From chapter one up through chapter ten the writer of Hebrews builds a case for faith in Christ by describing Jesus and His work. He presents Jesus' supremacy and primacy, His work for our salvation, how He is greater than Moses, that He is the fulfillment of the priesthood, He ushers in a new covenant and by pouring out His blood as the last sacrifice for all He redeems all. It is a complete picture, from Genesis to the ascension. In other words, here is the work of Christ for you, believe it! Hold fast, have confidence, and draw near with full assurance.

Then comes chapter 11, the great list of saints. These saints (holy ones) are saints because they live "by faith" in the work God had given them to do. They had great assurance and hope for what was promised to them by God and a deep conviction even though their eyes could not see these things. The words "by faith" appear at least 19 times in this chapter, twice he uses "through faith." How does a disciple of Jesus live through this life? By faith. From Abel to the New Testament saints and martyrs, the author of Hebrews floods us with examples of those who have come before. This great cloud of witnesses surrounds us, encouraging us always to fix our gaze upon Jesus, "the founder and perfecter of our faith." We are to "consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary and fainthearted" as you "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely." Looking to this Jesus, who has been described for the last ten chapters, and as the saints given in chapter 11 once did, we can "run with endurance the race set before (Heb 12:1-3)."

This one day of the Church year brings to mind the whole of the year touching much of the Old Testament saints, God's gracious work for us in Jesus, Easter's celebration of the resurrection and the promises for you there (Rom. 6:3-8), and Pentecost as the Church catholic is joined together in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace--heaven and earth. Jesus makes all this possible, and the saints--past, present and future--cling in faith to Him, encouraging one another into life everlasting and the new creation.

It is a great day in the Lord, a great festival to cherish.

Use this day to remember to "fix your eyes on Jesus" and to remember and give thanks for those saints who have gone before and who sit next to you in the pew.

God's peace.

Scripture quotations are from The ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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