Faith of Our Fathers
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews has well been called the "great gallery of gallant Christian faith," or as others have said, "The Hall of Faith" chapter of the Bible. Just reading it can send chills down one’s back. It is a thrilling and fascinating account of spiritual giants, both men and women, and all of them willing to give their all, including their lives, in defense of their faith in God. There have been literally millions of martyrs of the Christian faith in every century since this record was first written in what has become known as the New Testament. Some writers and historians have estimated that at least fifty million individuals have died a martyr's death since the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, beginning with Stephen. Even today, in what we deem is our civilized culture, there are many who suffer and die because of their faith and profession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
The Hebrews writer wrote, "Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2) We have a hymn we sometimes sing called Faith of Our Fathers, written by Frederick W. Faber. No doubt the hearing and singing of the hymn Faith of Our Fathers conjures in many minds various scenes from the great "cloud of witnesses" referred to in Hebrews 12:1. These individuals, their voices long ago silenced, still speak to us, encouraging us to "run with patience the race that is set before us." There are too many in the world today who wish to laugh at and scoff at those who profess Christ as our Savior. It is good, then, for us to be reminded, and reminded often, that the history of the Christian faith is a rich heritage of countless numbers whose faith in God was counted even more dear than their life itself.
Much more could be written about those first century Christians and their persecution at the hands of the Jews first, and then later on by the Roman Empire, or even the religious persecution to our own forefathers resulting in their quest for a new land where they could enjoy religious freedom, resulting in the founding of the United States of America. It is quite humbling to ponder the great sacrifices that have been made by so many countless others who have passed over before us, whose sacrifice has made it possible for us to know and love the Lord, and have that same hope of spending an eternity with our Creator that they had and enjoyed. Ponder the words of this hymn, and hearken back to those who have inspired it.
Faith of our fathers living still in spite of dungeon, fire and sword:
O how our hearts beat high with joy whene’er we hear that glorious word!
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark, were still in heart and conscience free:
How sweet would be their children’s fate, if they, like them, could die for Thee!
Faith of our fathers we will love. Both friend and foe in all our strife:
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how, by kindly words and virtuous life.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to Thee till death!