By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
In the world of professional sports, each has its Hall of Fame into which almost every athlete aspires to be inducted. But only those who have distinguished themselves as superior athletes and crowd-pleasers are voted into a Hall of Fame.
At the Hall, each inductee has a bronze bust, pictures, records heralding the athlete’s great feats, and other memorabilia.
In Hebrews 11, we find what has been referred to as the “Hall of Faith.”
The believers listed in this special Hall were truly remarkable, providing us with wonderful examples to emulate.
The first believers to be inducted, so to speak, into the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith are Abel, Enoch, and Noah. The Holy Spirit draws our attention to distinctive features about each of these believers, whose biographical records are found in the book of Genesis (Abel in 4:1-15; Enoch in 5:21-24; Noah in 6:5 and following). Abel and his brother Cain were Adam and Eve’s first offspring. Abel offered up a sacrifice superior to Cain’s sacrifice in worship of the Lord. Enoch was set apart from countless believers as being one of two who entered heaven without dying. And Noah, in obedience to God, built a huge seaworthy vessel which enabled him and his family to survive the worldwide flood.
While athletes earn their way into the Hall of Fame through personal achievements, those in the Hall of Faith are there by reason of God’s gracious working for and in them. They could all testify with the apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain.” (1 Cor.15:10)
It was due to a Spirit-worked faith in their hearts that each believer listed in Hebrews 11 was richly blessed by God. Out of faith in the one true God, Abel, Enoch, and Noah were concerned not about being crowd-pleasers, but rather pleasers of God. And it was because they lived their lives in loving service and worshipful devotion to God, out of faith in Him, that they were well-pleasing to Him. Possessing faith in the coming Savior and His redemptive work, these three believers received the imputed righteousness of Christ (see Romans 3 and 4) and were found acceptable to God.
While athletes aspire to be in a Hall of Fame, every believer in the one true God looks forward to being welcomed into God’s Hall of Faith—their eternal home of heaven. We can confidently plan on entering the eternal realms of glory because of the crucified and risen Savior Jesus Christ, to Whom we look by faith. Who deserves the credit for this? All honor, glory, and praise belongs to our Savior God.
Mark Gullerud is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Bowdle, South Dakota, and Zion Lutheran Church in Ipswich, South Dakota.