Hebrews 11 is often called “Faith’s Hall of Fame,” as it chronicles the lineage of those who obeyed God in faith. Beginning with Abel, who by faith offered a better offering than Cain, and continuing through the judges, kings and prophets, we have illustrated what it means to have faith in God.
Hebrews 11 is the perfect picture of James 2:18, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
Hebrews 11 is also a great depiction of the relationship between of God’s grace, man’s faith and works, and God’s reward to the obedient believer. Whereas many teach that God’s grace is appropriated before man has faith and obeys, this chapter shows otherwise. For example:
In verse 7 we see how Noah’s faith moved him to build an ark (obey/work). The result of his obedience was the appropriation of God’s grace to the saving of his household.
Another example can be seen in verse 30, wherein is written, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. While this is an abbreviated version of all the events, it still serves to show us that our obedience is required to appropriate or activate God’s grace.
To those who say that grace and works are antithetical to one another, let us ask a series of questions:
Did the walls of Jericho fall by grace? (I mean, could anyone reasonably claim that marching around a fortified city was the reason the walls fell down flat?)
Did the walls fall down apart from Israel’s obedience?
Did Israel’s obedience of faith, that is, her works, in any way invalidate or conflict with God’s grace?
The same truth remains in the Gospel Age. Man’s faith must still provoke him to obey God’s commands, whereby God promises to bless those who live by faith.