Example Of Critical Thinking On Hebrews: Elements Of Christian Living
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Faith is a crucial aspect of the book of Hebrews. It is consistently addressed all throughout the book. It used as an example of how all the major patriarchs of the Bible were faithful to God and trusted him regardless of the situation. Faith is ultimately about an assurance in something not immediately evident by the senses. The book of Hebrews was written to an audience who was most likely doubting whether or not Jesus was the true Messiah, which is why the issue of faith is frequently discussed. The author of Hebrews would want to show that the only way to be assured of Christ’s supremacy would be to have faith (Johnson 408).
The passages in Hebrews which define and show faith in action the best are in Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11:1-2 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” The rest of Hebrews goes through the famous, “By faith” examples where they list all the patriarchs and how they trusted in God despite not having immediate proof and results of their faith.
Faith is something that is absolutely essential to the Christian life today, as faith in Christ is still the only path to salvation. Faith is one of the basic distinctions in members of the Christian community and something that reflects the lifestyle of a Christian. Without faith, one ceases to be a true Christian, so at its core, faith is the defining quality of following Christ.
Another aspect of the Christian lifestyle described in the book of Hebrews is perseverance. This is stressed again because of the context of the book. While not much is known about the author of Hebrews, it is concerned with a lot of Jewish references, suggesting potential conflicts about false teachers within the Christian community. Therefore, the topic of perseverance is relevant (DeSilva 451).
Hebrews 12 addresses the importance of persevering in the faith, despite the conflicting views and hardships that many believers suffered. Hebrews 12:7 says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”
Suffering through false teachings is still a struggle today. It is often hard to persevere in the faith despite the many conflicting ideologies present in the world today. With many different religions, persecution throughout the world, and the secularization of society, the Christian faith still has to persevere through hardships.
Hebrews also has a very practical section at the end of the book, where it shows exactly what is necessary in a life of a Christian. The concluding words of Chapter 13 describe how Christians should live despite the various perspectives and conflicts that may exist. The ultimate example to follow is Christ, and his love. This theme is brought out in Hebrews (Johnson 420).
Hebrews 13:1-3 bring out the theme of loving others and how to treat neighbors. It says, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” It also describes the need to show hospitality and remembering those in prison.
The need to show love and hospitality to others is another central, defining characteristic of those living the Christian faith. Christians should be recognized by their love shown throughout their lifestyle, so it is necessary to follow these instructions throughout life. There are always ways to improve upon this in the Christian community, as more hospitality can always be shown.
James: Arguments about salvific faith
Faith Without Works
One of the primary arguments James makes about faith is that it should produce something. If one has faith, there are certain actions that should go along with it. This does not mean that Christianity is a works righteousness religion, as the works do not save a person. However, a mark of those who are saved would be good works (DeSilva 553).
James 2: 14-26 is the main passage that describes the issue of faith and works. It concludes with the famous passage, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (Jm 2:26).”
The Christian community really does need to take to heart this message. Works are still important to the Christian faith and are an aspect of faith. Therefore, there should be an emphasis on living according to God’s word and how Christ has instructed.
Do not judge
Another aspect of faith that is that Christians should not be judgmental of each other. This does not mean discernment should not be used, but rather an acceptance of the fact everyone is a sinner. No one is saved outside of God’s grace, therefore in faith, judgements and condemnation of people should not happen within the Christian community (DeSilva 551).
James 5: 11-12 describe the commands not to judge each other. This is a major issue within the Christian community, and should be exercised more frequently. It is very easy to judge when one believes they have the truth and the exhibit true Christianity. However, all have fallen and a certain humility should be shown.
Dangers of Favoritism
James also shows why favoritism is dangerous in light of faith. Because Christ’s gift of salvation applies to all people, no one is worth more than anyone else. Everyone is equally guilty of sin. Economic status does not matter, and no one should be shown favoritism in the church (Johnson 451).
James 2: 1-13 describe how faith does not promote favoritism. It warns against using “partiality” and “judgement” on others, because all are on equal standing.
These verses are also important to the church today because of how they promote equality amongst believers. This is especially true of the rich and poor, as this passage specifically mentions this. The Christian community should not discriminate against anyone, even in terms of social standing. This is something that should be worked on as well throughout the Christian community.
DeSilva, David. An Introduction to the New Testament Contexts, Methods, and Ministry Formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVaristy Press, 2004.
"Hebrews." BIblica. Web. 31 Mar. 2015. <http://www.biblica.com/en-us/bible/online-bible/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-hebrews/>.
Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation. Pbk. ed. Philadelphia: Fortress, 2010. Print.
Senior, Donald. The Catholic Study Bible. New York: Oxford UP, 1990. Print.
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