Do you know what it takes to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame? Less than you probably think. Here are the rules: You need to have played in at least ten Major League seasons and you need to have ceased playing at least five years prior to entrance to the Hall of Fame. Oh, and one last thing: Did I mention that you get in by vote? In other words, a few good performances don’t cut it. Only the truly greats get their names in the hall of fame.
When I was a kid in Sunday school, they called Hebrews 11 “The Hall of Faith.” That was cool, you know, mixing baseball and Bible together. But Babe Ruth could never compete with the folks in this chapter. These people left their homes, faced all kinds of persecution, and even died as they clung to the promises of God. Hebrews 11 is a roster of true Old Testament All-Stars.
An Unexpected Roster
But hold on, we might be surprised by a few of the names God lists on this “Hall of Faith.” I mean, Abraham, for sure, he was a player. He definitely gets a spot. Enoch, Noah, Moses? Of course! But what about Barak? Didn’t he exhibit a lack of faith when he would only obey God if Deborah the prophetess joined his army on route to defeat Sisera? How about Samson? Wasn’t he a serial vow-breaker and womanizer?
And should we even talk about Rahab-the-prostitute? I mean, doesn’t her name pretty much illustrate the problem? How did guys with their rap sheets get listed next to the great characters of the Bible?
Here’s the kicker. “Whoever would draw near to God must believe” (Hebrews 11:6). Whoa, there’s a no-nonsense word—“whoever . . .” Does that mean me? And you too?
You bet. With the introduction of “whoever,” we’re all invited to take our place in the Hall of Faith. You see, it’s not reserved for those who have written best-seller Christian books or social media influencers, or for the gifted few who get called up to speak at conferences, or for those whose kids have never rebelled, or who courageously share the gospel with everyone they sit next to on a plane. You don’t get onto this roster because you do something great. God’s not out looking for the great ones of the world to fill his Hall of Faith. He fills it with “whoevers,” those ordinary, unknown folks who put their trust in him.
But just because you’re small and ordinary doesn’t mean you get automatic access either. There’s another key word in Hebrews 11:6. “Whoever would draw near to God must believe.” With “must” we’re buckled in and locked down with no exit options. There is only one door that opens into this great Hall. It’s the door of belief. If you believe, you’re in. If you disbelieve, well, pray for Jesus to help your unbelief.
The Gospel Becomes Our Entrance
Just in case you think there’s an escape hatch out of Hebrews 11, consider the verses that guard the front door to the Hall of Faith: Hebrews 10:38: “But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
Truly, there was only ever one righteous one who lived fully by faith. Jesus Christ is not only the true embodiment of perfect faith, but he also became the forerunner and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12: 2). Now with the gift of faith provided by his grace (Eph. 2: 8-9), he calls us to do good works which he has prepared for us even as we trust him with all we don’t know. To say it another way, Jesus calls us to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5: 7).
Hebrews 11:6 doesn’t throw us an impossible task and leave us unable to achieve it. It doesn’t demand that we go out and rescue an entire nation from slavery or leave our homes to live a nomadic life in a foreign land. It doesn’t demand that we make all the right decisions or quit our day jobs to enter the ministry. It doesn’t require you to raise a perfect family or memorize a certain amount of Scripture. This amazing verse actually tells us how faith works in us and through us. We get in the Hall by faith. Then we stay in by faith.
Faith is grounded in Jesus, granted to us by Jesus, and guaranteed for life because of Jesus. Yet, mysteriously and paradoxically, we are responsible for growing our faith, using our faith, and keeping our faith. We hold on to God by faith even as we are held by Him in Christ.
But to those who cherish the faith entrusted to them while also stretching it to attempt great things for God; to those who will trust God even as they wake up to another day of monotonous parenting, bodily affliction, or even emotional chaos; God etches their name upon the hallowed walls of the Hall of Faith. Not because their catalog of victories grew. But because their faith did.
Tenacious Tuesday Question
Have you fallen into the trap of thinking that you can earn a place in the Hall of Faith by what you do with your life? How does knowing God’s entrance comes by faith free you for life, work, and ministry today?
Lord, teach me to live and work by faith, knowing that you have received me into your household not because of my works but because of the work done for me in Christ.