Sons of Lionhearted Saints
Recovering Our Lost Lineage
Our generation is disconnected, not merely from one another but from
the past. How many of us know our great-grandfathers’ names? Our
great-great-grandfathers? We perch ourselves on the highest branch in
the family tree and tend to be unconcerned with that below. Our gaze
is upwards. Functionally, we are the great-grandsons and
granddaughters of no one — physically or spiritually. We wander the
Because of it, we struggle with more sin than we should, have smaller
faith than we might, blow in the cultural winds more than we would,
and shrink back before opposition more than we ought. We do not keep
before us of what people we come, and this hinders our endurance
Or so thought the author of Hebrews.
To a church that started off so well but now limped dangerously along,
he rides his horse up and down the frontline with a foreign war cry to
Western ears: “We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,
but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebrews 10:39).
Bloodline as Battle Cry
Instead of writing, “You got this!” Hebrews roots them in a family
history of those who, by faith, had already done it. The “Hall of
Faith” is not a list of demigods who did what we cannot. They are
forefathers and foremothers, painfully human and made strong in God,
and their stories are recorded to motivate us toward the same
Hebrews asks us if we remember how, by faith, Noah prepared the ark,
or Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice to God, or Abraham went out,
not knowing where he was going — and implies, You, in reliance upon
the same God, can do likewise. Or, do you recall Sarah, who believed
God’s word and conceived a child, or Moses, who by faith esteemed the
reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt? This is
your lineage — these are your people. You, if you are a Christian, are
not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who live
by unseen realities and preserve their souls.
He concludes the brief tour of theirs and our spiritual family
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking
to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that
was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is
seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2)
Because these are our family members, because they surround us as we
run, let us lay aside weights and sin and run with endurance looking
to Jesus. Do you read the Old Testament this way?
Family of Faithful Witnesses
Such an experience should greet us every time we open our Bibles,
whether in front or in back. Sixty-six books, Old and New, introduce
us to spiritual fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters who
stumbled as we do, but who finally conquered by faith as we hope to.
We turn page after page and watch how they finished their race, how
they kept the faith, how they overcame temptation, repented their
failings, trusted, hoped for, and hungered for God in their trials and
sufferings. Their lives captured in Scripture to encourage us — their
spiritual descendants — to run, without reserve, as the King’s people
to the King himself. In other words, we press on today because of both
whom we come from and whom lies before us.
Do we think of the redeemed men and women this way? Job, Moses,
Abraham, Sarah, David, Elijah, Rehab, Ruth, Jeremiah, Joshua, Daniel,
Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego, Gideon, Hezekiah, Josiah — as family.
If you serve the Living God, your God is the God of John, Paul,
Andrew, Mary, Barnabas, the thief on the cross, Peter, Lazarus, the
man born blind, Apollos, Timothy, Thomas, Pricilla and Aquilla, the
formerly demon-possessed girl, the Philippian jailer, Cornelius,
Philemon, Jude, James, Elizabeth — and on and on — each with different
examples of Christ’s power to keep us by resilient faith.
We join this family of audacious ancestors through union to our
brother, Jesus. “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons
of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7), and, “if you are Christ’s, then you are
Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29).
Even if we suffer the loss of earthly ties because of allegiances to
Christ, each of us has inherited a hundredfold — mothers, fathers,
sisters, and brothers along with eternal life in Christ (Matthew
19:29). For so goes the promise to our father Abraham, “Look toward
heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. . . . So
shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5).
Not of Those Who Shrink Back
Do not miss that this spiritual family is a holy family; like Father,
like sons. Our family believes and lives and acts from belief in God
and his promises. And this, the author of Hebrews thinks, is vital for
us to consider.
So do you struggle with the glittering things of this world?
Reintroduce yourself to your great uncle, Moses, who considered the
reproaches of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt
Does a Potiphar’s wife tempt you to an adulterous affair? Count
yourself a descendant of Joseph who, by faith, fled, exclaiming, “How
then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis
Do you feel God calling you to the great unknown? Remember Abraham. Do
the promises of God feel inconceivable? Remember the story of Sarah.
Do you feel pressure from an ungodly family to forsake Christ?
Consider Rehab who, by faith, received the Israelite spies (Hebrews
Does your confidence waver concerning whether God can overcome this
present darkness? Consider afresh that kingdoms bowed, mouths of lions
shut, justice reigned, fires quenched, children resurrected, swords
broke, that the weak through faith were made strong, the fainting grew
valiant, foreign armies fled, and leave instructions with Joseph that
your bones` be buried in a land yet unconquered (Hebrews 11:22, 33–
And do you fear persecution might one day overwhelm your faith? Don’t
forget your family members “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews
11:38). These wandered the world as outcasts, waded through mocking,
whippings, imprisonment, and brutal deaths, by faith, awaiting the
resurrection of the dead (Hebrews 11:35–38).
Are you growing tired or neglectful or sluggish of hearing? God does
not leave you to yourself as a lone twig to figure it out. He gives
you a tree of Lebanon to belong to. Relearn your great grandfathers’
and grandmothers’ names. As you look fully to Christ, remember that
“we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those
who have faith and preserve their souls.”
Run in entirety with permission from Desiring God.