Hebrews Chapter 11 gives us a remarkable account of the Old Testament saints. As a result of their faith they came to a place where they could and did believe for something which must eventuate, though in many cases, in the majority of cases, it never did eventuate in their lifetime. But the great statement here in this chapter is that this made no difference. They had come to such a position with the Lord, in this knowing of Him, that they could all die not having received the promises. All died in faith. You see, they did not even at the last have the stimulus of seeing the thing materializing; but they were able to die in faith. It may be somewhat easier to live in faith, if by that you mean that you expect the thing to be realized in your lifetime. But the essence of faith is ‘This must be! It is a part of God, it is God Himself, and whether I live to see it or not, that makes no difference to faith; it will be! And I live now, not to see it in my lifetime, but I live now in relation to it to be realized at some time in the purpose and intention of God’.
Then we have a further wonderful statement. They received not the promises, they died in faith, but they looked on, they looked on to us. Faith carried them beyond their own lifetime, and the statement is that they could not “be made perfect”. That word ‘perfect’ is very interesting. It simply means they could not come to the consummation, the full growth of their faith. That thing could not reach its ultimate end until we came in. It demanded us. They, apart from us, could not reach the consummation of their faith; and faith goes on and sees that there are yet things to be brought in by God for the realization of that which is in our hearts, for which we are living, for which we are laboring, for which we are suffering, for which we are being patient. Faith goes right on to the end and says, ‘It may not be in my time; there may be more things to be brought in yet to make the consummation possible, but eventually, my faith in God will be vindicated, and the thing will be realized!’
Faith is a big thing, a comprehensive thing, and a real purity of faith means we do not just live to see things in our time, so that, should there be any doubt about our seeing them in our time, faith would go out. That is not the essence of faith at all. We have to have an after-life faith, a long view faith, which is not made less active because the prospect of a full realization in our time begins to be overshadowed. That is the basis and nature of faith here.