Established in 1868 as a day to honor the fallen soldiers of the just concluded Civil War, Memorial Day has grown to become a solemn recognition of all of our nation’s war dead and the high price of our freedoms.

There is the sense in which the dead, though silent, still speak–the quality and character of their lives lingering long after they have gone. The writer of Hebrews 11, the great faith chapter, declares of Abel, murdered by his brother but approved by God, “he still speaks, even though he is dead” (vs.4). Let us hear what the godly lives of the past say today.

I. They Speak of the Godly Heritage We Ought Not to Forget “Hebrews 11:1-40).

A. The matter of godly faith

1. Defined (Hebrews 11:1)
2. Declared (Hebrews 11:6)
3. Described–more than 20 times expressed, “by faith

B. Examples of our godly heritage

1. Abraham speaks of faith and obedience. He abandoned much to follow God (Hebrews 11:8-17).

Following (Genesis 12: 1-8)
Isaac Born (Genesis 21:1-7)
Isaac Offered (Genesis 22:1-18)

2. Joseph speaks about purity and wisdom and forgiveness. (Hebrews 11:22)

Purity (Genesis 39:1-12)
Wisdom (Genesis 41:41-57)
Forgiveness (Genesis 50:18-21)

3. Moses speaks about strength and courage. (Hebrews 11:23-28) 5-12)

Strength (Exodus 32)
Courage (Exodus 5-12)
Service (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)

C. Personal examples of godly heritage that have touched our lives


II. They Speak of the Godly Opportunities That We Dare Not Waste (Hebrews 12:1).

Their godly lives of surpassing trust, valor and integrity summon us to nothing less than the same. That means the following:

A. Godly Priorities–“let us throw off everything that hinders . . .” (Luke 9:23; Philippians 3:12-14)

B. Godly Purity–“let us throw off . . . the sin that so easily entangles” (2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:3,4).

C. Godly Perseverance–“let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us” (1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9).

The battle between good and evil is won only as God’s people pay the price of personal discipline and public integrity, touching their world for good. St. Paul said we are to be God’s letters, “known and read by everybody.” (2 Corinthians 3:2)


III. They Speak of the Godly Message We Must Not Forsake “(Hebrews 12:2,3).

A. The Good News of Jesus Christ we claim (Hebrews 12:2) (Acts 4:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

On the cross Jesus became the author of our faith.
On the throne Jesus becomes the perfecter of our faith.

B. The Good News of Jesus Christ we proclaim to others (Hebrews 12:3) (2 Corinthians 5:14,15,18-20).


IV. Conclusion

Only the Good News of Jesus Christ, lived and shared, has the power to rescue individual lives and heal our nation. We are debtors to those who have gone before us for their faithfulness to God and righteousness. Now it is our turn to offer the same to those who come after us.

Action Points

Study the lives of the many examples in Scripture of those who lived as godly examples.

Consult with folks who are in your church or community who are godly examples and ask them to share their testimony with you. Consider having some folks share their testimonies in your worship service periodically.

Ask God to help you walk day by day so that you may live in such a way that when you die your life will continue to speak of God’s grace and power.

Several years ago Dr. Francis Schaeffer wrote:

Future generations will look back, and many will either scoff or believe in Christ on the basis of whether we Christians of today took a sacrificial stand in our various walks of life on these overwhelmingly important issues. If we do not take a stand here and now, we certainly cannot lay claim to being the salt of the earth in our generation. We are neither preserving moral values or dignity of the individual nor showing compassion for our fellow human beings. Will future generations look back and remember that–even if the 20th century did end with a great surge of inhumanity–at least there was one group who stood consistently, whatever the price, for the value of the individual, thus passing on some hope to future generations? Or are we Christians going to be merely swept along with the trends, our own moral values becoming increasingly befuddled, our own apathy reflecting the apathy of the world around us, our own inactivity sharing the inertia of the masses around us, our own leadership becoming soft?

(Quoted in Family News From Dr. James Dobson, May, 1997, from Whatever Happened to the Human Race? by Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop, p. 133)


H.B. London Jr., Vice President, Ministry Outreach Division
Rev. Hal Bonner, Retired Clergy
Stan Kellner, Manager, Pastoral Care, Ministry Outreach Division
Steve Watters, Social Research Analyst, Public Policy Division