Hebrews 12:2

Hebrews 12:2 (see also Matthew 26:39)
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Matthew 26:39: “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’

Steven Hitchcock: “Both of these texts of Scripture, which deal with Jesus’ travail of soul about the cross, address the issue of faith and the will. Jesus was not even tainted by sin and yet He did not ‘will’ to go to the cross. The cross was not something to be desired, so to not will it, was not indicative of a sinful disposition of the heart. He said in His prayer to the Father that it was not His will, but He still went to the cross. According to Hebrews, He went to the cross by faith, not by His will. His will and His faith were in opposition to one another. So it says that Jesus despised the shame of the cross, meaning that it was in conflict with His will, but that by faith He looked ahead to the joy that was set before Him. Jesus overcame the conflict of His will, and a sinless will at that, by faith. Jesus is our leader and the perfecter of our faith because He overcame His will by His faith. So as we fix our eyes on Jesus, which is to look to Him in faith, our enslaved wills are defeated. Therefore, in the sinless example of the Lord Jesus Christ we can observe that when faith is exercised it is not governed by the disposition of the will or even arises out of the will, but rather, the exercise of faith governs the will.”  (Recanting Calvinism, pp.229-230, emphasis mine)

​In context, Hebrews 12:2 follows the “faith chapter” of Hebrews 11, which highlighted the faithful believers of the Bible. Turning to Jesus, highlighting what He did, shows that not only is He the greatest of the aforementioned examples, but is also the One in whom they had all believed. Starting and authoring, and finishing and perfecting, Jesus provided the ultimate example of faith and for faith, and that is most likely the intention. In other words, this isn’t necessarily about initial salvation, but about Christ as the role model of faith for the believer.

​Question: Is faith always just about salvation?

Answer: No. Even Christians struggle with a lack of faith. The disciples had also struggled with it. Jesus encouraged: “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22) “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:14)

Gordon Robertson: “Take heart in that Jesus is your faith. You don’t even have to come up with it, and drum up with it, on your own. This isn’t some, ‘Let’s hype it up’ and ‘get all emotional.’ This is, ‘Look to Him, the author and finisher of your faith.’ And if He is the ‘author,’ then He begins it. And if He is the ‘finisher,’ that means that He finishes it. And all that we have to do is look to Him. So instead of me trying to come up with it, I just have to look at Him, and the more that I look at His Word, the more that I’m looking at Him, because whose ‘the Word’? Jesus. Jesus. ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word.’ Hearing by Jesus.” (The Life-Changing Power of Prayer)

Notice that this is speaking of faith in the context of the believer, the Christian seeking faith. So faith isn’t always about salvation. Sometimes it deals with a Christian’s walk, and the Faith Chapter in Hebrews encourages just such a faith.

Gordon Robertson: “We do have Free Will, and we can choose to obey and believe, or we can start doing things our way.” (The Life-Changing Power of Prayer)

Gordon Robertson: “The earth says, ‘Seeing is believing.’ The Bible says, ‘Believing is Seeing.’ Believe that you already have it. Start thinking about how many times you’ve prayed, and you believed that you didn’t have it. How many times did you repeat that same thing, ‘I have to face reality.’ Even though you’ve seen plenty of evidence of His power and His faithfulness, and He’s seen you so far, and He’s walked with you so far, but you start saying, ‘I don’t have that yet.’” (The Life-Changing Power of Prayer)

Not even John Calvin used this Hebrews text as a proof-text for Irresistible Grace. Calvinists are simply inferring from Ephesians 2:8 that faith is a gift (when yet salvation is the gift, as cross referenced with Romans 6:23), and then conclude from Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus is the Originator of an irresistible faith, which I cannot see how is related in any way to the context of Hebrews 12:2.

This passage has nothing to do with salvation, or Jesus giving faith to Calvinism’s elect when it’s time for them to leave behind Total Depravity and receive Irresistible Grace. The emphasis, here, is the race, for believers to run unencumbered, fixing our eyes on Jesus, not as a finish line, but as the perfect example of how to run the race “for the joy set before Him,” with an endurance that perseveres through suffering and shame. Jesus is described as the highest example of how to start, endure and complete the race of faith. 

​Calvinists hone in on the word “author” and assume that it means that He originates, starts, initiates, captains and controls an efficacious faith [Irresistible Grace] in each of the Calvinism’s elect [Unconditional Election], and then preserves that irresistible faith to the end [Perseverance of the Saints]. The alternative view is that Jesus is the author and perfecter of the Christian faith by example, which makes the most amount of sense, since it comes right after the many examples of Hebrews chapter 11.

In his chapter on Irresistible Grace, Calvinist, James White comments: “The redeemed heart rejoices to consider the truth that Jesus is the author and perfecter of faith. The term ‘author’ refers to the origin, the source, and ‘perfecter’ means one who completes and finishes. While Jesus is surely the origin and source of ‘the faith’ as in the Christian faith as a whole, in this passage, following right after the ‘faith hall of fame’ in Hebrews 11, our steadfast faith in God is in view. Christ is the origin of that faith, and He will likewise perfect it. That true and saving faith is one vital aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit in the work of regeneration comes out over and over again in the text of the New Testament.” (Debating Calvinism, p.202, emphasis mine)

Yes, the “Redeemed heart” rejoices, but the self-titled “Reformed heart” struggles to find any traction  to make this passage teach Calvinism. No one questions that the Holy Spirit is the One who regenerates. The question is whether someone is regenerated preemptively simply because they were allegedly chosen into an Upper Caste vs. the Untouchables of the alleged non-elect of the Lower Caste. Such alleged preemptive regeneration also presupposes that one is preemptively sealed in Christ, in order to access such a regeneration, and that is where Calvinistic Irresistible Grace finds its greatest weakness, especially when cross referenced with Ephesians 1:13. James White tried to use Hebrews 12:2 as a cryptic reference to Irresistible Grace, but as you can see, there’s nothing explicit to work with.

​Calvinist paraphrase:  Jesus is the author of Irresistible Grace in Calvinism’s elect, and preserves their faith until the end.

Arminian paraphrase:  Jesus is the inspiration and motivation for believers to fight the good fight of faith, not necessarily in respect to salvation, but for the Christian walk.

​To a Calvinist, this is all about faith being an irresistible gift to Calvinism’s secret elect. The reality, though, is that eternal life is the gift, and which we receive through faith. See Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ephesians 2:8 is similar, in that salvation is the free gift, which we receive through faith. God offers it to you, and you accept His gift by faith. You can’t see the transaction take place, and you cannot see the Holy Spirit living inside of you, but you take it on faith that it has happened, and you experience the results in your life. So the common phrase of “seeing is believing” is really different for a Christian, since for a Christian, it is instead: “believing is seeing.”