"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising public shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB)
One thing that I have reformed in my theology is my soteriology (the study of salvation). That is, it has drastically turned from a man-centered soteriology to a God-centered soteriology. This may seem confusing to some, so let me explain with a question: who do you give credit to for your salvation? If you are a Christian, you will probably say "God" and rightly so. But since so many of us, myself included, are unintentionally entangled in man's traditions, we may not have as much of a God-centered soteriology as we might think.
When we think about our salvation, it is easy and convenient to think of it in terms of God making the offer and we having the option of responding. That is, God has provided the necessary means to achieve forgiveness of sins through Christ's atoning work as well as justification through imputation of righteousness (see 2 Cor. 5:19, Romans 4:5, etc.), and it us up to us to generate the type of faith necessary to receive these things. But do you ever take a step back and wonder where your faith comes from? Furthermore, have you ever wondered how and why Christians, like the apostle Paul, were able to endure to the end? Is it because Paul was able to muster up enough faith to make it from start to finish? Quite the contrary.
If you read Hebrews 12:1-2, you will notice a very Christ-centered soteriology. Yes, we do the "running" as well as the "enduring," but notice who the source is. Think of it like a car. Do cars do work? Of course they do. But you provide the fuel, to which it would be useless without it. And under no circumstances would a car be able to run without the fuel. You are the source. And as long as you provide the fuel (and repairs), it will run as long as you need it to.
Though no analogy is perfect in illustrating this, I feel that it is sufficient in comparing our dependence on Christ for salvation as well as our endurance. If Christ is the source (or the author) for our faith, then what does this say about us? For me, it certainly puts a damper on the possibility that I was the one who generated what was needed to respond to God's offer of salvation. In addition, it puts a damper on the possibility that I am the one who provides the necessary faith to endure till the end.
This leads me to two conclusions.
1. Christ begins our faith as well as finishes it. The question is, does Christ provide faith that isn't able to endure? If you are the "author and perfecter" of a book, wouldn't it be reasonable to conclude that you have accomplished what you were set out to do? Similarly, if Christ is able to provide my faith, isn't he also able to perfect it all the way to the end?
2. Some people have faith in Christ and many do not. Does Christ provide faith for everyone? If so, then why isn't Christ able to continue to perfect what he set out to accomplish? In light of Hebrews 12:2, Christ can't be the "author" of faith in all cases but only the "perfecter" in some. Its either all or nothing. That is, all of those faiths that Christ "authors" he will also "perfect." This leads to the inevitable conclusion that God has chosen to redeem some rather than all.