"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS" Running The Race Of Faith (12:1-3) INTRODUCTION 1. Throughout our study, we have noted the emphasis on being steadfast in our faith... a. The warning against developing unbelief - He 3:12-15 b. The need for a faith that endures - He 6:11-12; 10:36-39 c. In chapter eleven, we were reminded of many who had this kind of faith 2. This emphasis continues, with our own life of faith described as a race... a. In which we are "surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses" - He 12:1 1) The "cloud of witnesses" refers to those mentioned in the previous chapter 2) I.e., those Old Testament saints like Abraham, Moses, etc. b. In what way are they "witnesses"? 1) While the word can mean "spectator", it is not likely so used here a) That would suggest they are now "looking down" on us from heaven b) But there is no indication the dead know what is going on earth - cf. Ec 9:5 c) While they may have "memory" of what happened (Lk 16:28), their attention is focused upon their present condition - cf. Re 7:9-17 2) The word can also refer to those who "bear witness" a) By their lives, they have borne witness to the value of faith - cf. He 11:1-40 b) By their exemplary lives, they encourage us in "Running The Race Of Faith"! [As we seek to follow in the footsteps of others who have successfully "run the race of faith", there are three things necessary as presented in our text.
The first one is...] I. WE NEED TO LAY SOME THINGS ASIDE (1) A. NOTE THE COMPARISON TO RUNNING... 1. The runner who seeks to win: a. Loses as much weight as possible without hurting performance b. Wears clothing that is light and allows freedom of movement 2. Excess weight, chafing clothing, etc., can be the difference between victory or defeat! B. WE TOO MUST LAY SOME THINGS ASIDE... 1. "every weight" a. I.e., things which slow down our spiritual progress 1) Such as "carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life" - Lk 21:34-36 2) Also, "anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language..." - cf. Col 3:8; 1Pe 2:1-2; Jm 1:21 b. Such things make "running the race of faith" difficult, if not impossible! 2. "the sin which so easily ensnares us" a. Any and all sins should be laid aside b. From the context, I understand "the" sin to be the "sin of unbelief" 1) The epistle was written to encourage faithfulness to Christ and His covenant 2) We've seen warnings against unbelief - He 3:12-13 3) When one no longer believes, the race is lost! - He 10: 26-39 [With a full assurance of faith, and with every hindrance laid aside, we can "run the race of faith" as God intended. But as we comprehend the true nature of the "course" set before us, we can appreciate the need for the element of endurance...] II. WE NEED TO HAVE ENDURANCE (1) A. THE "RACE OF FAITH" IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT... 1. It does not require one quick burst of energy, in which the race is soon over 2. This "race" requires a sustained effort over a long period of time B. ENDURANCE IS A NECESSARY QUALITY... 1. Jesus often taught His disciples concerning the need for endurance (i.e., patience) a. In the parable of The Sower - Lk 8:12 a. In preparing the disciples for the Limited Commission - Mt 10:22 b. In His discourse on the Mount of Olives - Mt 24:13 2. The writer to the Hebrews had stressed this virtue earlier a. In which he appealed to the example of Abraham - He 6:11-15 b. In which he quoted from Habakkuk - He 10:36-39 3. We can develop such patience with the help of the Scriptures - Ro 15:4 a. As we read of the faithfulness of God Who fulfills His promises b. As we read of the ultimate end of those persevered in faithfulness [Paul wrote that eternal life would be given "to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality" (Ro 2:7). Therefore, endurance is required for successfully running this race of faith"! Equally important is where we have our mind focused as we run the race...] III. WE NEED TO FOCUS ON JESUS (2-3) A. WE MUST "LOOK UNTO JESUS"... 1. Our focus must be upon the Lord as we "run the race" a. We might "glance" at others (cf. He 11) b. But we are to "gaze" upon the Lord Savior (Believers' Study Bible) c. As suggested by this "Formula For Spiritual Success": 1) If you want to be distressed -- look within 2) If you want to be defeated -- look back 3) If you want to be distracted -- look around 4) If you want to be dismayed -- look ahead 5) If you want to be delivered -- look up! - cf. Col 3:1-2 2. For Jesus is "the author and finisher of our faith" - cf. He 2:10 a. He is the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega - Re 1:8,11 b. He has blazed the trail for us... 1) By having run the race Himself a) As a forerunner He has entered the heavenly sanctuary- He 6:19-20 b) He has opened a "new and living way" for us - He 10: 20 2) And now He helps us to finish it ourselves - cf. He 7:25 3. He succeeded in running the race by looking at "the joy set before Him" a. The "joy" that inspired Him was likely that privilege of being seated at God's right hand - cf. Ps 16:9-11; Ac 2:25-31 b. With the anticipation of such "joy", Jesus... 1) "endured the cross" (the physical pain) 2) "despised the shame" (the emotional and spiritual agony) -- Just as Jesus looked at the joy set before Him, so we must look to Jesus! B. WE MUST "CONSIDER HIM"... 1. We must consider how He endured, not only on the cross, but even before! - He 11:3 a. How He "endured such hostility from sinners against himself" b. This hostility is something He experienced frequently - cf. Lk 4:28-29; 11:15-16,53-54; 16:14 2. Meditating upon our Lord will prevent us from becoming "weary and discouraged in your souls" a. We cannot run with endurance if we become weary and discouraged b. But as we consider the Lord and His example (in itself a form of "waiting upon the Lord"), we shall not grow weary nor faint - cf. Isa 40:31 CONCLUSION 1. "Running The Race Of Faith" requires both negative and positive elements... a. Negatively, we must lay aside things which would hinder us b. Positively, we must keep our focus on Jesus who has made our salvation possible 2. In both cases, the Word of God (the Bible) is crucial... a. For in it we learn what sort of things we must lay aside b. For in it we learn about our Lord, what He endured, how His example should inspire us 3. Have you lost your endurance? Have you grown weary in "Running The Race Of Faith"? a. Let the Bible help you examine what "baggage" should be left aside! b. Let the Bible help you learn about Jesus whose own example can encourage you to continue on with perseverance! Remember what we read earlier... "For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise..." (Hebrews 10:36)