Summary: A Challenge to Wait and let God do His Work!
1. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews chapter 12 is centered on the word “endure.” This Word is found in Hebrews 12 and verse one where it is translated "patience" it's also found in versus 2,3,7 & 20. In this passage the word “endure” means "to bear up under trial, to continue when the going gets tough.”
The Christians that this passage is written to we're going through a time of testing, persecution and temptations. Some of their friends in neighboring cities had been burned at the stake.
We find in three words of instruction and encouragement that helps them stay the course and be patient (endure) during this season. I thought if we studied them they may help us today.
• Practical Application produces Practical Results
I. Focus on the example that Jesus left during His times of testing in temptations. (Hebrews 12:1-4)
A. We have just exited Hebrews 11 which is universally known as the "Hall of Faith.”
1. These wonderful saints of God endured great fights of affliction. Some were violently martyred. Others endured trials of great mocking.
a) Contextually, the great cloud of witnesses that this passage is referring to, would be the arenas that were filled with individuals as spectators of the New Testament Christians persecutions.
2. Faith is not an emotion it's a conviction that what God's Word says is true and that we should do what He says to do.
a) Faith, that inner conviction, is what caused the persecuted to stand in the face of extreme adversity. I think it should be noted that much of that adversity came from the religious people of their day.
B. Verse two reminds us that we should be "looking onto Jesus who is both the author (Creator) and the finisher (Completer) of our faith.”
1. What better example do we have of overcoming test and temptations than Jesus?
2. The implication here is that we are running a race for a prize. We are to keep our eyes upon Jesus who is our ultimate goal.
3. To win we must “lay aside every weight and saying that so easily besets us and run with patience the race that is set before us.”
a) Question: What kinds of weights and sins are we carrying today that we need to lay aside?
(1) Sin Examples: Un-forgiveness, Bitterness, Rebellion…
(2) Weight Examples: Unrealistic Expectations, Combative Relationships, Inferiority Complexes…
II. Focus on the Love of God for us particularly in the areas of discipleship and spiritual discipline. (Hebrews 12:5-13)
A. Question: What is Discipleship?
1. Answer: Learning how to become a fully developing and devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
B. Question: What is Spiritual Discipline?
1. Answer: The practice of training people to obey spiritual rules or a code of behavior… (Example: Love thy neighbor as thyself…)
C. God Chastens (disciplines) those He loves.
Proverbs 3:11-12 NIV
11 My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
1. Chasten literally means “child-training, discipline.” When we give our lives to Jesus we are “born-again” as spiritual babies and we need to be raised into maturity in Christ.
2. God does not “punish” His children. God “chastens” His children.
a) Punishment is handed down from a judge.
b) Chastening is conducted by a loving father.
III. Focus on God's power to see us through in the form of His grace extended to us. (Hebrews 12:14-29)
A. There are five “exhortations” found in the book of Hebrews.
1. Hebrews 2:1-4 exhorts us against “Drifting.”
2. Hebrews 3:7-4:13 exhorts us against “Doubting God’s Word.”
3. Hebrews 5:31-6:20 exhorts us against “Getting bored with God’s Word.” (dullness)
4. Hebrews 10:26-39 exhorts us against “Defying God’s Word.”
5. This is the fifth exhortation in the book of Hebrews and it centers on Grace (see vv. 15, 28).
B. In an effort to communicate the power and the effectiveness of this Grace, the writer draws a contrast between Moses and Christ, Mt Sinai and Mt. Zion (the Church), the Old Covenant (Law) and the New Covenant (Grace).
1. This passage should communicate to us that Jesus is the better way.
2. The Christian is not motivated by religious rituals, laws or regulations, but rather they are constrained to obey God’s Word because of our love for Him and what He has done for us through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus on Calvary!