• The author of Hebrews defines faith as: being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hb. 11:1). In my walk with Christ, this has been one of the most difficult lessons I have had to learn, namely, how to live a life of faith without losing hope, even when things look bleak.
• As I considered today’s sermon, I reflected on the some of the stories my father would share with me. In his youth he carried a pilot’s license and once and a while he would rent a small Cessna and fly around with a couple friends. I once asked him what the hardest part of flying was? He told me that it was trusting in your instruments. He described what it was like getting caught in a storm and not being able to see, everything in you wants to look out the windshield and figure out what’s going on but that is a fatal move, you must fully trust your instruments, they do not lie.
• It would seem to me that this is very similar to living a life of faith. We are called to trust not in our feelings but rather in the unseen God who does not lie.
• The epistle to Hebrews (12:3) calls Christians to “not grow weary or lose heart” while living out this life of faith, have you? Are you growing weary in trusting in the unseen promises of God?
If this is you, I wanted to encourage you today, by pointing out from (Hebrews 12: 1-3) some very practical ways to live out the life of faith. In our sermon today, we will see that not growing weary and losing faith happens when we:
• Perceive The Witness Cloud – (Encouragement)
• Persevere In The Race Set Before Us – (Perseverance)
• Pursue The Author And Finisher Of Our Faith – (Power)
Overcoming weariness and the loss of faith happens when we firstly…
I. Perceive The Witness Cloud – v.1(Encouragment)
Read Passage, Then read Hebrews 11:36-38
In the previous Chapter (11), known as the hall of fame of faith, the author of Hebrews outlines some of the incredible moments of the greats of the faith…
V.1 “THEREFORE” - Our passage today beginning with vs. 1 comes directly after this great declaration of faith, it opens with the word “therefore” τοιγαροῦν. This word, “therefore” prepares the audience for the point of the authors discourse in chapter 11, the “so what” if you will on these faithful men and woman of time past.
V.1 “SURROUNDED BY… CLOUD OF WITNESSES” - gives the idea that we are “ running a race before a great crowd of people who encompass us left and right and have already finished the race with honors”.
V.1 “Throw Off” - Literally means to cast aside or lay down (Gk. ἀποτίθημι)
V.1 “Everything that hinders” – See 10:38,39 “But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him…”, “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
What the author is saying is that when we perceive that we are not in this alone (Matthew 22:32 “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”), that there is a cloud of witnesses that surround us and a history that carries us. Their stories of faith and their prayers encourage us to move forward, “throwing off” the stumbling blocks of fear and of shrinking back from the challenges of life. If they did it and so can we! We can overcome the entanglement of Sin in our lives, just as they did, by God’s grace. The lives of those represented in the cloud of witnesses need to serve as encouragement for us today.
There is a big difference between batting practice and playing ball. It is common for pro- ball players to describe the overwhelming power of the of the sound of thousands cheering them on. In a sense our life is the game and the cloud of witnesses, heroes, our audience cheering us on in a similar fashion.
• Part of the reason we struggle with faith and lose heart, is because we do not perceive the many who went before us, who felt the same way we do, AND YET MADE IT! Paul said in (1Tim 4:7) “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ”
• A practical way of overcoming the temptation to lose heart is to “Perceive The Cloud of Witnesses”, whose lives cheer us ever forward in the faith.. What are you facing today? The author of Hebrews calls on you to remember Phillip (who was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified) is cheering you on! Remember Mattias who was “was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.” is cheering you on! Remember Peter who was crucified upside down, Thomas who was thrust by a spear, Luke who was hanged on an Olive tree, Mark was dragged to pieces! They are just a small fraction of the heroes cheering you on! If they can make it, so can you.
So one practical way to overcome growing weary and losing heart is to perceive, another is...
II. Persevere In The Race Set Before Us- v1. (Perseverance)
• “Run with perseverance” (Gk. Τρέχω, treko) where we get the trek from, has the connotation of a persevering journey.
• “The race” (Gk. ἀγών a-gone) means literally a fight or foot race, a contest of will.
• “Marked out for us” – (Gk. Πρόκειμαι Proke-amia) – To lie or place in front of a person
What the author of Hebrews is saying is (persevere against the contest of your will in all of the situations that God has placed before you. ) Remember that God has allowed the events of your life for a purpose and that God will not give you more than you can bear. (1 Cor. 10:13)
I can remember trying out for the cross country team at my high school, I could not understand how some of these guys did it, they could run and be fine at the finish line, I on the other hand was literally dying and giving up a mile short. The coach told me that the great runners understood that there will gave out long before their bodies and would persevere. That helped me, I learned that the contest was not necessarily one of strength but rather one of will.
The same is true with your faith, the Lord has and will continue to give you what you need to persevere, but the contest is a contest of will. The Christian faith is won in the heart and the greatest battle you will ever fight is the battle you will fight against yourself.
• Paul said in Phil 4:11 “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Breaking the will is a process that is learned!
• This perseverance comes from God when we seek Him (Phil 4:13 “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”)
• What about you? Are feeling like giving up, that the road of faith is to difficult a road to travel? What struggles are you going through that seem hopeless and impossible? Remember “God gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as if they were.” Romans 4:17.
• Overcoming the desire to give up or lose heart requires the perseverance of your will and a deep abiding determination to believe even when its difficult. Remember Romans 8:24 “Hope that is seen is no hope at all”.
Transition: So we have seen principle 1 in overcoming the desire to lose heart is to perceive those who came before you, principle 2 is to Persevere in the battle of your will but lastly let us…
III. Pursue The Author And Finisher Of Our Faith – v2. (Power)
• “Fix your eyes” – (Gk. ἀφορῶντες aporowtes) Literally look away from all else
• “Author and perfector of our faith” – (Gk. Two words ἀρχηγὸν ar-k-gon and τελειωτὴν teleoton) Literally founder and finisher of our faith.
• “Joy” – (Gk. χαρᾶς Karas) Literally Delight
• “Endured” – (Gk. ὑπέμεινεν oop-a-men-non) Literally remain behind and suffer
• What the Author of Hebrews is saying here is literally, look away from all that is transpiring in your life and rather fixate on Christ, because He founded, walked out and finished the race of faith, perfectly. We should also fixate on His reason for doing so, because he saw the delight that was ahead of Him as He lived a life pleasing unto God. As Paul put it “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13
• You see while the heroes of the faith inspire us to new efforts. Like spectators, they cheer us on to fresh commitment. We want to throw off our sins, see suffering in its true perspective and run the Christian race with joy. It is ultimately Christ who is our inspiration and power.
If you have ever noticed the blinders set on the eyes of a horse and wondered what they were for, they are to block out all of the distractions of life and rather to focus them on the race at hand. We are to do the same, block out all of the pain, suffering, fears and doubts and rather fix our eyes on Him who has paved the path for us.
To keep the faith, to earnestly pursue the faith is to set your eyes on Christ, the author and finisher of the faith we pursue.
• When you struggle with trusting God, what things come to your mind? The doubt? The fear or is it the promise of Christ “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20. Do you trust Christ? Even when it hurts, even when it is dark? Do you look to Him in your time of need, or rather do you embrace worry, fear and doubt as if they can help?
• Fix your eyes on Christ, the author and finisher of your faith.
• In v3. The Author of Hebrews summarizes his teaching by saying “so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Restate Main Points:
• Today we have seen (3) guiding principles for overcoming the temptation to grow weary and lose heart:
1. Perceive the Cloud of Witnesses Who Encourage Us In Our Faith
2. Persevere In The Race Of Conforming Your Will
3. Pursue Christ, the author and finisher of your faith
Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared. Today are you scared to put your faith in Christ? Good, then there is a great opportunity for courage. Have the courage to perceive he cloud of witnesses who encourage you, have the courage to persevere when you cannot see the end of the road, have the courage to fix your eyes on Jesus as your hope and salvation.
In the end, may it be that you, yourself will Join the great cloud of witnesses, the heroes of the faith!
Close in Prayer