Summary: As we continue in our study of Hebrews, we continue to look at the importance of faith in the Christian life as we run the race of life.
Run for Your Life
Throughout our study of the book of Hebrews, we have noted the emphasis on being steadfast in our faith; the warning against developing unbelief and the need for a faith that endures.
This emphasis continues, with our own life of faith described here in the beginning of chapter twelve as a race. In which we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” The cloud of witnesses refers to those mentioned in the previous chapter the “Hall of Fame of Saints.”
In what way are they witnesses? While the word can mean spectator, it is not likely so used here. That would suggest they are now looking down on us from heaven. But there is no indication the dead know what is going on here on earth. While they may have memory of what happened, their attention is focused upon their present condition. The word can also refer to those who bear witness. By their lives, they have borne witness to the value of faith. 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 here tonight.
I. We Need to Lay Some Things Aside (v. 1)
a. Note the comparison to running
i. The runner who seeks to win:
1. They loss as much weight as possible without hurting performance.
2. They wear clothing that is light and allows freedom of movement.
ii. Excess weight, chafing clothing, etc., can be the difference between victory or defeat!
b. We to must lay some things aside
i. Every weight (encumbrance)
1. I mean the things which slow down our spiritual progress
a. Such as carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this world.
b. Also, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language.
2. Such things make running the race of faith difficult, if not impossible.
ii. The sin which so easily ensnares us
1. Any and all sins should be laid aside
2. From the context, I understand “the’ sin to be the “sin of unbelief”
a. The epistle was written to encourage faithfulness to Christ and His covenant.
b. We’ve seen warnings against unbelief
c. When one no longer believes, the race is lost!
c. 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 fro the element of endurance.
II. We Need to Have Endurance (v. 1)
a. The race of faith is a marathon, not a sprint
i. It does not require one quick burst of energy, in which the race is soon over.
ii. This race requires a sustained effort over a long period of time.
b. Endurance is a necessary quality
i. Jesus often taught His disciples concerning the need for endurance (patience)
1. In the parable of the “sower”
2. In preparing the disciples for the limited commission.
3. In His discourse on the Mount of Olives
ii. We can develop such patience with the help of the Scriptures
1. As we read of the faithfulness of God who fulfills His promises
2. As we read of the ultimate end of those persevered in faithfulness.
c. Paul wrote that eternal life would be given “to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.
d. Therefore, endurance is required for successfully running the face of faith.
III. We Need to Focus on Jesus (vv. 2-3)
a. We must “Look unto Jesus”
i. Our focus must be upon the Lord as we run the race.
1. We might glance at others
2. But we are to gaze upon the Lord
3. As suggested by this “formula for spiritual success”
a. If you want to be distressed – look within
b. If you want to be defeated – look back
c. If you want to be distracted – look around
d. If you want to be dismayed – look ahead
e. If you want to be delivered – look up!
ii. For Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith
1. He is the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega
2. He has blazed a trail for us
a. By having run the race Himself
i. As a forerunner He has entered the heavenly sanctuary
ii. He has opened a “new and living way” for us
b. And now He helps us to finish it ourselves.
iii. He succeeded in running the race by looking at the “joy set before Him”
1. The “joy” that inspired Him was likely that privilege of being seated at God’s right hand.