Summary: The Narrow Road is meant for walking--not trudging, not sitting, and not running.
Theme: Narrow Road Series
Purpose: Perseverance in faith
This month we have talked about what it means to travel the narrow road. Jesus told us that broad is the path that leads to destruction, but narrow is the way to eternal life. For the believer that means several things. We said that the narrow road is:
1. Meant to be traveled light—we are to lay off our burdens, our bitterness and unforgiveness
2. Meant to be walked God’s way—our preferences & legalism vs. God’s direction
3. Not meant to be walked alone—we need to encourage one another by living it out, by being together
4. Meant for walking—not running, not trudging, not sitting—walking—we will look at this today
Let’s look at Hebrews 12:1-3
Hebrews 12:1 is jammed packed and although we are reading 3 verses today from ch.12, I am going to park on verse 1. Read it out loud with me, ready?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
The old adage that in Scripture, anytime you see a therefore, you ought to look to see what its there for is true here. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses… The writer of Hebrews is clearly referring to the heroes of faith that he has just spent all of chapter 11 describing. But as we read it together, did another thought hit you?
It did me. That thought was that it’s wonderful to have examples of faithful people who honored God, and I am glad for their faith. But as we read it together, it occurred to me that the writer of Hebrews knew that this letter would be read out loud, to a whole group of believers—probably in a house church—where the whole community of believers would gather to hear God’s Word and Worship and pray together.
It nails last week’s point that living the life of faith, being a Christ-follower is not supposed to be an individual, solitary experience. It is meant to be lived out in community—together with other believers. And since we are responsible to care for and encourage those around us, and since we belong to a larger body of Christ-followers:
1. Throw off all that hinders (burdens, bitterness, unforgiveness, busyness, the desire for wealth
2. Throw off the sin that entangles (some need repentance today and you know it—don’t let this opportunity go by to get right with God—He loves and desires a heart that is sorry for sin
And verse 1 finally says 3. Run with perseverance the race marked out for us
That’s where I want to focus our energy today. Perseverance. But let me deal with the end of verse 1 first. The writer of Hebrews says, run with perseverance the race marked out for us. In the context of a footrace in first century Israel as well as today, the race track would be marked so the runners would know where the boundaries of the track were. You would need to know the milestones so you could keep on track.
The writer of Hebrews wants us to know that those who finished the race well, see ch. 11, were the men and women who followed Christ with faith—believing that He could do amazing things in their lives, believing Him for miracles, having an amazing trust in God that nothing is impossible with Him leading the way.
But I think there may be an additional interpretation of the end of verse 1 that we should briefly look at. And that is, that there is a race marked out for you, and for me. God asks us to complete with perseverance the race marked out FOR US. Sometimes when things don’t seem to be going right in my life, you know the car breaks down, my parents are sick, my kids test my patience, there is more month than money to cover it etc., there are times when I go before God and like the Psalmist ask him, why Lord? Why me? And he seems to answer in my prayers, why not you? I will make my power enough in your life if you will trust me, if you will follow me, I will lead you out.
Not everyone will go the path that the Lord is leading me. I have certain sins that beset me that are not an issue for you. I have spiritual gifts that maybe you don’t have, and you have ones that I don’t have. In a sense, we have to work the race marked out for us—individually, while cheering the other racers on around us. And because there is a great cloud of witnesses who have already gone through similar experiences, with faith and trust in God—the writer encourages us to press on, to persevere.