Summary: This is the concluding message in the series on faith and the great heroes of the faith.
When Napoleon began his Egyptian campaign, he pointed to the pyramids and shouted to his men, “Soldiers, forty centuries look down upon you!” In a sense this is the message the author of Hebrews is trying to deliver to the struggling Hebrew Christians. Your contest of faith is not going unnoticed. It is being witnessed by former contestants, whose careers of faith ended without ever receiving what was promised, but who faithfully finished their course of faith. The message is that now it is our turn to do the same. The problem is though we have a real hard time seeing anything through to completion. The word commitment seems strangely absent from our society. When faced with serious temptation, we give in. If Christian leaders disappoint us, we drop out of church. If so called intellectuals ridicule the Bible, we doubt our faith. If money gets tight we quit giving. If we get rejected when we talk to someone about our faith we clam up. The people who please God are those who have enough faith to tough it out when the road gets hard. When we give up on the Christian life we give the enemies of Christ reasons to ridicule Christ and His church. It discourages other believers and destroys your sense of significance in God’s kingdom. But a faithful Christian life is an inspirational witness and it gives confidence to those who see it. In our text the writer of Hebrews compares the Christian life to a marathon, with those heroes we saw listed in chapter 11 in the stands cheering us on. Today I would like us to see the three incentives that the writer of Hebrews gives us for developing a faith that persevere when the road gets hard.
I. We can be inspired by the great heroes of the faith.
A. As we have seen Hebrews chapter 11 is jam packed with inspiring examples of faith.
1. The appeal to run with perseverance the race marked out for us suggests that the Christian life is more a marathon than a short sprint.
2. The writer is picturing athletes in a footrace, running for the winning post and urged on by the crowd.
3. Perhaps the best way to understand this is to picture something like a relay race where those who have finished their course and handed in their baton are watching and encouraging their successors.
4. With the stands full of the great examples of faith it is important for each of us to run well.
B. The reason we should find the examples of faith from chapter 11 so inspiring.
1. When we see their shortcomings we realize that they really are not too different from us.
2. We can be encouraged how they kept going despite the many times they fell along the way.
3. We can be encouraged when we see how they faithfully stood in the face of adversity.
4. These examples should encourage each of us to continue to press on.
5. They demonstrate the nature and possibilities of faith for believers in every generation. As contestants in the race, we are to look to their example for encouragement.
C. When you are discouraged and tempted to quit consider some modern day heroes of the faith.