Let’s finish the race that is set before us… and not quit!
1 So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.
[We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn.]
2 Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor.
We must bear in mind that Hebrews was written to people who were being persecuted.
Because they had forsaken Judaism for Christ, they were facing bitter opposition.
There was a danger that they might interpret their suffering as a sign of God’s displeasure.
They might become discouraged and give up.
Worst of all, they might be tempted to return to the Old Covenant and their attempts at keeping the Law of Moses, in order to gain salvation and God’s approval.
Whereas under the New Covenant, we are now saved by grace, through faith alone, by our accepting and obeying the Gospel Message and Christ’s propitious work and shed blood on Calvary’s cross!
And it was for this very reason that they were now being persecuted.
But they were admonished not to think that their sufferings were unique.
Many of the witnesses described in chapter 11 suffered severely as a result of their loyalty to the Lord, yet they endured.
If they maintained unflinching perseverance with their lesser privileges, how much more should we to whom the better things of Christianity have come.
They surround us as a great cloud of witnesses. Could this actually mean that they are spectators of what goes on on earth?
They are certainly witnessing to us by their lives of faith and endurance, and by setting a high standard for us to duplicate.
This verse invariably raises the question, “Can saints in heaven see our lives on earth or know what is transpiring?”
One thing we can be sure they know is when a sinner is saved:
“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
The Christian life is a race that requires discipline and endurance.
We must strip ourselves of everything that would impede us.
Weights are things that may be harmless in themselves and yet hinder progress; they could include material possessions, family ties, the love of comfort, lack of mobility, etc.
In the Olympic races, there is no rule against carrying a supply of food and beverage, but the runner would never win the race that way.
We must also lay aside … the sin which so easily ensnares us.
This may mean sin in any form, but especially the sin of unbelief.
We must have complete trust in the promises of God and complete confidence that the life of faith is sure to win.
We must guard against the notion that the race is an easy sprint, that everything in the Christian life is rosy.
We must be prepared to press on with perseverance through trials and temptations.
Throughout the race, we should look away from every other object and keep our eyes riveted on Jesus, the foremost Runner.
“One stands out conspicuous above all the rest … the Man who first perfectly realized the idea of living by faith … , who undauntedly endured the bitter suffering of the cross, and despised the ignominy of it, sustained by a faith that so vividly realized coming joy and glory as to obliterate the consciousness of present pain and shame.
He is the author, or pioneer, of our faith in the sense that He has provided us with the only perfect example of what the life of faith is like.
He is also the finisher of our faith. He not only began the race but finished it triumphantly.
For Him the race course stretched from heaven to Bethlehem, then on to Gethsemane and Calvary, then out of the tomb and back to heaven.
At no time did He falter or turn back.
He kept His eyes fixed on the coming glory when all the redeemed would be gathered with Him eternally.
This enabled Him to think nothing of shame and to endure suffering and death.
Today He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Tuesday, April 12
The Winning Walk
Dr Ed Young
A CLOUD OF WITNESSES
Anybody remember Derek Raymond?
His is not a household name, but few could forget the injured runner in the Barcelona Olympics who was helped around the track by his father as he struggled to finish the race.
No medals are given for bravery and love, but if they were, Derek Raymond and his father would have won the gold.
Click on link below:
The writer of Hebrews evokes just this sort of imagery when he describes the great “cloud of witnesses” that surrounds the Christian as he strives to finish the race of life.
Who are these witnesses?
They’re those believers who have gone before us, having completed the race.
They’re heavenly witnesses.
Abel is there, saying, “Nothing but the blood. You can make it.”
Moses, staff in hand, is saying, “You may feel cornered, but God’s power will see you through impossible situations.”
Gideon is saying, “You may be outnumbered, but keep running, stay in your lane.”
Samson is saying, “Even if you’ve been caught in sin and scarred, God can still use you. Keep on.”
David is saying, “Murder…adultery…God’s seen it all before. Seek His face again, and run your race.”
When we go to an athletic event today, we see 22 men on the field, surrounded by 70,000 armchair athletes who desperately need exercise.
Not these witnesses. They’re the real thing, not plastic saints.
They’ve run the race the same way we will…by grace. And they’re cheering us home.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us… run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Come join the Adventure!