Tithes and Offerings
The conclusion of Chapter 11: Faith
Hebrews 12:1-4 (Pastor Heo)
God Disciplines His Sons
12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great 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. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
We finished chp 11’s study last time: the chapter of Faith. Through this study, we have seen heroes of faith in the OT. These are just a few, so the author says, “What more shall I say? I don’t have enough time to tell more.”
This first part of chp 12 is the conclusion of chp 11.
“Because..” we have seen faith, the demonstration and power of faith, … these 4 verses are actually the conclusion of chp 11.
In this conclusion, we can see a strong word: “Let us”
- Let us throw off
- Let us run
- Let us fix our eyes
This is not a suggestion, but a strong, absolute encouragement.
1. Altogether, we must do it together.
We must edify, minister, serve together because we are linked together as one body of Christ, we are affected and affecting each other. So, in verse 1, we can see the summary of the Christian life. What is it in this world?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance [endurance, determination] the race marked out for us.”
We are like runners, athletes, marathon runners.
First, we have a purpose, a goal, a finishing line. We have a finishing line in our lives – a purpose, a goal, a final destination.
Yes, as Christians, we are travelers, foreigners, pilgrims, but we are not tourists. Our lives are leading somewhere. We must lead goal-driven, purpose-driven lives. What is the purpose of your lives? What is driving your life? What is the driving force?
We have purpose, a finishing line, but like runners, every athlete has his own running course and finishing line. But the running course / finishing line is just offered to them – they have no right to decide their own course or finishing line. This running course and finishing line was offered to them by the host of the race.
Like this we have a course and a finish line, but we have no right to choose our own course nor finish line – because we are not the hosts. Our maker, God, Creator, Father, is the host.
Romans 8:28 “God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.”
2. We have witnesses / inspiration
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,…”
This cloud of witnesses was introduced in the previous chapter, 11. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Joseph. Also, my father and mother are acting as witnesses for me / to me.
They are witnesses in a double sense – they witnesses about their confession to Christ, and are now witnessing to us, but not as spectators.
Martyr comes from the Greek word translated for “witness.” They are not merely observing us, but they are witnessing to us, and God is witnessing to us. From this truth, we can know that this is a hard time, but whatever sufferings we are going through, there are many witnesses and people of faith before us who suffered much more than us, but endured to the end and won the race. They are cheering us on: “I did it! So can you! Endure to the end!”
We do not struggle alone – we are not the first people who are experiencing suffering and difficulties, and we have witnesses.
3. We have handicaps / weaknesses
We are surrounded by the greatness of the past, but are also surrounded by our handicaps / weaknesses / hindrances.
“…let us throw off [remove] everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,…”
We must know that yes, we are human, so we are surrounded by sin and temptation to sin as long as we stay in this world. But we must know that with sin, it is impossible to run and finish this race well.
What is sin that so easily entangles you or me? Disbelief, selfishness, dishonesty, greed, lust, envy, jealousy, self-indulgence? What is the sin holding us back from running this race? Whatever it is, it must be stripped off and left behind.
Jesus “If you eye / hand / foot causes you to sin, gouge it out because it is better for you to enter heaven with only one, than go to hell with both.”
This shows that we cannot finish this race without radical determination and fighting. We must fight continually – not only sin, but also hindrances – they must be removed.
What are hindrances? Maybe not sin, but if it hinders your running, it must be removed.
“…let us throw off every [weight]…”
For example: my necktie, nice? Yes, wearing a necktie and these clothes are not a sin, but if I participate in a running race, I must remove these things – I must change my clothes because these make me heavy, weighty, and slow, preventing me from running well in this race.
This about this sincerely. What is holding you back from this faith race? We must be very sincere and honest in this question.
4. We have means / method to endure
“…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
– endurance, perseverance
We know in a marathon, endurance, perseverance, stamina, energy are essential. Like this, in the Christian race, endurance is very essential. But we must know that biblical endurance is not merely sitting down and receiving things, rather it means refusing to give up without the loss of hope. Biblical perseverance = nothing can stop us from going our course until we reach our final destination and touch the final finishing line.
How is this possible? How can we do it in this world?
Today’s sermon is : the conclusion of chp 11. So, what is the conclusion of this message?
The conclusion: Jesus Christ
The answer to all the questions: Jesus Christ
“2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who *for the joy* set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” [the point of death]
Remember in chp 11, there is one sentence I repeated almost every time? “by faith…” we are saved, justified, being sanctified, will be glorified, can please God, can overcome this world.
This was purposeful – to make something clear. We can see what is clear in this sentence: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”
Yes, faith helps us to be positive in our thinking, and optimistic in our perspective, strong in our self / mind control. But we must be clear that positive thinking itself is not faith, an optimisitic attitude is not faith.
Faith = believing in Christ as Savior and Lord – accepting and confessing him, committing my whole life to him as Savior and Lord.
Jesus is the source, the ground, the foundation, the reason, object, goal, of our faith, the author and perfecter of our faith.
This means, he is the founder, originator, pioneer, finisher of our faith. So, I said in the first sentence, in the Christian life we have 4 things – and the answer is found only in Christ.
- Goal / Purpose (Christ is our goal – if he is your Savior and Lord) – our worship, service, ministry, everything we are doing must be Christ-centric because he is the measure of all things
- Witness / inspiration (Jesus is the inspiration of all inspirations) – we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, but Jesus must be the whole sky – the center of our sight.
- Handicaps / temptations (the only way to find freedom, cleansing, sanctification from all these things is Jesus – 1 John “the blood of Christ purifies us from all sins”)
- Means / endurance / patience (through the study of chp 11, we have seen how much they endured in their lives, but Jesus endured far more than any hero of faith in chp 11)
Jesus endured the cross. It means = shame, suffering, opposition, contradiction, the most terrible / horrible / painful / shameful death.
“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”
None of us endured to the point of death – but he did. On the cross, he suffered for all the sins of all the people all over the world. Only Jesus is a perfect example for us to follow – a perfect example of patience and endurance.
1 Peter 2 “To this you were called, because Jesus suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow.”
He is an example and an enabler.
“Consider him..” This is the greatest power – as long as we consider what he did and how he did it, there is nothing in this world we cannot endure. He is the greatest power in this world to overcome all things, temptations, challenges, hardships.
Why / how could he do that and for what?
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who *for the joy* set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
This event happened 2000 years ago, but due to that joy, he is now rejoicing. We can know pain is short, but joy is long, eternal.
What joy was he expecting? He endured the cross expecting the joy set before him in advance. What was that joy? It enabled him to endure even the cross, even to the point of death.
We can see at least 3 kinds of joys he was expecting
- Joy of the reunion with his Father in heaven (his homecoming day)
- Joy of being crowned with honor and glory and making everything put under his feet (after resurrection “All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me”)
- Joy of salvation of his believers (your salvation is Jesus’ joy – he endured for our salvation)
If Jesus did not endure the cross, then your and my salvation would be impossible. Due to his sacrifice on the cross, our salvation has become possible.
So, today, what is our joy?
Today Jesus invites us to share in his joy together. If we can see that joy set before us by faith in advance, then we can endure any situation and difficulty even joyfully.
God bless us that Jesus’ joy make be ours. Still his joy is available to us if we live by faith in Jesus Christ.
God bless you.