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964. A Real and Present Danger

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
April 8, 2021 7:00 pm

964. A Real and Present Danger

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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April 8, 2021 7:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit continues the series entitled “Run the Race,” with a message titled “A Real and Present Danger” from the book of Hebrews 12:3-4.

The post 964. A Real and Present Danger appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.

The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Sr. His intent was to make a school where the focus would be on Christ, so he established daily chapel services. Today that tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from the University Chapel Platform. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit, longtime evangelist and now president of Bob Jones University, is continuing a study series entitled Run the Race, which is a study of the book of Hebrews chapter 12. Let's now listen to today's message, where Steve will show us the real and present danger of quitting as we run the race. We are continuing our study in the book of Hebrews chapter 12.

If you have your Bibles, I'd like you to turn there please. One of the most convincing illustrations of the importance and the value of perseverance was displayed in the life story of this man. At the age of 22 years old, he failed in business. At the age of 23, he ran for state legislature and was defeated. At the age of 24, he failed in business again. At the age of 25, he was elected to the state legislature. At the age of 26, his sweetheart died.

At the age of 27, he had a nervous breakdown. At the age of 29, he was defeated for speaker of the house. At the age of 31, he was defeated for elector. At the age of 34, he was defeated for U.S. Congress. At the age of 37, he was elected to U.S. Congress. At the age of 39, he was defeated for U.S. Congress. At the age of 46, he was defeated for the U.S. Senate. At the age of 47, he was defeated to be the vice president of the United States. At the age of 49, he was defeated for the U.S. Senate again. At the age of 51, he was elected to be the president of the United States of America. Does anybody know who this gentleman was?

This is Abraham Lincoln. Let me ask you a question. How many of you would think if I had his history, his story, I think I would get discouraged? Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you got discouraged? Well, let me ask you this. When was the last time you woke up discouraged? And you found me out this morning. Thank you, I appreciate that.

Well, what is Hebrews all about? It's all about perseverance. It's all about sticking it out. And though sometimes you don't realize it, actually perseverance is one of the great keys to life. And if you're going to succeed in anything, you're going to have to stick it out. And yet getting discouraged and wanting to quit is always a real and present danger. That's the title of my message this morning. A real and present danger. That's particularly true in playing sports because every athlete understands that it's easy to get discouraged, especially when you're not winning, wanting to give up playing and quit the team or stop. And the writer of Hebrews is presenting the Christian life as a race that has to be run.

And what's the real danger and the present danger? It's always getting discouraged. And so this morning, I'd like to take a few moments to look at Hebrews 12, verses three and four, because it's here that he's addressing the struggle that we face with discouragement, but also how it is that we overcome it. Let's read this morning from Hebrews chapter 12, verses three and four.

In one and two, we've already looked at the passage where he says that we're to run the race. And then in verse three, he says, is for consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds. You have not resisted unto blood, striving, and the word striving there is the same word for the word race, striving against sin.

So let's begin this morning by asking a number of questions. First of all, what does it mean to be discouraged? What is the condition of discouragement? Well, I've already mentioned it, but I'll just repeat that the believers in Rome to whom the writer is writing had suffered abuse from the Roman government and they had gone through things that had affected them emotionally and spiritually.

And it wasn't like a one-time event. It was something that had lasted for quite a while. And the author describes the struggle of their heart in this phrase when he says in verse three, lest you be wearied and faint in your mind. The word weary there means to come to a point where you're sick and tired of something. Have you ever gotten sick and tired of anything? Have you ever found yourself wanting to just walk away? It's the idea of being worn down, losing your resolve and giving up. So what does the word faint in your mind mean? It's coming to a place in a state where you've lost your heart.

You can't take it any longer and you want out right now. I remember my freshman year of college. And I remember walking to class and our campus had a gate around it. And I wondered what it would be like to go outside the gate in the real world.

And what would it be like to leave and just go back to normal? Because I was in like a whole new world and I found myself many times wanting to quit, wanting to give up, especially when things are hard. Now, the writer here is saying that you've come to a place where you've done this and you're done with this.

Aristotle used the phrase to describe the condition of a runner who has collapsed from exhaustion after crossing the finish line. Maybe you're here this morning and you realize that we are about a third of the way through the semester. To be exact, we're like at day 36 out of 100. So actually you only have 64 more days left in the semester.

But one person said, yeah, 64 more days. Some of you feel like you're going to die. Some of you freshmen feel like you're not going to make it.

Somewhere you're going to collapse and die. We're going to bury you on back campus. Well, there is no back campus graveyard for former freshmen who didn't survive.

There's a front campus graveyard for former presidents, that's it. The writer of Hebrews is concerned about faltering before you finish. To faint in your mind means to lose your heart, to lose your motivation. Some of you came in, I mean, only 36 days ago and you were off the charts excited. Where did it go? It's like opening a bottle of soda pop and you forgot to drink it and it sat there for three days.

And what does it taste like after three days? You've lost your fizz. You've lost that something. To be discouraged means to lose your fizz. Do you realize that a church can lose its fizz? Do you realize a school can lose its fizz? Do you realize a student can lose that energy, that motivation, that desire?

That's what he means here. That's why I believe in the ministry. It's not enough just to have right motives. We're doing the right thing, but we need to have right motivations.

We know that enthusiasm is contagious. In Hebrews, these believers had lost their heart. And they were beginning to drift away from Christian fellowship. And in this case, they were getting ready to go back into Judaism, thinking that that was an easier way.

The ultimate threat was that they would become so discouraged that they would walk away from their faith. And what was their need? Their need was to hold fast, to keep their heart. And their need was to endure victoriously to the end, not just survive, but to thrive.

So that leads to the second question. And that is, what was the reason for the discouragement? What was the cause for discouragement? And actually, he tells us here in verse four, he says, you have not resisted unto blood striving against sin. Now, he's writing to a group of believers who had been persecuted in the past, but nobody was dying for it. And looming in front of them was the persecution of Nero that would come, and many of them would shed their blood.

So they were in that in-between stage. But he's giving us the idea of what it is that causes discouragement when he says, you've not resisted striving against sin. The word resist there is the idea of an ancient battle. You've seen it on television movies, where you've got one army here and the other army here, and they've got sword and shields and arrows and spears, and they're rattling, and they're ready to go, ah!

They're ah! They're fired up. And the idea of resisting here is actually being involved in combat, and you've made the decision to stand and fight and not give in. And in this case, it is resisting sin. It's the decision a believer makes to follow God, to not give in to the temptations of the world. It is a decision to follow God, even if it's hard. I'm going to follow God.

Have you made that decision? But let me say that there's a perseverance to that, just not just a one week or two week or three week. You've got to stand. And it's not just standing for a week or a year.

It's standing your whole life. You resist sin. And then notice the word striving. The word striving is the same word for the word race in verse one. It's the idea of the Agon, the exertion of energy against the negative and opposing force. It's living with the tension of temptation and standing for right and standing against sin. If you were to ask me what's one of the hardest things about being the president of Bob Jones University, it's always having to stand for the right things and saying yes and saying no and saying, no, this is what we're going to do.

And then the resistance that may come from that and discouragement is rooted in having to live with the constant tension of standing and striving. My daughter-in-law Bethany has four boys, excuse me, she has three boys that are four and under and a fourth one due in December. Think about that.

Four boys, four and under. That's called tension. All day, all night, all the time. No let up, no rest, constant weariness. Boys all over you, always it's a diaper factory.

It's what it's like. It's living with this tension and it's in the tension you get what we would say battle weary. What are some of the areas of sin that we have to agonize against? Well, first of all, undeniably, there's always the hostility of the world.

That hostility could come in the realm of false doctrine because when the true gospel is preached, the false gospel is not that very far away. Perhaps you've heard of the famous author, Daniel Defoe was a Christian. He wrote Robinson Crusoe. He wrote a little poem years ago that I thought was very interesting. It says, wherever God erects a house of prayer, the devil always builds a chapel there and twill be found upon examination, the latter has the largest congregation. It's interesting to me.

I was written a long time ago. That wherever there's truth, there's always error and all of God's people have to stand for truth. There's also the pressure of conforming to the world. Romans 12 two says, don't be conformed to this world. The biggest problem in the church is not that the church is in the world, it's when the world is in the church.

The problem is not a boat on the water, it's when the water gets in the boat. One of the great tensions of Bob Jones University is the tension with worldliness. And you all have to take a stand against the world.

If that's not even in your thinking, then there's a problem from the very beginning. And so the author is writing against those who are standing against compromise, against worldliness, against conformity to the world. Your generation is going to have to decide, are we going to not be worldly? Your generation. Will we be true and stand for God in the midst of a world that is not a friend of grace? Are you going to be that generation?

Are you going to float down the river? And so he says, you have to stand, you have to strive. There's a hostility of the world, but I think the other struggle is a struggle with unbelief.

That's internal. I think that's what we read in verse one when he talks about the sin that doth so easily beset us. And I mentioned that earlier in an earlier message. And the idea is that there was the struggle to believe God. The Jewish people got out of the land of Egypt, but they didn't get into the land of Canaan.

Why? Because of unbelief. They didn't trust God. They didn't trust God with their life. And in this case, they were having to learn to depend on God versus falling away in unbelief.

Let me say something. Atheism and agnosticism is a reality. And as a student here at Bob Jones University, many of you, especially those of you who have not really settled up in your faith right now, you're struggling with the whole thing. Is this really all real?

I mean, even the reality of the Bible, even the reality of Jesus, do I really believe that? And that's not a problem somewhere else. That's a problem right here. That's a problem in many of you in your own hearts. And so what's the reason or the cause of discouragement is this resistance and striving against sin. So what are the consequences of discouragement? Well, of course, in the book of Hebrews is when somebody, people begin to fall away from the faith.

They stop the running. Now think of the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, we have a real, real key example of discouragement in a fellow named Elijah. In 1 Kings chapter 19, we have the story where he's just finished what you could call the original Super Bowl. Elijah versus the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. And they call down fire from heaven and God doesn't answer the prayer of the prophets of Baal, but he answers Elijah's prayer and he defeats the prophets of Baal.

But there's one person that he could not defeat and that was the wicked Queen Jezebel. And she swears she's going to take his life and so he does something unusual. He runs from her. And he runs from where this area is located, Mount Carmel, down to Be'er Sheva, which is a hundred mile journey.

That's a long run, by the way. And he goes out into the desert and he sits down under a juniper tree and a, when I mean desert, it's hard to explain it in South Carolina, because South Carolina is not a desert. It's barren, it's incredibly hot and a juniper tree has not much shade. And he goes and sits down under this tree and here we see the signs of discouragement. How do you know you're discouraged? Number one, you have a sense of failure. You feel like a failure. That was the case of Elijah. He sat down and he requested that he might die. Essentially, he was saying, I'm not any different than the other prophets. They couldn't change anything, neither can I. Nothing's going to change.

What's the use? I can't take it any longer. Let me die.

He was on the verge of suicide. Let me say, if your expectation in ministry is always success, you're going to be bound to be disappointed because success in the Christian life is not measured by results. It's measured by obedience. Some sow and some water, but God gives the increase. How many missionaries went to a land and for seven years they sowed the gospel and not one person got saved? And yet God is faithful. Whatsoever you sow, you shall also reap. And God's promises are true, even if you don't see it come to reality and fruit at this particular time. But he felt like he was a failure.

Then the second sign that a person is discouraged is a lack of motivation. The Bible says he laid down and slept. What would you do after you ran 100 miles? I'd sleep too. But this was a different form of sleep because it actually was a sign that he was depressed because he woke up and there was an angel to feed him. I mean, can you imagine that? You wake up and you don't even have to go to the dining common, an angel is feeding you?

I mean, I think I would be encouraged by that. But he went back to sleep because he was so depressed. And then he got up and he arose and the Bible says it took him 40 days and 40 nights to go down to what we know as Mount Sinai.

Now the problem with that is because he was such a strong guy, it shouldn't have taken him 40 days. But we learned something. And that is when you're discouraged, you lose motivation and you don't seem to have any direction. There's a lack of vision. There's a lack of passion. Let me ask you a question this morning. Where's your motivational level on a scale of one to 10?

One being flat as a pancake, 10 is like fired up. Where are you? Are you discouraged? And then the third sign of a discouraged person is a feeling of loneliness. He got down to Mount Horeb and in chapter 19 and verse nine, God asked him, what are you doing here? You know, when God asks you, what are you doing here, that's a problem. And he said, he said, the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant. They've thrown down your altars.

They've killed the prophets with a sword. And I, even I only am left and they seek my life to take it away. He felt all alone in the battle. What is the sign of discouragement? It's when you feel all alone. When you feel as though people are out to get you. When you don't really realize that many people are willing to stand with you. I learned over the years in pastoral ministry that oftentimes in a church where a pastor feels that the people are against him, usually it's a very small number.

And actually there's a whole bunch of people that are supporting him. But that's what happens when you get discouraged. You think people are against you or you think you're all by yourself.

There are some of you on this campus who walk around with hundreds and hundreds of students and you feel all alone. That's a sign of discouragement. And then finally the fourth sign of discouragement is a lack of confidence in God's word. It's interesting God said to Elijah, what are you doing here? And then he said, go out and stand on the mountain. And it says, and the Lord passed by and a great strong wind tore the mountains, rent the mountains.

It broke in pieces the rocks. And then it says, but the Lord was not in the wind. And then there was an earthquake and it says the Lord was not in an earthquake and then a fire, but the Lord was not in a fire.

Think of that. Wind, fire, earthquakes. The big, the powerful, the boom. What did Elijah expect from God? He expected God to do the big thing. Boom. God's in it. Fire, lightning.

You know, everybody's going crazy. God says, I'm not in all that. And the last thing he said was a still, small voice. Literally, it means the silence of the silence.

A thin whisper. And essentially what God is saying is, I don't need the big and powerful to accomplish my purposes. I can speak to people's hearts and the only person that can hear them is the person with the heart. That God is working. One of the things I had to learn, especially in the early days of the ministry is that God is working. I know God is working because God didn't die.

The Holy Spirit's not dead, He's alive. The word of God is quick, powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword. God can take the littlest phrase and speak directly to a person's heart. And essentially, how do you know that you're discouraged? It is when you have lost confidence in the word of God, in the power of God, and God isn't real, and God is working. No matter what.

And that leads me to the final thing. And that is, what is the counsel that He gives for discouragement? Would you go back and look at verse three where He opens up and He gives us a command. He says, for consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself.

What is the counsel for discouragement? Well, it has to do with the way you think and it has to do with Jesus. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners. In other words, Jesus was an example, He endured and He persevered in the constant conflict that He had with sinners. So Jesus is the example and He says, consider Him. The word consider there is an interesting word.

I'm sure you know what an Excel spreadsheet is and those of you that are accounting majors will be those who spend a lot of time looking at Excel spreadsheets and looking over things on line by line and you will study them carefully and you'll look at them with detail. It's the idea, it's the way finances work. When the Bible says consider Him, it means to give careful thought to the sufferings of Jesus. Now, why?

Well, think with me a moment. Have you ever noticed how that people that suffer actually encourage other people who are suffering by their suffering? My wife has had cancer twice. She had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer and my wife has cancer today. Everywhere my wife goes, she encourages people with cancer. I don't encourage anybody with cancer. You know why?

I've never had it. But because of my wife suffering, people will come up to her and talk to her and they will feel in their heart that my wife understands. And there's an instantaneous connection in encouragement. When the Bible says consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners, what he's saying is the way that you gain encouragement is actually to go to the one who fully understands everything you feel because he's felt everything, because he's experienced everything so that he can actually comfort you. And he is saying for you as a Christian, the way to encouragement is actually to go to a quiet place, take your Bible and start carefully reading through and reading the book of Psalms and reading the gospel accounts and read on your knees and praying.

And what happens is God will come to you and God will comfort you and God will strengthen you. Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners. Over and over, he faced the hostility of wicked people from every angle. His reputation was constantly maligned, defamed and ridiculed. He was arrested and went through a trial without any form of proper justice. What he experienced was not fair. His death sentence was a political ploy. He was used to alleviate the bloodthirsty cries of the crowd.

His scourgings were a public mockery. His crucifixion was the crime of eternity. And yet throughout all of this, Jesus stayed strong.

He never said a word in reaction. He never sinned and compare your struggles to those of Jesus. See how he suffers. Watch him as he agonizes.

See him as he sweats drops of blood. Observe his meekness as he stands before his accusers like a gentle lamb. Hear the crowd cursing his name and calling for his blood.

Be astounded that he never offers a word of defense. Feel the blows that come down upon his flesh as he's wounded for our transgressions. Hear the thud of the wooden mallet as iron spikes are driven into the savior's flesh. Listen to him as he prays for his murderers and he forgives his offenders. The best way to draw strength and encouragement for the race is to reflect on him who endured such contradiction of sinners. He knows our frame. He understands us and he comes to us because just like you trust Jesus to save you and he gives you grace and the power of God and salvation. So when you look to him for strength and sanctification he actually emboldens you. He actually comes to you. He actually strengthens you. And suddenly there's this supernatural connection between you and the one who endured such contradiction of sinners.

And that's how we run the race. We draw out of Jesus like a bee draws out of a flower nectar. We draw out of Christ everything we need.

And what does he do? He encourages us. He lifts us up.

May God help you define courage in Christ. Father, thank you for your word. Bless and strengthen our student body.

Lord, don't let one student quit because they get discouraged. Lord, not one, not one. Help every young man and young lady find in Christ all that they need. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen. You've been listening to a sermon from Hebrews 12 by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. Thanks again for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-03 15:36:35 / 2023-12-03 15:48:14 / 12

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