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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.
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 Senior. 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 or 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 like 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. The age of 23 he ran for state legislature and was defeated the age of 24 he failed in business again the age of 25 he was elected he was elected to the state ledge legislature at the age of 26. His sweetheart died in the age 27 he had a nervous breakdown.
The age 29, he was that this defeated for speaker of the house. The age of 31 he was defeated for Alecto or the age of 34 he was defeated for U.S. Congress at the age of 37 he was elected the U.S. Congress in the age of 39 he was defeated for U.S. Congress the age of 46 he was defeated for the U.S. Senate at the age of 47 he was defeated to be the you the vice president of the United States at the age of 49 he was defeated for the U.S. Senate again in the age of 51 he was elected to be the president of the United States of America is a bite out of this gentleman wants Abraham Lincoln master question how many of you would think if I had his you know his history his story. I think I would get discouraged master question. When was the last time you got discouraged. Let me ask you this one was last time you woke up discouraged and you fat had this morning. Thank you I appreciate that. What is Hebrews all about is it's all about perseverance is 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 messages morning a real and present danger. That's particularly true in playing sports because every athlete understands it is easy to get discouraged, especially when you're not winning wanting to give up playing and quit the team. And the writer of Hebrews is presenting the Christian life as a race that has to be run and what's the real danger in the present danger. It's always getting discouraged. So this morning I 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 and wanted to we've already looked at the passage we says a way to run the race and then in verse three says for consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be weary and faint in your mind, you have not resisted on the blood striving in the word striving there. The same word for the word race striving against sin. So let's begin this morning by asking a number of questions for.1st off, what is it mean to be discouraged. What is the condition discouragement library mentioned it, but I just repeat with 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. 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 and gotten sick and tired of anything. Have you ever found yourself wanting to just walk away is the idea being worn down, losing your resolving giving up.
So what is 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 in you want out.
Why now I remember, remember my freshman year of college and and I remember walking the class in our campus had a gate around it, and I wonder 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 not I found myself many times wanting to quit wanting to give up, especially when things are hard writer here is saying that you come to a place where you've done this and you're done with this Aristotle use the phrase to describe the condition of a runner was collapsed from exhaustion after crossing the finish line. Maybe you're here this morning and you realize that we are about 1/3 of the way through the semester to be exact, will I get day 36/100, so actually you only have 64 more days left in the semester, but one person said yes 64 more days. Some of you feel like you're going to die. Some of you freshmen feel like you're not gonna make it somewhere you're going to collapse and die or go bury you will back campus. While there is no back campus graveyard for former freshman who didn't survive as a fun campus graveyard for former presidents as it writer of Hebrews is concerned about faltering before you finish to faint your mind means to lose your heart to lose your motivation. Some of you came in. I mean, only 36 days ago when you were all put sharks excited when is like opening a bottle of soda pop and you forgot to drink it and it sat there for three days and what is it taste like. After three days, you've lost your FedEx you've lost that something to be discouraged means to lose your FedEx, you realize that a church can lose its biz utilizes school can lose its biz you realize. A student can lose that that energy that motivation that desire that's what he means. Here is why believe in the ministry is not enough just to have right motives were doing the right thing, but we need to have the right motivation.
We know that enthusiasm is contagious and Hebrews. These believers had lost their heart and they were beginning to drift away from Christian fellowship 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 in what was there 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 tells us here in verse four he says you have not resisted on the blood striving against sin.
I was writing to a group of believers who 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 in many of them would shed their blood so they were in that in between state but he's giving us the idea of what it is that causes discouragement when he says you've not resisted, striving against sin, word recess, there is the idea of an ancient battle you seen it on television, movies where you got, you know, one Army here in the other Army. Here they got sword and shield and arrows and spears and they're rattling in there ready to go there fired the idea of resisting here is actually being involved in combat and you've made a decision to stand and fight and not give in and in this case is resisting sin is the decision a believer makes to follow God to not give in to the temptations of the world is a decision to follow God, even if it's hard I'm going to follow God that 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 got a stand and is not just standing for a week or year is standing, your whole life. You resist sin in the notice, the word striving. The word striving is the same word for the word race in verse one is the idea of the agon the exertion of energy against the negative and opposing force.
It's it's living with the tension of temptation and standing for Y in standing against sin.
If you'd asked me was 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 content that the constant tension of standing in striving my daughter-in-law Bethany has four boys sees me she has three boys that are four and under and 1/4 when due in December.
Think about that for boys four and under. That's called attention all day all night all the time.
No let up, no rest, constant weariness boys all over you always. It's a diaper factory's what is 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 sand that we have to agonize against will 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 little point 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 is interesting to me over the long time ago that wherever this truth, there's always an error and all of God's people have to stand for truth. There's also the pressure of conforming to the world. Romans 12 to says don't be conformed to this world, the biggest problem in the church is not that the churches in the world is when the world is in the church. The problem is not a boat on the water is 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 were standing against compromise against worldliness against conformity to the world. Your generation is going to this have to decide, are we going to not be wildly your generation will we be true and stand for God in the midst of a war that is not a friend of grace are you going to be that generation are you going to float down the river 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 we talked about the sand that does so easily beset us, and I mentioned that earlier in the in an earlier message of 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 and trust God with their life. In this case they were having to learn to depend on God versus falling away in unbelief. We say something. Atheism and agnosticism is a reality. As a student here Bob Jones University. Many of you, especially, especially those of you 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 that's not a problem somewhere else. That's a problem right here that's a problem in your many of you in your own hearts. And so, what's the reason are the cause of discouragement is this resistance and striving against sin. So were the consequences of discouragement will course of the book of Hebrews is when somebody be people begin to fall away from the faith that they stop the running. Nothing in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, we have a a real real key example of discouragement and a fellow named Elijah in first Kings chapter 19 we have the story where he's just finish what you could call the original Super Bowl Elijah versus the prophets of bail amount Carmel and they call down fire from heaven and God doesn't answer the prayer of the prophets of bail but he answers Elijah's prayer and he defeats the prophets of bail but there's one person that he could not defeat and that was the but the wicked Queen Jezebel and she swears she's going to take his life and so he does something unusual. He runs from her any runs from where where this area is located. Amount Carmel down to bear Shiva, which is 100 mile journey. That's a long run. By the way it goes out in the desert, he sits down under a juniper tree in a debt when I mean desert. It's hard to explain it in South Carolina because South Carolina is not a desert. It it's it's barren it's it's incredibly hot in a juniper tree is not much shade goes and sits down under this this tree and here we see the signs of discouragement. How do you know your discourage 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 not need, or cannot, 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 save 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 is measured by obedience. Some so when some water.
But God gives the increase. How many missionaries went to a Landon for seven years. They sold the gospel and not one person got say, and yet God is faithful whatsoever you so you shall also reap 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 in the second sign that a person is discouraged is a lack of motivation. The Bible says he lay down and slept what would you do after you ran 100 miles. I'd sleep to. 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 may can you imagine that you wake up and you don't even have to go to the dining, and an angel is feeding me. 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 them 40 days and 40 nights to go down to what we know is Mount Sinai now. The problem with that is because he was such a strong guide should've taken 40 days but we learn something and that is when your discourage you lose motivation in you don't seem to have any direction. There's a lack of vision.
There's a lack of passion magic question this morning where's your motivational level scale of 1 to 10, one being flat as a pancake 10 is like fired up where you are you discouraged, then the third sign of of of discourage person is a feeling of loneliness.
He got down the mountain more than a chapter in chapter 19 in verse nine God asking what you doing here you know we got ask you what you doing here that's a problem and he said he said the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant they throw down your altars. They killed the prophets with the sword and I even I only a lap and they seek my life to take it away. He felt all alone in the battle.
What is a sign of discouragement is 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 often times in a church where pastor feels that the people against him uses a very small number and actually there's a whole bunch of people are supporting him.
That's what happens when you get discouraged you think people against you, or you think you're all by yourself there. Some of you on this campus who walk around with hundreds and hundreds of students in you feel all alone at the side of discouragement and finally the four side of discouragement is a lack of confidence in God's word is interesting. God said Elijah what you doing here and then he say go out to stand on the mountain. This is in the Lord passed by in a great strong wind toward 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 this is the Lord was not an earthquake, and then a fire for the Lord was not in a fire. Think of that wind, fire, earthquakes, the big, powerful the boom while it what it Elijah expect from God expected God to do the big thing fire, lightning, you know, it might go crazy dots of the mud and all that in the last thing he said was a still small voice.
Literally it means the silence of assignments. A thin whisper. 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 a person with a heart that God is what is working.
One of 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 your discourage is when you have lost confidence in the in the word of God and the power of God and God is it real, and God is working no matter why that leads me to the final thing and that is what is the Council that he gives for discouragement. Would you go back and look at verse 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 what is the Council for discouragement.
Well, it has to do with the way you think 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 and the constant conflict that he had with sinners, so Jesus is the example and he says consider him the word consider there is interesting word. I'm sure you know what an XL spreadsheet is those of you that are accounting majors will be those who spend a lot of time looking at XL spreadsheets and looking over things own line by line and you will study them carefully and you look at them with detail. The audit is the way finances work when the Bible says consider him.
It means to give careful thought to the sufferings of Jesus. Now why think with me a moment if you ever notice how that people that suffer actually encourage other people who are suffering by their suffering.
My wife is had cancer twice. She had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer. My wife has cancer today everywhere. My wife go.
She encourages people with cancer. I don't encourage anybody with cancer, you know, I've never had, 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 understand and there's an instantaneous connection and 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 an reading the book of Psalms and reading the gospel accounts and him and read on your knees and praying 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's reputation was constantly Milan defamed and ridiculed. He was arrested and went through a trial without any form of proper just justice what the experience was not fair. His death sentence was a political ploy. He was used to alleviate the bloodthirsty cries of the crowd. His scourging for public mockery. His crucifixion was the crime of the of eternity.
And yet, throughout all of this Jesus Jesus states strong. He never said a word in reaction. He never send and compare your struggles to those of Jesus see how he suffers, watching as he agonizes see him as he sweats and 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, fear, feel the blows that come down upon his flesh as he is wounded for our transgressions. Here, the thought of the wooden mallet is iron spikes are driven into the Savior's flesh. Listen to him as he prays for his murderers and he forgives his vendors 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 in 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 bead trawls out of a flower nectar.
We draw out of Christ.
Everything we and what does he do 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 let all that one student quit because I get this, Lord not want not want help every young man and young lady find in Christ all that they need. We as is. In Jesus name, amen.
You 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