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1720. A Faith That Endures

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
March 1, 2024 6:03 pm

1720. A Faith That Endures

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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March 1, 2024 6:03 pm

Rev. Jon Daulton preaches in BJU chapel from Hebrews 12.

The post 1720. A Faith That Endures appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Today's message will be preached by Reverend John Dalton, who is director of student life at Bob Jones University. Well, good morning. Take your Bibles with me and go to Hebrews chapter 12. I wrestled with what to share with you today. And soon it became evident that probably sharing something with you that I was personally needing would be a wise choice of time.

And I think, as I've had opportunity to reflect, I believe it is also led by the Spirit. On Sunday night, my wife and I were cleaning up some dishes, and I looked at her and I said, I don't want to go back to work. Now, please don't take that personally, okay?

Faculty and staff enjoy the breaks from school, just like you do, and can sometimes have a difficult time getting back on track. And my wife offered me some gentle encouragement, like put your big boy pants on or something like that. I can't remember exactly what it was that she said. No, it wasn't that.

She just kind of said, well, you know, you have to do that. And I'm guessing that some of you said the same kind of a thing to a friend or a family member after the break, as the break was coming in. I really don't want to go back. And transparently, a week off at Thanksgiving is a long time, especially when the semester ends only three weeks after you come back.

So next year, we're canceling Thanksgiving break. No, I'm just kidding. Just kidding.

Just kidding. But here we are. You and I both pushed through those initial apprehensions and our inclinations, and we returned to school anyway, so we're back. So now what? We've got this period of time sandwiched between two periods of vacation.

How should we use it? You know, actually, I know there are some of you in this room that are facing challenges that are much more profound than just returning to school after Thanksgiving break. You have significant personal challenges that you're dealing with. You've dealt with them for days or months or even years, health challenges, financial difficulties, academic challenges.

Some of you have significant family challenges, parents that may seem to need you more than you need them or don't want you. Worse yet, some of you may have some threatening circumstances that you're living underneath them and you really don't see the end. What's going to happen? How is this going to play out?

And maybe coming back to school was kind of easy, comparatively speaking. How do we deal with adversity? How do we deal with pressure?

How do we deal with providentially arranged circumstances that we would prefer to run from, but that instead we need to run toward? The author of Hebrews, of course, addresses a group of believers who were being dangerously influenced to go back, to go back to the Judaism that they had forsaken. And the writer wanted to inspire them to persevere in their newfound faith by presenting Jesus as better, right? If you've studied Hebrews, you know that Christ has set forth as better than all the competing spectacles. Christ is better than angels, better than prophets, better than Moses, better than the Old Testament priesthood, the originator of the New Covenant.

Christ is better. What is it that you're being dangerously influenced by today and thus being tempted to give into? Some of you have grown up all of your life in church. And you've been taught the scriptures. You believe you've trusted in Christ for salvation. But like your peers struggled to make your faith your own, personalized what you claim to believe. And as a result, you're being tantalized, you're being seduced by worldly philosophies that pull at your moral underpinnings and make you wonder whether or not what you've been told all your life is really true.

All of us, I'm sure, know of someone who has walked away from the faith, right? And we may be wondering, is that a good idea? Maybe that's what I ought to do. I don't know what your struggle is. But can I press upon us a simple thought this morning? And it's taken from this portion of Hebrews where the author uses a familiar life metaphor, a race. Like a race, life has a beginning and an end. Like a race, life has pressure and expectations. Like a race, life has a measure of uncertainty. And I would contend that life is a race made up of many smaller races that must be faithfully endured.

So here's the thought. In order to successfully finish my earthly race, or races, I must build a faith that endures. Let's just read that passage, Hebrews 12.

Very familiar. I hope this becomes one of those biblical watering holes that you can go to and drink from deeply at many points in your life. Because the fact is, what you're being asked to endure and complete today is probably small compared to some of the things you will be called upon to endure and complete in the years to come. But this passage of scripture, like all scripture, it's timeless. It speaks eternally.

And so this is a place you ought to come back regularly and draw strength in. It's been time after time that I've sat in my office with a young man and we've been talking about something that's tough, it's difficult, it's challenging, it's unwanted, and yet providentially ordained. And we come to this passage and we find tremendous encouragement, tremendous strength to draw from so that we can face, not flee, what we'd like to do from, but actually run toward and thrive in the midst of what God has called us to endure. So wherefore, chapter 12 verse 1, seeing we are also compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us.

And let us run with patience. That's that concept of endurance, the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him were endured again, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that himself endured such contradiction of sinners, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds. And I just want to today give us from this passage three things that I believe will energize, energize the building of this faith that we're seeking to cultivate that will produce the endurance that we need to face obstacles and difficulties. And the first one is this, right in verse 1. Our faith is energized by considering the community of faith.

That's what verse 1 is all about. It's not really about so much these witnesses who are gathered around watching us, as it is about us having the opportunity to look at them and draw strength from them. Who is the cloud of witnesses that these Hebrews were being encouraged to consider? Well you could tick through all those names.

It's Abel and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Jacob and Joseph and Moses and Israel and Rahab and Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah and David and Samuel and the prophets and those are just the ones he named. Then there's this unnamed host of men and women who endured through the most dire of circumstances and distinguished themselves to such a degree that the world was not even worthy of them. What was so commendable about them?

Why are they worth paying attention to? Well it was their faith, right? That's what stands out about each one of them. They lived by what they could not see. They were not tremendously discouraged or encouraged by what they could see.

They were driven and motivated and propelled forward by what they could not see. They embraced, as seen in the life of Moses, what was invisible. So Abel, God said to bring a lamb for a sacrifice.

Vegetables may have been more convenient but they weren't what God required. And even though his jealous brother killed him, the Bible says that Abel's faith was counted as righteousness. Enoch, for 365 years, he walked with God in personal communion instead of being distracted by the fleeting pleasures and passions of fleshly impulses. And so Enoch's faith distinguished him in such a way that God actually said, you know what, I'm just going to take you. I just want to have fellowship with you.

I want you to come and be with me. What about Noah? Noah believed that God would judge the earth with a flood and obeyed God's instructions. My wife and I went to the ark recently, the ark encounter up in Ohio, Kentucky, Louisiana.

Where is that? Anyway, we went up there and what a wonderful experience that was. And if you've been there, you've seen the reenactment, the visual, video reenactment that they do of what it was like for Moses to entertain the secular populace that was coming in and challenging him about the crazy notion of building an ark when there had never been rain. Noah, he just decided to believe what he could not see. And as a result, he saved his life and the life of his family. And you could go through every one of those, and I would encourage you to do that, go through each of those named heroes in Hebrews 11. That's where we're drawing these from. What was it about their faith that was particularly unique?

Each one has a different beauty and a nuance to it. Who is your community of faith? Community of faith is kind of a catchphrase now. We're talking about that. You get into a new community and they talk about establishing a community of faith.

Okay, please don't be distracted by that. I'm talking about specifically the people that you choose to surround yourself who speak gospel truth to you. Do you have people like that? In fact, who do you allow to speak into your life? Who do you listen to? Who has your attention? Whose podcasts do you listen to? Whose music do you thrive under? Who's got your attention? It's only logical for us to conclude that the people we listen to will have everything to do with the kind of person we are.

Is it not? It's interesting that the next chapter, Hebrews chapter 13, the writer says, Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God, and consider and imitate their faith. Considering the outcome of their conversation, their lifestyle. Right there, the writer is giving us an opportunity to say, Hey, here's a group of people that you could include in your community of faith. Those who've spoken to you the word of God. Look at how they've lived.

Look at how they've lived out their faith. And that's not to say that all of us have always had perfect examples. We know that all of us would have to say, boy, we've seen people mess up. We've messed up sometimes, right?

So it's not about us trying to make it that every leader we've ever had has been a perfect example. But you've had people. Can I suggest that many of you have had parents who've spoken truth into your life from its inception. And biblically speaking, one of the wise things to do is to put those people, those parents, within the circle of your community and allow them to speak into your life. The whole marketing world out there is making or offering to spend millions of dollars for your attention, right?

You're very expensive. Who will you listen to? The people that you place within your circle, within your community of faith, will have everything to do with the kind of person you are. To deal with your ability to actually endure and persevere and bear up underneath the God appointed circumstances in your life. Secondly, consider the community of faith. But secondly, deal decisively with hindrances, right? That's what verse two starts to get into.

We get the implications of the analogy here. No runner carries extra weight while running. Now to be fair, kudos to you cross country runners for those national championships.

That's a wonderful accomplishment. And probably some of you along the way trained carrying some weight. Maybe it was some of your own.

But some of it may have been carrying some kind of a bag of weights so that you could kind of build some endurance and some stamina as you were training. So certainly that happens. But we don't do that when we compete. We cast it off. We cast off anything that would impede the swiftest completion of the race. That's what the writer is saying. We lay aside. It's not like, oh, here's my phone. No, it's to tear it off like a filthy garment.

Deal decisively with the kinds of things that would hinder you from running the race. Let's get that, the life analogy. But weights, you can see, the writer's talking about both weights and sins, right? He's saying lay aside the weights and the sin which so easily besets us. And so weights can be individually unique. They can be things that are peculiar to us. There's no specific kind of weight that's referenced here leading us to conclude that weights are unique to us.

What are the weights that are impeding you from running the race? We have less than two weeks of classes before the semester ends. Now, don't forget, there is a week of final exams, and that's a very important week. But we've got two weeks of class. And some of you will pass or fail in a class based on how well you do in these last two weeks.

Hopefully most of us didn't leave it till the last two weeks to decide that. But many of us are going to be able to change the outcome in a class or two based on how we perform. What kind of weights do you need to set aside in order to pass those classes? What are the weights that are peculiar to you? Your weights are not my weights.

My weights are not yours. We've all got particular things that hold us back, and they're not all bad. You can allow YouTube to keep you from accomplishing your academic goals. Now, YouTube can be something that's tremendously enriching. It's not inherently evil. It can be used for positive purposes. There's educational and entertainment value there. But for most of us, it can be, too often, tremendously emptying. And I've talked to guys who watch YouTube six or seven hours a day.

You're not going to survive in life, let alone an academic institution. If that's going to be your preoccupation, you've got to lay it aside. It's not that it's inherently evil, but it's a weight. Set it aside.

And maybe for you it's not YouTube. It's something else. It's a relationship, perhaps. It's a hobby. It's a distraction.

What can you do just on your own free time? You're going to need to take two weeks and say, I'm going to set that to the side if I'm really going to accomplish and complete productively, successfully, with joy, what God's given me. But the weights are individually unique, but sin is universally distracting.

Sin is not speaking of any specific sin here, so it's probably referencing the distracting nature of sin itself, the sin that besets us. And this is maybe time to think more about those habits, those things that have been our constant enemies from as long back as we can remember. Or maybe from as soon as I got serious about following Christ, I began to really struggle with this. And that shouldn't surprise you. Don't let that overwhelm you.

I talk to guys often. We work through this where it's like, I don't know where this thing came from, and I've been doing great. And all of a sudden, I am really battling this particular fleshly inordinate desire. And I just say, look, very simply, when you get serious with God, and you start getting focused and surrendered in your own life and on a straight path to obey Him, you begin maybe for the first time to really face some resistance.

That's all. There's no supercharged ethereal influence that you're under. You may actually just be experiencing the pull of your flesh for the first time because you're actually going against it.

Don't let that surprise you. These habits, these sins have to be faced and cast aside, just like a piece of dirty clothing, so that we can run the race to completion. Some of you say, I know, but it doesn't work. It doesn't work for me. Well, let's go to this third point because I think this really kind of helps us when we come to this and we say, I just, I can't bear up under this. I can't endure. I can't persevere. I can't keep going. I've tried.

It's just for me, for whatever reason, it doesn't happen. Maybe it's because we've never considered this last element that really energizes our faith and produces a faith that endures. And that is this. We have to learn to maintain a Christ-centered focus. That's verses two and three. This passage is really not about you enduring. It's about Christ enduring.

And it will have everything to do in the long run with your ability to endure. Now the author here understands these believers need practical help to keep them from falling away. He's taken an entire book to paint this beautiful portrait of how Christ is better, but understands that some of them are still in grave danger. Some of them are like some of us, like a beachgoer who's gone out beyond the breakers, has caught in the current, and has been laboring to tread water while waiting to be rescued. And they're about to give up. Their legs are just about on fire and they can't keep themselves above the water anymore. And that's what some of us are like. We're not 200 yards out in the ocean.

I remember one time with my kids, we went out. We were playing Nerf football, and one of them chucked it way out there, and I swam to get it. And as I reached beyond the breakers, I'm swimming to get a Nerf football. And I'm thinking, what in the world are you doing out here?

Anyway, that's free, no charge. It just came to mind. But you know, you get out that far past the breaker and you start experiencing some of that pull the other direction. You're ready to go under. You're about to let go.

You're about to quit. The writer to Hebrews says, no, wait, there's a lifeline. He essentially says, place Christ at the center of your focus. Now, unfortunately, this hyphenated term is one of those that has almost lost its meaning, Christ-centered. We hear that term and are almost inclined to yawn and say, yeah, well, the Christian life, yeah, it's got to be Christ-centered. Kind of like gospel-centered, right? I mean, gospel-centered, Christ-centered, Jesus-centered, God-centered, you know. We've almost become kind of numb to that.

And that's nobody's fault. That's terminology that's just kind of passed into the modern-day vernacular. But what does that even mean? You know what it means? It means Christ is at the center of your focus.

That's all. It means exactly what it says. Being Christ-centered or Christ-focused means Christ is at the center of your focus. So if you want to live out a faith that endures, that faith must have a fixed focus.

That focus is Christ. I love what Elan said yesterday in her testimony. That was a blessing. If you didn't catch that, if you were distracted or something by something else, I would encourage you to go back, watch the live stream, listen to it again.

I listened to it again last night. And one of the things she said, she said, I am traveling to the destination and the destination is Christ himself. I said, wow, that is really good.

That is really good. That's somebody whose focus is Christocentric. It's Christ-centered. And our author admonishes us to look to Jesus at the beginning of verse two and then to consider Jesus at the beginning of verse three. So how do we do that?

Well, I want to be exceeding practical in these last five minutes we have here. You and I don't see visions. We don't worship images. So how do we see Jesus? Well, we look at the scriptures and we consider the example that Jesus sets for us. So according to this passage, what does God want us to see when we want to build a faith that endures? Well, we consider the example of Christ. And the beauty of maintaining a Christ-centered focus is that according to this passage, not only can we dwell on Christ's example, but we can also draw strength from it and emulate it ourselves.

That's a beautiful thing. This is not just theory. This is practical, life, living. So what do we see about Christ? Number one, Christ is the foundation of our faith. Looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith. Everything about our salvation is founded on Jesus Christ and what he did. He came. He came into this earth. He came into a human body, took on flesh, a celebration which we will enjoy during this coming month, lived a perfect life, gave up his life, and now sits at the right hand of the Father and will perfect that which concerns me. Christ is the foundation of my faith.

You feel like you're kind of getting pulled and pushed and yanked in various directions? Okay, get back to the foundation. What's the foundation? The foundation of your faith is Jesus Christ. The author, the progenitor, the beginning and the end.

The consummation. Number two, Christ was motivated by future joy. Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross? What was it that brought Christ's joy? John 4.34, Jesus said, My need is to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work. Certainly his joy was in doing his Father's will. But his joy was also, at least partially, bringing many sons to glory.

You and me being able to take us as redeemed saints to live with him forever and ever. This was the joy that inspired him. As you think about what you're facing, beware of the demand for immediate gratification.

I want something that's immediately pleasurable. No, the fact is, the immediately pleasurable thing, the twinkies of life have to be cast to the side so that I can finish the race. The ultimate joy of passing a class, of living in powerful victory over sin, is much greater, brings much greater joy and happiness than a bunch of calories. Number three, Christ was the foundation of our faith. He was motivated by future joy. He was humble in his obedience. He endured the cross.

Of course, this is central to our whole theme of endurance. Christ submitted himself in the garden. Father, not my will, but thine be done. Some of us have no grace to endure in the Christian life because we've never come to the place that we've humbly submitted ourselves to him. We're so busy fighting everybody else that we think wants to be boss in our lives that we haven't come to the place that we've said, God, not my will, but your will be done.

That's the key. Jesus said that. We must say that if we're going to endure. And thirdly, Christ persevered. Fourth, in the face of adversity. What kind of adversity did he face?

He was ridiculed by religious leaders, resisted by evil spirits, doubted by his disciples, questioned by his family, rejected by his own people, condemned by Pontius Pilate, tortured by Roman soldiers, hung on an emblem of shame next to criminals. He and I, verse 4 says, have not yet resisted unto blood, like Jesus did in our striving against sin. And it doesn't mean, well, we should just think our lives are easy and Jesus had it really rough.

No, not at all. Life is hard. Life is challenging.

There's no question about that. But every time we're tempted to give up and to throw in the towel and say, I can't do this, I'm not coming back, or I'm going to give in. Jesus, what did he do? He persisted to the end.

He faced all of that contradiction of sinners against himself. And because he did, you and I can do the same and not be weary and faint in our minds. Will you build, will we build a faith that endures?

Hebrews 12 gives us a clear path. If we're going to finish the race, or the races, the many races of life successfully, we've got to build a faith that will endure. And may God help us in each race that we're involved in to finish the first glory. Father, thank you for these words, these truths from your word. I pray that anything I've said that's distracted from the meaning of the text would be removed and that instead we'd be reminded of the inspired truth of scripture. May it be what rests most heavily on our hearts today. And give us grace to endure. In Jesus' name, Amen. You've been listening to a sermon preached by Reverend John Dalton. Thanks for listening and join us next time for another sermon preached from the Bob Jones University Chapel Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-01 20:52:43 / 2024-03-01 21:03:12 / 10

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