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April 26, 2021 4:00 am
The book of Hebrews chapter 12 compares the Christian life to a race he challenges us as believers to run with steady perseverance.
We need to keep going until we reach the finish line. The question is how are you running today on Truth for Life.
Alister bag explains what it takes to go the distance. I want to draw your attention to these opening verses of chapter 12 in making beginning to our studies in this great closing section now of that letter to the Hebrews, the Christian life is described in many metaphors in the New Testament. Indeed, throughout all of the pages of Scripture and it is clear from a consideration of them that there is nothing static about being a Christian. But the Bible makes it very very clear that when God reaches into our lives.
He redeems as and we become pilgrims to use an old-fashioned word, we become in the same time aliens. Resident aliens and we have a destination in view and it is to that point that we are moving up until that point prior to faith in Christ.
We were aimless. We were without God and without hope in the world. That's when the Bible says, but now that we have been brought to him to an understanding of who he isn't what he is done then we have begun on a journey.
Now the way in which that journey is then referred to as, of course, in a whole variety of ways and one of the most classic illustrations on it is in terms of athletic imagery and not least of all the picture of a race.
That is why right here in verse two. At the end of verse one.
It is a race that is marked out for us and it is this race marked out for us that we are told we must now run with perseverance the pulse is the same thing in a number of places. For example, in first Corinthians chapter 9 he says do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize is referring they're not the small local competitions in which there were a number of prizes he is referring to the kind of Olympic events or the Isthmian games where in major events.
Only one person would win the laurel wreath and using that imagery pollen medication says to his readers run in such a way as to get the price so another words we should be in no doubt that if our lives have been touched and changed by Christ. One of the things were involved in is a race and the question is how my running how my running and I my running or am I watching my pursuing or am I stumbling people today speak in terms of spiritual things and all kinds of terminology if you listen to them in coffee shops as I do with frequency at least with the frequency in which I find myself in coffee shops and I am intrigued to hear the kind of information that comes out of the mouths of individuals I was most recently sitting on an early morning listening to two ladies arranging air from all manner of subjects on the matter of spirituality. I wanted desperately to intrude on the conversation and say excuse me, I wonder if I might join you, and I thought it would be dreadfully misunderstood and so I had to bite my tongue. But as I listen to them. They were talking in terms of mystical speculation. They were talking in terms of enthusiastic feelings and all kinds of philosophical jargon that they were bandying about and so often people think that that is what Christianity is, while it certainly feeds our minds and stirs our hearts, but it is far more than that. It involves always and in every case, action to be a Christian is to be introduced to a life of steady persistence and it is this issue which the writer now brings before his readers. At the end of chapter 10, you may recall he had been encouraging them, including himself along with them, pointing out that while there were those who were losing heart on the journey. While there were some who are tempted to lie down in the course of the race. He didn't want them in verse 35 of chapter tend to throw away their confidence, but rather they should understand that it would be richly rewarded if they would persevere and it is to the same theme that he is going to return or has returned here in chapter 12.
He ended chapter 10 by saying we're not the kind of people who quit in the middle of the race as a paraphrase, but it is the picture were not those who shrink back and are destroyed but we begun. And so we will continue and in order to help them to consider a life of steady persistence. He has spent all of this time in Chapter 11 bringing before their minds eye. This great cloud of witnesses, as he refers to them in this first verse and the witnesses are therefore eyes to look at. Then, as we have seen, they are not there in order that they might look at arts and the feats of bravery which would be looking at in these days, and the details of victory are they are not in order that we might sit around and simply dream. Not that we might be trapped in some kind of unrealistic notions, but rather that we might follow inspiration with application neural kinds of people who are inspired all over the place so I'm so inspired they will tell us I'm inspired to do this. I'm inspired to do that and are so busy being inspired to do everything that they never do anything at all simply sit around getting inspired.
They read books on whatever it is they're getting inspired about "you in the various ways in which you should apply yourself to these various pursuits they can articulate it with great ability and yet they're absolutely horrible if ever they come to try now. The writer recognizes how dangerous such a thing is and so he says here let me say in light of what I've been telling you since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, I want you to run the race that is marked out for you. If you're going to run this race. It means dealing with.
First of all the stuff that slows us down.
I want to think with you for just a moment about the kind of stuff that slows us down and seeking to run the race of the Christian life may not be immediately what comes to our minds will tend to think in far more melodramatic terms than the ones I'm about to share with you the Christian runner has to get rid of even the innocent things which might impede our progress through the question, are there innocent things in my life allowable things things in the Bible does not deny me access to which are actually impeding my ability to run the race of the Christian life. Do I cherish opinions do I have a disposition or is my conduct even allowable conduct, preventing me from running the race with perseverance. You see, it is very important that we don't simply be where the intrusion of pursuits which are innocent, but also the intrusion of those things which are praiseworthy we can be an illustration some years ago and 86, one of the countries that we visited was Kenya and then visiting Nairobi.
We visited the hangers where they Are a number of the planes which were used for missionary endeavors. Some very nice planes that would be well known to those of you are familiar with single and twin engine flying here in the states, and certainly from the outside.
They look just like any airplane that you would see part in any runway here in the small airport in America. But when you got inside them and open the doors and something struck you forcibly and that was that we were stripped down to the bare minimum. They had arrived with very nicely upholstered seats they had torn them out and left them simply with the bear's bones of the structure of the metallic structure with just a thin canvas covering the fascia of the dashboard, which had been very very nicely put together that had been torn out and dispensed with as well. The padding which lining the doors where they had the window crank hers. That was all gone as well. In fact, there wasn't any extraneous piece of material left inside the airplane. Why because it's wrong for missionaries to fly nice airplanes now because it didn't allow them to achieve their objective.
They needed those planes to be as light as possible so that they might take as much by way of medical supplies as possible and so they were prepared to sit on less than wonderful seats and in surroundings that were less than luxurious surroundings, not because it was wrong because it wasn't best.
Most of us who are serious about running the race of the Christian life are not impeded in our journey by dramatic and stirring and prolonged sinfulness not there were incapable of it, but most of us are not impeded by that most of us are actually impeded by the toleration of allowable innocent and praiseworthy things which we have unwittingly allowed as to dine there from the objective of being there at the finish. For example, family life, family life, surely nobody in their right mind would take on family life is something that could impede the Christian life.
Yes, go to churches and the citizens of family centered church that is the wrong kind of church for the only kind of church is a God centered church all weekend's common worship with God's people because of our family, or no, I won't be able to be involved in the opportunity for outreach because of my family. How does the Bible teach that we should be concerned about our feathers absolutely supported Jesus have to say. He said if anybody would like to follow me. If anyone was considering being a committed disciple of mine and was not prepared to hate their father and mother that her brother and her sister and everyone else in that structure for sake of myself in the gospel and they shouldn't even begin the journey. Dramatic kind it's staggeringly dramatic. Is it hyperbole to some degree but not for the Muslim convert for the young man than Sue and I met who came to me and told me of his conversion to Christianity told me of his father, a well-known surgeon in the South told me of his baptism and told me that he had no contact.
Ever since that day with any member of his family. They had thrown him out of the house refused to return his phone calls did not reply to his letters and wanted nothing to do with them at all. So when he sings, I have decided to follow Jesus.
He knows exactly what he's talking about. We are in grave danger. Loved ones of Saul becoming preoccupied with innocent and praiseworthy things that is actually stuff that stumbling us. What about diligence in business diligence in businesses that wrong know it is lauded in the Bible. Is it innocent yes is it praiseworthy absolutely. The parable of the talents would help us to that end, if we are nothing else I get. Nevertheless, diligence in business may make a fool of us about an interest in theology and interest in theology could an interest in theology trip us up and stumbles absolutely. It happens all the time because while theology is the story of a knowledge of God there are individuals who are so interested in systematic theology that they don't have any knowledge of Jesus hardly and are so concerned about dotting the I am crossing the T that a pain in the neck and every Bible study. They always bother you with a question that no one can answer your always consumed with all these issues of the rightness and tightness of everything and you know me well enough to know that I believe that doctrine is vital and I wouldn't embrace theological vagueness. But I'm talking about somebody who has a morbid preoccupation and it's the stuff that hinders let's throw off everything that hinders is a Scottish commentator brown every earthly pursuit. However innocent in itself when it interferes with the cultivation of Christian dispositions and the practice of Christian duties becomes a weight which must be laid aside can be the reading of good literature. It can be a preoccupation with your garden can be absolutely anything at all. There are many people have amounted to very little for Jesus Christ and it is not again because they engage in some dreadful, willful, sinful practice, but it is because they did not take care all this stuff that makes a man or woman stumble $0.20. Not only is there the stuff that hinders us, but there's the sin that tangles acts the sin that trips is up. The picture here is of a garment I was playing golf.
Not so long ago and it wasn't a particularly nice day but it wasn't what you would call freezing.
As I looked down on the par three were I was waiting to tee off. There was a gentleman down on the green and he was wearing a cowboy hat. He had a jacket that was of a heavy ruling material with big leather sleeves and that he had a bright red woolen scar which was dangling down both sides like the old Rod Stewart days and was swinging underneath and as he tried to put in. I said you know there's a purist up ahead there somebody who is obviously passionate about the game of golf know he was there. It was a social exercise. Everything was swinging in the breeze and impeding everything but it didn't seem to matter.
He had a wonderful time.
He had a lousy score and a wonderful time.
I admire him for having a wonderful time. Don't you, but if he been serious you in a ditch.
The jacket even if he was cold, he would've got rid of the ridiculous cowboy hat and scarf would've been nowhere to be seen you do anything that's tripping you up in the race tolerating a scarf's cozy.
I like the sin and to keep it with me. I like this old hat spring with me a long time's faithful friend that any untied shoelaces that we are mother always told to make sure you tie your shoelaces before the race starts. She always told you that and she told you I don't take your eyes off me was demanded of course, that she was standing in the right position one take much to bring a person down and untied shoelaces preoccupation with pleasure the desire to control everything to be a power monger. The dramatic desire to have possessions or what about the sin of unbelief, the sin that was confronting these poor souls here. The temptation to be devoid of faith.
Listen, he says, running the race. Running the race means that we are dealing with the stuff that slows us down dealing with the sin that trips is a and finally we are running with our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus. According to verse three, he tells us that if we are to avoid dropping out through distraction or collapsing with exhaustion. We need to focus and we mustn't focus on the witnesses.
They are a wonderful group but you will have already thought about the fact that some whose names appear here were not perfect course they weren't perfect. There's only one perfect Jesus solo if we go looking hard and often the stories here. The story of Jacob. The story of David, the story of Samson will find enough in their that will allow us to be distracted may be enough to encourage us to do wrong things. So the writer says I'm giving you this wonderful list and they're there for your encouragement.
But you will be sustained in running the race. Not by a consideration of the witnesses not ultimately by consideration of the goal nor by a consideration of the promised reward. But by keeping your eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ you think about it when people let us down where the best person to loot, to whom should we look to Jesus. When we find ourselves disappointed when we find ourselves discouraged by our own inability to run the race when we find ourselves Inc. I don't know when I have another ounce of energy in me to run another step in this jolly Christian race, nor even a link to Christ when he says, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Jesus upon whom we fix our eyes is the Jesus of the Bible, not in the Jesus of an imagination. The Jesus that he is introduced us to here in the book of Hebrews who is this Jesus, upon whom we fix our eyes while he is a compassionate Savior.
That's why he uses the name Jesus. You will given the name Jesus said the angel, because he will save his people from their sins, and he uses Christ's human name. He says let's fix our eyes on Jesus when you're tempted to quit and the race is marked out for you consider the fact that when he faced the race marked out for him.
He endured it. He despised the shame he went right through it. The breast of the tea. Consider the fact that this Jesus is the author in the perfection of your faith. He is the pioneer. He is the one back in chapter 2 in verse 10, who is leading many sons to glory in bringing many sons to glory was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Jesus is the only one who is able to perfect our faith to have a look at yourself and say I don't know if I'm making much progress in this race all I think I been running on the spot. All of my life. I keep pressing the same lamppost and fight are not sure that I passed it yet, how my going to perfect my faith, not by a stirring of my moral integrity is important as it is not by an emphasis on my devoted service, not by focusing on my spiritual experiences no matter how wonderful they might've been, but only Christ authors and perfect faith is why when Paul writes to the Philippians he says I'm confident that he who began a good work and you will bring it to completion of the day of Jesus Christ. Fix your eyes on this compassionate Savior. Fix your eyes on the pioneer in the perfecter of faith. Fix your eyes on the one who was the devoted servant who came to do the will of God.
Fix your eyes on. He who is the effective high priest who sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Fix your eyes upon.
He who is the patient suffer enduring the opposition from sinful man and fix your eyes upon. He who is the enthroned lore and he says remember that in your struggle against sin, you haven't resisted to the point of shedding your blood the Christian life is not passivity its activity.
It's a race there is stuff that we need to set aside the sin with which we need to deal that is one, to whom we need to look Hebrews 12 in these opening verses says to his. Don't give up too soon.
Don't relax before the tape don't collapse until your past the post. Let us pray together or God our father, we thank you for the simplicity and clarity of your work. We thank you for the example of Christ. The pioneer in perfecter of our faith. We pray that you will fill our hearts with praise and our lips with song, to the glory of your great name we ask listening to Truth for Life and a message from Alister Greg we are learning that the Christian life is more of a marathon than a sprint. We need persevere all the way to the end to give up too soon collapse before we reach the finish line. But circumstances can sometimes leave us feeling like rubber gas, but that's something you can relate to. We want to recommend a book called God does his best work with empty the author of the book is Nancy Guthrie and she explores the difficulties we face in life are discouragements or disappointments. These hurdles can often leave us feeling empty, even useless, but emptiness is not an obstacle for God. In fact, it's an opportunity for him to fill us with his spirit. The book God does his best work with empty will encourage you even if you feel depleted requester copy would you give a truthful life.org/donate or call to donate 88858878. We remind you all of our resources are available for purchase at cost with no markup included. If you'd like to view our featured books sermon series on USB other resources.
Again all available at low prices go to Truth for Life.org/store Bob Lapine tomorrow. Alister considers what happens when we commit ourselves to Jesus as our Lord and Savior. What makes us sure that were part of God's family comes up tomorrow.
The Bible teaching of Alister is furnished by Truth for Life learning is prolific