06 Sep Sun. Msg. – Hebrews 12:1, “Run”
- Hebrews 12:1
- Date: 09 September 2012
RUN! • Hebrews 12:1-2
I. INTRODUCTION – Read vs.
A. “You Can’t Win Like That”
1. The Olympics recently ended & some of us watched hours’ of coverage.
2. It’s been interesting watching the evolution of sports since I began watching the Olympics in high school.
3. As the competition has become more intense, the athletes’ equipment & clothing has evolved.
4. In both swimming & track, the difference between a gold & silver medal is sometimes as short as a hundredth of a second.
5. So swimmers shave every inch of their bodies & wear super slick suits to reduce drag.
6. Runners wear super-tight, lightweight tracksuits. Their shoes are only 5 oz. Their goal is to reduce both friction & weight so they can turn in the best time.
7. So imagine at the games in London – it’s a qualifying heat for the mile.
a. The runners line up at their starting places; 7 of them wearing the usual tracksuit & lightweight shoes.
b. But the 8th guy steps to the line wearing an wool Armani suit, white Eton dress shirt, Falconnable tie & Ferragamo wingtips.
c. He’s got a fedora on his head, scarf around his neck, an umbrella in 1 hand & a briefcase in the other.
d. 1 of the field judges approaches him assuming the man is in the wrong place but when he turns the judge sees he has his number pinned to the suit pocket.
e. The judge asks him if he’s really going to run like that. The contestant says, Sure! Why not?”
f. The judge knows there’s no rule that prohibits him running like that. But he also knows while he may run, there’s no chance of winning.
8. Those who want to win; Run to win.
9. That’s what the writer of Hebrews says here.
1. These vs go w/ch. 11 where we fiund the Bible’s Hall of Faith & Fame.
2. The writer reminds his readers of those they considered heroes because they kept their faith in God when it was difficult.
3. The readers had an opportunity to show the same kind of faith their heroes had – for they too were being pressed to give up & give in; going back to their old lives before faith in Christ.
4. So now he says
A. V. 1
1 Therefore we also,
1. Just as all those men & women of faith mentioned in ch. 11 . . .
since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2. This is yet another hint the Apostle Paul is the likely author of this letter.
3. He was fond of referring to the Christian life as an athletic competition.
4. Under arrest in Rome & knowing the Emperor wanted him dead, Paul penned his last letter & in 2 Tim 4:7 said –
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
5. The writer says the same here. “Keep the faith; finish the race.”
6. The image was well known because the Romans built stadiums all over their Empire. There was one in Jerusalem.
a. In the games that were held annual, foot races were one of the premier events, just as they are in the modern Olympics.
b. But the stands the writer speaks of here aren’t filled with mere spectators.
c. This mighty multitude of witnesses are all the heroes of faith he’s just referred to.
d. And they aren’t spectators so much as examples.
e. They were runners too, whose race is finished, and now they’ve taken a seat, not to watch, but to testify that it can be done! The race is winnable.
f. They don’t bear witness to us, watching as we run, so much as they ARE a witness TO us of how to run.
7. They remind us that even the best mess up. But as we keep going, keep moving forward by faith, the grace of God forgives & restores.
a. Think of David & the example he’s left. His life proves that failure doesn’t mean disqualification.
1) David slew a giant, then was himself felled by a bathing beauty.
2) He trusted God to protect him from the lunatic king of Israel, then pretended to be insane before the Philistine king so he wouldn’t kill him.
3) David rode a spiritual seesaw.
4) He rose to amazing heights of faith, then fell that far when he lost sight of the Lord.
5) When he was good, he was very, very good but when he was bad, he was AWEFUL!
b. Abraham, the Father of the Faith at the word of God left the cosmopolitan city of Ur to move to the Wild, Wild West of Canaan – an astounding expression of faith.
c. Then he makes a side trip to Egypt where he says his babelicious wife is only his sister so the Egyptians won’t kill him to get her.
d. Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Samson, the list goes on & on of all those mighty men & women whose faith rose to great heights but were far from perfect.
1) They all tripped & stumbled at some point along their course.
2) Some more than tripped; they went sprawling head first into the dirt & came up bruised & bleeding.
3) But God’s grace patched them up & put them back on track & they crossed the finish line to receive the prize.
4) John the Baptist was a major oddball; he finished.
5) John Mark was a quitter; he finished.
6) Mary Magdalene was a notorious prostitute; she finished.
7) William Carey was a dull-witted bore; he finished.
8) Jonathan Edwards got fired from his pastorate; he finished.
8. They all now sit in the stands, cheering us on, saying “I’m proof you can win! If I can do it, so can you.”
9. During the Olympics for some of the indoor & beach volleyball games, the cameras showed other US athletes in the stands rooting for the Americans. The Men’s basketball team was there, cheering them on.
10. The team cheering us on; YOU on, includes Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David, Elijah, Isaiah, Joel, Matthew, John, & Paul.
11. Now, I know what some are thinking – “Compared to that list of Faith-Greats, I’m a nobody, a mere also-ran. My name will never be recorded in the annals of history.”
12. When Abraham traveled that dusty road from Ur to Canaan & pitched his goat-hair tent under the Middle Eastern sky, it never occurred to him that we’d read about or take inspiration from him 4000 year later. Yet here we are.
a. Because Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible, he may have had an inkling later generations would vaguely know his name. But that we’d honor him as one of the greatest men in all history? No way!
b. The same goes for Rahab, Ruth, Boaz, Esther, Deborah, Jeremiah & Andrew.
c. Surely none of them thought they’d be remembered beyond a couple generations past their time.
d. Their patient, persevering faith in God earned them a special place that we honor today.
13. Your faith carves out for YOU a special place of honor with God.
a. No – your name. my name will likely NOT every be placed in the chronicles of this world.
b. But it is placed boldly in a far more important record = The Lamb’s Book of Life.
c. And one day, when your race will be finished & your name is read before all creation – YOU will take YOUR seat along w/all the others who’ve finished their race.
14. The writer now tells us HOW we can be sure to finish the race.
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
15. The race we’re in isn’t a competition w/one another; it’s a contest with the course itself.
a. We’re not trying to beat each other. We just aim to cross the finish line.
b. It’s like the steeplechase. 7½ laps w/28 barriers & 7 water traps the runner has to jump over or run thru.
c. The unique challenge of the steeplechase is that unlike other races, you can’t develop a rhythm.
d. The barriers are set at odd intervals & the water traps throw your stride off.
e. To make it to the finish line yo have to pay close attention & run with purpose.
f. The steeplechaser knows the barriers are a part of the course so he/she looks for them adjusts their stride & uses them as part of the race.
g. Instead of just hurdling them, runners step up onto them & use them to propel themselves onward.
16. So the writer says in our faith-race, there’s 3 things we can do to ensure we finish.
1) Lay aside weights 2) Set aside ensnaring sin 3) Run w/endurance.
17. The weights we’re to lay aside are anything that gets in the way of pursuing God whole-heartedly.
a. There are lots of things that aren’t sinful, but can get in the way of our attention to the Lord.
b. Career, possessions, food, popularity, wealth; even the pursuit of health or happiness can get in the way.
c. In themselves these things are morally neutral. They become helpful or harmful depending on how we use them or allow them to use us.
d. God’s plan is for all these things to be a means by which our pursuit of Him is lived out.
e. But if we lose focus & misplace our priorities, they become weights that bog us down & get in the way.
17. Paul puts it this way in 1 Cor. 10:23 . . .
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.
— Meaning they didn’t propel him further along his course of knowing & pleasing God.
18. That phrase “lay aside” in v. 1 was the term used by the ancient Greek athletes when they prepared for competition. You know how they competed don’t you? They laid aside their clothes & went naked.
19. It seems some of the modern Olympians are getting back to that.
20. The point here is that our attitude toward following Christ must be radical!
21. is there ANYTHING in your life that competes w/your affection for & attention to Jesus? // Strip it off!
a. Is there a hobby or interest that dilutes your faith.
b. A relationship that pollutes your heart?
c. A web-site or game that weighs you down?
22. I want to encourage you to set aside some time alone to seek the Lord & ask Him to deal w/you on this & when something comes to mind, don’t analyze or argue. Simply be prompt to fast from that thing for a season & see what a difference it makes in the quality of your walk.
23. Second, we must also expunge every sin that would trip us up & send us sprawling.
a. The weights merely slows us down –
b. But sin wants to disqualify & drag us off the track in shame.
24. That word “ensnare” means to encircle & hem in. It speaks of control.
a. I need you to hear me now. The devil does not love you or want to bless you.
b. He hates you w/every fiber of his hideous being because you bear the image of God.
c. He wants nothing more than to destroy you. Sin is his means of doing so.
d. But he can’t admit that because you’d never go for it.
1) So he makes sin look like something good & appealing; He wraps it in an attractive package.
2) And even when we’re tempted & know it’s wrong, he says we can sin à “Just a little!
3) Don’t worry, everyone one is doing it. And it’s not like you’re going to get caught.
4) You can quit any time. What’s the harm?”
5) No one addicted to drugs, sleeping alone in an abandoned building & eating out of dumpsters thought they’d end up there when they took their first hit off a joint.
6) No one addicted to porn whose wife has left him & kids are ashamed of him thought thumbing through that magazine years ago would lead to this?
e. ALL sin, no matter how seemingly insignificant has the same goal – totally, utter ruin of your soul.
f. You are not smarter, better, and stronger than others! And you are not going to get away with sin.
g. The devil is setting you up for public humiliation so he can gloat in your ruin. He wants to make you one more of his many trophies.
h. Don’t be a fool! Instead, quit your sin right now! Surrender to the grace & forgiveness of God & become a Champion of Faith.
25. There are people here right now who are at a crucial turning point with this.
a. Right now you’re deciding to either hang on to your sin or repent.
b. Understand your choice is life or death. Grace or shame.
c. Not just for you – but for your family & friends too.
26. The third thing we do to finish well is to run w/endurance the race set before us.
a. 2 things here:
1) First – The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint.
a) What’s needed is endurance, not speed.
b) Many begin, not all finish.
2) Second – It’s our race, our course.
a) As I said, we’re not competing with each other.
b) Our goal is simply to complete our course and the price goes to ALL who complete their race.
c) That means your race isn’t mine & mine’s not yours.
d) Don’t expect me to run your race; I won’t expect you to run mine.
e) But I will urge & cheer you on.
B. V. 2
1. In v. 2, we find the key to endurance –
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
2. Keep your eyes fixed on the prize! The prize is Jesus & Heaven.
3. He’s both the originator & goal of our life & the faith we need to really live it.
4. Jesus has mapped out the course you’re to take.
a. He’s already run it to make sure it has every turn it needs to get you where you need to be in His great, good plan.
b. He’s charted it thru challenges & things that seem like barriers & obstacles because as you look to him, He will give you the strength & wisdom to overcome them & by doing so, become more & more like Him & so better fit to enjoy all the glory of the end He has for you when you finally cross the finish line.
5. And of course, Jesus is our supreme example of endurance & pressing thru hardship to lay hold of the prize.
a. We sing a song w/a line that says, “I’ll never know how much it cost, to see my sin upon that cross.”
b. We never will know what Jesus endured by being made sin for us.
c. No higher price has ever been paid. Not greater shame ever born, not agony of soul as deep as when the Father turned His face away.
d. But Jesus endured it all for you è To gain you & bring you to eternal glory.
6. So remember this! Remember it when your trial seems long, the pain sharp, the agony intense & you feel alone.
7. Sooner than you know, all this will be behind you, you will gaze into Jesus loved filed eyes and hear those glorious words – “Welcome Home.”