Generation to Generation – “cloud of witnesses”

1 Therefore we also, 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 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. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.  (Heb 12:1-3 )

THEREFORE” refers to previous discussion in chapter 11 where the author is making the point that life is a race of faith and how you finish matters. The life of faith finishes to eternal life whereas the life of empty religious works leads to the wrath of God.

3 KEYS to how believers are to run the race and finish well in eternity:

We must run the race by Confessing our Sin            “lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares”

Every Weight

The author is using imagery to make his point. He compares Christians to athletes in competition. The clothing of the day was often robes that would get in the way of competition. The athletes would essentially take their clothes off to run freely. Laying aside weight, not sin, is a call to put aside any distraction:

The Sin

The author also says to lay aside the sin, which easily ensnares.

Notice that sin does not have to work hard to trap our life- it’s easy! The word “ensnare” carries the idea of an animal ready to attack his prey. This calls for CONFESSION. TO NOT CONFESS SIN IS TO NOT BE CONVERTED

1John 1:8-10 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

Psalm 32:3-5 “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

Apply: SPBC must become gospel-centered in everything. This has 2 results:

1)      Realizing the gravity and impact of sin we become broken before the Lord and humble in relating to others. Pride is removed.

2)      Realizing the gravity and impact of sin we proclaim the only remedy for sin which is the gospel.

We must run the race by Continuing our Steadfastness    “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”

Greek word for race is “αγωνα” where we get our English word “agony.” Could also mean: a conflict or struggle, a battle.

The author is saying that living a life of faith and enduring legacy is a struggle; it is difficult and not always easy. Takes years if not decades.

Yet – Our culture is not accustomed to enduring – dieting, divorce; Modern Christianity: church hopping, pastor tenure, attenders vs disciples

Apply: SPBC must leave a legacy. This has at least 2 factors:

1)      Realizing legacies are left by passing torch to next generation we must learn how to develop leaders – multiply!

2)      Realizing legacies are left by passing torch to next generation we must learn how to minister to children & youth and families.

We must run the race by Considering our Savior                                   “looking unto Jesus… For consider Him…”

The author uses Greek word “aforaw” meaning “to look away” or “to turn eyes away from one thing so to see another.” Believers are to have no eyes for anyone/anything in life except Jesus. It is a single focus driven by applause of Heaven in honoring King Jesus. When we look to Him we find joy. Joy comes from obedience, as Jesus found when he “endured the cross”. If we do not look to Jesus then the author states, “[we will] grow weary and discouraged in your souls.”

Apply: SPBC must become true disciples of Jesus. This could be seen in 2 ways:

1)      Realizing disciples are not made by drawing a crowd we must get smaller through group life (outreach, inreach, disciple)

2)      Realizing disciples are not made by spectating but by being sent out in faith & obedience to Great Commission we must guard from “busyness” so we can be effective.

How do we Confess our Sin (gospel-centered), Continue our Steadfastness (legacy) and Consider our Savior (discipleship)? I believe it happens by tenacity. Yes that’s an odd word but understand its meaning. According to Webster, tenacious means “not easily pulled apart; persistent in seeking something valued or desired.” Too often we can be tempted to give up and pull away right before we reap the benefits. In the face of difficulty or challenge we quit and abandon everyone and everything. Not only is this a selfish attitude but it denies your family or the church an opportunity to support one another and grow from struggles. Besides, when did the road to God’s blessings become paved with ease and comfort? We need to model tenacity to our children and to those in our community who are wondering if the gospel really matters. Trust me, perseverance pays off and will leave a lasting impression on the generations to come.

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

 

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