Find Encouragement In Hebrews 12 For Finishing The Race Well

Tuesday, January 6, 2009, Part 2

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

IDEA: We are wise to learn lessons from men and women who have lived life well.

PURPOSE: To help listeners understand that we carry on today what those before us have begun.

Why would anyone read a biography of people who lived hundreds of years ago?

We have been reading brief biographies in Hebrews 11 of people who lived over two thousand years ago.
• What have you learned?
• What were you supposed to learn?

I. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that we should be encouraged in our own living of the life of faith.

When you think of an image of the Christian life, what comes to mind?

What is the image that the writer of Hebrews uses? Read Hebrews 11: 1-3:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

II. The “cloud of witnesses” is part of the image of the ancient Greek games.

Question: What are the “witnesses” doing?

Are they witnesses of us as we run the race?

They are spectators in the stands. They are like “the old timers” cheering us on.

The positive side of this explanation: it fits the image of the games.

What difficulties does it present?

Are they witnesses to us about how they have run the race?

They resemble veterans who share their experiences with us about the race.

What difficulties does that image have as an explanation?

CONCLUSION: When we run the race of faith, we aren’t the first to do so. We’re not alone.