Friday, March 27, 2009

How Goes The Race? - Part I

Gospel Driven Disciples are those who are truly Christ’s. They have been entered into a race in which they have been given all the tools necessary to run the race and to win the race. Running takes endurance. You would not know it by looking at me today but I use to run 6-12 miles a day. Let me assure you it took endurance. Running the race that God has given each one of us takes endurance. Where does that endurance come from? How do we maintain endurance? I think we can find some answers in a well known passage of scripture in Hebrews 12. This passage is about faithful endurance. We are to run our Race with endurance. This passage identifies three elements necessary to run the race with endurance, the exhortation to run, the explanation to remember, and the expectation to renew. So let’s begin by looking at the first element necessary to run with endurance and that element is …THE EXHORTATION TO RUN, which is found in verses one and two. The main verb in this sentence is in the phrase, “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, …” First of all, the recipients of this letter are exhorted to run. The writer of Hebrews exhorts his readers to run for three (3) specific reasons. The first reason he exhorts them to run is that he reminds them of … The Parade of Saints The first word in verse one (1) is the word “therefore”. Most of you have been around long enough to have heard someone say, “That when ever you see a therefore, look to see what it is therefore.” This word reaches back and gathers together all that was said in chapter eleven (11), and especially what he had said in verse 39. “and all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise…” The following two words, “we also” do not go with encompassed about, but they are connected to “let us run” In other words, just like those of chapter eleven ran, the readers are to run in the same manner, the same way, by enduring faith. The OT saints in chapter eleven are the witnesses that encourage these readers to run their race with enduring faith. The word cloud is the word that describes a great mass of cloud covering the entire visible space of the heavens. According to Kenneth Wuest, the use of cloud for a mass of human beings is familiar in early Greek poetry. For example, Homer writes about “a cloud of footmen, a cloud of Trojans.” The question that needs to be settled then, is what kind of witnesses are these? The word is martus meaning “one who testifies, or can testify to what he/she has seen or heard, or knows by any other means.” We know it as witness. Origin, an early church father somewhat redefined this word in his day by using to describe those believers who proved the genuineness of their faith in Jesus Christ by undergoing torture or death. We now know this word as martyr. The important thing to note here is that this word does not contain the idea of a person looking at something, of that of being a spectator. The heroes if you would of chapter eleven are a mass of witnesses that testify to the efficacy of their faith and the faith way of salvation and even victory. Our writer uses them as witnesses to exhort these first century believers that the Messiah and His work on the cross is appropriated by faith not by rituals, ceremonies, or sacrifices. So, let me once and for all put aside any idea that your grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, brother, sister, favorite teacher or preacher is looking down from heaven right now watching and cheering on you on in your Christian life. First of all, your loved ones in heaven are so enthralled with Jesus Christ and His glory that they are not in the least concerned about you today. Secondly, if they could see how we really are running our race they would be saddened and heaven would not be heaven. It does not matter if Vincent or Alford or others insist on it, it just ain’t so! So, these first century readers are to run their race not thinking about those in chapter eleven as spectators watching them, but thinking of their testimony as examples exhorting them on in faithful endurance. You and I are also exhorted to run our race given to us by our Lord with endurance. We need to frequently visit chapter eleven and meditate on this parade of witnesses as encouragement to run with endurance.

No comments: