Let Us Run with Endurance Hebrews 12.1-2
“So-Therefore also we, such having lying around us a cloud of witnesses, encumbrance putting away every and the most besetting sin, through endurance let us run the set before us contest (race)” Hebrews 12.1 from Greek-English Interlinear
-2012 theme verse. To exhort one another to endurance to the end of our race. Hebrews 3.12-14
-The emphasis is on “through endurance”.
“So-Therefore also we”
-“So-Therefore” points back to what was written, and “also-we” points to what is to be done according to what was written. We are to move ahead “through endurance”.
-Hebrews 10.35-39. Do not throw away your confidence. You have need of endurance. Active faith is endurance. We do not shrink back but practice enduring faith.
-Hebrews 11. The enduring faith of OT saints. They are perfected by Christ. We have a fuller revelation.
-The OT saints with enduring faith urge us to “through endurance” run the race, especially with the fuller revelation of Jesus Christ.
The Jewish converts were tempted to turn back to their religious system. We are tempted in other ways. We are called through endurance to run the race before us.
Let us Run with Endurance Hebrews 12.1-2
-This morning I would like to introduce our theme verse for 2012. Our theme verse is taken from Hebrews 12.1-2, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus”. [Stand and say it with me. Emphasis on endurance]
-Your leaders have chosen this theme verse so that we can motivate ourselves as a congregation to actively live by faith on a daily basis in order to fulfill the will of God in our lives, to the Glory of God. We need to remind ourselves and encourage one another to persistently follow after God, especially when everything around us calls us away from endurance in the race of faith. Listen to this warning and advice from Hebrews 3.12-14, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end”. Our goal with this theme verse is to exhort one another to actively live our faith in Christ to the end of our lives. We need to help one another to run with endurance the race set before us. This theme verse puts that challenge before us every week, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus”.
-What I want to do this morning is show you how this verse fits into the book of Hebrews and why the writer commands those he is writing to, “to run with endurance the race that is set before them, looking to Jesus”. The emphasis in this verse is on endurance. Running the race is symbolic of a daily life of faith while endurance is the reality of living each day by faith to the end of our lives. This morning I want to give you the big picture that surrounds verses 1 and 2 of chapter 12. Next week I want to look more specifically at these two verses.
-Please take your bulletin and look inside at the top left, under the sermon title “Let Us Run with Endurance”. There you will see an interlinear translation of Hebrews 12.1. This is a translation of the Greek directly into English, keeping the same word order as the Greek verse. What I want to point out is the first three words of this verse, “So-therefore also we” followed by a comma. These three words lead to the command “through endurance let us run the set before us contest (race)”. You can see from this interlinear translation that the emphasis is on “through endurance”. It is “through endurance” that we are to run the race set before us.
“So-therefore” points back to what has been written. “Also we” points to what the reader is to do about what he has just read. In light of what the author has just written they are “through endurance” to run the race that is set before them.
To understand what the author is pointing back to we need to look back at what has been written before this verse.
-The first word of chapter 12, “So-therefore”, looks back to chapter 10, verses 35-39. [Read]
Verse 35 says that we are not to throw away our confidence. This confidence is described in verses 19-22 as confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus. It is faith in Jesus Christ which allows a drawing near to God with a clear conscience. It is a confidence that is filled with hope. We find in verses 23-24 commands similar to the command of endurance, “let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”. The author wants the readers to know the greatness of what they have in Christ and then to take hold of that greatness in such a way that it will not be lost and wasted. Endurance and perseverance is to grip the follower of Christ.
In order not to throw away this confidence in Jesus Christ, they are told in verse 36, “you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised”. Endurance is essential to receiving the promises of God. We are to endure to the end so that we can receive what God has promised us.
In verse 38, endurance is spoken of as faith. The opposite of this enduring faith is shrinking back. The word means to withdraw oneself. In our study of 12.1 it would mean no longer running the race set before us but pulling out of the race. We are not to shrink back but to endure to the end.
Then in verse 39, the writer boldly proclaims, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls”. The word “destroyed” is a strong word meaning the loss of salvation.
What we have in chapter 10 is an exhortation to endurance which is the same as faith in action so that we make it to the end and receive all that God has promised us in Christ.
-From this challenge to enduring faith in chapter 10, the writer moves into chapter 11 and gives us many examples of enduring faith from the lives of the OT saints.
At the end of chapter 11 in verses 39-40 we read that these men of faith did not receive what was promised because God had something even better for them. Those reading the letter to the Hebrews had that something better in Jesus Christ. That something better was salvation in Jesus Christ, the New Covenant, and the Church. In Jesus Christ, the New Covenant and the Church the OT saints have now been made perfect.
-Chapter 12 begins with “So-therefore also we”. Let’s review what leads the writer to this statement. “So-therefore” points back to 10.35, where we read, “do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward”. To 10.36, which says, “you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised”. To 10.39, which says, “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls”. Then we have chapter 11 filled with examples of confidence, endurance, and faith that does not shrink back. Now in the light of these past examples of faith the author exhort the readers, “also you, through endurance run the race set before you”.
If the OT saints endured in faith without the revelation of Jesus Christ, how much more in light of the fuller revelation of Jesus Christ that you now have, should you endure and run the race set before you. The writer gives those he is writing to every incentive to endurance, to press on in their faith, to persevere, to not give up, to strive to the end, no matter what the cost to themselves. We shall see how hard the author expects the Christian to endure when we look more closely at chapter 12.
-The letter of the Hebrews was written to Jewish converts who were being tempted by persecution and suffering from the outside, as well as from attacks by their own people. They were being pressured to turn back to their Jewish practices and to forsake Jesus and the way of faith. The writer has given these new Jewish converts proof that Jesus is a better high-priest than the Levites, a better sacrifice than the OT sacrifices who cannot forgive sin, and the foundation of the New Covenant promised to them. If their forefathers, with a limited revelation endured with great faith, how much more should they run with endurance the race set before them.
–For us the temptation is not to return to an old religious system. The temptation for us is materialism, busyness, worldly philosophies, self-preservation, pride, appeals to the flesh all around us. Rather than a deliberate turning away from Christ we tend to drift away from having Jesus Christ as the center of our life. The command to endurance for us is to consciously and deliberately live by faith in the middle of a godless world. The command to endurance for us is to live in God’s will until we come to the end of our lives, to know and to choose what is important to God and to keep doing that. To run with endurance means an ongoing struggle to swim against the current, even the current of Christianity. The run with endurance means an ongoing struggle to walk in obedience to God in a godless world.
Enduring does not get easier with age or Christian maturity. In a number of ways it gets harder. As I am getting older I am finding the Christian life harder to live and the temptation to float with the current much stronger. My daily prayer is to be able to make it to the end so I need the encouragement of this theme verse this year. It is also easier to endure and encouraging to run the race with others. I want to be able to say with Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4.7-8). I want to hear Jesus say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. To hear that and to get my crown of righteousness I must through endurance run the race set before me, looking to Jesus. Next week we will look at how we are to run the race and some of the things that prevent us from running the race.