Agonizomai: Heb 12 - 01-02 - Christ - Author and Perfecter of Our Faith

Friday, April 30, 2010

Heb 12 - 01-02 - Christ - Author and Perfecter of Our Faith

Heb 12 - 01-02 - Christ - Author and Perfecter of Our Faith

Heb 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

All of these examples were given, we recall, for the purpose of demonstrating the sort of perseverance that the Hebrews are exhorted to. {Heb 3:12-14} All of their heroes of the past, the major figures from the history of their nation and their faith are demonstrated to have been preserved through their perseverance. In other words, their perseverance is God’s appointed means by which they will be preserved. And this perseverance can only be exerted and exhibited through faith.

The saints triumphant are in heaven, but remain a part of the mystical body of Christ, awaiting the perfection of their final union with all the saints of all the ages. These are on every hand in the scripture because that is what the scripture is about - that God should be glorified in his church on account of the finished work of Jesus Christ being made manifest in them through faith.

They are an encouragement to we who follow. Their exploits were written down for us who come later for just such a purpose, as was stated earlier in this sermon. The seed of the church is the blood of the martyrs. And it is the faithful witness of the lives of all the saints who have since gone on to glory, and await us as we finish our own course using the same means as they.

Whether these saints in glory are actually watching us as we run, and whether this text is meant to imply such, is not clear. But we are certainly surrounded by their testimony on every hand. For we stand upon the shoulders of those who have gone before because God has ordained not only the salvation of His church, but the means by which the gospel will pass from generation to generation. Those who neglect Biblical history in the Old Testament neglect the gospel itself. And those who reject the prayer soaked experience and sage learning of New Testament saints throughout the church age do themselves a great disservice.

So faith lays hold of the finished work of Christ - indeed, of Christ Himself - and rests from work altogether, in the sense of no longer seeking to be justified, but resting in God’s perfect justification. But faith does not stop there. True faith, if present, produces the peaceful fruit of righteousness. A person trusting in God does not habitually sin - he does not continue in a lifestyle of unrepented sin. Of course believers still do fall into sin - sometimes most grievously - but they live a life of continual repentance. Sin disturbs them. They mourn first and foremost their own sin and, ultimately all the sin that they see in the world. But the sin principle no longer has control over them. They have died to sin. They have turned their back upon it. They have learned to hate it. They struggle against sin and temptation all the days of their lives until their very last breath. And, though despair is often close to hand, joy is ultimately found in knowing that, were they not Christ’s, there would be no struggle - for they would be happy and comfortable being lost and without hope in the world, wallowing in former sins and suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

Jesus was the one Who endured for His church. He endured the cross, despising the shame, and we are to look to Him. Note - we are to look to Him. We are not called to do what he already did on our behalf. But we are called to live by faith, in the light of it. When we do this there will be crosses to be endured and shame to be despised, but they will be crosses and shame by which Jesus, abiding in us, manifests His overcoming through our faith in Him to do so. We share in the sufferings of Christ in this way - not that we could endure His cross, but that He endures ours with and within us.


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