Faithlife Sermons

The Endurance of Faith

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Hebrews 12:1-2 encapsulates the entire book of Hebrews in one long sentence. We are called to endure in our faith.

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Introduction

Hebrews 12:1–2 NASB95
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The Structure of this Passage

The Central Command: Run with Endurance the race set before us

This command “to run” is modified by 3 Participles (or “ing” words)
at the beginning of verse 1having so great a cloud of witnesses” (vs 1)
next in verse 1 is Laying aside hindrances” (Vs 1)
and at the beginning of verse 2Looking to Jesus” (vs 2)
With that structure in mind, I would like to examine this passage under two main headings.
The Metaphor, and
The Method
so first, lets look at The Metaphor

1. The Metaphor

Look at the end of verse 1

“let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” vs 1

The Race = The Life of Faith

Race - ἀγών - means "race, fight, or struggle". Stictly speaking, it does not mean "race" but the place of assembly for athletic events, and by derivation and athletic event (Lane). But this context is in reference to a footrace so "run the race" is the best translation. "evokes thoughts of tense exertion, maximum effort, and constantly renewed concentration of energy on the attainment of the goal" - Lane. they are urged to do all that is necessary in order to complete the event.
“Set before us”
"that is set before us" - προκείμενον - ptcp. "laid out, prescribed, appointed" or "lying before" "ahead". "Laid out" is preferrable based on the footrace imagery.
It is laid out in front of you.
It has been set there by Christ. He has shown you what it looks like.
The witnesses have testified to it.
The Race is different for each of us.
For some of us, the race is longer.
The scenery is different.
We will encounter various trials, temptations, and obstacles.
But the goal is the same - to Finish the race set before you.
To Run = to believe in Christ
Endurance - ὑπομονή - "endurance" "the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty, patience, endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, perseverence." or "The act or state of patient waiting for someon or something, expectation" (BDAG)
The Goal = Endurance
The Point of the Metaphor is this:

Maintain your Faith in Christ until you Die - Finish

The race is a race of faith.
The fight is a fight for your faith.
Your faith is the crucial issue.
True faith perseveres
Sin is a threat to your faith
Ever
False doctrine is a threat
Hebrews is not talking about enduring through college or in your job. It is not talking about an athletic contest.

Endurance In Hebrews

Endurance is a major theme of the book of Hebrews. In fact, I would argue it is the main point of the book. The entire book of Hebrews was written as a call to hold on to faith in christ. It is one long argument for endurance.

Context

Let me give you some context and background information to explain this to you.
Authorship
First, lets talk about the author.
We don’t really know who it was but early church tradition believed it was Paul.
The early church father Clement said it was originally written by Paul in the Hebrew language and that Luke translated it into greek. This makes sense to since the greek style is similar to Luke’s writings.
I tend to agree with this.
However, there are some reasons to believe that is was not Paul himself who wrote it.
The greek vocabulary and style are far superior to Paul’s epistles (according to most modern scholars).
There are some themes in the book that we don’t find in Paul’s other writings.
That’s as far as I want to discuss it tonight because its not really that important. If you are interested, there are articles written just on this subject and I could provide those to you.
In any case, Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish believers who had become Christians in the midst of their Jewish communities and who had experienced persecution for their faith and were under pressure to return to Judaism.

They were tempted to forsake their faith in Christ and go back to Judaism.

Why?
Think about the sort of pressure that these believers were under:
Being saved out of Judaism
You essentially are rejecting your identity
Your identity as a Jew
Your family’s identity
Your Community’s Identity
You are saying that they are all wrong. Not only wrong, but condemned.
You are, in turn, rejected by your community
Hated by family, friends, co-workers.
No longer under the protection of the law
Your property is plundered
you can’t buy or sell in the market place like you once did.
you can’t buy
you can’t see your friends at the synagogue
So they are tempted to forsake Christ and go back to Moses, and Aaron, and the priesthood, and the sacrifices.
So starting in chapter 1 - he shows them the greatness of Christ as compared to
Hebrews 2:1–4 ESV
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Hebrews 4:1 ESV
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.
Hebrews 4:11 ESV
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
Hebrews 6:4–6 ESV
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
Hebrews 10:26–31 ESV
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Let’s talk about this
What is required for salvation?
Faith in Christ alone
He is God, his death and resurrection accomplished full atonement for your sin.
Marks of True Faith?
Sanctification
Love for God and People
3. Endurance
Endurance: A Biblical Theme
Paul

2. The Method

The Goal: To Finish

The Examples

a. Listening to the witnesses
b. Laying Aside Hindrances
c. Looking to Jesus

Author: Unkown - but likely someone within Paul’s ministry sphere of influence.

Suggestions: Paul, Luke,
Early Church fathers suggested it was a Sermon by Paul, Translated from the original Hebrew into Greek by Luke (Style and vocabulary is similar to Luke, concepts are similar to Paul).

Recipients

A. Listing to the Witnesses

Chapter 11 Explains this.
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