In the past week, I got stuck in Hebrews 12 mostly. The heading of that chapter in my ESV translation is “Jesus, Founder, and Perfecter of Our Faith.” If you are familiar with the book of Hebrews Chapter 11 is the chapter that goes through the great examples of the faith beginning with Abel. All that were famous for their faith and suffered and died for it.
When I read chapter 11, I am lifted with hope and thankfulness. The last two verses prepare me for chapter 12. It is like a little passage that reminds me of the great gift I have in Christ Jesus… in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 11:39-40 (ESV)
39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
What did He provide for us that He did not provide for all these great people of the faith like Abraham and Rahab and Moses and Jacob. What was it? It was Jesus!
Chapter 12 – Jesus, Founder, and Perfecter of the Faith
With the heading of chapter 12, my question is answered. We have Jesus. As I consider that I am filled with a calmness that comes only from the Holy Spirit who resides in me; who resides in all who are born again. I paused just for a moment before I began reading to meditate on Jesus and what He has done for us all. I was reminded of Philippians.
Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV)
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
I read that and then began Hebrews 12
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
1 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.
Christ Jesus humbled himself for us and emptied Himself of all the power He had as God and became a man that He might experience my life and worse even to the point of death on the cross.
The part in Hebrews 12:1 that gets to me is that I am surrounded by this group of witnesses that did not have the gift yet their faith endured. I have this great gift how can I not set aside every sin that weighs me down and run the race set before me. He gave me the opportunity to come to him repent and turn from those sins, and by His grace, I am forgiven.
What a gift I have received.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
He has done so much for me; for us all. He is not a sometimes God, or the guy you call when things get tough. He is the deepest of God’s that rejoices in our victories and comforts in our sorrows, and when necessary He will discipline and correct us because of His love for us.
Do Not Grow Weary
I considered all those things this morning and continued with 3-17 in Hebrews 12. Verses 3-6 humbled me.
Hebrews 12:3-6 (ESV)
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
Christ Jesus endured brutal torture even to dying on a cross that we might be received as sons and daughters of the most High God. That we may not grow weary or fainthearted, but recognize that as sons and daughters God will reprove and discipline those he loves and receives. Verses 3-6 are so powerful. The writer is telling us not to take them lightly but to take them for what they are for God only disciplines those he loves.
God disciplines His children. Christ died for all but not all accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. Not all were born again. But those that received him became children of God
John 1:10-13 (ESV)
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
To those who became children of God they too are disciplined as children.
Hebrews 12:7-11 (ESV)
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Let’s just say I was a challenge to my parents. I never cared much for discipline. I was all about the rebellion but never cared for the consequences. That has changed for me now. I know that if I fall short and my Heavenly Father corrects me It is going to benefit me. Even the most difficult things strengthen me. I am reminded every day that I am a child of God.
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
I think of God and all His provision, including discipline, and I think of Romans 8:28 and all things working together for my good and it takes me to these verses in Hebrews.
Hebrews 12:12-17 (ESV)
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
In all those previous verses God reminds us of our gifts and His part in our lives that charges us to live a peaceful life and watch out for each other. Work together to achieve holiness and let no root of bitterness spring up and cause trouble and he uses the example of Esau.
I look back on all that God promised and the great gift we received through His Son Jesus Christ, and I am left all but breathless. Why do you suppose God reminds us in so many ways throughout His Word of His gifts and Promises? Why do you suppose He explains everything in such detail through His prophets and apostles? I think because He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He helps us in our weakness. I like Romans 8:25-27 as an explanation.
Romans 8:25-27 (ESV)
25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
As I reflect on that and the close of chapter 12 in Hebrews I take great comfort in God’s Word.
The heading of verses 18-29 of Hebrew 12 is “Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken.” I read that passage, and I am filled with confidence and hope in all that He shares in His Word, and I am reminded of WHO the Word is.
John 1:1-3 (ESV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
The Word is God. It is living and in the Word, I can find confidence and understanding if I will prayerfully study with a humble heart. Without the Word of God, my holy armor will be weakened against the adversary. It is my sword and my solid foundation. If I do not know it in times of peace how can I wield it in times of trouble? I know that the adversary knows it. He used it against Jesus in the wilderness.
Heavenly Father, I thank you for this Holy Word. Your lesson for me today gives me strength and confidence and fuels my hunger for Your Word. Oh Father, help me stay focused so that I do not grow weary. Help me stay humble in your eyes and hungry always for an understanding of Your Word that I might grow closer to you. Lord Give me a boldness that I might share your Gospel with others and not hold back. “…for, (You), God gave us a spirit, not of fear but power and love and self-control.”(2 Timothy 1:7). Lord, I thank you, and I praise you for all things, and I pray all this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, Amen!