PERSEVERE AMID DIFFICULTY
Hebrews 12:1-29Â Â Â Â Â Â November 19 2006
The supremacy of the New Covenant is at the heart
of these verses. We are led to see that greater
privilege brings greater responsibility. One way
to demonstrate this responsibility is by paying
careful attention to God.
The only way to respond to this kingdom that will
endure forever is to be thankful. to worship with
reverence, and to remember that God is the God of
grace and also of judgment.
1. Show Endurance (Heb. 12:1-3)
Hebr. 12:1Â Â Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a
great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything
that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let
us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 12:2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of
our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the
throne of God. 12:3Â Â Consider him who endured such
opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow
weary and lose heart.
The New testament often describes the Christian
life as a race , a marathon, to be run. This metaphor
comes from the reality of the ancient Greek Olympic
games. Those to whom this letter was written were
in the arena. Now they are witnesses in the stands,
while we are in the arena.
The linking of joy with suffering is a recurring New
Testament theme. Endured is a reference to the cross.
Lay before Him suggests that this event took precedence
over everything else in His life. Despised the shame
means He did not ignore the shame, but held it to be of
little consequence in light of the joy that was His in
persevering to the end. As a result, Jesus sat down
at the right hand of God’s throne.
2. Accept Discipline (Heb. 12:4-8)
Hebr. 12:4Â Â In your struggle against sin, you have not yet
resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 12:5Â Â And
you have forgotten that word of encouragement that
addresses you as sons: Â Â Â â€œMy son, do not make light of
the Lordâ€™s discipline, and do not lose heart when he
rebukes you, 12:6Â Â because the Lord disciplines those he
loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.â€ 12:7
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.
For what son is not disciplined by his father?
12:8Â Â If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes
discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true
The author used the same word to refer to all sons. The
same patient acceptance seen in the Son is expected of
all sons! A father . . . who does not discipline his son
neglects his duty and opportunity. This ought to say
something to us in our age of permissiveness!
If a son is with out discipline, he is seen as illegitimate.
A father does not usually give illegitimate sons the same
rights and privileges as legitimate sons; neither does he
discipline them, normally because he does not live with
them. Discipline assures us that we are legitimate
3. Live Consistently (Heb. 12:12-16)
Hebr. 12:12Â Â Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and
weak knees. 12:13Â Â â€œMake level paths for your feet,â€ so
that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. 12:14
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be
holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 12:15Â Â See
to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter
root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 12:16
See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau,
who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the
The previous verses showed us that discipline provides
a sense of security in assuring us of a relationship. This
section reveals that the ultimate goal of discipline is
Here is some indication of what the author meant by
“straight paths>” First, we are to make every effort to
pursue peace with everyone. Pursue is a strong word,
implying an eagerness of pursuit. Remember what the Lord
said about peacemakers: ” They will be called sons of God”
(Matt.5:9). Whatever the attitude of other toward us , we
are to remain peaceful and never take the initiative in
stirring up strife. Heeding these words is difficult!
4 Serve Acceptably (Heb. 12:28-29)
Hebr. 12:28Â Â Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom
that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship
God acceptably with reverence and awe, 12:29Â Â for our
â€œGod is a consuming fire.â€
Then we should worship Him acceptably . . . with
reverence and awe. Although” acceptable worship” may
be difficult, the author is convinced we should keep before
us the ideal. With reverence indicates an attitude of mind
that acknowledges the greatness of God. Linking this
reverence with awe seems particularly appropriate in
view of the idea of God as a consuming fire.
To speak of God as a consuming fire is reminiscent of
(Deuteronomy 4:24). Every believer must recognize that the
God of this new covenant is the righteous God of the original
covenant. His character has not changed. He is still a
consuming fire, just as He was at Sinai.
All of us know that life is difficult, and only those
with perseverance are able to live it with success.
Some Christians miss the principle of perseverance,
however. Partly due to hypocritical preaching and false
teaching, some believe all they have to do is accept Christ
and there will be no more difficulty in their lives—as if
Christ granted immunity to trouble along with salvation. As
a result, when difficulty comes, such persons lack the will
or the courage to persevere; and they fail.
Our Lord encountered unbelievable obstacles and yet,
even in death, persevered. If we live as God wants us to live,
we must , like those who have gone before us , live by
faith—persevering all the way. May we follow in their