Published August 14, 2008
Heb. 12:1 - 15
Related Sunday School Lesson, Bible Studies for Life, Aug. 31
Consistency in faith is manifested through several notable persons in Hebrews 11. Chapter 12 begins by encouraging us to “run with patience the race that is set before us” (12:1). The word “patience” has the idea of cheerful or hopeful endurance. We’re thinking, then, about “A Consistent Life.”
Consistency in the finest example
A. Jesus endured the cross.
More than the examples of Abraham, Moses, or others in Hebrews 11, we should be “looking unto Jesus” (12:2). We see that He “endured the cross.” “Endured” tells us that “the author and finisher of our faith” bravely remained in suffering. He was consistent in spite of the cross!
Why would Jesus endure such an awful thing? He “despised the shame.” He was publicly disgraced. There was a total loss of dignity. The songwriter reminds us that “He could have called ten thousand angels, But He died alone.” Why? For you and for me.
B. Jesus endured the contradiction.
The author urges his readers not only to look to Jesus as one who endured the cross, but to “consider Him that endured … contradiction” (v. 3). The “contradiction” indicates the hostility and opposition of those “sinners” against Him. But He was consistent in spite of the contradiction!
When you think about the example of Jesus’ perseverance in the face of persecution, it can encourage you, “lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (v. 3). His was not just a life of opposition, but overcoming. His courageous consistency inspires us. Surely we can endure, for we “have not yet resisted unto blood” (v. 4) as Christ did in our behalf. As John Trapp said, “Our troubles are but as the slivers and chips of His Cross.”
Consistency in the forgotten exhortation
A. The chastening of sons
Though these believers had “not yet resisted unto blood,” they had resisted the idea of God’s discipline, for the writer said, “ye have forgotten the exhortation … My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord” (v. 5). Proverbs 3:11-12 lays the foundation for this section of the discourse.
The “chastening of the Lord” indicates His discipline, but also encompasses the experiential instruction given to cultivate virtue. Through chastening, “God dealeth with you as with sons” (v. 7). He does not discipline a child that is not His own, and the absence of any divine “chastisement” suggests a lack of genuine relationship with God (v. 8).
B. The choice of subjection.
Be consistent when facing difficult conflicts and divine correction. Just as we showed respect to our earthly fathers when they corrected us, “shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the [Heavenly] Father” (v. 9)? Even when we don’t agree with His actions, God is still worthy of our reverence.
Why should we submit ourselves to His authority? Because His paternal operations have a positive outcome. He chastens us “for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness” (v. 10). As verse 11 reminds us, it is not a joyful experience, but chastening eventually “yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”
Consistency in the faithful experience
A. Be faithful to this Christian path.
We are becoming righteous through God’s instruction, “therefore” the writer says, “lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees” (v. 12). Albert Barnes explained that “the hands fall by the side when we are exhausted” and the knees “tremble as if their strength were gone.” Perhaps this suggests a weakness in service and prayer. In any case, we can find renewed strength in the Lord.
Oftentimes our strength fails and we must be lifted up. Other times there are places in our path where our steps falter because the way is uneven. On such rugged terrain the crippled Christian in verse 13 would surely trip and fall. So we must “make straight paths for [our] feet” and ensure that our walk is consistent.
B. Be faithful to these Christian principles.
The writer declares in verse 14 that we should pursue the principles of peace and purity. Kenneth Wuest said that to “follow” means “to seek after eagerly, earnestly” and thus has “a sense of urgency about it.” We see how important it is to pursue holiness in particular, for without it, “no man shall see the Lord.”
In other words, without His holiness at work in our lives, the holy God will not have communion with us.
What happens to that one who doesn’t heed the Lord’s instruction and chastening? Verse 15 says that a man can “fail of the grace of God.” It didn’t say that the grace of God fails, nor did it say that a man could fall from grace. Rather, it means that you let something hinder or detain you, and you lag behind in the Christian journey. There is a further word of warning in verse 15 about the troubling and defiling root of bitterness. But in spite of these potential dangers, let us be faithful and consistent.
Those before us exemplified faithfulness and consistency, and we should also leave a legacy of persevering service. As Steve Green wrote, we are “Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run the race not only for the prize. But as those who’ve gone before us, let us leave to those behind us the heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives. May all who come behind us find us faithful!” Faithful and consistent!
For a more detailed outline of this subject, please see David Owen’s sermon under this same title at www.PastorLife.com.
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