T h e K i n g ’ s B u s i n e s s
C^Jiudies in ike
. . . B y J ohn C P age
~ipl Hebrews 12 J P ollowing the examples of men and women of faith in chapter 11, we have an exhortation to imitate them and follow on in a life of patient and steadfast endurance. Such an exhortation is always in order. The examples of those who, through faith, overcame all obstacles and won the prize is stimulating, yet perhaps not impelling. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, hence the wisdom of the appeal found in the first three verses o f this chapter. The Spirit of God knows our weakness, and He knows also how to meet it. The recital of achievements in chap ter 11 might be met by the excuse that the men of old time lived amid different surroundings and knew nothing of modern conditions. Their case was different. This is often the language of the heart in its attempt to justify its own failures. Excuse making is very common. W ho A re the W itnesses ? The “ great cloud of witnesses” are probably those heroes of faith, mentioned and unmentioned, who have passed out of our sight. Do they have sight of us? This question is often asked. We may not answer it dogmatically. These witnesses are witnesses to the truth, or witnesses of the race” we are running. The word “ compassed” indicates the latter rather than the former. There is nothing in Scripture or in the laws o f being to forbid the conception expressed in the words, A crowd of witnesses around Hold thee in full survey. Nor is there anything that would dampen or damage our enthusiasm to sacrificial service and holy endeavor. At the same time, we must not let imagination take the place of fact. It is a debatable question whether the “ cloud of witnesses” in verse one are witnesses that faith is the great motivating and energizing power in a godly life, or whether they are witnesses o f the contestants for the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus. Some interpret the witnesses to be the worldly people who are watching us. It has not pleased God clearly and fully to reveal in His "Word whether those who have passed from sight have sight of us or not. The matter is incidental, not essential. The sainted dead are with the Lord. Whether they know what is going on here or not is uncertain. We could wish that they might not know because of The path of safety is never to go beyond the Word of God. Visions and voices have no place in Christian ex perience since the completion of that Word (cf. Col. 1: 25-28). T he R ace and its R equirements The matter of chief concern here is the race to be run and the preparation necessary for it. Some things must be laid aside in order to win. All recognized evil must be put away. The spirit must be clean if the life is to be strong, and the life must be strong in order to run the race and win the prize. The writer is not dealing here with the initial aspects of salvation, such as justification The scanty triumphs grace hath won, The broken vow, the frequent fall.
and eternal life, but with the fuller and richer experiences that follow. It is one thing to enter the lists, it is quite another to run the race. The runners in the ancient Grecian and Roman games gladly laid aside every|incumbrance- every weight. What are the weights that hinder the Chris- tian runner? What are the things in your life that weigh you down and impede your progress? You know, others may not. The things that cause controversy with God, the things that grieve the indwelling Spirit^ what are they. Some companionship or friendship prohibited by the Word of God, some business transactions that will not bear the light of day, some debt contracted and no earnest effort made to discharge it, some obligation accepted and no real effort made to meet it, some church office or work woefully neglected, some evil or impure habit tolerated, some un friendly and unforgiving spirit retained, some grievous fail ure or fall unconfessed—what is weighing you down? Drag it out, whatever it is, judge it unmercifully, confess it to God, make restitution if necessary, and then believe 1 John 1 :9 : “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all un righteousness.” . . , The sin that doth so easily beset us, what is that r i he figure of a garment fitting closely to the body is suggested by the language. This garment must be laid aside if we are to win the race. In addressing these Hebrew Chris tians in this way, the writer may have had in mind the Jewish prejudices in favor of Moses and the Aaronic priesthood, the temple service and sacrifices, all of which had utterly passed away and had no place in the Christian economy. We are not confronted with any such peril, nevertheless a narrow sectarian or denominational spirit may create for us prejudices that seriously unfit us for the Christian race. Some Bible students affirm that the beset ting sin is unbelief. This is quite probable and would apply with equal force to the first century Christians and to all succeeding generations. Tarry a moment at this point and recall the words in Mark 11:22. This was Hudson Tay lor’s favorite verse. Compare it with Hebrews 11:6 and 1 John 5 :4; then consider the question in John 16:31. T he P erfect E xample The exhortation in these opening verses not only calls for the putting off, or laying aside, of weights and sins, but it brings before us the perfect example of our Lord. The foot-racer had in view the goal at the end o f the race. We, too, must look beyond the present, following the example of Him who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. The word “ author,” in verse 2, is translated “ captain” in Hebrews 2:10, and “ prince” in Acts 3 :15 and 5 :31. It denotes a leader, or forerunner. But He is not only the Leader, He is also the Finisher, or Per- fector, o f faith. He is “ our life” as well as our example. Jesus Christ is not only an example, He is an experience. He is not a holy memory, but a living presence. He must be known as such “ lest ye be weary and faint in your minds.” He bore His cross through faith in the glorious future, enduring the pain and despising the shame. He has taken
Made with FlippingBook Annual report