About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
God Disciplines His Sons (ch.12:1-13)
12 opens with these words, "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 that is marked out for us."
The great cloud of witnesses is the Old Testament people that the
writer has just talked about. He
is basically saying that if they can persevere and keep their faith until
death so can you.
don't believe these witnesses are in heaven right now watching our every
move. Maybe they are, but
there is no Biblical passage that would suggest such a thing.
I think the allusion to a "cloud of witnesses" suggest
that they, like us, are witnesses to the truth of the gospel.
They are not witnessing what we are presently doing here on earth.
authors says, "throw off” the things that hinder you.
He doesn’t say drop these things off.
He says throw them off. To
me this suggests getting rid of these things quickly and efficiently, by
throwing them as far as they will go.
There seems to be an intensity in the word "throw."
The farther they are thrown away, the less likely we will
pick them up again. These
things can be anything that gets in our way of trusting God in the things
He wants us to do and the way He wants us to live.
verb "throw off" in Greek is an aorist verb.
This would suggest a one time throwing off.
It would suggest that we sit down and decide once and for all to
get rid of everything and anything that might get in the way of
effectively serving Jesus.
believe the things the author is talking about are not bad things.
The word "sin" in this phrase makes that clear.
The author distinguishes between sin and things that weigh us down.
These things are anything, even good things, that just slow us down
in maturing in the Lord and doing his will.
They can be hobbies, your work, even unnecessary religious
activity. Our temptation in
the western world today is a temptation to live a materialistic life.
There is nothing wrong with having good and nice things but our
problem today is that the desire for these things outweighs our desire to
serve Jesus. This should not
author continues on by saying that we should get rid of the sin that also
gets in our way. So the writer
is talking about ordinary things of life as well as sin that prohibits us
from being effective in our faith.
last part of verse 1 is a sporting metaphor.
The author tells his readers that they should persevere, like those
of old. They should run the
race that God has set for them to run.
The point here is that everyone has a race to run.
Everyone is called by God to do something in His service.
No one is excluded. We
should then understand that the work Jesus has given us to do is to be
understood in terms of a race, a race that is meant to be fun and meant to
run. I was one of the fastest
100 yard dash runners in my class when I was in high school.
When I ran, I ran as hard as I could.
I didn't look around to see who was beside me.
I ran to win. I was
intently focused on the finish line. I
had one thought and one thought only.
I wanted to win this race. That
should be our motivation in life. We
want to win the race Jesus has set for us to run.
We want to complete God's will, whatever that may be, and, we want
to finish His will as a winner.
2 says that "we should fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and
perfecter (or the completer) of our faith."
I used to believe that this phrase meant that it was Jesus Himself
who helped us first believe in Him because we on our own do not have the
full ability to put our trust in Jesus as we should have.
I still believe that this is a valid New Testament truth based on
such passages as Romans 12:5 where Paul tells us that faith in Jesus is
actually a gift from God. Upon
further study I don't believe though that the author of Hebrews is saying
this in this phrase, and I have changed my thinking because of the Greek
word "achegos" that translated as "author" in this
verse. The Greek noun means
one who leads. Archegos is a
leader, a leader who has initiated something for others to follow.
In this sense of the word, Jesus was the author, the one who first
took the lead in the way of living Christians should follow.
Not only this Greek word makes this clear, but the context itself
makes this clear. The words
that follow make this clear. "Who
for the joy set before Him endured the cross."
Jesus took the lead in living a life of perseverance and endurance.
He is the original author of such a life style that Christians must
follow. This is how we should
understand the word "author" in this verse.
So, if we are to follow Jesus, we are to follow Him in enduring any
hardship that comes our way because of the race He has called us to run,
and, there will be hardships along the way.
Verse 2 says that "we should fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter (or the completer) of our faith." I used to believe that this phrase meant that it was Jesus Himself who helped us first believe in Him because we on our own do not have the full ability to put our trust in Jesus as we should have. I still believe that this is a valid New Testament truth based on such passages as Romans 12:5 where Paul tells us that faith in Jesus is actually a gift from God. Upon further study I don't believe though that the author of Hebrews is saying this in this phrase, and I have changed my thinking because of the Greek word "achegos" that translated as "author" in this verse. The Greek noun means one who leads. Archegos is a leader, a leader who has initiated something for others to follow. In this sense of the word, Jesus was the author, the one who first took the lead in the way of living Christians should follow. Not only this Greek word makes this clear, but the context itself makes this clear. The words that follow make this clear. "Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross." Jesus took the lead in living a life of perseverance and endurance. He is the original author of such a life style that Christians must follow. This is how we should understand the word "author" in this verse. So, if we are to follow Jesus, we are to follow Him in enduring any hardship that comes our way because of the race He has called us to run, and, there will be hardships along the way.
Another thing we should make clear here is that the word "perfector" should be understood as "completer." Since Jesus has taken the original lead in the path we are to take, so He will lead us to the very end of this path.
writer goes on to say that for the joy that was set before Him Jesus
endured the cross. Even Jesus
Himself had to trust His father. Jesus
had hope that there was great joy beyond the cross, and He was right.
After He ascended into Heaven He sat down at the right hand of the
throne to rule alongside His Father. At
that moment in time, and in that place, Jesus began to experience the joy.
believe the author has Isaiah 53:10 and 11 in mind when he penned these
words. These verses speak to
the joy the Messiah would have once His sufferings had been complete.
3 encourages the readers to "consider Him (Jesus)."
If the men and women in the Old Testament had to endure, look at
Jesus. Jesus Himself had to
endure much more than any of them. He
did this for all of us. Therefore,
if Jesus endured for us, we can endure hardship for Him by keeping our
trust in Him no matter what comes our way, and as humans, much comes our
way. It could be sickness,
persecution, loss of income, or whatever.
There are many things in life that fight against our faith.
author speaks of growing weary and losing heart in verse 3.
That is simple human tendencies.
We get discouraged, but we are not to wallow in times of
discouragement. We can, and
should, look to Jesus. Jesus
is not a figment of our imagination. He
is real. He is there for us,
but if we ignore Him, don't come to Him, in our time of weakness, He can't
help us. Too many believers do not come to Jesus in times of
writer in verse 4 tells his readers that they have not yet shed their
blood in their struggle against sin. None
of them have died in the process of overcoming their sin, yet, Jesus did.
That being said, over the years, many people have followed Jesus in
suffering unto death.
am uncertain what particular sin the author is speaking in verse 4.
It might be struggling against personal or sin or it might be their
struggle with the sin in the world around them, the sinfulness that is
causing them to be persecuted.
verse 5 the author says that these people have forgotten the word of
encouragement that addresses them as sons.
This word of encouragement is found in Proverbs 3:11 and 12 where
it speaks of the Lord disciplining us as sons.
The writer relates this Old Testament Scripture to New Testament
believers. He says that the
Lord still disciplines or rebukes us as sons today.
Few Christians understand that God still disciplines, rebukes, or
instructs people today. We've
pushed Him far enough away from us that he no longer disciplines us.
He's left us to our own folly.
problem as I see it concerning this discipline is twofold.
First, we are not close enough to the Lord to know that we are
actually being discipline in the hardships we experience.
We blame these hardships on people or the devil, but they might
well of come from God. Second,
if we are in tune to these hardships, can we discern if they are a form of
discipline? It is not always
easy to distinguish this. It
takes being open to hearing the Holy Spirit speaking to us.
It's my thinking that most western world Christians no little about
the discipline of the Lord. They
don't even know they are being disciplined because, in part, they don't
know God does discipline them, and, they don't think they need to be
disciplined in the first place.
the words "accepts" as sons at the end of verse 6.
As I have said many times; we do not accept Jesus.
He accepts us. We
cannot come to Him without the Holy Spirit inviting us.
It's not our choice to be saved.
It's only our choice once the invitation to be saved has come to
7 says that we should endure hardship as being God's discipline.
This tells us that God disciplines us through hardships.
This also should help us understand the disciplining process of
God. Earlier I noted that it
might be hard for us to distinguish what hardships are a form of
discipline and what hardships might simply come as a result of our own
fallen lives living in a fallen world.
This verse seems to suggest that, at least, God uses every hardship
of life, no matter its source, as a means of disciplining us, as a means
of helping us trust Him more than we presently do.
This is what 1 Peter 1:3 and following is all about.
If we have faith, our faith will be tested and proven genuine.
One who has not faith obviously will not and cannot be tested.
Greek word "paideuo" is the word that is translated here as
word means "to train or to educate." So,
the idea of discipline is more along the line of training, educating, so
our trust in Jesus can be deepened. It's
a way in which we learn how to deal with sin and throw off the things in
our lives that hinder our faith.
Greek word that is translated as "punish" in verse 6 is "mastigoo."
This literally means a whipping, as Jesus would have been whipped
before He was executed. So,
this word does suggest a type of punishment that is beyond simple training
as seen above.
again, as we see in verse 7, hardship can be a form of training for us.
It also could be a form of punishment from a loving God.
The writer goes on to say that real sons of God get disciplined.
If there is no discipline then the writer questions whether you are
a real son. Therefore,
we need to understand what hardships are all about.
I am not suggesting that all hardships are a form of training or
punishment. What I believe I
can say from this passage is that at least God can use hardships, if not
directly from Him, to train us.
God disciplining us, He is our Father.
Fathers discipline their children, not someone else's children.
That's why the writer states that if we don't get disciplined by
God, we are not His children.
verse 9 we see the words "how much more" again.
These words are used a lot in this letter, yet in this instance the
"how much more" is not referring to nice promises.
It is referring to the training we receive from the Father of our
spirit. The writer is saying
that we expect our earthy father to discipline us, so why should we not
expect our Heavenly Father to do the same, and even more so.
Again, this speaks to our present generation of Christians who
think little about being trained or punished by God.
This is one reason why the western world church is so weak. We
ignore the discipline of God.
verse 10 the writer says that this discipline is for our good and will
cause us to live a holy life as we should be living.
Of course no one really likes being disciplined, but if we hang in,
"it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have
been trained by it," as seen in verse 11.
Isn't this what being a Christian is all about?
section ends in verse 12 with an exhortation to "strengthen your
feeble arms and weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet."
The author is telling his readers to pull themselves up and get
doing the will of God. Clear
your path of obstacles that get in the way of living a life of faith and
trust in Jesus. There are
things that we can do to help ourselves out in this walk of faith.
These are not works that lead to salvation.
These are not works that keep us saved.
These are practical things that help us to trust Jesus more than we
are presently doing. So, the
author ends this section the way he began it.
Clear your life of clutter and do the will of God.