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Sunday School Lesson, October 30, 2016 The Author and Finisher of Our Faith

To follow along, visit your local Christian bookstore, and ask for the Bible Expositor and Illuminator

Golden Text:  “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Hebrews 12:1 – Wherefore seeing we are also compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. The great “cloud of witnesses” who surrounds them are the Old Testament heroes of faith . The word “cloud” implies a vast number, we can also use this term for today’s Christians, those who have truly given their life to the Lord and have made Him their Lord and Savior have a change life. True Christian living is opposite of those who just profess Christianity. True Christians live a life of sacrifice daily meaning it’s no longer their will or desires, but the Lord’s will and desires for their life.

We are admonished by the scripture to consider this witness or witnesses He has given us an example to live our lives by. We are encouraged to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, meaning to not give up. People who race, build themselves up to run different miles by training and they will not give up until they have completed the race. They make sure they have nothing on that will weigh them down,  a serious runner not only sheds unnecessary body weight, but also carries no burdens while running. Spiritually, we go through training with different trials and tribulations, but building ourselves up with the Word of God gives us the energy to run the race with patience, durability and faith.

Hebrew 12:2 – Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; 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. To help us to continue in our faith, we’re asked to look at Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus began the work of saving us which makes Him the author, and He will finish the work He started which makes Him the finisher. “Looking” means “looking away from everything else” anything that will distract from focusing on the things of God. The Christian life involves hard work, it requires us to give up whatever endangers our relationship with God, to run patiently, and to struggle against sin with the power of the Holy Spirit. To live effectively, we must keep our eyes on Jesus, we stumble when we look away or allow distractions. Looking in this scripture means “fixing one’s eyes trustingly”. We need  to consistently focus on Christ instead of our circumstances. Finisher indicates, Jesus has done everything necessary for us to endure in our faith. He is our example and model, for He focused on the ” joy that was set before Him” meaning His attention was not on the agonies of the Cross, but on the Crown, not on the suffering, but the reward. Once He completed His assignment, He set down with God on the throne on the right hand of His Father.

Hebrews 12:3 – For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Just as the Hebrew Christians were admonished, we too need to consider Jesus’ persistence or we might grow weary and lose heart. There was evidence that although they had begun their race well, they were becoming worn down by oppositions. They needed  to remind themselves that their Saviour had endured more suffering than they would ever know, yet He had persevered and triumphed. Jesus has also given us the power to overcome any obstacles that come our way to try to hinder our faith walk. We can’t look at the circumstances, but look to Jesus who has made us more than conquerors through Him. When we focus on what we’re going through, we’re making the circumstance our god rather than the Son of God, who is God through His deity that comes from the Father.

Hebrews 12:4 – Ye have not ye resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Jesus died, but the community that received the letter to the Hebrews had not yet suffered deadly persecutions. It can also be translated as “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood”. These readers were facing difficult times of persecution, but none of them had yet died for their faith. Because they were still alive, the writer urged them to continue to run their race, just as Jesus Christ did not give up, neither should they. Our pain and suffering will never compare to Jesus’, as we suffer, we should reflect on His life and be inspired, so that we do not become weary, relax and coast through our lives, or completely give up. We don’t know what’s going to happen to Christians prior to Jesus’ return for His church, the way sin is being portrayed, we too may have to go through deadly persecutions because of our faith, and if were not rooted and grounded in God and His Word, when persecution comes, we will faint in our minds and in our faith. This is why we must build ourselves in faith, by spending time with God in prayer, fasting, reading and studying the Bible.

Hebrews 12:5 – And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him. Who loves his child more, the father who allows the child to do what will harm him, or the one who corrects, trains, and even punishes the child to help him learn what is right? It’s never pleasant to be corrected and disciplined by God, but His discipline “chastening” is a sign of His deep love for us. When God corrects us, we should see it as proof of His love and ask Him what He is trying to teach us. The Hebrew beliefs seemed to have neglected the important truth that God uses hardships for our good. “Chastening” in this verse means  “child rearing”, it includes training, discipline, and correction.

Hebrews 12:6 – For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. The believer’s discipline (chastening) is not a sign of God’s rejection; it signifies a love that refuses to let a child waste or destroy his own life.  Some of today’s teaching is that Christians will not have to go through suffering, it just going to be a bed of roses, every day is sunshine, but in this life, storms come, and when they come, they bring wind with them. Sometimes we may feel as though we’re in a flood, but the storms of life comes to strengthen our faith, and to draw us closer to the Father and Son. The Christian suffering hardships may find it hard to fathom, but God is allowing it to work together for our good although we may not think so. The word “receiveth” has the favorable connotation of acceptance, we’re acceptable in God’s eyes, and we have His favor.

Hebrews 12:7 – If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Discipline was part of the father-son relationship in ancient times. A father who neglected to discipline his sons were considered unworthy to be a father. So, its logical that God should discipline His children He loves. God wants us to finish our race well; therefore, He chasten us. This chastening is a blend of discipline and nurture. When we experience it, we should embrace it because its a sign that God loves us. Only the most callous, dysfunctional father would ignore teaching and correcting his child, and we have a Father that loves us much more than any earthly father could ever love us.

Hebrews 12:8 – But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. In Roman society an illegitimate son was one who had no inheritance rights. Chastening or discipline is a part of our training and consequent maturity. “Bastards” were illegitimate children, or children of slaves or concubines in the family. They had no rights of inheritance, so the father took no interest in their development. They were free from the sometimes harsh rigors of discipline. True spiritual sons and daughters are the ones subjected to discipline, a lack of it should not cause one to rejoice, but it should bring questions about the reality of one’s Christian profession.

Hebrews 12:9 – Futhermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? Believers should not only endure God’s discipline, they should readily be in subjection to their heavenly Father. When acting as a disciplinarians, our physical fathers had our respect, an indulgent father is ultimately less respected than a strict one. God is the Creator of our spiritual life, and in submitting to His discipline we truly live; we enter into the fullness of life as He intended for us. Since God is our Father, we must give Him much reverence, never think we can come to Him in any form or fashion that’s disrespectful.

Hebrews 12:10 – For they verily for a few days chastened us after their pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Although fathers discipline for awhile as they see fit, God disciplines us with our good welfare in mind. With every trial, God is fashioning us into a holy people, set apart for His good purposes. Earthly fathers sometimes made mistakes even when their motives were pure, they could have been excessively harsh or lenient. But God disciplines us for our good, with the aim of having us share in His holiness. He is ever guiding us towards the goal of holiness. He desires to produce in us a character like His, if we ever wanted to be like someone, we should want to be like our Father.

Hebrews 12:11 – Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceful fruit of righteousness unto them which exercised thereby. We may respond to discipline in several ways: we can accept it with resignation, we can accept it with self-pity; thinking we really don’t deserve it or we can be angry and resent God for it. The best way is to accept it gratefully as the appropriate response towards a loving Father. Jesus instructed there was a gate and narrow that leads to life and order for us to receive life, we must follow the instructions of the Word of God (Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it – Matthew 7:14). This gate Jesus is speaking about is confine, we can’t live according to our will and desires, but through the instructions given to the believer. With salvation must come a transformation that will give an example of us being the children of God. God’s goal is to get us through the gate no matter how narrow it may be, that we will yield the fruit of righteousness that comes through being disciplined.

Hebrews 12:13 – And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. “Wherefore” denotes an application of the truths about discipline to the lives of the believer. God is not only a disciplining parent, but also a demanding coach who pushes us to our limits and requires our lives to be disciplined. Although we may not feel strong enough to push on to victory, we will be able to obtain it as we follow Jesus and draw upon His strength. Then we can use our growing strength to help those around us who are weak and struggling (We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification – Romans 15:).

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