Jesus is the Pioneer and Perfector of Our Faith

Today in Hebrews 12 we reflect on the “heroes of faith” that we read about in chapter 11. Discipline. Without it, it is impossible to live the life of a born-again Christian. If you’ve ever watched a foot race or a swimming competition, you’ll notice that the competitors who are serious, wear the lightest clothing, some even shave their hair. They are trying to reduce drag — anything that can slow them down.

For the life of a Christian, temptation to sin is all around us. If we sin, like a child who misbehaves, God disciplines us. We as believers have a purpose to follow God’s will for our lives. That’s our race. Paul talked about this in Philippians 3. Sin drags us down as we try to do what is right. It’s that guilty feeling in your heart that won’t go away.

Let’s see what the writer of Hebrews has to say about this…

Hebrews 12

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” [Proverbs 3:11-12]

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

A Call to Listen to God

14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. 16 Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. 17 You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

18 You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. 19 For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. 20 They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”

22 No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. 23 You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. 24 You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.

25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! 26 When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.

28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire.

Hebrews 12 NLT

We are to Worship GOD and no one or nothing else!

If you’re wondering why God is disciplining you, you may want to look at what you’re worshiping. What are you putting before God in your life?

I again defer to the Malaysian Bible Study I found in the free YouVersion Bible app

Our response to discipline must be one of contemplation and understanding, seriousness and submissiveness in enduring. Discipline is bound to cause pain but in order for us to endure, we must know that it is for our own good and part of our personal pursuit of holiness, righteousness and peace. We must obey and not resent or rebel.

Jesus is our supreme example and therefore inspirer in that He learned obedience from what He suffered (5:8). We must be able to see in Jesus a devoted servant and a patient sufferer. While the Old Testament saints could also inspire us (v 1b) but it is Jesus alone who is able to help us. He always lives to intercede for us (v 7:25b). Let us then rid ourselves of all ensnaring sins (v 1b), be serious and wise (vs 5-6; Proverbs 3:11-12) in our Christian walk and daily make every effort to obey the Lord. Let us never be childish, immature and irreligious like Esau. 

Christian discipline comes naturally out of a Father and son relationship and if we submit, we shall live a truly meaningful life.

We do not belong to Sinai. We belong to Zion. We fear not because we belong to the new order, which cannot be shaken. We look at Sinai and rejoice that we have witnessed its fulfillment in Zion. And we worship the Lord. 

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Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be the Glory!

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