But God has a very simple plan to be saved and we will discuss that also in the Book of James.
Tomorrow is the last chapter of the book of Hebrews, the book of Faith. Where does your faith in Jesus Christ stand? Tomorrow we will look at…
Christ Our Example
1 Wherefore seeing we also are 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,
“Compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses” – the imagery suggests an athletic contest in a great amphitheater. The witnesses are the heroes of the past who have just been mentioned (chp 11). They are not spectators but inspiring examples.
The Greek word translated “witnesses” is the origin of the English word “martyr” and means “testifiers, witnesses.” They bear testimony to the power faith and to God’s faithfulness.
“Run with patience” – see Acts 20:24; 1 Cor 9:24-26; Gal 2:2, 5:7; Phil 2:16; 2 Tim 4:7.
The Christian life is pictured as a long-distance race rather than a short sprint. Some Hebrew Christians were tempted to drop out of the contest because of persecution.
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.
“Looking unto Jesus” – just as a runner concentrates on the finish line, we should concentrate on Jesus, the goal and objective of our faith (Phil 3:13-14).
“Finisher of our faith” – our faith, which has its beginning in Jesus, is also completed in Him; he is the start and end of the race. He is also the supreme witness who has already run the race and overcome it.
The best book I have read about this race it ”The Pilgrims Progress,” by John Bunyan. I have read it four times.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
“Consider him” – Jesus suffered infinity more than any of His disciples is asked to suffer – a great encouragement for us when we are weary and tempted to because discouraged.
4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
“Net yet resisted unto blood” – though Jesus disciples suffered persecution and loss of possessions, they didn’t have to die for the faith.
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:
“The chastening of the Lord” – suffering and persecution should be seen as corrective and instructive training for our spiritual development as His children.
Everything that happens in this world is happens because God makes it happen or He allows it to happen for His purpose. Therefore, if, let us say for example, you are punished for something you did not do.
Instead of being frustrated in the injustice, know that God has your back and glory in that.
The following scriptures, 6-13, will explain this more clearly.
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9 Furthermore 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?
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
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.
“Make straight paths” – a call for upright conduct that will help, rather than hinder, the spiritual and moral welfare of others, especially the “lame” who waver in the Christian faith.
14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Cf. 1 Pet 1:15-16; 1 Jn 3:2-3.
15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
“Profane person, as Esau” – see Gen 25:29-34. He had no appreciation for true values and was profane in his outlook on life. He “despised his birthright” (Gen 25:34) by valuing food for his stomach more highly than his birthright.
17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
12:18-21 – these verses describe the awesome occasion when the law was given at Mount Sinai (Ex 19:10-25; Deut 4:11-12, 5:22-26) description focusing on the old covenant’s tangible mountain, ordinances, terrifying warnings and severe penalties.
Believers in Jesus Christ do not have such a threatening covenant, and should not consider returning to it.
19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)
22 But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
“God the Judge of all” – see Rom 14:10-12; 1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:11-15.
24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
“Him that speaketh…spake on earth…speaketh from heaven” – Jesus Christ, who is both from and in heaven. Since we have greater revelation, we have greater responsibility and therefore great danger (2:2-4).
26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
“Once more” – during the great end-time up-heavals associated with the second advent of Christ.
“Which cannot be shaken” – the kingdom of God.
28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
“Serve God acceptably” – see Jn 4:19-24; Rom 12:1.
29 For our God is a consuming fire.
Cf. Ex 24:17; Deut 9:3.
Meet a Few Rich Atheists
…thou hast praised the gods of silver…and the God in whose hand thy breath is…hast thou not glorified.
In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain (Dan 5:23, 30).
Microsoft Co-founder and CEO, was interviewed November 1995 on PBS by David Frost. Below is the transcript with minor edits…
Frost: Do you believe in the Sermon on the Mount?
Gates: I don’t. I’m not somebody who goes to church on a regular basis. The specific elements of Christianity are not something I’m a huge believer in. There’s a lot of merit in the moral aspects of religion. I think it can have a very, very positive impact.
Frost: I sometimes say to people, do you believe there is a god, or do you know there is a god? And, you’d say you don’t know?
Gates: In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I don’t know if there’s a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.
Gates was profiled by Walter Isaacson in a January 13, 1996 Time Magazine cover story. Here are some excerpts compiled by the Drudge Report:
Isaacson: Isn’t there something special, perhaps even divine, about the human soul?
Gates: I don’t have any evidence on that.
“Gates face suddenly becomes expressionless,” writes Isaacson, “his squeaky voice turns toneless, and he folds his arms across his belly and vigorously rocks back and forth in a mannerism that has become so mimicked at Microsoft that a meeting there can resemble a round table of ecstatic rabbis.”
Gates: Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.
The multi-billionaire, financier and philanthropist was profiled on the newsmagazine 60 Minutes, broadcast December 20, 1998.
Steve Kroft: Are you a religious man?
Kroft: Do you believe in God?
The multi-billionaire, financier, atheist and business man. The following is taken from – Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, by Roger Lowenstein (Doubleday, 1995), page 13…
“He did not subscribe to his family’s religion. Even at a young age he was too mathematical, too logical, to make the leap of faith.”
“He adopted his father’s ethical underpinnings, but not his belief in an unseen divinity.”
Publisher of more than a dozen adult magazines, including Hustler, his life is profiled in a 1997 film directed by Milos Forman titled, The People vs. Larry Flynt. In the epilogue of his autobiography, An Unseemly Man, Flynt says:
“I have left my religious conversion behind and settled into a comfortable state of atheism.”
Flynt recanted his earlier claim of having becomes a Christian and dismissed it as the result of a manic-depressive episode.
In 1984, Larry Flynt sought out the services of Madalyn Murray O’Hair (a God-hating feminist wretch) and announced in his magazine, Hustler, that he was an atheist.
Judgment Day is Coming!
You have just heard from four of the richest men in the world.
It is tragic and sad when men deny their Divine Creator, the very one who keeps them breathing (Acts 17:25).
The prophet Daniel would say to these men the same thing he said to king Belshazzar,
“But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified” (Dan 5:23).
It must be understood that there is a difference between an atheist and a non-believer. Charles Darwin, at least at the end of his life, was an atheist or some say he was agnostic. To me they mean the same.
The basic definition of a non-believer is the same as atheist or agnostic. Yet…
Atheist – does not believe in any god.
Agnostic – does not believe in any god, but does believe in “material phenomenon”, i.e., a higher power.
Non-believer – does not believe in Jesus Christ, but believes in a god.
All of the above will go to hell, but you don’t have to be one of them to go to hell.
For example, those of the New Age believe in God and many of them even believe in Jesus Christ, some even believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, but still, they are not saved because they do not acknowledge Jesus for who He is.
For example, Oprah preaches that we don’t need Jesus to get to heaven.
And Paul had also stated:
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom 1:21).
Oprah Winfrey interviews and showcases several New Age luminaries; but when a Christian woman in the audience asks Oprah, “What about Jesus?,” Oprah insists Jesus “can’t possibly be the only way” to God.”
The New Agers and Catholics will be punished more severely than the atheists/agnostics. We will go into more detail on that during the Book of James.
“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth eaten” (Jas 5:1,2).
And Jesus Himself had said:
“…Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matt 19:23-24).
…how fit is your faith?