STUDY Hebrews 12:1-13
(click here for notes)
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 marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are no disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (NIV)
Running the Race
Hebrews 11 was a history lesson beginning with earth's first family, the development of the nation of Israel, the establishment of the monarchy, and ending with references to men of God who suffered for truth during the inter-testamental period. The author of Hebrews now asserts, "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 marked out for us."
1. The Greek word translated "witnesses" is the word from which the English word "martyr" comes from. It means "testifiers, witnesses". Of whom or what is this "great cloud" witness, and how do these witnesses make a difference to us?
2. In this metaphor of a foot race, what are the practical applications of the admonition to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us"? (see 1 Corinthians 9:24-26; Galatians 2:2; 5:6-8; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Philippians 2:14-16; 2 Timothy 4:6-8)
3. How does one successfully run this race with perseverance? (see v. 2; Psalm 25:15; 2 Chronicles 20:12; Psalm 123:2)
4. Why do we keep our eyes on Jesus as we run, and what exactly does keeping our eyes on him mean? (see Philippians 3:10-14; Romans 8:3-8, 11; Galatians 3:1-5; 5:22-25)
Author and Perfecter
5. The word translated "author" is used only four times in the New Testament. What does this word tell us about Jesus in the contexts where it is used? (see v.2; 2:10; Acts 3:15; 5:31 [see word translated "Prince"])
6. What do we learn about the faith that we have from this passage, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith"? (see Acts 3:16)
7. What is the joy that Jesus pursued by enduring the cross? (see Philippians 2:6-8; Hebrews 2:9-10; Mark 16:19;Matthew 26:64; Acts 2:33; 5:31; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1:3)
8. What is significant about the fact that Jesus "sat down at the right hand of the throne of God"? (see Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; Ephesians 1:18-23; Colossians 3:1; 1 Peter 3:18-22)
Proof of Status as Sons
The author of Hebrews now encourages his readers not to grow weary in their walk of faith, reminding them to consider Jesus' sufferings when they are threatened by discouragement.
9. How does one not become weary, and what are the outcomes for such perseverance? (see Isaiah 40:28-31; Galatians 6:7-9; 1 Corinthians 15:56-58; 2 Corinthians 3:15-4:1; Revelation 2:2-3)
10. Although the Hebrews Christians had suffered, the author reminds them, they had not yet suffered to the point of having to die for their faith. What had they suffered? (see Hebrews 10:32-34)
11. The writer now introduces a reassurance for his readers to remember as they face persecution. What is the author saying about hardships and our proper understanding of them? (see Proverbs 3:11, 12; 94:12; 119:75; Proverbs 3:11, 12 ; Revelation 3:19)
12. Why is discipline, even in the form of suffering and hardship, proof of our Father's love? (see Deuteronomy 8:5; 2 Samuel 7:14; Proverbs 13:24)
13. Even more than we respected our human fathers who disciplined us, we should submit to "the Father of our spirits and live." What is the significance of calling God the Father of our spirits? (see also Numbers 16:22; 27:16; Revelation 22:6)
14. What miraculous transformation becomes ours when we submit to the discipline and love of the Father of our spirits? (see Isaiah 38:15-17; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Isaiah 32:17; James 3:17-18)
15. When we accept our Father's discipline and learn from it, what responsibility then becomes ours? (see Galatians 6:1; 1 Corinthians 2:15; Matthew 18:15; 2 Corinthians 2:5-7)
16.In what areas of your life do you struggle with perseverance?
17.What in your life right now is God's discipline of you?
18.In what ways has suffering or hardship already changed you?
19. What suffering or persistent problem do you have right now that you need to release to Jesus, seeing it as his discipline to you instead of as a problem to manipulate or avoid?
20. In what ways have you held Jesus at arm's length instead of allowing him to perfect your faith?
21. How will your life change if you begin to experience God as the Father of your spirit and yourself as his true son or daughter?
22. Ask Jesus to show you how he wants you to relate to the chronic or acute problems in your life. Tell him you want to give them to him and to accept his will for your life as a sign of his love. Ask him to give you his strength to persevere and to walk through your trials instead of avoiding them. Ask him to fill your heart with his love and peace instead of with fear and anxiety as you persevere and allow him to transform your suffering into the certainty of sonship.
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised November 1, 2001.