Run the race well. Fix your eyes on the prize. Don’t forget why you are running and the hopes and dreams who wish to obtain. Realize that there will be those who want to see you fail. But also many who have already finished the race and are cheering you on. Embrace discipline as you daily train. Get rid of every hindrance that keeps you from running your best race.
These are some of the lessons from the book of Hebrews. I just finished studying the book with a group of friends. Below are some of the important lessons I am taking with me from the book and also how I hope to apply those lessons to my life.
Lesson One: do we want to know God? Do we wish to know His character and His mind? Study Christ. Hebrews 1:3, “Christ is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature…”
Lesson Two: One of the great dangers in the Christian life is apathy. Every day we need to prepare our heart for battle to fight the tendency to drift. Hebrews 2:1, “Pay close attention to this gospel, lest we drift away from it.”
Lesson Three: Never quit. Have you given in to a sin every day for the last 10 years? Today is the day to start taking back territory from the enemy. Have you drifted away from Christ? Today is the day to re-engage in the battle and cling to Him who leads us in war against sin and every evil force. Hebrews 3:14-15, “Encourage each other every day as long as it is called “today” that none of you are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”
Lesson Four: Rest in the finished work of Christ to secure our salvation but do not rest from doing good works in response to this radical grace. Christ worked and then rested. We rest in Him; work for Him and then enter His rest (Heaven). We can approach Him with confidence to receive His grace daily as we strive to live for Him. Hebrews 4:16, “Let us draw near to the throne of grace with confidence, that we may receive mercy and find grace in the time of need.”
Lesson Five: Embracing suffering as the path to obedience is the normal Christian life. Through many trials and hardships, we will enter the kingdom of Heaven. Hebrews 5:8-9, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of salvation to all who obey Him.”
Lesson Six: We have a strong encouragement to hold fast to the promise of God- His guarantee of an oath and the unchangeable nature of His character. Our hope in Christ is a steadfast anchor for the soul. Hebrews 6:12, “Do not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Lesson Seven: A multitude of priests served the people before Christ- constantly offering temporary sacrifices for sins. Jesus is our permanent Priest- He offers a forever sacrifice for our sins. Hebrews 7:16, “He became a Priest not on the basis of lineage, but by the power of an indestructible life.”
Lesson Eight: God is in the business of installing the new covenant in our lives. He wrote His laws on tablets to the people of Israel under the Prophets. Now he writes His laws on our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 8:10, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be my people.”
Lesson Nine: This life is our opportunity. There is no reincarnation; no second chances to respond to the purposes of God. He appeared once to deal with sin. He will appear a second time to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. Hebrews 9:27-28, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once and after comes judgment, so Christ having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”
Lesson Ten: God will remember our sins no more. We can never be more justified in God’s eyes than we are now. God has dealt with the consequences of sin through the sinless death of Christ. In response, we are called to hold to Christ unswervingly. We are to encourage each other in fellowship and spur each other on to do good deeds. Hebrews 10:36, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”
Lesson Eleven: It is impossible to please God without faith. We have faith that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Faith does not guarantee a life of blessings. Some people receive blessings from God for faithfulness in this life. Others get killed; live in caves; are considered outcasts. God has purposes for each of us, but one thing is certain: He is just. He will right all wrongs in eternity. Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Lesson Twelve: Embrace discipline as our friend. We have a race to run. Don’t ask the question is it sinful? Ask- does it hinder my ability to run my best race? Sanctification is a process that is 100% the work of the Holy Spirit in us. And 100% our striving to be trained well for the race. Without holiness we will not see God. We receive an unshakable kingdom, we must be thankful and worship God with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Lesson Thirteen: Show love to strangers and fellow Christians. Be submissive to authority. Flee sexual immorality. Shun greed. Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”
The message of Hebrews is to not drift; hold on tight; fight; run the race hard and steady; go to war each day; strive for the things of God each day.