No Turning Back. No Matter What. Hebrews 12:1-29
Written to Hebrew Christians
Urging them not to abandon the faith
It does th is by beginning with Christ and moving toward us, a common structure of NT
epistles, except th a t th is was likely a delivered address (a sermon) tha t was copied
Author (the speaker) is unknown
A common presumption in Hebrews: the Christian life is hard and involves
Hebrews has its share of th anksgiving, but it a lso calls us to get real, addressing th ings like
apostasy. How, then, do we live in spiritual blessings while we are still encumbered by sin,
doubt, and persecution? The answer: genuine spirituality. Fash ionable, faux spirituality only
views spiritual th ings as an “add-on” to life, rather th an the source of life.
Chapter 11 – “The Fa it h Chapter” – look at a ll those who have gone before us who were able to
trust what they could not see. Wh ich leads us to…
Do what you must to run the race, with Jesus as the model (12:1-4)
o A long-term “race” is in view here, not a short sprint (v. 1, v. 3)
o The cross intended to shame Jesus; he inverted it, refusing to assume the stigma
o The battle aga inst sin is a struggle. This fact is presumed (universa l, not just
inflicted on the unlucky few; and noth ing temporal will deliver you from it) and it
is a real struggle (Gen. 4:7, 1 Peter 5:8)
Endure hardship – its effect is to produce discipline in you (vv. 5-11)
o Word “hardsh ip” (v. 7) does not appear in the original text; we can assume th at
the listener was clearly aware of what it was they were being exhorted to “endure”
(wha tever is cha llenging you to lose fa ith – persecution, opposition, sin, doubt,
h ardsh ip)
o We have lost the meaning of the word “discipline”, equating it with punishment.
We a lso th ink of it as someth ing done to us, rather th a n for us.
o The real sense of “discipline” (paideia) = someth ing th a t teaches
o Socia l scientists recognize the corrosive effects on children who are raised without
discipline, whose parents go to great lengths to ensure their ch ild never experiences
discomfort, disappointment, embarrassment, fa ilure, or being left out – it litera lly
“spoils” them and puts them at h igher risk for anxiety, substance abuse, etc.
o Indulgence – artif icia l deliverance from hardsh ip (wh ich is part of the human
condition) – stunts our development…and we were meant to grow, not to stand still!
o Redemption involves putting the pieces of a broken soul back together – becoming
truly and fully human
Don’t despise the blessing (vv. 12-17)
o We do th is whenever we opt for the world’s comfort over spiritual blessings and
resources. Are you a Christian because you wear the la bel? Or because you live the
o “The Christian Life” is integrating the bodily and th e spiritual existence, living in
the blessing now as we awa it the full blessing tha t is to come
o Don’t do what Esau did (Gen. 25:29-34). An undisciplined person is a dangerous
person: groundless, drifting, no plan, no progress – you’ll fa ll for anyth ing.
Draw near to God, “the consuming fire” (vv. 18-29)
The two covenants, contrasted
o The first mountain = Mount Sinai, where the Law was h anded down
o The second mountain = Mount Zion, the heavenly mountain
o One brought death and invoked fear, the other brings life and inspires hope
(see 2 Corinth ians 3:6)
God has unfinished business with the human race
“God is a consuming fire”
o Encounter and relationship with h im will demand the death of all th a t stands
in opposition to him (God is a jealous God - Deuteronomy 4:24)
o The signs of a right rela tionship with God – we are not unchanged, we are
growing, being tested, being refined; va lues, priorities, outlook on life radica lly
(though not always immediately or instantaneously) changed
Thinking It Through
What opposition or hardship have you encountered in your Christian life?
What does the word “discipline” evoke in you? Is that a positive or a negative
word? Do you consider yourself a disciplined person, and if so, in what areas?
Can you think of a specific example of how God used the circumstances of
hardship to teach or train you?
“Whenever we turn away from the spiritual blessings and resources to live our
lives, we are walking away from our faith.” Do you agree with that statement?
What about this business of God being “a consuming fire”? Is that a pleasant or
an unpleasant metaphor for you? Are there areas of your life you fear giving fully
to God because you’re afraid of “what it might look like” after God had his way