Christ: The Founder & Perfecter of Our Faith
by Michael Green
September 16, 2015
Psalm 30:6-12 (ESV):
6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” 7 By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed. 8 To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: 9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? 10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!” 11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Hebrews 12:1-17 (ESV):
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
I have real struggles in my life. My wife Barbra and I have fights with themes that are years old. We have constant decisions to make regarding our children that don’t seem to have any options that are clearly the best. Every verdict seems to be full of pros and cons, and there are always downsides looming. Work can be monotonous and habitually demanding, draining me of energy and motivation. The weight of my responsibilities is regularly overwhelming. Reg-u-lar-ly. I am sure that you have a few of these types of battles in your own soul.
So, what should you do? Your marriage is struggling. You and your spouse are sleeping in separate beds and constantly fighting. Physical intimacy went out a long time ago and you are emotionally barren. Maybe, there is a sin in your life that is utterly dominating you right now and you can’t really envision a path to victory. Perhaps you are spiritually slothful and you are not really pursuing the Lord in any meaningful way. An idol has usurped His throne. You might be continually being beat down by finances and are now considering some shady ventures. Potentially, your past continually comes to mind and completely envelops you in shame.
The answer is the same for all of us – FOLLOW. If you are in Christ, you are there because Christ sought you out. He took hold of you and pulled you out of the pit of your own sin. In Philippians 3:12-14, Paul makes it clear that he has not attained some kind of perfect state on this side of heaven, but that he is pressing on to take hold of that which has taken hold of him.
So, in short, the answer is to pursue the One that pursued (and pursues) you. FOLLOW Him. Cast your anxieties on Him (Matthew 11:28-30). Pray your heart out (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Rest in Him. Read His Word (Hebrews 4:12-13). Confess to Him (1 John 1:8-10). Confess to others (James 5:16). Repent. Obey Him. And, repeat. Jesus frequently told those that professed a faith in Him to remain in Him (John 15:4-11). And, as you remain in Him, Christ keeps you. It is His job to keep us (Jude 1:24-25, 1 Corinthians 1:7-8). It is His promise to sustain us. Jesus saw no contradiction in stating that He won’t lose any of those that the Father gives Him (John 10:27-30, Ephesians 1:13-14) and telling them to remain. So, FOLLOW. True obedience is impossible if you have not been born again. You need the Spirit of God living within you, empowering you to obey (Galatians 5:16-26, John 16:8-11). But, for a believer, obedience is an intensely spiritual exercise born out of an authentic faith and used, by God, to perfect that same faith (James 2:22).
(I was continually hearing Knute Rockne say, “Fight! Fight! Fight!” as I wrote this.)