Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons . How to get your name up in lights

. How to get your name up in lights


Hebrews 11:39-12:2 (ESV) 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. 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.”


In Hebrews chapter 11 we have this great chapter introducing us to believers who have entered the hall of fame or rather the hall of faith, believers who would today have their names up in lights. There is Abel who offered acceptable sacrifices to God, there is Enoch who walked with God and did not taste death, then there is Noah who persevered in building the ark, there is Abraham who was willing to go where God wanted him to go, and who was also willing to sacrifice his only son, there is Moses who led God’s people, there is Joseph, there are the judges and the prophets, all people that are honoured for their faith in God and what they achieved in their faith. These are all people who endured to the end even though they did not receive what was promised.

Let me ask us all here at the end of 2012 a very serious question. Is there any reason why my name should be up in lights in the hall of faith? Should my name be there and why should my name be there? How can I ensure that my name is on the wall?

The only way you can get your name on the wall in the hall of faith is if you finish the race and finish it well. The central themes of the verses before us are found in the words of verse 1: “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”. How well are you running? It seems that the Hebrew writer had a concern that the Hebrew church were no longer running but that they were coasting. Hebrews 10:32-33 (ESV) 32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.” This is the same kind of message to the church of Ephesus in Revelation: “remember the height from which you have fallen.”

It seems like the Hebrew Christians had gotten tired. They slowed down in their growth. They are people who according to Hebrews 5:12 have to be teachers of God’s word by now, but yet someone must teach them the elementary truths of God’s word all over again, they are people who need to eat T Bone steaks but instead they are people who have to be fed milk as if they are babies.  They are a people, and maybe some of us are just like that who have begun to coast and neglected their faith, as it says in Hebrews 2:3 (ESV) 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” The situation is very serious and the writer suggests that some are showing that their faith is phony and that they are neglecting their salvation even to the point that some were turning away from the faith. We see in Hebrews 3:12 (ESV) 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.”

There is a lesson for us. It is so easy to coast as individuals, to get careless in spiritual vigilance, or to quench the Holy Spirit with passionless, dead, dutiful religious exercises. It is easy to get by with the minimum commitment in your study of God’s word, it is so easy to think that we are doing God a favour when we appear for worship, but God must just not ask too much of us. It is so easy to tip God in our giving as if He has given us the worst table service ever.

Oh how we need to adhere to the word of God today that says in Hebrews 12:12-14 (ESV) 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.” Logos family, there is a race to be run, there is a fight to be fought, there is holiness to be pursued, how are you doing? Is your name going to be on the wall in the hall of faith?

It is time that we get serious about the race; otherwise we are not going to make it. That is why the writer says in chapter 12:1: “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.” Maybe some of you have fallen out of the race and need to get back in the race this morning. How? Verse one says by "laying aside every weight and sin." Let me ask you a very serious question this morning. Are you running or are you coasting? We all know how well we are running or not. My question is what is weighing you down. We are called to fight and not to die or fright, we are called to run and not to coast, and if there is anything that is hindering we need to lay it aside.

Are you happy to die today because you know that in your heart you have confidence that not only will you be saved, but your name will be up in lights? Or are you sitting here today, and you trust you will be saved by grace and in the righteousness of Christ alone, but that there is no reason for your name to be up in lights, as you are coasting and you have lost all strength in the fight.

To this the writer of Hebrews, and I, and God say to you this morning, there is a better way to come to the end of life, namely running the race and fighting the fight.

This morning I want to give you three motivations for running this race, three ways by which you can get your name up in lights. God does not call us to meaningless, exhausting drills like laps around a field that get us nowhere. He calls us to a race that has a great goal and all kinds of powerful incentives along the way. Before you re-join the race with all your vigour you need to turn into a chameleon, not by changing colour, but because there are three directions you need to look to otherwise you will lack all the motivation that you need. So let’s use those chameleon eyes and take three looks that should change our spiritual life.

Firstly you need to look back to the witnesses.

The first motivation to run the race of faith and fight the fight for holiness and love is found in verse 1: "we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses."

As we run the race there is a big dense crowd of saints pressing in on the track. These saints are the people described in chapter 11 and all the other Christians since then that have finished the race before us. They finished the race, now they circle around and press into the crowd along the route where we are running.

But it is not so much them watching us. They are there next to the track, for us to watch them and know it can be done. Let’s look at these witnesses again as we see them in Hebrews 11.

You might have got slack in your sacrifice, your offering, and you know this morning that the quality and quantity of your offering is not accepted by God, and there stands Abel and he says, run, run, sacrifice, give, because God has reckoned me a man of faith and righteousness as I gave from my heart, truthfully and according to the grace I have received. According to Hebrews 11:4 (ESV) “…he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.” Are our sacrifices and offerings acceptable to God?

You might grow weary in your faith, but there next to the field is Enoch, and you know it can be done, it can be done, I can endure, because this guy walked with God so intimately that he did not die, God just took him up. It is like a little child who told this story. He said, God and Enoch were walking and walking and walking and eventually Enoch was so far from his own home that God said to him that he can just as well go home with God.

You might feel that what God requires from you does not make sense, why must I be in worship, why must I pray, why must I study God’s word, why, why, why, but as you look up there is Noah, and he says: ‘you think what you must do day in and day out does not make sense, try me, I had to build a jolly ark for 120 years, because of some promised rain, but praise God I did, otherwise I would not be here next to the field today and neither would you. So run, endure, and obey even if you do not have it all figured out.”

And there is Abraham, and he says, “Run baby run. I have learned obedience; I also had to live where I did not want to. You think South Africa is bad, I had to go and live among a people who were not my people. And by the way if you have forgotten Abel’s sacrifice, try mine, I was asked to sacrifice my only son who was supposed to provide me with an inheritance of grand children like the sand in the dessert. You battle to give sacrificially; according to the grace you have received, you just do not beat mine. But God honoured me and He provided, so get back in that race, give faithfully, obey faithfully and get your name up in lights.

You might be saying this morning, well there is no chance that I can finish, have you even checked out my life, do you know my sin, do you know my story. But lift up your head church family, look who is next to the track shouting it can be done, it can be done.

Do you think they had no weights to lay down, and that they were not sinners like us, and therefore they were able to finish?

Remember again Abraham, he tried to help God by having a son with his servant girl and he finished, Noah again who built an ark for 120 years and ended up drunk, but he finished, David who committed adultery and murder, and he finished; there's John the Baptist who had a weird personality, and he finished; there's John Mark the quitter, and he finished; and Mary the prostitute, and she finished; and William Carey, who was called the plodder, he finished; and Jonathan Edwards who got kicked out of his church, but he finished; and Job who suffered so much, he finished; and Stephen who was hated and stoned, and yet he finished; and Peter who denied Christ three times, and he finished and so we can go on and on with the names of Saints who have gone before us.

Well, by the power and faith that got them through I'm going to finish too!

There is something beautiful in the text regarding these witnesses that you must not miss. Look at chapter 11:39-40 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”

They might have finished the race, but guess what? The glory of the final perfection of the saints will not happen until we all have finished the race. They will not be made perfect without us. But in the meantime, see them standing along the side-lines of our race holding out their wounds and their joys and their trials and give us the best high-fives we ever get: "Go for it! You can do it. By faith you can finish. You can lay the weights down and the sins. By faith, by the assurance of better things hoped for, you can do it. I did it. And I know it can be done. Run. RUN!"

So be encouraged when you plan your run with Jesus, lay down the weights that entangle you. There are millions of those who have gone before and who have finished the race by faith and surround us like a great cloud of witnesses who say: "It can be done! By faith it can be done."

Secondly you need to look up to Jesus.

It might be very easy to hear the command, "Run the race! Fight the fight!" and conclude that obeying that command and finishing the race and making it to glory depends decisively on us.

But that would be a great mistake. We are responsible to obey. But the writer wants to encourage us to look to Jesus.  Hebrews 12:2 (ESV) 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.”

Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith in at least three ways:

First, he has given a foundation of our faith from start to finish. He pioneered by enduring the cross and despising the shame; and he perfected by sitting down triumphantly at the right hand of the throne of God (v. 2; cf. 2:10). Our redemption, the foundation of our faith is complete.

Second, he has given a perfect model for faith from start to finish. He trusted his father from beginning to end in his earthly race.

Third, he is the giver and sustainer of our faith from start to finish. Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) 20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

So the God who began a good work in us is going to complete it--through Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. So don't even begin to think that finishing this race will be for your glory because it depended on your strength, no it all depends on Him. We run in the strength that God supplies that in everything God may get the glory through Jesus Christ. Peter understood this. 1 Peter 4:11 (ESV) 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

So look to Jesus, take heart, trust him, and run.

Thirdly, you need to look forward to joy.

When we look to Jesus, one of the things we see (according to verse 2) is that his pioneering and perfecting work of redemption was sustained by the joy that was set before him. Hebrews 12:2 (ESV) 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.”

What God wants us to do when we look to Jesus is to be like Him.

He endured the cross for the joy set before him; we should endure the hardships of our race of faith for the joy set before us.

This is not the first time we pick up on this in Hebrews. Go back to Hebrews 10:34-36 (ESV) 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully (note the word) accepted the plundering of your property (this is like Jesus' enduring the cross, and like a long uphill in your marathon), since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one (That is for the joy set before us). 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”

Run the race church family, run, fight, fight to death, because God will give you what He has promised. We have witnesses next to the track; we have Christ as our example. That is why we need to press on with strength and courage and hope with our eyes fixed on the indescribable, unending joy at the end of the race when we are perfected with the rest of the saints.

I believe it is an insult to God if you read Hebrews 12:1 and 2 today and go away saying: "It can't happen. Hindrances can't be removed. Sins can't be laid aside."

God has not spoken this command for nothing. And this entire book is written to undergird these practical commands. So go back and read the book and ask God to take all the glorious truth that is here (about the superiority of Christ and the power of his death and resurrection, and the effectiveness of his intercession for you) and make this truth explosive with life-changing power.

I trust at the end we can all say with Paul: “I HAVE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT, I HAVE FINISHED THE RACE, I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH.”


Logos Community Church: - 2 December 2012