Sermon Summary and Discussion Questions | "A Steady Pace and a Fixed Gaze"
1. Command: "Let us run with endurance..."
The author uses the specific metaphor of a long distance race. The nature of the Christian life is not run in a sprint, but it is run with a steady and strategic pace over a lifetime of endurance. Running with steadfastness requires faith that holds onto God's promises despite life’s circumstances. Though circumstances can be bleak and seem fruitless, with this metaphor believers are encouraged to press on with an anticipation that there is a finish line with rewards.
2. Instructions: "Let us also lay aside every weight and sin..."
Believers are instructed to take off everything that would impede or hinder their pursuit of Christ in the race. The Christian life is recognizing that we are in a long race, with the ultimate prize being Christ himself. We are to evaluate the arrangements of our lives in light of their effect on our running of the race. Impediments and hindrances are to be put off. Moreover, we are to put off sin that entangles the believer. Believers cannot endure the race if they are engulfed in sin.
3. Encouragements: First, "we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses..."
These witnesses refer to those who have endured by faith throughout redemptive history (cf. Heb. 11). We are surrounded by living testimonies of those who have finished the race, running by faith not by sight. These are powerful examples of God's faithfulness. The encouragement is that we have joined the same race as the great figures of the Old Testament, and God will be faithful to carry us to the finish line. Secondly, we are to "Look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith" - We look to Jesus, who is our "pioneer," showing us the way to run. It was for the joy set before him that Jesus endured the cross. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has opened the way for us to run the race and he is the perfecter, who sustains us to finish the race. The Christian's fundamental call is steadfast endurance with our gaze fixed on Jesus.
1. The author of Hebrews likens the Christian life to a marathon race and not a sprint. How does this challenge (or encourage) you to persevere and endure in your present circumstances? Have you been living with a "sprint" mentality or with a "marathon" mentality?
2. This passage talks about "putting off" the impediments and sin that cause us to take our eyes off of Christ and distract us from running the race. What are some things that have hindered or distracted you? How does this passage center your focus back on Christ?
3. This passage speaks of Jesus as our "pioneer" and as the "perfecter" of our faith. How does this encourage you as you seek to endure in the Christian life?
4. How does the testimony of God's faithfulness in the lives of previous saints (i.e., witnesses) encourage you to continue running the race by faith?
5. How can we as a community group strive to persevere in this race together? How can we be praying for you specifically?