RESOLVED | Week 1: Resolved to Run
Topic: New Testament Passage: Hebrews 12:1–12:13
Christopher Rich – January 7, 2018
RESOLVED | Where Desire Meets Discipline| Wk 1
Resolved to Run | Hebrews 12:1-13
Introduction | Where Desire meets Discipline.
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we begin a new series winter series Resolved: Where desire meets discipline. We are not a satisfied people. We show this at the conclusion of one year and the beginning of the next we intuitively assess aspects of our lives and find areas we want to see change in or achievements made. These are sometimes very specific ie: run a marathon, get out of debt, etc and relatively easy to see progress, achieve our goal, or admit defeat. Other times we set vague ethereal goals like “laugh more” be a “better” spouse, parent, friend, or employee with no real understanding of what this will look like or how we should get there. We know we’re not the best version of ourselves. We want more. We want to be different that we currently are. Therefore, each year we make resolutions grow our budget or to shrink our beltline. Each year we inevitably fail (again!!) and wonder why our wallet is lighter and we are not. We shrink back into our habits, make excuses, and for a time accept our “normal” being less that flourishing until another new year or catalytic event wakes us from our slumber. We again go through a cycle of great effort followed by less discipline. Why do we fail to achieve what we want?
We are driven by our desires. Our deepest desires will always overcome our efforts of self- discipline. What we want will drives us to what we do. Our desires are usually very immediate, temporary, and selfish so we regularly act driven by these desires which bring us short term pleasure even at the expense of long term joy. We too often desire immediate comfort over long term correction. True flourishing cannot be found without looking beyond right now, outside of ourselves, and ultimately to things that are eternal. We can know this and yet have our discipline fail us. What we need is not greater discipline but greater desires.
We need our attention and affections directed towards things that can stir us to strive for contentment over surrendering to compliancy. We need to be people who are capable of being joyfully uncomfortable in the present for the purpose of greater rewards both in the near term and for eternity. Desires that are truly great can drive us to discipline that it ultimately enduring. We need to be Resolved. To be Resolved is to endure being uncomfortable for the purpose of a greater reward. How has desire for comfort kept you from being disciplined to pursue change in your life?
Jonathan Edwards | God’s people are a resolved people. In Hebrews 11 we have a chapter many call the Hall of Fame of Faith. Its easy read through this lengthy list of Old Testament saints and see them as super human heroes, kings, patriarchs, prophets, and leaders. Great men and women we can never live up to or hope to emulate. Yet closer study of the lives and faith of nearly everyone in Hebrews 11 shows these were rather ordinary people, fickle and flawed, driven by their desires, but who were used by and had faith in an extraordinary God. Each had seen, knew, heard from, or heard of God in a way that transformed their deepest desires know, trust, and follow God earnestly if not perfectly. Their deepest desire was not seen in their lifetimes. They looked ahead to God coming to His people as their savior from their sin and king of their lives. This happened in Jesus. His life and death in our place. His resurrection bringing new life now and forever for those who trust Him. His promised return to restore all things to Himself. Living in between Jesus arrival and His return, disciples of Jesus are part of a new hall of fame of faith. We can learn much from the example and teaching of ordinary people who have been saved by an extraordinary God in Jesus who have lived lives for Him, people like Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Lady Jane Gray. Great preachers like Spurgeon, writers like CS Lewis, teachers like Bonhoeffer or recently John Piper, RC Sproul, and Tim Keller etc are each gifts to the church used to point people to the Glory of God shown in Jesus as the greatest desire to drive us to new lives of joyful discipline.
Jonathan Edwards was an American theologian, philosopher, author, preacher, and pastor who lived in the 1700’s. He pastored churches, led revivals, and served as president of Princeton. His family legacy was laudable including countless pastors, thirteen presidents of high education, 65 professors, and a Vice President of the United States (Famous Dueler, Aaron Burr). His life was characterized by faithful discipline leading to fruitfulness. His writing and work are as prolific as they are deep and convicting. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God is a classic of early American Literature. His life’s driving disciplines are recounted in his 70 personal Resolutions. While many of these can be seen ascetic in their self-denial, the totality of Edwards work reveals any discipline he sought was not driven fear, shame, or self-righteousness. Edward’s discipline was motivated by the captivating desire to experience beauty from in God displayed in Jesus.
“What an honor must it be to a creature who is infinitely below God, and less than He, to be beautified and adorned with this beauty, which is the highest beauty of God Himself, even holiness”
-Jonathan Edwards “God’s Excellencies”
What we learn from Edwards is that those who trust Jesus are changed as we see and worship God for who and what He truly is… beautiful. Put simply by Dane Ortland, “Sinners are beautified as they behold the beauty of God in Jesus Christ. That is Edwards’s theology of the Christian life in a single sentence.” Choosing a life of discipline is only valuable if it is for a deeper desire of experiencing and being changed by the beauty of God. Any desire for discipline or pursuit of holiness, can only be effective when first admit our own inability. Our internal resolve is never greater than our need for external strength that can only come from God.
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will for Christ's sake.
– Jonathon Edwards, Resolutions
Jonathan Edwards is AN inspiration this series but not THE inspiration any more than he is AN example of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, not THE example. THE example IS Jesus. We don’t seek to be more like Edwards, or Spurgeon, John Owen/Piper, or (insert your favorite Christian teacher/figure here) but to imitate Edwards as much as he (or anyone) imitates our Lord Jesus Christ.
The broad goals for this Sermon series are the same for every series. That we would have the target of our affections, hope, and worship moved from the things of this world to the Creator of this world who reveals Himself through the scripture and most clearly in the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ. Additionally, as disciples of Jesus who are called to go into the world to make more disciples, we do seek to faithfully engage with a world opposed to the God of the Bible. Our world tells us we will succeed based on resolve found in ourselves. That we, who are the greatest hinderance to our flourishing, will somehow be the one who will overcome ourselves by the sheer force of our own will. It is a contradiction that cannot be resolved by us alone. We cannot be saved, changed, or live for ourselves. Our desires can only move us to life-giving discipline when we have been, Saved by Jesus’ Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and are Living on Jesus’ Mission. Specifically, we hope this series helps us as followers of Jesus be:
Shaped by Gospel Truth – We are people of the book. We study Gospel Truth of Jesus in our place. What does God’s word to us in the Bible tell us about God, our world, and ourselves? How does knowing and seeing who God is lead us to deeper desire for Him?
Formed in Gospel Community – We are all made as individuals, but we are also made to be in communion with God and with His people. This means much our desires and disciplines will be lived out in the context of a community created by and held together by the Gospel. How does Gospel not only change us as individuals but change us as a people?
Propelled to Gospel Living – Being a disciple of Jesus is never less than simply knowing, affirming, believing Gospel Truth. However, it is always more than intellectual assent, it changes our life. How does knowing what Jesus has done for us lead us to a new life of holiness and mission for Him? As with every sermon series we preach, Resolved is also explicitly evangelistic. Our hope is those who do not know The beauty and glory of God in Jesus would hear and understand the Gospel. That they would reflect on their own lives, see their sin and brokenness, their need to be made new, and then respond to the offer of life with God in Christ. We pray many would say, as Edwards did, “the Gospel has seemed to me to be the richest treasure.” We pray many would have a lifelong reorientation of their desire for themselves and their sin be overwhelmed by the new desire to simply Trust Jesus now and forever.
PART I | Be Resolved to Run | v1-2
Hebrews 12:1-2 | 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.
Apathy is easy. It requires no effort, but the consequences are more than merely dulled affections. Apathy robs us of experiencing the abundant life Jesus came to give us. Our apathy needs to be replaced with action. We all say we want to change but our lives proclaim otherwise. This is why things like New Year’s Resolutions are usually dumb and often fail, because we want to change but not as much as we want to remain comfortable. The Christian life does not promise us immediate comfort but rather propelling us to grace fueled change. As such we are called not to walk in our old life of apathy but run a new race of holiness and discipline with life granted us in Jesus.
This is not an individual race. We are surrounded by past, present, and (Lord willing) future saints who have run, are running, or will run. We are part of a team, part of a holy heritage. There is no individual language in these verses. The image is not one of a runner on a lonely road. Since WE are Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (plural) these brothers and sisters whose race is over but they are with us watching and cheering for us! Let US lay aside sin, let us run the race set before US, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of OUR faith. We do not run alone, but we do run!
But there is a problem. Sin. Our sin weighs us down and clings to us keeping us from running our race properly. Sin keeps us from being who God has designed and desires us to be. It keeps us separated from the source of life and strength. Sin does not help us run but hinders us. Because of sin we can grow weary and our resolve can wane. We keep running, from sin, to holiness, as we look to Jesus who ran the perfect race for us in our place. We are free to run without fear of the consequences of failure because we know Jesus took our defeat on the cross. Our race is won because Jesus already ran it for us on the cross.
Jesus was (and is) driven by desire. Jesus was resolved by our definition to endure being uncomfortable for the purpose of a greater reward. There was pain, punishment, death, destruction, but what Jesus saw through the excruciating trial of the cross was what? Joy set before him. Joy of saving His people. Joy of enduring the wrath we all deserve for sin but that we cannot survive. Joy of self-sacrificial purchasing His people back from slavery. Joy in being in our place for us. Joy of conquering death, joy in the resurrection, joy in being seated at the right hand of the Father. Joy in His promised return. Joy drives Jesus.
PART II | Be Resolved Discipline is Good |v3-10
Hebrews 12:3-10 | 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.
We look to Jesus as our example and our inspiration. We consider Jesus as one who unjustly endured great hostility from sinners He came to save. Why do we look to Jesus as our example and motivation? We do this so we don’t grow weary and fainthearted. How by also looking to Jesus to gain perspective on our current experience. We think we’ve endured or struggled much. Jesus has endured greatly, we have not.
Things are not as bad as we often think they are. When it comes to our sin we haven’t fought back as much as we think we have. Because we’re weary and fainted hearted we assume wrongly any bit of struggle must mean there is something wrong. Don’t hear me minimize the impact of our sin and the sins of other on our lives. You’ve been abused or some actual tragedy has befallen that’s awful, a result of the fallen world and humanity we find ourselves in. You’ve been sinned against, God is here for your healing. Sometimes we are suffering for our sin, we have been the one who has led us to calamity. The Christian life includes struggling against sin. We are called to fight, flee, resist sin in our lives. Here it’s saying we haven’t fought against our sin, or endured as much for our sin as Jesus has. When we are in Christ we know, He has endured and suffered for our sin far greater than we ever have or will. Because of Jesus in our place It’s a struggle we know has an ultimate victory. Not perfection in our life time but progress. This should empower us to not be weak or cowardly in the face sin but to repent of sin and keep running our new race!
The verses go on to remind us sometimes we are facing trials and difficulty from God or allowed by God because He is disciplining us. Difficulty is not always a sign of God’s distance, but of His desire to change us. In verse 6 the writer of Hebrews is paraphrasing Psalm 94:12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law. but the next phrase in verse 13 show the “why” of this blessing to be disciplined and taught by God. “to give him rest from the days of trouble” Discipline is good.
Punishment and Discipline are different. Threat of punishment is a coercive force to prevent sin, it is not an all together bad thing. We want to see wickedness and evil punished. In contrast, discipline is corrective force to address the effects of sin in our lives. Punishment (even just) is wrath in action. Discipline is love in action.
Punishment is punitive. Discipline is productive. Punishment in earned by us. Discipline is granted to us.
The difference between punishment and discipline in terms of which one we receive from God is one of Identity. Who am I? Sinners in unrepentant rebellion against God apart from God’s intervention, are not children of God, but rather are considered children of wrath (punishment not discipline. But when you have been born again, adopted in to the Family of God you are not “children of wrath” illegitimate. You are son and daughters. God loves and accepts you as you are AND loves you enough to not let you remain as you are. His love to you is discipline that changes you. In contrast, No discipline = no love = not children, but illegitimate. Discipline helps us pursue what brings greater life and joy. Discipline is respectable.
God is very comfortable with us being very uncomfortable to produce greater Resolve and fruit in us.
God has accepted us in Christ but that doesn’t he affirms every aspect of our life. Gods love for us is not shown in unconditional affirmation but in His ability to lovingly and graciously bring transformation
Our discipline is imperfect, Our ways of training up each other are imperfect. When you get a coach with a new system players are a bit skeptical because they don’t really trust yet if it works. I am not sure what this is going to produce. Does this work? When the team goes out and get an early win against a good opponent all of the sudden there is a greater confidence that this brand of discipline (of training) is productive. If the team flounders for years there is less confidence. Verse 10 says God’s discipline is perfect in that is ALWAYS for our good. It always will produce good…. Eventually. And he does so to make us more godly. More like Him. To face trials that changes us is to be a loved child of God the Father.
PART III | Discipline Produces Resolve |v11-13
Hebrews 12:11-13 | 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.
Discipline is productive, but that doesn’t mean we have to like the process of it. God is realistic in His discipline, it seems painful not pleasant. Discipline produces…. Later. We get the fruit and reward… later. What is the reward? peaceful fruit of righteousness. “that sounds like when our parents or teachers would say are reward is a job well done.” It’s more that simple pride or accomplishment. What is yielded something tangible that nourishes and brings us in closer communion with God. We need this fruit.
We need to be healed. We won’t experience any present healing but will suffer greater iniquity (bent out of shapeness) if we don’t walk/run the path discipline we’ve been called to. So we lift up our heads and what will we see “Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith.” We strengthen our knees and keep going. Do not despair. Don’t be lame!! Get you head up and walk. Be Resolved to keep going even in the midst of discomfort or discouragement knowing there is a purpose for the pain. Our healing is in our walking. Discipline with God for healing is more like physical therapy not atrophy. The race we run is not effortless, or painless, but it is ultimately productive. God shows us He is a loving father because He disciplines us in our apathy. At times He chooses for us sort term discomfort for the purpose of long term peace and righteousness as he takes what is broken in us and produces healing.
2 Cor 4:17 | 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
#6: Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live. – Jonathan Edwards, Resolutions
Start Running. Keep Running. Welcome Discipline. Press into discomfort. Wait patiently for it to produce fruit. Endure. It’s is for our Good. It is for our healing. Remember Our race is already won when we Trust Jesus.