As believers in Christ, we are on the way – which is Christ, and we are running the race with endurance, being surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who encourage us in our Christian life. Hallelujah!
Therefore we should put away every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and run with endurance the race which is set before us (Heb. 12:1).
Christ in His heavenly ministry is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, and we can cooperate with Him by running with endurance the race set before us, looking away unto Him.
Our Christ today in the heavens is so wonderful, doing so many things before God and for us. Christ is the chief Shepherd, the Great Shepherd of the sheep; He’s our Leader and Savior to carry out the propagation of the resurrected and ascended Christ.
He is the Merciful and Faithful Great High Priest to render an all-inclusive top tender care to us, particularly through His intercession. He is the heavenly Minister of the true tabernacle, ministering the heavenly Christ to us that we may have a church life that expresses Him and represents Him.
He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. When we see Him as such a One, how can we not seek the things that are above? When we see how busy Christ is and how many things He does in the heavens right now, we will realize that, whatever happens here on earth must be a result of what is happening in the heavens.
We need to be an echo, a reflection, of what the Lord is doing and ministering in the heavens. What He is doing right now is not insignificant or unrelated to us; rather, the Christ in the heavens is constantly transmitting and dispensing what He is and what He’s doing into our spirit by His spirit.
The heavenly Intercessor is interceding right now as the Spirit with our spirit, and we need to echo His prayer and respond to it. Our Christ is the Christ now, today, on the throne; He’s our daily salvation and our moment-by-moment supply, so that we may live a heavenly life on earth.
We need to be transferred from the earthly realm into the heavenly realm, being daily saved by Him as our moment-by-moment supply. We want to be here on earth as the reflection of Christ, releasing what is in His heart so that He may do what He wants; we want to give Him our best cooperation so that He may have a free way to do whatever He pleases.
This week we are learning how to be those, Cooperating with Christ in His Heavenly Ministry by Running with Endurance the Race set before Us, Looking Away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our Faith.
We are all on a race, and our attitude should be one of looking away unto Jesus, the Author, Originator, and Perfecter of our faith.
We have a Cloud of Witnesses Surrounding us, Giving us God’s Presence to Follow the Lord
Heb. 12:1 is a very encouraging verse to every Christian, since it assures us that we have a great clout of witnesses surrounding us and cheering us on to follow the Lord. The cloud in the Bible is for leading the people of God to follow the Lord (see Num. 9:15-22), and the Lord is in the cloud to be with His people (Exo. 13:21-22).
Wherever the cloud is, there is God’s presence, so calm and peaceful. In the Old Testament the cloud filled the tabernacle when it was set up, and it resided over it. God led His people as a pillar of cloud by day to provide them with His leading.
The cloud is for movement, for leading God’s people to follow the Lord. The cloud gives us the Lord’s presence, His peace, to lead us where we should go and what we should do.
The cloud of witnesses is the people of faith; when we’re with the saints in the church, we have the Lord’s presence and His leading. All the people of faith, the church people, are the cloud of witnesses encouraging us to go on and being God’s means for us to have His leading.
The best way to seek the Lord’s presence is for us to come to the church.
If you read Heb. 12 and see the patterns of all those who went before us to be the cloud of witnesses, you will be very encouraged, for they finished their course, and now they are on the side cheering us on!
Furthermore, the cloud of witnesses in Heb. 12:1 is the saints in the church, for we are the people of faith, God’s household of faith. When we are with the saints, we have God’s presence, His visitation, His speaking to us, and His anointing.
We need to come together again and again to enjoy the Lord, His presence, and His leading; in this cloud we sense joy, strength, and comfort, for the Lord is here. We have to admit that, in many ways we still have shortcomings and imperfections, but nevertheless we are people of faith, and God is with us.
We sense the Lord’s presence by ourselves, individually, when we’re touching the Lord, but when we meet with the cloud of witnesses, we sense the Lord’s presence in a rich way and we have His leading.
If anyone is seeking to have the Lord’s leading, he must follow the cloud, the church; the Lord is in the cloud, that is, He is with the people of faith.
We need to realize who we are and what we are; we are here as God’s expression with His image to represent Him with His dominion.
When we come together and enjoy the Lord, exercising our spirit to be one with Him, we are today’s cloud of witnesses, and the people can follow the Lord by following us; those who seek Him can find His presence with us (see 1 Cor. 13:24-25; Psa. 36:8-9; 16:11).
Our commission is to bring God’s people to Himself, so when we get together and we all prophesy, many are convicted and brought back to God, sensing that God is among us.
In spite of our imperfect state, it is by His mercy that God still has a people who desires and endeavors to be one with Him to continue the victory of Christ on the earth.
Thank You Lord for the cloud of witnesses who encourages us to go on with the Lord, love Him, and have His leading and presence in a fresh and living way. Thank You for making us the household of faith, the people of faith, to be the cloud today. Thank You Lord for blessing us with Your presence and giving us Your leading whenever we meet together with the saints in the church. We want to have Your presence and Your leading. We want to be with the cloud of witnesses where God’s presence and His instant leading is!
Our Christian Life is a Race, and every Christian must Run the Race to Win the Prize
Our Christian life is a race, and every saved Christian must run the race to win the prize (1 Cor. 9:24). The Lord Jesus said in John 14:6 that He is the way; He is the way for us to come to God.
In the Old Testament, after God created man, he put him on the way to contact God, as typified by the tabernacle and the temple. From the altar in the laver in the outer court to the altar and the ark in the Holy of Holies, man had a way to contact God and get into God.
God wanted His people to take this way to come to Him. Later, however, due to religion and opposition, that way was deformed into some kind of system. Then Jesus came, and He said, I am that way. Christ is the way!
And when Saul of Tarsus went to Antioch, he wanted to bind and arrest those who were on the way (Acts 9). Peter, James, John, and all the disciples were on “the way”. However, there were some opposing ones, especially the Judaizers, who attacked the way; and the way became a race.
A race involves running and winning a prize. On the one hand we take Christ as the way, and on the other, we need to realize that the way has become a race.
Paul said that he forgot all things behind and he stretched forward to the things before, pressing on (Phil. 3:13-14) to gain the prize. We should not slow down in our running but, by God’s grace, we must run the race to reach our goal.
We need to “stay in the fast lane”, not slowing down, until we reach the goal and win the prize of God’s calling. The prize is not our salvation in the common sense (Eph. 2:8; 1 Cor. 3:15) but a reward in a special sense (Heb. 10:35; 1 Cor. 3:14).
The Lord has a journey for us, His disciples, and He is constraining us to take it; we need to seek out the journey that the Lord has ordained for us and faithfully walk on it so that we may run the race with endurance.
If we don’t walk on the journey which God has ordained for us, we will experience much spiritual death, gloom, and restriction, and in God’s work there will be conflicts and arguments.
The most important task for a believer is to put himself in God’s hands in a quiet, obedient, and consecrated way, wholeheartedly seek His leading, and walk on the journey which He has ordained for him.
Since the time we have believed into the Lord, we have been put on the way which leads to life, and this way is a race, a journey. We are on a race. We should not wander around or be confused where we’re going and what we are doing. We are running the race toward a particular direction to win the prize.
Paul had his course, and even toward the end of his life he said that he still was running the race to gain the prize, to win it; then in 2 Tim. 4:7 he said that he has fought the good fight, he has finished the course, and he has kept the faith.
May we realize that our Christian life is a race, and we as believers must run the race to win the prize!
Thank You Lord for saving us and bringing us on the way which leads to life. Lord Jesus, You are the way into God. Cause us to realize that our Christian life is a race, and we must run the race to win the prize. Lord, we want to forget the things which are behind and stretch forward to the Christ before to experience Him, enjoy Him, and win Him as the prize! We put ourselves into Your hands in an obedient and consecrated way; we seek Your leading, and we want to run the race wholeheartedly, being surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by James Lee for this week, and portions from, Life-study of Hebrews, msg. 49, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Cooperating with the Heavenly Ministry of the Ascended Christ (2017 Spring ITERO), msg. 8 (week 8), Cooperating with Christ in His Heavenly Ministry by Running with Endurance the Race Set before Us, Looking Away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of Our Faith.
- Hymns on this topic:
# By a cloud encompassed, / Witnesses to prove, / Saints, apostles, prophets, / Precious ones we love; / While “advance!” is sounding, / Mounts the battle thrill. / Cross of Christ! lead onward / Where the Captain will. (Hymns #634)
# There’s a way before us and a race to run— / Christ our way, Christ our way! / Turn away from everything distracting us— / Run the race, run the race! / From the altar through the Holy Place, / Through the veil into our God, / To the law of life within the ark; / ’Tis the goal, our great reward. (Hymns #1207)
# Brothers, I do not account of myself to have laid hold; / But one thing— / Forgetting the things which are behind / And stretching forward to what is before, / I pursue toward the goal / For the prize of the high calling / The high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Scripture song)