Living For An Audience of One

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews. More specifically today’s passages is found in the twelfth chapter of this New Testament book. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

 

            “Ye have not resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeht with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own leisure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yielded the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord; looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears” (Hebrews 12:4-17).

 

            “For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, and if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake) But ye are come unto mount Simon, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, lest us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:18-29).

            When you come to the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find the author building upon that which was written in the previous chapter. If you begin reading the eleventh chapter you will find the author writing and declaring of faith that it is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Immediately following this the author goes on to declare of faith that it was by it the elders obtained a good testimony. It is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find the author providing a brief description of what faith is. I continue to be absolutely amazed when reading the words found in this passages of Scripture for within the opening verse we find the author not only speaking of substance but we also find the author speaking of evidence. The author clearly declares that faith is the substance of things hoped for as well as the evidence of things not seen. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about and consider it is when you recognize that there are two distinct truths that are found within this opening verse. On the one hand you find the author writing and speaking of both substance and evidence while on the other hand you find the author writing and speaking of things hoped for and things not seen. This is incredibly important for us to recognize and pay close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the reality that not only is faith the substance but faith must also have substance. What’s more is that not only is faith the evidence but faith must also have evidence. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something truly unique and powerful when you think about the reality of faith both being and having substance as well as evidence.

 

            The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more you can and will be brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the author speaking of things hoped for and things not seen. It is important that we not miss and lose sight of these two truths for when we speak of faith we must needs acknowledge that it is the acknowledgment and appropriation of things hoped for and things not seen. There is something truly unique when you take the time to read the words found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here brings us face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding a description of faith. The author clearly declares of faith that it is the substance of things hoped for as well as the evidence of things not seen. At the very heart of faith is the reality of those things which are hoped for as well as the evidence of things not seen. This is something which warrants strong consideration on our parts for we must needs understand and acknowledge the reality that faith must needs have at the very heart and core of it substance and evidence. When we think and speak about faith it is absolutely necessary for us to recognize that there must needs be something intrinsically linked and connected to it. Faith must needs have substance which is that which comprised and makes it up—that which is connected to things hoped for. What’s more is faith must have evidence connected to it—evidence that is linked to those things which are not seen. In fact when you read the rest of the eleventh chapter you will find the author providing a detailed list of the patriarchs and Old Testament saints who committed their lives to faith in the sight and presence of the living God. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for at the very heart of faith is things hoped for and those things which aren’t seen. Faith has the means and the way of looking upon and laying hold of those things hoped for as well as those things which are not seen.

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the author goes on to write concerning faith how it was by and through it the elders obtained a good testimony. This is something which warrants strong consideration for when we speak about faith we must recognize that it is by and through faith we as the saints of God can obtain our own “good” testimony in the sight and presence of the living God. There is an incredible truth found within this passage of Scripture and how directly linked and connected to faith is the understanding that by and through it we can indeed obtain a good testimony. What’s more is that we must recognize this good testimony is not one that is viewed and seen by men in this life. When the author speaks of obtaining a good testimony they were not speaking of a good testimony among men for anyone who walked in faith during the days of the Old Covenant were such who did not seek to please man but to please the one true and living God. What’s more is those who walked during the days of the Old Covenant were such who lived their lives for an audience of one and they cared not for the praise, the accolades, nor the recognition and honor of men. The elders whom the author wrote and spoke about were such who lived their lives for one singular ambition and focus—namely that they might obtain a good testimony in the sight and presence of the living God.

 

            The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more you can and will come to an understanding of what this testimony truly means. If you continue reading this passage and come to the fifth and sixth verses you will find the author writing and speaking of Enoch who was one of the first saints mentioned in the days of the Old Covenant after the creation of man. In the fifth verse of the eleventh chapter you will find the author writing how it was by faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death and was not found because God had taken him. It would be very easy for the author to stop there and mention nothing else concerning Enoch, however, if you take the time to read the words found in this passage you will find the author continues to write of Enoch that before he was taken he had this testimony—namely that he pleased God. This is something we must needs recognize—particularly and especially when you consider what the author wrote concerning the elders obtaining a good testimony. What was the good testimony the author of this epistle wrote and spoke of in the second verse? I am absolutely convinced the good testimony the author wrote and spoke of was in fact what was spoken of concerning Enoch—namely that Enoch pleased God. We as the saints of God must recognize and acknowledge that the single greatest testimony we have in this life is that we have pleased and that we continue to please the one true and living God. There is no greater witness and no greater testimony in this life than that one pleased and that one pleases the living God. We exist for no other reason and for no greater purpose than to please the one true and living God in everything we say and everything we do.

 

            I find it absolutely incredible to read the words presented in this passage of Scripture for what we find here calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the witness and testimony of faith which is that we please the living God in everything we say and everything we do. Permit me to ask the question whether or not this can be said of you. Can it be said of you that you are one who pleases God? Can it be said of you that you please the one true and living God in everything you say and everything you do? What’s more is can it indeed be said of you that you have lived your life for no other purpose and no greater honor than to please the one true and living God? With this being said we must needs recognize that if we wish and desire to please the living and eternal God we cannot at the same time seek to please man. There would be those who would like to think and even believe that they can somehow please both man and God and yet the truth of the matter is that this is simply is not true. The sixth and twenty-third chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew clearly prove that so long as man performs for an audience of many they cannot live for an audience of One. SO LONG AS YOU PERFORM FOR AN AUDIENCE OF MANY YOU CANNOT LIVE FOR AN AUDIENCE OF ONE! If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that those whom the author wrote and mentioned lived their lives for an audience of one and cared nothing for the accolades, the honor, the praise, the recognition and the glory of man. Each and every individual who was mentioned in this passage of Scripture were such who lived their lives in such a way that they were living for an audience of One.

 

            LIVING FOR AN AUDIENCE OF ONE! I would dare say that at the very heart and center of faith is the desire within our hearts and souls to live for an audience of one. When we speak of faith we must needs understand that faith has intrinsically linked and connected to it the testimony of a life that was lived for an audience of one that we might please, glorify and honor Him. It is impossible to read the words which are presented in these passages of Scripture and not come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding faith having as the end result of it the testimony that we pleased the one true and living God. Scripture speaks of Enoch that he was taken away so that he did not see death and was not found because God had taken him for before he was taken he had the testimony that he pleased God. Now having said this I do not know of anyone since Enoch and Elijah who have been taken away so that they did not see death and were not found because God had taken them. There has not been a single individual besides Enoch and Elijah who were taken away so that they did not see death, however, it can be said of men and women in this generation that they had the testimony that they pleased the one true and living God. If we are being truly honest we must needs acknowledge that the single greatest testimony of our lives does not come from man nor what man says and speaks concerning us. The single greatest testimony we can obtain in this life is the testimony that we have pleased and that we continue to please the one true and living God in everything we say and everything we do. Oh a perfect example of this is found in the narrative of the baptism of Jesus as he emerged from the waters of the Jordan River and heard the voice of the Father speaking to Him:

 

            “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, I need to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me? But Jesus answered and said to him, Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17).

 

            “It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (Mark 1:9-11).

 

            “When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while he prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased’” (Luke 3:21-22).

 

            “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him; but after He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. And John bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).

 

            What we see and find at the Jordan River in the life of Jesus is something which warrants strong consideration if we wish to understand this concept of pleasing the living God. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the Lord Jesus is that even before He had performed a single miracle, even before He had healed a single sickness, even before He opened the blind eyes of any man, even before He raised a single person from the dead, even before He cast out a single demon and unclean spirit He already had the testimony that He pleased the Father. This is something we must needs recognize for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that works are not in any way what pleases and delights the Father. If you read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture you will find that Jesus had the testimony that He pleased the Father even before He was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted of the devil after fasting for forty days and forty nights. Even before Jesus began teaching and preaching unto the multitudes and crowds He already had the testimony that He pleased the eternal Father. This is something which warrants strong consideration for this divine pleasure and delight of the Father would take on an entirely different level when you consider the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of this New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews.

           

            When you come to the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find the author admonishing and encouraging them—since they were surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses—to lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us. What’s more is the author goes on to admonish and encourage them to run with endurance the race that is set before them as they looked unto Jesus who was [and is] the author and finisher of our faith. Before I delve into the words which are found in the opening verse of this particular chapter I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which the author of this epistle wrote concerning Jesus. IN the second verse of this chapter the author would write concerning Jesus that He for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. It is necessary for us to recognize the words and language found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the truth concerning Jesus and the joy which was set before Him. It was because of this joy which was set before Him that He endured the cross despising the shame and as a result has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. This concept of Jesus having sat down at the right hand of the throne of God is a theme that was mentioned on more than one occasion within this epistle and is found as early as the first and opening chapter. Almost immediately from the beginning and opening of this epistle we find the author of this epistle writing and speaking of Jesus being set down at the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. This is something we dare not and must not miss when seeking to understand the epistle written unto the Hebrews for within it we are brought face to face with the undeniable truth that because of Jesus’ faithfulness and obedience in the sight and presence of the living God He was, has been and still is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in these passages of Scripture beginning with the opening chapter of this New Testament epistle:

 

            “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 1:1-4).

 

            “But to which of the angels has he ever said, Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool. Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:13-14).

 

            “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” (Hebrews 8:1-2).

 

            “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:11-14).

 

            The words we find within these passages of Scripture must needs be carefully considered when seeking to understand the divine pleasure and delight of the Father. We know that when Jesus emerged from the waters of the Jordan River after being baptized the heavens were opened to Him, the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon Him in the bodily form as a dove and the voice of the Father not only declared that He was His beloved Son but also that He was pleased with Him. This is something we must needs acknowledge and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding this One who was not only faithful as a Son but who also lived His life for an audience of One. When you read the accounts concerning the life of the Lord Jesus Christ you will find that He lived His life for an audience of One and never desired nor sought after the praise, honor and glory from man. What’s more is He indicted the hypocrites and the scribes and the Pharisees for seeking the praise, honor and glory from man. Oh the more you read and study the words which are found in the New Testament the more you will be brought face to face with the fact that when Jesus took upon Himself the form of human flesh and blood He lived His entire life for an audience of One. For the first thirty years of His life He would submit Himself to Mary and Joseph who were supposed to be His parents. Oh we know that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the power of the Most High overshadowed her and allowed her to conceive Jesus within her womb. We know that it was supposed that Joseph was the father of Jesus, however, it was at the age of twelve when Jesus began speaking of a different Father whose will He desired to pursue and fulfill. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John, the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Philippian saints as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews:

 

            “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through Him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believed in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:1-18).

            “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservants, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus ever knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:1-11).

 

            “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that he, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: I will declare your name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to you. And again: I will put my trust in Him. And again: Here am I and the children whom God has given me. Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:5-18).

 

            I am convinced that if you want to gain a better understanding of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture we must also consider the words which are found in the fifty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah. The ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah was perhaps the one prophet who received the greatest revelation(s) concerning the coming Messiah and prophesied concerning Him. Throughout the prophetic book which bears his name you will find countless references to the coming Messiah and how those in the generation in which He would arrive and would come could recognize Him. One such chapter and reference is found in the fifty-third chapter of this prophetic book and contains a wonderful and powerful reference concerning the coming of the Servant and Son—and not only the coming of the Servant and Son but also the suffering of this Servant and Son. What we must needs recognize when reading the words within this passage of Scripture is that in order for the Son to suffer He needed to take upon Himself the form of flesh and blood. The eternal and only begotten Son of the living God could not suffer without and apart from taking upon Himself the form of human flesh and even the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews makes this perfectly clear when writing this epistle. There is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with the reality that the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father came in the form of human flesh that He might suffer in the flesh, that He might be tempted in the flesh and that he might ultimately be crucified and put to death in the flesh. The fifty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah brings us face to face with this absolutely wonderful and incredible truth and is something we must needs understand when reading the twelfth chapter of this epistle written unto the Hebrews:

 

            “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire HIm. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; he was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare his generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people He was stricken. And they made His grace with the wicked—but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; he has put Him to grief. When you make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By his knowledge my righteous Servant shall justify man, for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of man, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:1-12).

 

            If you return back to the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find the author calling the reader(s) to consider the great cloud of witnesses they are surrounded by. I am convinced that in order to truly understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you must needs understand that the great cloud of witnesses which the author wrote and spoke of were all those who were mentioned by name in the previous chapter. In the previous chapter the author wrote and spoke of individuals such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and others. In the final verses of the eleventh chapter the author of this epistle wrote of others such as Rahab the harlot, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets and others whose names weren’t mentioned. When writing and speaking of these individuals whose names weren’t mentioned the author declares of them that the world was not worthy. These individuals subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, topped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle and turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Of course we know that there were three who quenched the violence of fire—namely Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael who were the three Hebrews mentioned in the prophetic book of Daniel. We also know that the one who stopped the mouths of lions was Daniel who was also mentioned in the prophetic book which bore his name. Women who received their dead raised to life again could quite possibly refer to the women who received their dead back to life again during the generations of Elijah and Elisha. What’s more is the author of this epistle goes on to speak of those who were tortured not accepting deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection. Others had trial of mockings and scourgings—even of chains and imprisonment. Others were stoned, sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword, wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins and were destitute, afflicted, tormented, wandered in deserts and mountains and in dens and caves of the earth.

 

            IN the final verses of the eleventh chapter the author writes and speaks of all these who were mentioned in this chapter and how they obtained a good testimony through faith—this despite the fact they did not receive the promise. The author goes on to write and speak of how although these did not receive the promise God provided something better for us that they should not be made perfect apart from us. There is something incredibly powerful about the words and language that is found in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding this testimony of the righteous which was mentioned three times in this chapter alone. In the second verse of this chapter the author declared that the elders obtained a good testimony by faith while in the thirty-ninth verse the author goes on to write how all these obtained a good testimony through faith. The testimony the author wrote and spoke of was indeed that those who obtained and laid hold of it pleased the living and eternal God. This is something which warrants strong consideration on our part for it brings us face to face with the true and ultimate witness and testimony of faith—namely that we have pleased and do please the living and eternal God. WE must needs recognize and pay close attention to this for it brings us face to face with the absolutely awesome and powerful truth surrounding the testimony which comes by and through faith. What’s more is the only way to obtain this testimony that we please the living God is through faith for the author would go on to declare that without faith it is impossible to please the living and eternal God.

 

            When you come to the twelfth chapter of this epistle you will find the author writing and speaking of our being surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. The author goes on to admonish their readers and audience to lay aside every weight AND the sin which so easily ensnares us. With this being said the author goes on to admonish their readers and audience to run with endurance the race that was set before them. Moreover it would be while running this race with endurance they must look unto Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. This is something which warrants strong consideration when seeking to understand the words found in this passage of Scripture for we have indeed and have in fact been called to run the race which is set before us. What’s more is that not only have we been called to run the race which is before us but we have also been called to run with endurance the race which was set before us. What we must needs understand is that the way we can truly run with endurance the race which is before us is to lay aside every weight—and not only every weight but also the sin which so easily besets us. When writing unto the Hebrews the author not only spoke of weights which would and could weigh those running the race down but also of the sin which so easily ensnared them. Oh I am absolutely convinced that two of the greatest detriments to possessing endurance when running the race which is before us is a lack of endurance. Endurance is something which is absolutely needed within our hearts and spirits for even Jesus Himself declared that he who endures unto the end will be saved. Oh please understand that only those who endure and those who endure unto the end can and will be saved. Those who endure and those who possess within themselves an endurance can and will be those who will finish the race and receive the crown which is at the end of the race. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament concerning this need for endurance:

 

            “And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads let him understand) then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that you flight may not be in winter or on the sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. Then if anyone says to you, Look, here is the Christ! Or There! Do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, Look, He is in the desert! Do not go out; or Look, He is in the inner rooms! Do not believe it” (Matthew 24:5-26).

 

            “And He said to them, Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness or riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirty-fold, some sixty, and some a hundred” (Mark 4:13-20).

 

            “And Jesus, answering them, began to say: Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am He, and will deceive many. Built when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise again nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginning of sorrows. But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Mark 13:5-13).

 

            “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-8).

 

            “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithfulness, He remains faithful; he cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:1-13).

 

            I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the truth surrounding the need for endurance—and not only endurance put also patient endurance. If there is one thing we as the saints of God must needs recognize within the generation in which are living it’s that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who patiently endure in the midst of hardship, trials, troubles and tribulations. I am absolutely convinced that we as the saints of God must needs be those who walk in patient endurance being willing to handle any trial, any trouble and any tribulation which comes our way in this life. With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to emphatically declare to you who are reading these words that I believe we are preparing to and are about to enter into dark and dangerous days. There is not a doubt in my mind that we are about to enter into days of great deception from false apostles, false prophets, false teachers and false brethren. I firmly believe we are preparing to enter into days of great tribulation, persecution, suffering, affliction and opposition and even recently I read an article on Fox News regarding persecution of Christians throughout the world. Up until this point persecution against Christians has been relegated and limited to Middle Eastern and Islamic nations throughout the world. What we are witnessing in this generation—particularly and especially over the past two and a half years—is the emergence of the woke agenda which has absolutely no room for what those who are a part of it deem as intolerance and “bigotry.” What we are witnessing in this generation are men and women who continually walk in eggshells and are constantly in danger of somehow wronging and offending someone who is part of this woke agenda and movement that parades itself in the guise of tolerance and acceptance.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering this particular agenda which is and has been present in this life and I can’t help but think about the fact that what we have seen regarding cancel culture is at the very heart of it. We have seen men and women being cancelled for their opinions and views about the 2020 presidential election as well as what men and women have said and believed concerning COVID-19 and the vaccine. Moreover we have seen men and women being cancelled for their views on abortion, their views on there being only two genders and marriage being between a man and a woman. Oh I am just waiting for the day when doctors and nurses will begin claiming infant girls who come forth from the womb are actually males and infant boys who come forth from the womb are actually girls. IN this generation is is absolutely impossible to speak out against the woke and liberal agenda for fear of retribution, cancelling, silencing and in the coming days—quite possibly imprisonment. I firmly believe we are indeed coming into the days when this woke and liberal agenda can and will use the full extent of the law to imprison those who would dare speak out against it. I firmly believe that this woke and liberal agenda is especially visible in corporate America and even recently I have seen it within and throughout job applications on the career pages of many companies’ websites.

 

            It is with this being said I find it necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the second and third chapters of this prophetic book we find the words which Jesus commissioned and instructed the apostle John to write on a scroll and send unto the seven churches of Asia. In the second and third chapters of this prophetic book we find individual letters which were written by the apostle John unto the seven churches which were in Asia. I firmly believe these letters must needs be carefully considered in light of recent events in this generation as well as in light of Scripture. We are indeed preparing to entering into days of tremendous deception and persecution. I am absolutely convinced that what we find in the twelfth chapter of this epistle written unto the Hebrews must needs be carefully considered—especially within this generation—for we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who possess endurance in this generation. What’s more is that we have great need of confidence and assurance in this life as we walk by faith and not by sight. The words which you find in verses twelve through seventeen of this twelfth chapter must be considered when seeking to understand the generation in which we are living for they bring us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding our need to be men and women who do in fact possess courage, confidence, endurance, faith, hope and trust in this generation:

 

            “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears” (Hebrews 13:12-17).

 

            Consider also the following words which are found in the tenth chapter of this same New Testament epistle for the words we find here are absolutely critical and necessary in the generation in which we are living. There is a great need for us to hold fast our confidence and our confession as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words found in the tenth chapter of this epistle beginning with the nineteenth verse:

 

            “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:19-25).

 

            It is at this time I would like to leave you with the following words which are found in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ beginning with the first verse of the second chapter. Consider the words which are found in the letters written unto the seven churches for they provide us with a powerful invitation within our own hearts and lives to be men and women who possess endurance within our hearts and souls as well as those who know and hold fast our confidence and our confession. We are truly preparing to enter into days of intense suffering, affliction, persecution, opposition and deception and I am absolutely convinced we must needs be prepared for those days when they arrive. With this in mind I now leave you with the following words which are found in the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ beginning with the first verse of the second chapter:

 

            “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands: I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for my name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:1-7).

 

            “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Revelation 2:8-11).

 

            “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to my name, and did not deny my faith even in thee days in which Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it” (Revelation 2:12-17).

 

            “These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman jezebel who calls herself a prophetess to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps my works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessel’s—I also have received from my Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”  (Revelation 2:18-29).

 

            “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before my Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:1-6).

 

            “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, These things says he who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens: I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept my word, and have not denied my name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God. And I will write on him my new name. He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:7-13).

 

            “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold not hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, have  become wealthy, and have need of nothing—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to him and dine with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with. Me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:14-22).

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