Looking Unto Jesus, April 6, 2014
Central thought: Looking unto Jesus guarantees a successful Christian race.
Text: Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 Peter 2:21-25
The Christian race begins when an individual accepts Jesus as Lord, Master and Savior of their life. The new believer begins to learn the things of God and how to grow in the grace of God. To make a success of this new life, he or she must depend on and trust on Jesus Christ totally in all things and at all times. He must be dependent on Christ who is the true Vine from whom he draws both nutrient and strength to run this Christian race. Therefore he must focus on Jesus continuously because Christ is the author of this race and He is the only one who can see him through to the end. The devil, the enemy of our soul, is always fighting by trying to put obstacles on our way in the form of opposition, discouragement, temptations, etc., but we must remain resolute and not be ashamed of all we may suffer knowing whom we have believed. We should be persuaded that He is able to keep that which we have committed unto Him against that day, 2 Timothy 1:12. We must therefore continually “look unto Him who is the author and finisher of our faith.”
1. What does it mean to be ‘looking unto Jesus’? Proverbs3:5; Job 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21
‘Looking unto Jesus’ simply means focusing on Christ as the source of our being and to be fully dependent on Him for all things that pertain to life and godliness. This implies that Jesus is the one that brought the Christian faith and perfected it. We must steadfastly look unto Him for direction, guidance and instruction, by trusting Him absolutely and following in His steps if we must run this Christian race successfully. When we remove our focus from Christ we stumble. As we look unto Him, we must learn to believe and trust Him in everything while yielding our lives totally to Him. This is the only way we can run the Christian race successfully and finish it victoriously.
2. What alternatives do people resort to when they refuse to look unto Jesus?
There are many alternatives people resort to when they refuse to look unto Jesus. Such people have come under the devil’s captivity. Some of the alternatives include: soothsayers, native doctors, false prophets, palm readers, horoscope, astrology, necromancy, consultation of mediums and many others. The devil, being a liar from the beginning and the father of it, gives such people false confidence that all is well with them. Their eyes are blinded and their minds are seared so that they cannot perceive the truth and not focus on Him who is the only true and living God, the Creator of the universe.
3. What do you understand by the weight that slows down the believer and how can it be overcome?
Weight that slows down the believer in the Christian race can take any form or shape. This includes excessive cares (inordinate affection) and concern for the things of this world. When we get entangled in these, we get easily distracted and remove our focus from Christ and this may lead to a gradual fall out of the race which ultimately ends in separation from Christ. That is why it is imperative that we lay such weights aside and make sure we put them under check at all times.
The only way a believer can overcome such weights and sins that easily ensnare him is by consciously doing away with them through the power of the Holy Spirit and thereafter living a new life in Christ. Apostle Paul admonishes the believers to mortify their members by not yielding their bodies to sin. He continued by saying, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed after the knowledge of Him that created him”, Colossians 3:8-10. There must first be a putting off of the old man and then the putting on of the new man. It is only when this is effectively done that we can run the race and be able to look unto Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith.
4. What is the race set before us and how are we to run it? Hebrews 12:1-2, 6:11-12, 10:36; Romans 12:1-2
The race that is set before us simply refers to our life here on earth after we have accepted Jesus into our lives as our Lord and personal Savior. In other words, it talks about the life style of the born again Christian as he journeys through this earth on his way to heaven. We all have a destination, which is to be with Christ in heaven and to receive a warm welcome, and reward from the Master. This demands therefore that we must run with patience this race that is set before us by looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. In addition, God expects us to be holy, and present our bodies as a living sacrifice unto Him, which is our reasonable service. We should not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
5. How is Christ the author and finisher of our faith?
Christ is both the author and the finisher of the faith of the believers. This is explained briefly below:
A. the Author of our faith, Hebrews 5:9.
As the author of our faith, Christ died on the cross and shed His blood so as to reconcile us back to God, so that we who were no people can now be called the people of God. It is only after we have accepted this that we begin our life’s journey as believers. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name”, John 1:12. It is at the point of receiving Him and His giving us the power to become the sons of God that we start this journey of our faith. Christ is the one that begins this in us.
B. the Finisher of our faith, Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 12:2.
We know that by our own power we are not able to run this Christian race to the end successfully. Christ has promised that He will be with us always, even to the end of the age. As the finisher of our faith, Christ is always there with us to see to it that what He started in us is not terminated mid-way. So we are assured in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” We have no reason to fail because He that started this race in us is still going along with us to ensure that we get to the end victoriously. The onus lies on us therefore to steadfastly look unto Jesus at all times because He is able to finish what He started in our lives.
6. What does the previous question teach us about the Christian faith? Ephesians 2:8-10
This teaches us that it is only by the grace of God we can live the Christian life. The scripture tells us “for by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; not of works lest any man should boast. For we are the workmanship of God created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God ordained that we should walk in them”, Ephesians 2:8-10. Grace is an unmerited favor which God in Christ Jesus gave to as many as come to Him. We must therefore depend on Christ in order not to make a shipwreck of our faith. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he falls”, 1 Corinthians 10:12.
7. How did Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, live? Hebrews 12:2-3; Luke 23:34
Jesus lived a life of absolute obedience to God. He understood the Father’s purpose for sending Him into the earth, so He lived by the demands of God’s mandate for Him, Christ, here on earth. Jesus remained focused even in the face of many contradictions against Him. Even in the case of opposition and insult, from the very people Christ came to die for (their sin), He was still full of compassion for them and prayed to His Father, and said “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do”, Luke 23:34.
8. Why did he endure such a life? Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 3:13-15; Romans 14:9; Hebrews 12:2
Jesus understood that the purpose of God in sending Him into the world was for the redemption of man from sin and death. He knew He had a mission and also knew what was awaiting Him at the end. Christ was determined to go through all these for our sakes, “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”, Hebrews 12:2.
There is a wise saying, “no cross, no crown”. Christ underwent the suffering because of the glory ahead. He was obedient to His Father unto death, even the death of the cross.
9. What are some of the ingredients that will help us to run the Christian race successfully? Hebrews 12:13
As we run the Christian race, there are bound to be distractions, hindrances and discouragements along the way. However, we must be encouraged by the fact that Jesus Christ, our perfect example also encountered these unpleasant situations, yet He ‘”endured such contradictions of sinners against Himself”. This should motivate us to hold on and persist to the end. We should be rest assured that Christ is there to help us and see us through all difficulties. “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He liveth to make intercession for them”, Hebrews 7:25.
Some of the ingredients that will help us to run this race to the end, in addition to the realization mentioned above included among others is dwelling in God’s presence constantly by spending quality time in prayers. The regular study, meditation and doing the word of God is very important. Attending fellowship with other brethren and involvement in evangelism will be very helpful. In all these, we must be determined to shun all forms of discouragement in order to receive the commendation of the Master. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end”, Hebrews 3:14.
Daily living application:
Every believer in Christ Jesus is involved in a race. The one who begins this race in us and sees to it that we finish it victoriously is Christ. This is why He is known as the author and the finisher of our faith. For us to finish this race successfully therefore, we must focus steadfastly on Christ. He has passed through whatever we may encounter now and He overcame in all. Since He knows the way, we are confident that if we focus on Him and trust Him for direction and guidance, we can be assured of running this race victoriously and successfully and ultimately making it to heaven.
We must resist the devil and his cohorts, by fleeing from all appearances of evil. Constant and regular prayer, study and meditation on the word of God are very imperative in keeping our focus on Christ. Regular attendance to fellowship with brethren must never be forsaken. This helps the believer through the encouragement received from other brethren. We must occupy ourselves effectively in the work of the master through evangelism and all other activities that pertain to the kingdom.
Hebrews 12:2 – “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 of the throne of God.”