Monday in the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Hebrews 12:1-2

So Great a Cloud of Witnesses

The Church of Jesus Christ is not only something on earth; it is in heaven as well.  Here on earth the Church is referred to as the “Church Militant,” for here we still war against the world, the flesh, and the devil.  The Church in heaven is referred to as the “Church Triumphant,” for there her members experience the victory that is theirs in Christ Jesus.  Now there is only one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, mind you.  But this is the classical way of referring to those of her members in heaven and those of her members on earth.

Here in Hebrews 12, the Preacher paints a beautiful portrait of what our brothers and sisters in Christ are doing up there, and they seem quite interested in the affairs of their brothers and sisters down here.  Indeed, we are “surrounded” by them.  And what are they doing?  Cheering us on!  They are calling on us to finish the race and to triumph gloriously for the Kingdom.  We are not told that they are intercessors for us, but they are at least pulling for us with might and main.  And why wouldn’t they?

And now we are to copy them—their sacrifice and endurance—and pursue holiness as they did counting nothing as too high a cost for the sake of the Promise.  Yes, we have the testimony of the Holy Spirit within, but that does not make the Promise of the Eternal City any less a goal to be gained.  The Apostle Paul said that he strained forward “to what lies ahead,” that he “pressed on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).  Paul did not sit back and say to himself, “I’ve got this.  I’m eternally secure.”  Indeed, it was because of his heavenly citizenship that he set his mind on heavenly things rather than earthly—which is the way that leads to death (3:17-21). 

The Preacher tells us that there is a race set before us which we must run with endurance.  And he is quite clear that to run this race, we must slough off the sin that entangles us and look to Jesus—the founder and perfecter of our faith; that is, the beginning and the end of it, and everything in between.  He is the one who came in the fullness of time to make a way for all his saints, enduring the cross and despising or the shame.  And why?  Because there was joy set before him—a kingdom and a Church.  And so those Old Testament saints experienced the fullness of that joy when he arose, and we shall experience that fullness when we join them.  BUT WE MUST RUN THE RACE.  Persevere and let nothing throw you off course.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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