Focusing on the Forerunner

David Norczyk
5 min readMay 14, 2024

Faith is granted to God’s chosen people by His grace (Gal 3:22; Eph 2:8–9; 2 Pet 1:1). It is apportioned in measure according to the will of God (Rom 12:3). It manifests most vividly in moments of crisis. Hebrews 11 affords us a chronological sample of those who displayed faith in the Old Testament era. Some were called to war (triumphant faith). Some were made to endure afflictions (suffering faith).

The writer refers to this collection of saints as “a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1). In one sense, all believers in God’s Word of promise join this company. Witnesses observe; and then, they testify in word and deed, regarding what is in their focus. Christians set their minds on things above (Col 3:2); where Christ is seated at the right hand of Majesty on the throne of God in the heavens (Heb 1:3; 8:1; 12:2).

The challenge before us, as people of faith in Christ, is presented as a race (Heb 12:1). We must learn to endure; so that we cross the finish line in triumphant victory (Phil 1:23). The forerunner into the place of victorious rest is Jesus Christ (Heb 6:20). He ran the race and finished at the cross of Calvary (Jn 19:30).

The Apostle Paul used this same race imagery when he wrote to Timothy. The Apostle to the Gentiles had fought the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 4:7). He had run the race. The finish line was in view. We, too, must follow those who have gone before us through suffering and into glory (1 Cor 11:1; Jas 1:2; 1 Pet 1:11).

The author of Hebrews encourages his fellow runners to fix their eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2), who endured suffering, trusting God even to the point of death on a cross (Phil 2:8). He pressed on with His high calling, despite the scorn and mocking shame heaped on Him by his opponents (Ps 2; Mt 27:42; Mk 15:31; Lk 23:35).

The goal is to secure the prize, which is accompanied by great joy (Phil 3:14). The joy of the Lord is our strength, too (Neh 8:10). We delight in the prospect of receiving crowns of righteousness (2 Tim 4:8), life (Jas 1:12), and glory (1 Pet 5:4). Thus, the reward for finishing the race of faith is not to be compared to the suffering endured to attain it (Rom 8:18).

On the victory podium of heaven, the throne of God, is the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2). This is the proverbial “game changer”; for apart from Christ, we can do nothing (Jn 15:5). There are simply too many forces at work in an effort to prevent us from achieving the end goal objective. When we are weak in this regard…He is strong (Joel 3:10; 2 Cor 12:10)

Two of those forces of opposition are referenced in Hebrews 12:1–3. The first oppressor is sin (Heb 12:1). The second is the hostility of sinners (Heb 12:3).

Sin resists us from within. The temptation to quit the race is always there. A runner must deny himself the pleasures of the world. He must remove every distraction. Too many encumbrances and entanglements in worldly matters will shipwreck one’s faith (1 Tim 1:18–19). The love of money (Eccl 5:10; Lk 16:14; 1 Tim 3:3; 6:10), the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life are all Satan’s fodder (Jn 8:44; 1 Jn 2:15–17), by which he ensnares his prey (1 Tim 3:7; 2 Tim 2:26).

The hostility of sinners toward Jesus finds its way to Christians, too. If they hate Jesus (Jn 7:7), they will also hate those who love Him (Jn 15:18–25). Following in the narrow way (Jesus is the way) invites diverse persecutions (Mt 5:10–12). Those who endeavor to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). Jesus Christ is foolishness to the world of the ungodly (1 Cor 1:25; 2:14); therefore, we too, are shamed as fools for Christ (1 Cor 4:10) — having taken up our crosses on the way of faith and suffering (Lk 9:23).

Servants of God, slaves of Christ must endure (Eph 6:6; 2 Tim 2:3), so that when the will of God is accomplished, we may receive what God has promised (Heb 10:36). All the promises of God are “yes” and “amen” in Christ (2 Cor 1:20); therefore, faith must be tested (Jas 1:3). Job endured; and God proved Himself merciful and compassionate (Jas 5:11). To be complete in Christ means faith has been perfected. Again, only Jesus can produce such a good work; and He is glorified in doing it (Heb 12:2; 13:21).

Christians must not grow weary and lose heart (Heb 12:3). They must not grow weary in doing good, either. For in due time, witnessing the plentiful harvest will be a joy and a delight (Jn 4:34–36). In His right hand are pleasures forever (Prv 16:11).

Finally, because our God causes all things to work together for good for His beloved (Rom 8:28), even Christian sufferings are a blessing from God our Father. Because He loves us, He disciplines us for our good (Heb 12:4–11). God turns the work of our opponents into the very work of resistance that causes the Christian’s faith to grow. The greater the resistance; the greater faith is required. The greater faith manifested is for greater glory to the One who gave it…and joy for the one in whom it was displayed (see Hebrews 11).

Thus, we have considered the race God has signed us up to run. It is a challenge to be endured, a mission to be accomplished. He has instructed His team of runners to disencumber themselves of the heavy-laden aspects that only hinder our progress. He has designed the course. He has given us the map (Bible) to help orient us to our place in the race. He has given us His Spirit and His love to compel us (2 Cor 5:14; 1 Jn 3:24; 4:13).

The great cloud of witness, the general assembly and church of the firstborn enrolled in heaven (Heb 12:23), exhorts us by the testimony of their lives as God’s faithful ones. They ran. They suffered. They endured; and now they rest in the glory soon to be revealed to us.

Faith has its reward because the rewarder of faith is Himself a faithful and true witness (Heb 11:6; Rev 3:14; 19:11). He is also the reward we seek (Mt 6:33). Runners…on your mark…get set…look to Him who does not disappoint us. Hope in Him and finish strong.

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

May 14, 2024

Hebrews 12:1–3

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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher