A Great Cloud of Witnesses

I recently heard a message that mentioned there are over 2,900 different religions and denominations out there that have been documented. That is a shocking statistic, how can there be 2,900 different viewpoints on who God is and what that means to us as mankind? And what makes Christianity so special and different among all of those? Well to begin with, Christianity is the only religion that admits we are incapable of doing anything to save ourselves and that our salvation is received only through the personal acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins. But often times we stop there even though Christianity is about so much more than just the acceptance. We have the responsibility to live out our salvation for the world to see as a testament of Christ living in us. We see this firsthand in the following parable of the woman caught in adultery:

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” | John 8:1-11

I consider this instance and the time Christ mentions Caesar’s inscription on the coin as two of the best tell-offs towards the Pharisees from Christ in scripture. I take this portion to heart every time that I read it because I put myself in the shoes of that woman. That is what Satan did to me. He caught me in the act, drug me out before God, and asked God to see how wretched of a sinner I am. But God didn’t just judge me based on face value; He viewed me through the work of His Son. When He saw me through Christ, He saw that I had been redeemed and set free and I didn’t stand there as a guilty sinner but as His own Son – as white as snow. I had nothing to fear, I had nothing to be ashamed of because Christ had already taken my place and paid the debt that I could not pay. As soon as Satan realizes this, He cannot condemn me any longer. He just hangs his head in disappointment and slowly walks away knowing that he has nothing that will stick against m – I don’t belong to him any longer!

But that’s not the end of it! Christ tells the woman in verse 11 that He doesn’t condemn her but at the same time, He instructs her to no longer pursue sin. That is the same calling we have as believers. Our purpose here on earth doesn’t end as soon as we receive salvation – that’s only the beginning! We are called to live lives that are honorable to our Savior through our thoughts, words, and actions. We are reminded of that in the first few verse of Hebrews 12:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.| Hebrews 12:1-3

So now that we are believers what do we do? We are called to run a race! Whenever we watch the track races in the Olympics, we usually see a huge stadium with thousands of people from different countries and walks of life coming together to see if the country that is representing them wins the race. However, there are only a few racers who qualify based on preliminary qualifying runs. They are anxiously focused on their champion to see if they will successfully finish the race.

Our Christian walk is the same way. We have qualified for the final race by receiving Christ into our hearts. We are being very closely watched by other believers and non-believers alike and they are anxiously watching how we perform in this race of spiritual living. We have the calling to run fast and consistently. We can’t slow down or grow weary for the sinful pleasures of this life any longer. We have to persevere with the help of the Holy Spirit until the day we leave this earth or until Christ returns. We have to live out our salvation by representing Christ with our thoughts, words, and actions to all those eagerly waiting to see who crosses that finish line. When we cross that line we will be welcomed home with those words of Christ, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

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