Looking Unto JESUS, Part I

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and the 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.” —Hebrews 12:1-2

This passage says we’re supposed to look unto Jesus, exclusively, as the author and the finisher of our faith.
If we fail to preach to you Jesus Christ and Him crucified, then we are doing believers a tremendous disservice. The Cross of Christ is the most important—the most vital—part of God’s redemption plan.

Without the Cross, there is no redemption.
Without the Cross, there is no blessing.
Without the Cross, there is no healing.
Without the Cross, there is no deliverance.
Without the Cross, there is no baptism with the Holy Spirit.

We must understand that the Cross is everything; it is the center of God’s redemption plan. If we fail at any time to preach to you Jesus Christ and Him crucified—not just for salvation, but for everything—then we are doing believers a disservice and providing nothing regarding the means to live an overcoming Christian life.
I recently made the statement, “God can work with failures, but He can’t work with quitters.” Failure in the life of the believer is not pleasant to deal with, and it’s difficult to endure.
Many years ago, I heard Brother Larson say that it’s not a matter of “if you fail” but “when you fail.” Our lives are littered with ups and downs, but my hope is that the believer understands this: as long as you never give up, and as long as you never lose your faith, then God can work in spite of what is. Whenever you’re down, He can pick you up, but when you stop believing, God cannot work.
Some of you reading this have failed God, and all failure is a result of misplaced faith. When believers look away from the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, they take their eyes away from the finished work of Christ and place them on something else. Perhaps you’ve experienced a failure in your life, and you feel as if you cannot go on. You think that God is upset with you, so much so that you can’t ask for His forgiveness because you feel that He may not forgive you for failing.
If that’s you, consider a song written nearly 100 years ago by an African-American holiness pastor out of Indiana who would write these words:

When gloom and sadness whisper,
You’ve sinned, no use to pray,
I look away to Jesus,
And He tells me to say:

I see a crimson stream of blood.
It flows from Calvary,
Its waves which reach the throne of God,
Are sweeping over me.

I see that crimson stream of blood, do you? Look away from your faults and failures and turn your eyes to Christ and His streaming blood.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve done; just turn away from your failures and turn to Christ. In this Christian experience, when we mess up and make a fool of ourselves, that’s the key—to look away from our 10,000 failures and fix our eyes on Christ. We fix our eyes on the shed blood of the Lamb.
As Paul wrote in Hebrews 12, laying aside every weight and sin that does so easily beset us and run this race with patience—the apostle is telling us what to do. But in Hebrews 12:2, Paul tells us how to do it.
Let’s focus our attention on that word, looking, where it says “looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.” That word looking signifies this: Turning one’s eyes away from something and fixing them on something else. But that same word also means this: Turning one’s mind away from something and focusing it on something specific. So Paul is telling us to look away from our works because our works cannot guarantee sanctification. Works cannot earn us anything from God. In the mind of God, performance doesn’t matter. Paul is saying to turn away from all of that effort; turn away from works and fix your eyes on Christ. Fix your mind on the Cross.
It speaks of placing your faith in Jesus Christ—who He is and what He’s done. In this race that believers run, we are to have spiritual blinders placed on our eyes—one covering the right and one covering the left—to prevent distraction from either side. Likewise, our minds should also be focused—on Christ and what He did at Calvary.
The very moment that we, as believers, take our eyes off of what Christ has accomplished and we look toward something else, regardless of what it is, the body follows where the eyes are looking and we lose our concentration. That’s when believers veer off the path and soon falter and fail.
There is a right way to live for God, and there is a wrong way to live for God. Every child of God has, at some point in life, experienced the wrong way, which is easily summed up in the following:

Focus: The Cross is ignored; works becomes the focus.
Object of faith: With works being prominent, the believer’s performance becomes the object of his faith.
Power source: With focus on the believer’s works and the object of his faith on performance, the power source becomes self. The Holy Spirit will not function in such an atmosphere.
Results: Trying to live the Christian life in this fashion guarantees failure on every hand.

This makes it plain, when the believer’s focus is on works, the object of his faith performance, and the power source himself, he will ultimately fail.

This article series will continue in the next issue of The Evangelist.

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