Posted by: Billy Marsh | October 1, 2007

V. The Sojourner: A Summary

Christian and Goodwill/The Pilgrim’s Progress

Well, it has been a long time comin’. At the outset of starting my blog, not only did I vow to mold the site’s content around the Sojourner theme, but also I promised to expound upon Hebrews 11:13-16 in light of this mentality. So, I wanted to give you a wrap-up summary of all the articles that I have written from my study of Heb 11:13-16 to bring closure to my efforts with interpreting these texts. I hope you enjoy the recap and don’t forget these articles are all archived in their entirety on the blog for your viewing pleasure.

I. Sojourners: Hebrews 11:13 (A) Having Acknowledged . . .

One of the first distinctives of the Sojourner mentality is the confessional aspect of having faith in God. It is confessional in the sense that it is vocal. But, it is also confessional in the sense of its content. Sojourners are not CIA Christians. We ought not to be “holy” spies. A recognizable characteristic of the OT patriarchs was that they were open about their eternal identity. One of the clearest examples is the exchange between the aging Jacob and Pharoah in Gen 47:9. Sojourners confess or acknowledge that their citizenship belongs in heaven and that Christ is the substance of their lives (Phil 1:21).

I. Sojourners: Hebrews 11:13 (B) These all died in faith . . .

Do Christians live in blind faith? I will answer that rhetorical question with a proper Pauline response . . . By no means!  The heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 did not gamble their lives away recklessly. To me, this is one of the most powerful lessons in the Bible. So often we are concerned about seeing God bring our ministries, hopes, and dreams to their maximum potential in this life, however, that may not always be the case. I believe that Jim Eliot and his co-laborers/martyrs are a supreme, contemporary example of Sojourners who died in faith. Their faith led them to lay down their lives for a people that their eyes would never see accept the gospel. The Sojourner mentality equips the believer with an eternal perspective that transcends the natural world, understanding that God is faithful and that he will not only keep his sheep from persishing, but also will bring his perfect plan to completion long after we’re gone if necessary.

II. Sojourners: Hebrews 11:14 – The Way You Talk Says It All

The text says that people who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland. This homeland most obviously is identified in Heb 11:10, 16, namely the place where God dwells. However, does your speech communicate that your eyes are set on the horizon awaiting the day that your journey ends at the throne of God? Examples of how a Sojourner should speak can be seen in Job’s response to his dire situation in Job 2:10 or Abraham’s reply to Issac in Gen 22:8. You must learn to develop speech habits that are indicative to a heavenly transvision that sees through every circumstance of life into the beyond.

III. Sojourners: Hebrews 11:15 (A) What Have You Left To Follow God?

More than likely, any of you that are true believers could probably give a long list of people, places, and things that you have left behind to take up your cross and follow Christ. That’s why the journey motif is so helpful for me in the Christian life. The Christian life is not a stand-in-one spot experience. John Bunyan teaches us that so well in his classic work, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Leaving behind dear things shows just how certain God’s promise is to us. We count it all loss compared to Christ. Sojourners, like Jesus, often do not have a home. We are seeking a different homeland, a better country, a heavenly one. Thus, we are often called to leave homeplaces, cities, and even sometimes civilization in order to walk with God.

III. Sojourners: Hebrews 11:15 (B) Don’t Look Back

Jesus plainly says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God (Lk 9:57-62).” Looking back creates an appetite for what we have left behind. This could very well be sins that we had to let go of in order to follow Christ. The Bible says to flee sinful activity and this would be hard to do rubber-necking. A good example of the implications of looking back at the country you have left is the story of Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar salt at she turned her head back for a last glimpse of the cities of sin (Gen 19:26). Instead, our gaze ought to be fixed upon Jesus the founder and perfector of our faith, the crucified and risen Lord and Savior.

The Far Country Poster/Andrew Peterson

IV. Sojourners: Hebrews 11:16 (A) A Better Country

The city to come encompasses a dwelling place that is removed from the curse of sin, devoid of evil, a place of rest, a place of eternal joy, and most of all, the mutual home of God and his saints. The city of the Most High God is a “better” country compared to any that you all have had to forsake whether it be a physical location, a family, or even a fleeting sin.

IV. Sojourners: Hebrews 11:16 (B) The God of Sojourners: Not Ashamed

What a promise! God is not ashamed to be called our God! Like in the very first article, God not being ashamed has more to do with his speaking on our behalf than merely the fact that he perhaps is not embarrassed by us. There is a confessional nature to the truth that God is not ashamed of his people. He is vocal about it. He has absolutely no shame in being called our God, and in turn, nor does he have shame in calling us his very own people, his treasured possession. Then, comes the additional promise, as if the mere fact that God isn’t ashamed to be our God wasn’t enough, he has prepared a city for us! This objective reality fuels the Sojouner to endure harships, trials, rocky roads, high mountains, billowing seas, and even green pastures for the sake of Christ without looking back, but instead dying in faith.

IV. Sojourners: Hebrews 11:16 (C) The God of Sojourners: “Called their God”

The ability to claim that God is not ashamed to be called your God is only made possible by faith. This phrase has major covenantal overtones and is a designation that God reserved for his very own people. I trace this tradition in the article through the OT into the NT. In the NT, God calling himself the God of his chosen people is a confirmation of the new covenant in Christ. Only by faith can one receive this great honor, and only by faith can one truly live as a Sojourner on the earth, longing for that city which is to come, whose designer and builder is God, that is, our God.

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