2022-11-06 “For All the Saints”

Cornerstone EPC                                                                                     Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                                 November 6, 2022

For All the Saints”
Hebrews 12:1-3

Our culture, as a general rule, emphasizes October 31: All Hallows’ Eve (or Hallowe’en)—and I suspect the culture upheld its general rule on Monday night past. I paid little attention, however, for I much prefer the next day, November 1: All Hallows’ (or All Saints’) Day. All Saints’ Day is a day to remember those departed in Christ before us—who are with the Lord in Heaven and enjoying Him to inexpressible degree. It also is a day to remember, and to celebrate, the visible Church on earth—despite her impurities, imperfections, and divisions. Finally, All Saints’ Day is a day to meditate upon the invisible Church—the victorious Church, composed of every elect soul from every earthly age, people, and language.

We get great help remembering and meditating upon these things from these verses before from the opening of Hebrews 12. Let us hear the Lord speak to us, by the Spirit, from His Word read and proclaimed once again in this text.


The sacred penman of Hebrews, led by the Holy Spirit, puts us in mind of the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. The first group within that cloud to be noted is that list, recorded in Hebrews 11, of great Old Testament figures—people who thought as they thought, and did what they did, by faith in Lord and in His promises. By extension, we include all the believing people mentioned in Scripture generally as part of the great cloud of witnesses. The Lord has raised up many others to a rightful place in the great cloud of witnesses since the close of the New Testament canon (with the writing of Revelation, ca.

A. D. 95). We think of many greats from church history: both recent and more distantly past, such as, for example, Augustine, John Calvin, and John Knox from long ago and Amy Carmichael, Billy Graham, and J. Gresham Machen from nearer our time. We also do well to think of those of our ancestry now part of that great cloud: such as our biological ancestors—our parents, grandparents, and the like—and our spiritual ancestors, such as pastors, Sunday School teachers, and other veteran believers now Home with the Lord. These all form the great cloud of witnesses, and their testimony surrounds us this day.

Therefore, let us lay aside some things. Let us lay aside every hindrance that would keep us from full following of Jesus—even those things indifferent or good in themselves that threaten to detain from being and doing our best in Him. Let us also lay aside every sin—every closely clinging, tightly controlling, besetting sin. Let us not enjoy the so-called pleasures of sin for any season of any length. Rather, let us, by God’s powerful grace, pursue the pleasures of God, which abide forevermore.

Then, let us run the race marked out for us. We may view this race in individual terms. Hence, let us discharge the ministries that the Lord has committed to each of us according to His sovereign wisdom, and let us each endure the unique providential trials He brings our way. We also may view this race in collective terms—and, in my view, this is the primary view. Therefore, let us worship the Lord together—both here at Cornerstone and in spirit with our brethren around the world. Let us minister together unto one another, unto His Church, and unto this broken, sin-sick world. Let us testify together to the Gospel of God’s grace in His Son, Jesus Christ. Let us run together this race of faith—even as we negotiate the individual hazards that lie before each of us.

Let us run, furthermore, looking unto Jesus. He is, as we read in verse two, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith. Jesus is the Founder of our faith—the Originator and the basis of our faith. He is also the Perfecter of our faith. He is the One Who completes and purifies that faith. Keep looking at Who He is, and behold, further, what He has done.

Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the Cross. The longer I know Him and serve Him, the more wonderful this becomes to me. He endured unspeakable physical agony, to be sure—and He endured even greater spiritual agonies, such as becoming sin for us and enduring separation from Father to atone for that sin, far atop the physical agony. More than this, Jesus despised—looked down upon—the shame associated with His atoning work. Jesus, once dead as the necessary penal, substitutionary sacrifice for the sin of every elect soul, now sits at the right hand of God’s throne, because death could not hold Him. Now, at God’s right hand, Jesus reigns, and intercedes for those who draw near to God through Him, and awaits our Father’s cue to return—thus consummating history and God’s eternal plan.

Yes, consider Jesus as we run this race of faith, each and together, Jesus Who endured hostility from sinners against Himself—and this hostility to a degree far greater than we ever shall have to bear. Consider this Jesus, Whose endurance helps us to endure—and, thus, neither to grow weary nor fainthearted.

We do well this weekend to consider those rest is won. Necrologies, or lists of those who have gone to be with the Lord, help us to do this. During my years at Erskine Seminary (1991-94), the town of Due West, South Carolina, would observe a service of worship on or near All Saints’ Day—at which the name of any known Christian resident who went to Heaven since the last All Saints’ Day would be read. Every year at the General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the names of all pastors and ruling elders called to Glory since the previous meeting are read on the Assembly floor—and we interspersed the recitation with sung verses of “For All the Saints.” Our own memorial boards here at Cornerstone EPC, to which, according to my count, eleven names need to be added since the last inscription, serve a similar purpose. The people whose names lie upon such lists, along with other near-countless hosts, left us a record of Christian faith and testimony—for which we are exceedingly grateful.

In light of this fact, let us lay aside hindrances and sins—every one of them. Let us run with endurance the race marked for us, each and all. Above all, let us look to Jesus—and, in looking to Him, let us find fuel for the running.