Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spiritual Heroes

Hebrews 6:12; 12:1; 2 Tim. 3:14

We need our spiritual heroes; we need our spiritual examples; we need those who encourage us in the hope that a consistent discipleship is possible; we need those whose own spiritual consistency is commended to us by the testimony of history.
- John Calwell, The Communion of the Saints

In the seventh century, the Church created a holiday to honor God and all His saints. The church chose November 1 for this holiday hoping to replace pagan festivals that took place on that date and involved the spirits of the dead. This celebration is known as the feast of All Saints or All Hallows. On All Hallows, the church remembers the "great cloud of witnesses" described in Hebrews 12 who have gone before us and are now with the Lord. In 1484, November 1 was declared a holy day of obligation: The faithful were required to attend Mass, in addition to fasting the night before. That is, they fasted on the Eve of All Hallows, from which we get the word Halloween. The Feast of All Hallows provides a link between what is known as the church triumphant--that is, those who are with Christ, and the church militant--members of the church still struggling on earth. Christians remember that God has been faithful to His promise to preserve His Church in the midst of even the most trying circumstances. Christians could also use All Hallows Eve to reacquaint their kids with Halloween's Christian origins.
Bump in the Night by Charles Colson

I. The Inspiration of Godly Encouragers (1)

a) Noah ran against popularity (11:7)

Noah was called to preach and to build. Preaching was probably more difficult than the building. Hard jobs are always easier to deal with than hard people. – Johnny Hunt

b) Abraham ran against security and uncertainty (11:8-10)

Hebrews 11:1-2 is faith’s definition; Hebrews 11:8-10 is faith’s demonstration

c) Moses ran against prosperity (11:24-27)

Moses chose the imperishable, saw the invisible, and did the impossible. – V. Havner

If ever there was a generation of people sorely in need of spiritual role models, we are it. No matter how we choose to observe Halloween, those of us attending non-liturgical churches can take a modest step toward telling ourselves a different kind of story this Sunday. Pastors might include the story of a saint in their sermons. Parents could make a point to share the story of a saint or two. All Saints' Day is not about remembering just the saints with brand recognition. It's designed to thank God for the gift of a praying great-grandma in our family tree, a friend who sacrificially provided for his family by working two jobs before he died of cancer at age 42, and an anonymous old woman who quietly fed the poor in Jesus’ name when she thought no one was watching. – The Best Christian Halloween Party by Michelle Van Loon

Saints here and there both remembered

1) The lives of saints of the past. In addition to the saints depicted in Scripture, we have nearly 2,000 years of history that can and should be used as challenges to piety and faith. We Protestants have been so concerned about avoiding the veneration of saints that we often have bypassed a rich heritage of faith. Just as the Book of Hebrews gives a roll call of believers, so we can look to countless examples of equally courageous lovers of God.

2) "The life of the blessed in paradise." Most of us have been completely unaware that All Saints' Day is a celebration of all the saints. It is a day when Christians can remember not only those great believers of the past but also loved ones and friends who have served Christ and are now in heaven. True, it is a day to remember the lives of well-known saints and "to follow them in all virtuous and godly living." But it is also a day to remember our own "blessed dead." - Harold Myra

II. The Motivation of Godly Exhortation (1)

a) Recognize encumbrances.
b) Recognize entanglements.
c) Run with persistence.

Five Types of Spiritual Heroes Worth Remembering:

1) Those who shared God’s truth (like William Tyndale).

2) Those who extended mercy (like William and Catherine Booth).

3) Those who walked by faith (like Watchman Nee).

4) Those who took a stand (like William Wilberforce).

5) Those who practiced endurance (like Charles Simeon).

6) Those who loved, trained, and shaped us.

Redeem Hallowe’en as an exercise in being a transforming influence. Set October 31as a day when stories are retold regarding how our family came to know Jesus.
- Jack Hayford, Redeeming Hallowe’en

Why allow Halloween to be a pagan holiday in commemoration of the powers of darkness? Fill the house or church with light; sing and celebrate the victory of Christ over darkness. – Richard Foster in The Celebration of Discipline

For more information, search for these articles:

Harold Myra’s article Is Halloween a Witch’s Brew at

Charles Colsons’ commentary Bump in the Night at

Jack Hayford’s Redeeming Hallowe’en at

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