The Great Cloud of Witnesses Hebrews 12:1-2—Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. I. One common denominator among the heroes of faith known as the "Cloud of Witnesses" is that they all died in faith without witnessing the fulfillment of God's promise. Nevertheless, they made an investment towards it through a future generation. II. My First Encounter with the Cloud of Witnesses III. Do not focus on the experience but the Voice. Luke 9:34-35—While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!" IV. Sometimes better to keep things to yourself concerning these type experiences. Luke 9: 36. No controversy over who they are, only what they do. V. William Branham's Testimony VI. Wade Taylor's Testimony VII. This passage is likened to a sporting event requiring skill and endurance. Keep your eyes on the prize. VIII. Avoiding excess and fanaticism: Necromancy is a claimed form of magic involving communication with the deceased either by summoning their spirit as an apparition or raising them bodily for the purpose of divination, imparting the means to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge. It is taken from two Greek words "nekros" dead body and "manteia" denoting prophecy or divination. IX. The Testimony of Joan of Arc-- "St. Michael, when he came to me, told me that St. Catherine and St. Margaret would come to me and that I should act by their advice, that they were bidden to lead me and what I had to do and that I should believe in what they would say to me and that it was by God." --Joan of arc speaking at her trial. One of the voices that spoke to Joan of arc was Saint Catherine who was an early Christian in Alexandria Egypt under the control of Rome. The legend of her life is that she was a young woman of great faith to decide the Emperor Maximim and was martyred. A. The Cloud in Scripture I. Cloud Defined—Cloud= Nephos—a cloud, a large dense multitude, a throng used to denote a great shapeless collection of vapour obscuring the heavens as opposed to a particular and definite masses of vapour with some form or shape. a cloud in the sky II. Acts 1:9-10—And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going… III. Daniel 7:13—I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. IV. Luke 21:27—Then they will seeTHE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. V. Revelation 1:7—BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. VI. Isaiah 60:8—Who are these who fly like a cloud And like the doves to their lattices? B. What Constitutes A Witness I. Witnesses— martus or martur—One who bears "witness" by his death denotes "one who can or does aver what he has seen or heard or knows";testimony or witness as borne, a declaration of facts. One who testifies of what he has seen and heard. II. John 3:32—What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. III. 1 Peter 5:12—Through Silvanus, our faithful brother(for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! IV. Acts 22:15—For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. V. Revelation 22:16—I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." C. The Context of Hebrews 12 I. Hebrews 11:39-40—And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. II. Hebrews 11:13-14—All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. III. 1 Peter 1:10-12—As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven — things into which angels long to look. IV. The Testimony of Abel—The importance of integrity of heart and the gift of revelation. V. The Testimony of Enoch—The importance of pleasing God and the opportunity for friendship with Him. VI. The Testimony of Noah—Believing for the unprecedented and that God will do what He said. The importance of godly fear. VII. The Testimony of Abraham and Sarah—Obedience to the promises of God despite circumstances. Leaving the comfort of the familiar for the unknown at the word of God. Sarah overcame her doubts and believed that nothing is too hard for the Lord. The Word of the Lord visited her and fulfilled His promise. VIII. The Testimony of Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.—The power of blessing. IX. The Testimony of Moses— Understanding the importance of identification with Christ and His plans. X. But Testimony of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel—Discovering the power to do great exploits to His Glory. D. The Cloud of Witnesses and the Justice of God. E. The Catholic Position of Communion of the Saints I. Dictionary.com.— communion of saints The spiritual fellowship existing among all faithful Christians, both living and dead.