"THE CHRISTIAN RACE"

HEBREWS 10:35-39

INTRODUCTION

  1. Many people like to watch sporting events on TV.
  2. One of the more popular, even for people who do not like sports very much, is the Olympic Games.
  3. One race all must enter and win is the Christian race.
  4. Not only must all enter the race, but they must finish the race or risk being "disqualified" for the prize that awaits those with endurance.

I. MARATHON

  1. In the Marathon race of life, we have the assurance of being able to run the race of hope.
    1. The Hebrew writer worded it like this: "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," {Hebrews 12:1}.
    2. The race to the finish is already set before us, whether or not one runs in another matter.
    3. The things that get in our way are to be cast away to make room for righteousness.
    4. What makes the race easier to endure is that we have a goal & example to lead us: "Looking unto Jesus the author and 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 12:2}.
    5. It does not matter the place in which we finish the race; what is important is that we finish.
  2. We must pace ourselves or run the risk of burning out before we see the finish line.
    1. Paul told the Galatians: "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" {Galatians 6:9}.
    2. There is a great deal of good works to be done; however, we cannot be wearied by them & give up the race.
  3. While running the race, we have the obligation to help those who are running but have slacked off.
    1. The Hebrew writer said: "12Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed" {Hebrews 12:12, 13}.
    2. The writer warns his readers of the weariness that will come from running the Christian race.
    3. This is also said in the context of the one having been chastened by the Lord; so they may be feeling a little down from that as well. Remember: ". . . no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous. . ." {v. 11}.
    4. The "lame" are those whose faith is faltering and they are in need of the stronger brethren to reach out to them and pick them up.
II. COMBAT
  1. A. There is another element of the Olympic Race with which Christians must deal, Combat.
    1. Many do not like to even mention the word combat and Christianity in the same sentence; but we can not help but do so since the Bible does.
    2. The Bible represents Christians in a constant warfare with the forces of evil.
  2. Yet again, the Hebrew writer gives a vivid picture of a soldier who has give up the fight & laid down his arms: "35Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37For yet, a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul" {Hebrews 10:35-39}.
    1. There is a reference here to cowardly soldiers, who throw away their shields, and run away from battle.
    2. Some of the mothers of the Grecian warriors were known to tell their sons as they went off to battle: "Either bring this back [the shield], or be brought back on it."
    3. The Christian can not cast away his shield of faith or he or she will suffer for eternity for it.
    4. To "draw back" literally means to cower in a corner & hide from the heat of battle rather than fight.
  3. God commands the Christian to engage in this warfare with the forces of evil, but He does not leave us without the weaponry to fight.
    1. The apostle admonished the Ephesians: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" {Ephesians 6:10-13}.
    2. The power and weaponry of the Christian is in the Lord. Thus, those outside the Lord will not have what is needed to fight off the attacks of the devil.
    3. One must put on every piece of the armor of God in order for the protection to be made full.
    4. If one piece of it were missing, then the devil has a way in which he can penetrate and ruin our lives.
III. THE CROWN
  1. When the race is nearly over, the Christian who has fought for the finish line will reach for the crown with all his worth.
    1. Paul wrote this: "13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus"
    2. Paul has yet to fully grasp the crown of victory because he is still alive.
    3. He does not let the things of this world slow him down, but reaches forward as an Olympic sprinter trying to outreach everyone else to the finish line.
  2. James remarked that those who endure the temptations of the devil will receive a victor's crown.
    1. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" {James 1:12}.
    2. The crown of life is literally eternal life.
    3. The metaphor is the crown of the one who won the race; there crown was made of garland, thus corruptible, the Christian crown will never fade or wilt.
  3. Paul's closing words of this life were those of how he had fought and ran the Christian life: "6For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" {2 Timothy 4:6-8}.
    1. All aspects of what the Christian must do and endure in this life are encapsulated in these three verses.
    2. What a joy it would be to be able to write your own epitaph, especially one as grand as this one.

CONCLUSION
  1. The race of the Christian is one that is constant & without intermission.
  2. The training session for this type of event is On-the-job.
  3. Don't stop training & competing in this race, for the penalty for such is severe.

 

Hardy Building Ward Street Church of Christ
3832 Hwy 62/412 (Mailing address: P.O. Box 224)
Hardy, AR 72542
870-856-3687
Directions