Hebrews 12:1-2 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, 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.
The author of the Hebrews, Paul the Apostle in his effort to give a clear picture of what he is writing, used sports as an analogy. In Ephesians 6:12, wrestling, in 1 Cor. 9:26, and 2 Tim. 4:7, boxing, and here in our text as well as in 1 Cor. 9:24, 26, racing. Living by faith or the Christian life is a struggle which is sometimes compared to a race, a competition wherein we strive to win. This race begins the moment we are saved and ends when we met our Saviour in glory. Today we will be talking about how our life in faith with Jesus Christ is compared to a foot race.
I. The Setting: there will be audiences.
1. The cloud of witness – in every race, there will be spectators or audiences to see how the event goes. However, let us not think that the Lord and His angels are not watching us (1 Pet. 1:12). I may even add the unbelievers around us looking on how we live as believers in Christ Jesus.
II. The requirements and facts about the race.
1. Renounce sin – Isa. 55:7, Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Every weight mentioned on our text are various burdens which delay and hinder our spiritual life, such as the love of this present life, the pleasures of the world, the lusts of the flesh, worldly cares, riches, and other things. The Christians that run must first separate himself from all these things. Just like a runner who wears light clothing, no jewelleries, we must remove those things that prevent us from truly following our blessed redeemer.
Moses by faith refused to be called son of Pharaoh’s daughter, rejecting all the privileges as a prince of Egypt. He would rather suffer for Christ than to continue sinning (Heb. 11:24-26). He renounced sin and suffered with God’s people identifying himself with Jesus Christ the Messiah.
2. The necessity of self-denial – Mat 16:24. This includes a great deal more than avoiding sin. It includes self–control. The refusal to indulge in anything that may not be bad or unlawful at all but can hinder our spiritual run. Surfing the internet, sports, face book, shopping, reading books, socializing with friends, travelling, etc., are not bad at all. But if it is done in excess can cause our spiritual life to falter. Athletes go through tough training subjecting their bodies to physical exertion, dieting and discipline in order to win. Sometimes they are not even allowed to see their loved ones while on training.
Let’s pause for a moment and examine ourselves and see the things we need to deny so we can be more spiritual.
3. The necessity of patience or perseverance to the end –James 5:7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. The exertion must be kept up to the end. What good would it make that a man will run only half or two–thirds of the race and then give up? His failure would be as complete and could have been better if he had never started.
Winston Churchill seemed so dull as a youth that his father thought he might be incapable of earning a living in England. Albert Einstein’s parents feared their child was dull, and he performed so badly in all high school courses except mathematics that a teacher asked him to drop out. Churchill and Einstein have one thing in common, patience. Spurgeon said that by perseverance the snail reached the ark. Someone has said that we are judged by what we finish, not by what we start.
4. The necessity of fixedness of purpose and of aim. A runner must keep the goal in view. He must go directly towards it. He must not turn aside for anything, however alluring or however important. It he does he will certainly fail. We must look away from the attractions of the world. It is not the question whether they are right or wrong, but whether they further or hinder us in our Christian race. We must look to Jesus, as our object of faith and salvation, as our example. 1 Peter 2:21, as the giver of strength, as our exceeding great reward.
III. The Price: We already have eternal life the moment we receive Christ as Saviour.
1. Mansions In heaven (Jn. 14:2)
2. Incorruptible crown (1 Cor. 9:24-25)
3. Spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3)
Our life in faith is not like the common race where only one will be the winner. Christians who runs now already has received reward – eternal life in Christ Jesus. However there are others things we will get when we are there, something beyond our imagination, to a place where we never grow old.
Christian life is like a race where there are spectators. As contestants we need to remove unnecessary things that prevent us to live spiritually. We need patience or perseverance to run and we need to focus on the finish line. The goal is to finish the race. Our example is the Lord Jesus Christ, His patience under suffering who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.
Preached: 26 January 2014