Hebrews 11:29-12:2

The
Olympic Games usually include events of athletic determination and courageous
inspiration. From the Mexico City Games came the account of the marathon. A
runner from Africa fell during the race but continued to run. Long after the
winners received medals and the crowd was gone, this runner plodded toward the
goal. A news reporter stayed until the injured runner hobbled across the finish
line. “You didn’t have to do this,” the reporter said. “Why?”
The runner answered, “My country didn’t send me here to just start the
race; they sent me here to finish.” With the mental image of the Greek
games, the writer of Hebrews challenges all believers to “run with endurance
the race that is set before us.” How can we finish the race for Christ?

Run
with Faith (Hebrews 11)

Sometimes,
running the race for Christ, we ask, “Can I make it?” None of us can
finish on our own. We run by faith toward the reality prepared by God, made
possible through Christ’s death and resurrection, and empowered by the indwelling
Holy Spirit. The perseverance of the saints is only part of the race. The saints
persevere, but God preserves. Hebrews 11, often called “The Roll of the
Faithful,” records the names of many biblical persons who “obtained
a good testimony through faith” (11:39). The writer refers to “still
others,” nameless to us but known to God, “of whom the world was not
worthy.”

Abraham,
included among the witnesses, went out by faith “not knowing where he was
going.” He kept going and God kept His promise. In 1988 while pastor of
a great church in Florida I was offered the presidency of a Bible college with
huge debt and declining enrollment. Some people considered Bible college education
a relic from a previous generation; others thought I was throwing away a promising
future. God called; I obeyed by faith, relying on the promise of Romans 4: 20-21.
Sixteen years later I rejoice in God fulfilling every goal seen in the beginning.
We’re debt free with a renovated campus and a record-breaking enrollment. My
run has been motivated by how God works among people of faith. Remember, Jesus
didn’t do any mighty work in Nazareth, “because of their unbelief”
(Mk. 6:5-6).

Run
with Purpose (12:1)

Faith
sees the goal and runs with determined purpose to obtain it. Rick Warren defines
the Christian race as The Purpose-Driven Life, in the popular book by
that name. Such a life faces many hindrances. Weights that helped us in training
easily become hindrances. Disciplines can turn into legalism and used like a
sword against those who don’t practice them as we do. Sin “easily ensnares
us” and must be laid aside.

Is
the image found here in Hebrews that of a Roman courier tucking his long robe
up so that he can move with less hindrance? What hinders you? What sin pulls
you back from reaching the goal? The possibilities are many – prayerlessness,
fear, laziness, or failure to witness. Is the problem excessive computer use
that eats away quality time in the word and with others? Are you a workaholic,
driven by false expectations laid on you by others? We can’t run with purpose
until we lay aside the ensnaring sins.

Run
with Jesus (12:2)

I
like to think of “looking unto Jesus” as a runner in a race with Jesus
out front. He knows the route; He sets the pace. He started it all and will
complete it. Jesus is the example of our run for life. He endured the cross,
knowing “the joy set before Him.”

This
“look” is not mere observation that motivates self-actualization.
Plenty of that is available at most bookstores. This continual look follows
confession of sin and faith in Christ. Only He is the “author and the finisher
of our faith.”

Without Him,
I could be dying,
Without Him, I’d be enslaved;
Without Him, life would be hopeless,
But with Jesus, thank God, I’m saved.
Mylon R. LeFevre

This
initial encounter begins a lifetime of following His example. We must “take
up the cross and follow Him.” That kind of dying often has consequences:
“others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain
a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes,
and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were
tempted, were slain with the sword” (11:35-37).

We
are saved, indeed, but to no easy calling. We may stumble in the marathon, but
the power of Christ enables us to get up and keep going. Running with Jesus,
following His purpose, keeping the faith. That’s more than finishing the race;
that’s finishing well.

_______________________

Sermon
brief provided by: Bill D. Whittaker, President, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Pineville,
KY

Share This On: