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The Greatest Race of All Time

Finding Purpose / Russ Andrews
The Truth Network Radio
March 20, 2021 12:00 pm

The Greatest Race of All Time

Finding Purpose / Russ Andrews

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March 20, 2021 12:00 pm

Leading his men's group through Hebrews 12: 1-3, Pastor Russ Andrews talks about the most important race we will ever run - the race to Heaven - and poses these three questions: How do we enter? How do we run it? And how do we win it?

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Hey, this is Mike Zwick from If Not For God Podcast, our show.

Stories of hopelessness turned into hope. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just seconds. Enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. Pastor Russ Andrews will walk us through Scripture to answer these questions. Join us on Finding Purpose, a local triangle ministry glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living.

For more information and to connect with Russ Andrews and Finding Purpose, you can visit us online at findingpurpose.net or connect with us on Facebook. Now let's listen to Russ Andrews as he teaches us how to be a Christian without being religious. Heavenly Father, thank You for this night. Lord, thank You for this day. Thank You, Lord, for creating the world, creating us in Your image and giving us a spirit that we might have a relationship with You, that we might come to know You, that we might communicate with You and You with us and that You might live with us, in us, through Your indwelling Holy Spirit. And Lord, I thank You that You as our Heavenly Father love us so much and that You care about us so much that You even invest the time to discipline us when we need it, not so much to punish us but to conform us into the men, the godly men that You created us to be, that we might live lives that are pleasing to You in lives that are full of purpose and meaning and significance and joy and peace, even in the midst of a dark world, a fallen world, a sinful world. So Lord, I ask You tonight to speak to us from Your Word. I pray, Heavenly Father, that Your Word would go forth and accomplish the very purpose for which You intend. And I pray that anyone listening who doesn't know You will be drawn to You, Lord, that You would lift the veil from their eyes and enable them to see You like they've never seen You before and to know You. In Jesus' name I pray.

Amen. Okay, so if you will, take your Bibles and turn to Hebrews chapter 12. All right, so tonight's message is entitled, The Greatest Race of All Time, Hebrews chapter 12. In 1 Corinthians chapter 9 verses 24 through 27, the Apostle Paul writes, Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, Paul says, I do not run like a man running aimlessly. I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. Paul describes the Christian life as a race. And tonight from Hebrews 12, I'd like to answer three questions concerning this race. First, perhaps the most important, how do we enter it? Second, how do we run it?

And third, how do we win it? So first, how does one enter this race known as the Christian life? Well, take your Bible and turn with me to Matthew chapter 7 verses 13 and 14. Matthew chapter 7, 13 and 14. Here Jesus says, enter through the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.

What does Jesus mean? Well, He's explaining that there are only two paths, I'm going to call them two races in this life, only two races. One is the race that leads to eternal destruction in hell. The other race leads to eternal life in heaven.

They're your only two options. One race is run to win the approval of man while the other race is run to win the approval of God. In John chapter 12 verses 42 and 43, John writes, yet at the same time many, even among the leaders, believed in Jesus. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith in Jesus for they feared that they would be put out of the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

For whose praise are you living? How does one enter through the narrow gate? The same way all the people we read about last week in Hebrews chapter 11 by faith and faith alone. All the way down through history to our present day, the people running the race on the narrow road run it by faith in Christ Jesus who has become their Lord and Savior. Jesus is the forerunner of every single person who's running the race on the narrow road that leads to heaven.

How do you enter through the narrow gate? John 1 12 says, yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right He gave the right to become children of God. Only God's true children are running this great race and they all run it by faith.

Everyone else is on the wide road. They are living for the pleasures of this world and they are blind and they do not realize that the road that they're traveling on leads to eternal destruction. It was so incredible as many of them go to churches where they are never warned about this. I think it was, I can't remember, Grant Casseberry, our minister, shared this Sunday. I can't remember if it was Jonathan Edwards or somebody said that every evangelist should be held over the gate of hell for 24 hours before he's sent out to share the truth. Which race are you running?

It makes all the difference in the world. How do we run this race? Well that brings us to Hebrews chapter 12. We're going to look at the first three verses. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author, that is the pioneer, the leader and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

It's not about beating those who've run this race before us. It's just that when we look back at Hebrews 11, we should be inspired by them, that they ran the race, that they finished strong. In verse 1, it says this great cloud of witnesses, that they're pictured like bystanders on the sidelines, cheering for us. Now I don't know if they can see us from heaven, but I'm gonna be shocked if they don't know what's going on. If nothing else, Jesus can tell them.

That's what's going on down there. He's who we need to be praying for. But they're up in heaven cheering for us to do well, to finish strong. I'm gonna be 67 years in June, and I'm approaching my finish line, and I can tell you right now, I want to bust through that tape in a full sprint. So if you want to run this race like me, here's what we need to do. We must go into strict training. We must run with singleness of purpose. We must fight like men. We must beat our bodies and make them our slaves so that we will not be disqualified from the prize.

So how do we do this? Well, the rite of Hebrews gives us three commands, and they all begin with two words, let us. First, let us throw off any weight or encumbrance and any sin that has entangled us.

In running this race, we must lay aside any and everything that's holding us back, weighing us down, diverting our attentions. And by the way, this is a command. It's not a suggestion. It's a command. It's in the imperative tense.

An encumbrance is simply a bulk or mass of something that you're carrying along. It's not necessarily anything bad. In fact, it may be something good, but you're spending too much time doing it. Are you spending too much time working? Are you spending too much time playing golf? Are you spending too much time exercising? Are you spending too much time watching TV? I'm guilty as charge there.

That nails me right between the two eyes. Are you spending too much time doing anything that has no eternal value? If so, if you really want to run this race unencumbered, then get rid of these things. Not only do we need to get rid of these unnecessary weights, but we need to get rid of the sin that so easily entangles. Do you realize how easy it is to get entangled in sin? What sin has you entangled as you sit here tonight? Is it greed, envy, anger, hatred, bitterness, lust, covetousness, cheating, lying, worry, fear, anxiety? Paul writes in Colossians 3 verses 5 through 10, put to death therefore whatever belongs to your earthly nature, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires. Don't y'all find that interesting the first four have to do with lust, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed which is idolatry. You used to walk in these ways in the life you once lived, but now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

What kind of language are you using when you're not here? Do not lie to each other since you have said you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. So we need to throw off all those things that encumber us in the sin that's so easily entangled. Second, let us persevere all the way to the finish line. The Christian life requires endurance. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

And listen, when I say that, I don't mean that you can just with your own physical strength pull up your bootstraps and be a better person. We are in a spiritual battle 24-7, and we have an enemy known as the devil or Satan who the Bible says is like a roaring lion looking for someone to what? Devour. And who's he coming after? The people on the wide road or the people on the narrow road?

The narrow road. He's already got the people on the wide road. He just wants to keep them fat, dumb, and happy.

That's why he sends them to churches where they're not going to hear the truth. He comes after those of us on the narrow road, so we need to beware. We need to be alert. Here's the key to endurance. Don't lean on your own strength. Rely on the Holy Spirit who indwells every single believer. So if you're in Christ, the Holy Spirit is in you and He's the one that gives you the power to resist Satan and to live a more holy life.

And so let us throw off everything that entangles. Let us persevere all the way to the finish line. And third, let us always, always keep our eyes on who? Jesus. Verse 2 says, fix your eyes on who? Jesus.

Jesus, listen, Jesus's responsibility once you place your trust in Him is to perfect you, to perfect me, to mold us into the men that He created us to be. Men of God. Strong men of God. And He knows a little something about endurance.

Would you say? He endured suffering like no one has ever suffered. He was scourged with a cat of nine tails. Basically they skinned Him alive. Then they put a crown of thorns on His head and they beat that crown with two inch thorns on His head repeatedly with rods. And while these brutal soldiers were beating Him over and over and over again, think about it, pounding His head with a rod. They mocked Him, they spit on Him, and then they forced Him to carry about a 40 pound cross beam up a hill to the top of a hill called Golgotha. There they took thick heavy iron nails that were about four or five inches long and about a half an inch thick.

Can you imagine that? And drove those into His wrist and His feet. And He hung there for six agonizing hours. And then He breathed His last and just before He did that He said what?

It is finished. Why did He do that? For the joy set before Him. In the midst of horrific pain like a mother giving birth to a baby, He was full of joy.

Because you know why? He knew that by His death He looked down the tunnel of time. He saw us sitting here. He saw the millions of people who would be in heaven because He went to the cross and paid the price for us. He endured it for joy. In spite of what all those prosperity preachers preach on television, the Christian life is not easy.

In fact, it is very difficult. However, with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can run this race with endurance to win the prize. Living the Christian life, let me go and tell you, is the best life. It's a supernatural life. It is a life worth living. And listen, in the end, when we get to heaven and we look back, we're going to say, man, it was all worth it. All worth it.

And we'll realize that our life passed by in the blink of an eye. So what can we expect to endure in this race? Persecution, discipline, training, and even correction by our Heavenly Father. Look at verses 4 and 5.

Look at verses 4 through 13. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons. My son.

Don't you love that? God's saying, my son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline and do not lose heart when He revicts you because the Lord disciplines those He loves and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son. Endure hardship is discipline. God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you're not disciplined and everyone undergoes discipline, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live? Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our good, you know, that we may share in His holiness.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Verse 12. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled but rather healed. As we learned from John 1 verse 12, when a man believes in Jesus, that is when he receives Him into his heart by faith, then and only then does that man become a true Son of God. Think about that.

That's awesome. But also know this, it comes with a huge responsibility because you're God's Son. And when you identify with Jesus and people begin to know that, they're going to be watching you.

They take notice of you. Thus you have a responsibility to uphold the family name, do you not? It's comparable to an earthly son from a very prominent family.

The father sits down with his son. He says, son, when you leave my house and go out to the world, you carry the family name. So I expect you to live your life in a manner that brings honor to our name. Do you understand me, son?

He says. So what does this earthly father begin to do? He teaches his son how to act in public. He trains them up in the way he should live his life even when no one is watching. And when that son messes up, what does the father do? He punishes them. You see, God deals with us in the same way that a good earthly father deals with his son.

Only God deals with us perfectly. Perfect discipline, perfect training, perfect correction. What does this discipline entail?

What's included? We're first as believers. Man, we've got to train. Being a Christian requires incredible discipline. We must spend daily time in prayer in God's Word. Did y'all find that difficult?

I find it difficult because there's so many distractions. Why does God want us to pray and spend time in His Word? Because He wants to show us how to live our lives, how to act.

So we must train. We must discipline ourselves. Secondly, we should expect God to punish us to correct us when we get out of line.

Now this part can be very painful. God's corrective actions can be quite severe. If a Christian man... I'm talking about a Christian man. If he has an obvious sin in his life and he fails to repent, he better look out because God is going to deal with him. And God's right of correction can take the form of physical suffering such as sickness.

It can come in the form of financial trials. It can come in the form of anxiety and fear and even depression. Aggregious sins can bring about extreme guilt and shame. But I would argue that that guilt and shame are God's pruning shearers. He's trying to move you towards repentance so that you turn away from it and you discover life again. Your fellowship with God is restored. Listen, you can never lose your relationship with God.

It doesn't matter what you do. But you can lose your fellowship. And if a Christian is living in sin, the Bible says God doesn't even hear your prayers.

Did you know that? That's in Psalms. I can't remember which one. If you have cherished sin in your heart, the Lord will not hear from you until you do what? Confess it and repent, which means what? Turn away from it.

Turn away from it. Philippians 1 6 says, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. This should be encouraging to you and me because once you're saved, Jesus is basically saying, I'm going to the work I began in you. I'm going to make sure that it's completed no matter what I have to do to you.

This is what should be encouraging. If you belong to God, then He has your best interest. And He loves you. And what He wants us men, He wants us to experience joy and peace and contentment. And listen, the most unhappy person on the face of the planet is a Christian who's living in sin, egregious sin. Jesus said what? The truth will set you free.

And you've got to bring it out into the light and let God deal with it. See, God wants us to have peace and joy. He wants us to live an abundant life.

It just means that you have peace and joy and you know that He's with you no matter what you go through. And He's going to look out for you. He's going to guide you. And He's going to transform you. He created you to be a certain man.

And He wants your full personality to be engaged. So how do we win? Here's how. So look at verse 14. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.

That's interesting. Seek with it no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind. That is, he could not repent, though he sought the blessing with tears. He just didn't have a heart of repentance.

That was his problem. He was remorseful. Remorse just means you're sad you got caught. You've got to be repentant. When you're really repentant, you hate your sins so much it's like vomit. You turn away from it.

You never want to go back. Verse 18. Verse 18 through 21 is talking about Mount Sinai.

Back when they had left Egypt and God brought them to Mount Sinai and he calls Moses up on the mountain. He gives them the 10 commandments, but he made a command. He said, don't let anybody come near the mountain or touch it or they will what? Die.

Not even animals. They will die. Why couldn't they come near the mountain? They weren't holy.

So here's, I want you to understand that before I read this. So verse 18 says, you have not come to a mount that can be touched and that is burning with fire to darkness, gloom, and storm to a trumpet blast or to such a four speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them. When they heard God speaking, they asked Moses, we can't handle that. We don't want God speaking to us because they could not bear what was commanded.

If even an animal touches the mound, it must be stoned to death. The sight was so terrifying to Moses that he said, I'm trembling with fear. That's what happens when you come into the presence of God if you aren't prepared and ready. But look at this. But you, and guys this when it says you, he's talking about the people on the narrow road or the people on the wide road.

The narrow road. He's talking about true believers. People who've been what? Born again. But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn.

That just simply means the universal church that we're part of in Christ, whose names are written in heaven. If you see if you're in Christ, your name is written in the Lamb's book of life. You have come to God, the judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous who've been made perfect.

That's what he does. He makes us perfect. To Jesus. See you've come to Jesus who's the mediator of a new covenant and to the sprinkled blood that is shed on the cross that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See the sprinkle, you see without the shedding of blood there's no what? Forgiveness. We learned that in Hebrews 9 verse 27. Jesus shed his blood for us and so if we come to him we're forgiven. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If God is speaking to you tonight for the first time don't refuse him. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, remember they all died where?

In the desert. Because they they grumbled and they complained. How much less will we if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth but now he is promised, now listen to this guys, this is in our future, once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens. The words once more indicate the removing of what can be shaken that is created things so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore since we're receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken let us be thankful and so worship God acceptably with reverence in all for our God is a consuming fire. In the days of Moses God shook the earth literally, Mount Sinai. That is why Moses trembled with fear. And the day that Jesus was crucified God shook the earth again.

Remember darkness covered the area for three hours and then there was a violent earthquake and people were terrified. The Bible warns us men that just prior to the return of Christ God is going to shake the whole earth. There's going to be I know a violent earthquake that will divide Jerusalem. Did you all know that? And people all over the world will be gripped with what? Fear. Are you all ready for this day?

It could be very soon. Guys I've got a personal battle plan to run this race so that I'm not disqualified actually so that I win the prize. You want to hear what it is because this can be your battle plan too. My plan consists of six actions. I plan to live the rest of my life as holy as I can by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in me. Second, I plan to live my life with a healthy fear of God. This does not mean that I come into God's presence with fear and trembling.

I just have a reverent awe of Him. I so respect Him and His word that I want to do nothing that displeases Him. I plan to always be involved in a Bible study like this one so that I can continue to grow in my faith and become stronger in my want with God. And I will remain committed to and involved in my local church which happens to be this church, Capital Community Church. And finally, I'm going to live with a heavenly mindset knowing that this world is not my home and knowing that one day I will have to stand before God and give an account of my life. But I know this, when I stand before Him there's no condemnation.

As Paul says in Romans 8 1, therefore there's now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So this is my battle plan. Do you have one?

If not, develop one. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word. Thank You, Lord, for teaching us.

Thank You for what You're doing in these the lives of these men. Thank You, Lord, for training us and correcting us. And I pray to Heavenly Father that You would bless them as they go to their small groups. And, Lord, help us just to keep growing in our relationship with You. And, Lord, prune away the things that You don't want in our lives. So that when You look at us, You see the image of Your Son. It's in Your name that I pray.

Amen. Being a Christian is not about being religious, but about having a dynamic, alive relationship with Jesus Christ. You've been listening to Finding Purpose with Pastor Russ Andrews, a local triangle ministry glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. You can discover more about finding your purpose in life by checking out the resources at findingpurpose.net or connect to Finding Purpose on Facebook. Pastor Russ would also like to extend a special invitation for you to join him and over 300 other local triangle men to study God's Word together every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in downtown Raleigh. Find out more at findingpurpose.net. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-13 13:29:36 / 2023-12-13 13:40:28 / 11

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