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The Crown: How to Excel in Your Faith - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
November 25, 2021 2:00 am

The Crown: How to Excel in Your Faith - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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November 25, 2021 2:00 am

The series The Crown depicts the political life of Queen Elizabeth II, who wears her crown because of Britain's hereditary monarchy. Learn about a different kind of crown you'll wear as Skip shares the message "The Crown: How to Excel in Your Faith."

This teaching is from the series Now Streaming.




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This crown in 1 Corinthians 9 is not hereditary.

It is not dynastic. That is, it doesn't follow a bloodline. It is not an earthly or temporary crown.

It is the crown of a runner in an athletic race, and that crown depicts an eternal crown that one day you and I will wear. The Apostle Paul referred to the Christian life as a race, and at the end of the race is an imperishable crown waiting for believers. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares some lessons from Paul on how you can excel and thrive as you run your race and follow Jesus. Now we want to tell you about a resource that will encourage you even more in your faith. Here's what Norm Geisler said about the book Tactics.

There is no better book to equip Christians to think clearly. Here's Skip Heitzig on the need to engage in active spiritual warfare. You'll never fight God's battles from a sofa.

You'll never contend for what really matters by just cruising in your La-Z-Boy all day. You're going to have to decide to get up as part of the house and join the fight. Become a contender for biblical truth with Fight for the House, a six-message series through the book of Jude with Skip Heitzig. This teaching series on CD equips you to get in the ring to defend the gospel and guard against false teachings. And it's our thanks when you give to connect more people to the truth of God's word. And when you give $35 or more today, we'll also send you the book Tactics by Gregory Kochel to help you speak the truth about Christianity with confidence and grace.

Call 800-922-1888 to give or visit Okay, we're in 1 Corinthians Chapter 9 as Skip Heitzig starts today's study. There's a very popular series on Netflix called The Crown. And how many of you, just a show of hands, just on a show of hands, how many of you have seen it?

Okay, so a lot of people have. 73 million people have viewed, 73 million people or homes have viewed The Crown. And The Crown is about the Queen of England. It's about Elizabeth II, who by the way is 95 years young. So she is the oldest living constitutional monarch that England has ever had, 95 years old. And she has been the Queen of England for 69 years. Since 1952, that's when she became Queen, 1952, she has been served by 14 British Prime Ministers, including Sir Winston Churchill.

So she goes way back and she's still at it. And you know, people across the Atlantic over here, we are always fascinated by all things British royalty. We love the whole royal wedding thing.

That has captivated Americans for a long time. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul is speaking about The Crown, but not the crown like the Queen of England wears, not a crown that a monarch wears. This crown in 1 Corinthians 9 is not hereditary.

It is not dynastic. That is, it doesn't follow a bloodline. It is not an earthly or temporary crown. It is the crown of a runner in an athletic race. And that crown depicts an eternal crown that one day you and I will wear. By the way, the only reason the Queen of England is the Queen of England is because her dad was once the King of England.

She's the oldest daughter of King George VI. And the only reason he was ever a king is because his brother, who was the king, abdicated the throne, placing the other guy on the throne so that Elizabeth is now the Queen. We're going to begin in 1 Corinthians 9, verse 24, and read down to verse 27. That's the paragraph of thought. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.

Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus, not with uncertainty, thus I fight, not as one who beats the air, but I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others I myself should become disqualified. Now Paul is working off an athletic theme. He is writing about two different categories of athletic competition.

One is the foot race, and the other is boxing. And he's combining these metaphors, which Paul does a lot by the way, into this one theme in the paragraph of striving in athletics. It's pretty obvious in reading the New Testament letters of Paul that he likes sports. I don't know if you watched Monday night chariot races or what the deal was, but the wording of athletics appears much in his ministry and in his letters.

Here's a quick sampling. When he goes to Ephesus and he meets with the leaders, he says, look I know that I'm going to face struggles as I'm on my way to Jerusalem, and I know that it's been tough and it's going to be tough, it's been revealed to me, but then he said this, none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear unto myself that I might finish my race with joy, and the ministry that the Lord Jesus Christ has given to me. So he pictured his life as a race. He's on the race track, and he wants to run that race. In Philippians chapter 3, he also said this, and this is familiar to you, I press toward the goal for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Interesting that the word he used for goal is the word scopas, which was a square pillar in a stadium that runners would look at to align themselves in running the race. I press toward that.

I'm looking to cross the finish line. In 1 Timothy chapter 4, he said to young Timothy, train yourself for godliness. That's an athletic term. The word he used for train is the word from which we get our word gymnasium from. Get a good workout spiritually. Put yourself in the spiritual gym, Timothy. And then at the end of Paul's life, he finally said this. To sum up his whole life, he said, I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race.

I have kept the faith. So Paul is using athletic terminology so often in his writings. I suppose that if Paul would have written a letter to a mountain town somewhere, he might have used ski metaphors if it was a modern letter. I think maybe if he was writing to believers in Indianapolis, he might have used Formula 1 racing language.

But he's not. He's writing to the Corinthians. And the Corinthians in particular knew about sporting events because they hosted one of the most important sporting events in the world just outside of their town in Corinth.

I'm going to explain that. Corinth was familiar with two basic sporting events. Number one, the Olympics. The Olympics, because it took place in Olympia in Greece. And the other was a set of games called the Ithsmian games.

That's so hard to say. Ithsmian. You know what an Ithsmis is? You remember your geography.

An Ithsmis is that narrow neck of land that connects two other pieces of land. And because Corinth was on an Ithsmis, called the Peloponnesian Peninsula, they had a set of games called the Ithmian games. And it was second in importance only to the Olympics.

Now let me describe that just so you get the background. The Olympics began in 776 B.C. It occurred every four years in the plains of Olympia in Greece and it lasted for five days. The first day was a day of ceremonies.

It was a day of sacrifice to the Greek gods. And the competitors came into the arena and they swore their oaths. And then on day two, an announcer, a herald, stepped into the arena and introduced the competitors to the crowds. That was then followed by chariot races, followed by horse races, followed by the pentathlon for men. On day three, the boys competed. By the way, only males competed in those Olympics back then. The boys competed on day three.

They had their oaths. On day four was the foot race, jumping, wrestling, and boxing. And on day five, final sacrifices were given. Awards were given out. In the evening was a banquet and entertainment for all the visitors who had come. Now those are the Olympic games. But then there were the games that the Corinthians knew about as well called the Ithmian games. Let's just call them the Corinthian games because it's just a whole lot easier to say. And the Corinthian games were played not every four years, but every two years.

And as I said, they were almost as well attended as the Olympic games and they were hosted right there at Corinth. So what I want to do is go through this very simple short passage and give you four slogans, four sporting slogans. You've all heard them, but those four slogans represent four decisions that we should make if we're going to excel in our race, in our Christian walk, in our life of faith. I don't have time to give you all the background of the Corinthian letter, but you probably already know that the Corinthian Christians were like the problem children of the New Testament, right, when it comes to churches. They had so many issues in their churches at Corinth and Paul addresses them. But in this chapter, he basically says, look, I'm giving my life all I can. And I want to reach the Jews.

I want to reach the Greeks. I become all things to all men. If by all means I might save some.

That's how serious I am about this. Then he closes off this chapter by giving us this analogy, this metaphor that is a picture of the Christian life and it represents decisions. I'm going to give you four decisions we need to make in these slogans. Number one, eyes on the prize, eyes on the prize. Every athlete steps into the event that he or she is going to participate in with their eyes on the prize. They have a goal. They want to win. Nobody says, I'm going to join this race so that I can lose. Everybody wants to win.

That's what's in mind. Now notice the choice of words that the apostle uses. Verse 24, do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize. Run in such a way that you may obtain it, it being the prize.

And everyone who competes for the prize is tempered in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown. The prize is the crown.

But we for an imperishable crown. You need to know that in the Greco-Roman world, the athlete was highly revered, especially an Olympic athlete. He was highly regarded, highly respected. But to lose an event was a disgrace. In fact, they went through a public humiliation. But it was quite an honor to win a race. But here's the question, what did they win? They won a prize.

Well, what was their prize? It says a crown. Now when you hear the word a crown, you're thinking, wow, wow, a gold crown or a silver crown, some precious metal, probably with jewels and gems, not even close. It wasn't that kind of crown.

I mean, it wasn't even as good as a Burger King cardboard crown or a tinfoil crown that your kids would make for you. The crown of the athlete was a plant, a plant. In the Olympic games, it was a little wreath made out of olive leaves or celery, wilted celery.

I kid you not. That's the gold. You make it all around the race and you're the winner and here is a salad for you to wear on your head. If you win the Corinthian games, the Ithmian games, theirs was a little pine wreath of pine needles wrapped in a little circle placed on the head. And so when he says crown, the Greek word is staphonos and it's a temporary victor's crown, a leafy wreath on the head. When an athlete won, it was an elaborate ceremony, the athlete would leave the arena and in a parade, march to the temple of Zeus and he would be greeted there by judges in purple robes on raised platforms called beimatas or the beima seat, the judgment seat. And there they would receive their reward. When they got that little salad on their head, that was the greatest day of the athlete's life because along with it came fame and notoriety and he was considered a hero and he got a claim and they even thought that he is communing with the gods. And so it was just like a day of great pride. But what you actually walk away with is going to wither in about four hours or at least a couple of days you're going to toss that crown out because it's not meant to last.

I mean wilted celery, come on. Right now taking place in France is the most famous bicycle race called the Tour de France, 2000 miles of bicycling, 2000 miles of rigorous, intense, steep terrain in France. And the athletes don't stop to like eat a cheeseburger. They eat their meals and their energy drinks on the run while they're bicycling. And what's the prize that you get when you win the Tour de France?

Now your team might get a monetary award, some compensatory sum of money for the team, but basically the winner of the Tour de France just walks away with a jersey, a yellow jersey and the ability to say, I won the Tour de France. That's it. That's what you walk away with. That is Paul's point.

These athletes keep their eyes on the prize and their prize doesn't last long. It fades in a couple of days. You do it. You serve the Lord. Your race ends up in an imperishable crown.

Now let that sink in. One day you're going to stand before the Lord for an imperishable crown, a reward. There's going to be some kind of reward or rewards that will be given to you by God in heaven.

Now some people might read this and say, yeah, I think really what he's just talking about is heaven itself. Just making it to heaven is the prize. Just, just getting into the courtroom of heaven is the crown.

I don't think so because notice what it says in verse 24 run in such a way that you may what? Obtain it. You don't obtain heaven. You can't earn heaven. You don't work for heaven.

You are saved by grace through faith, that not of yourselves. You, you get to heaven not by doing anything, but by believing in someone who did it all for you. That's how you get to heaven. You don't obtain it.

It's a gift. So getting into heaven is by faith. Getting rewarded in heaven, however, is according to works.

I'm surprised at how many Christians are not aware of this. They kind of just think, I'm going to make it to heaven. That's all there is. Well, let me put it to you this way. I'm going to make it to heaven, but once I get there, I want more.

And you can have more. You can get rewarded and that's not just heaven itself, but it's some kind of compensation, some kind of status that God gives to those. The Bible indicates will be different according to each one. Listen to second Corinthians five. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

Same word as in the Olympics, the Bema toss, the Bema seat, where the judges stood and gave out the awards. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive what is due him for the things done in the body. At the end of the Christian life, at the end of your race, when you appear in glory, when you get to heaven, you are going to be evaluated, not judged for eternal matters, you'll be in heaven, you'll be welcomed into glory, but you are going to be evaluated and then compensated for your faithfulness to God while on the earth, for how you ran that race, some kind of reward. Jesus said in Revelation chapter 22, behold, I am coming quickly and my reward is with me. Jesus said in Matthew 16, the son of man will come in the glory of his father with his angels and then he will reward each according to his works. Once again, Paul at the end of his life said, I have fought the good fight.

I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord will give me at that day and not only me, but to all those who have loved his appearing. I'm looking forward not only to heaven, Paul said, but to a crown, a reward that God is going to give me.

So think of it this way. Heaven should be more than just a destination. Heaven should be your motivation. You should start thinking about that, keeping your eyes on the prize, living your life in such a way that I'm pleasing God now because the reward in the future is what helps me to run the race in the present.

Okay, this race is getting tough. It's getting hard, but my eyes are on the prize. The crown of righteousness, the reward for serving the Lord on this earth.

So eyes on the prize. Here's the second motto or the second decision to excel in your faith. No pain, no gain. Everybody's heard that one, right? It came in the 1980s. I think that's when that slogan first came out. Gyms all across the country use that as their pitch. No pain, no gain, or feel the burn.

Or another famous one that kind of goes along with that I have heard more recently is this. Pain is just weakness leaving the body. Ever heard that? I think I was in a gym recently and I was like grunting under a wave and somebody said, you know, and then they quoted this. A pain is just weakness leaving the body.

And I think I turned and said to him, well, why does it seem like the older you get, it stays. It ain't leaving. Okay.

It's still here. Look at verse 25 for just a moment. And everyone who competes for the price, stop right there. The word competes. I'm going to tell you what the word is in the original language and you're going to tell me what the English equivalent is.

You ready? Everyone who competes, competes is this word. Agonizomai.

What does that sound like? Agonizomai. Agonize.

It comes from the word agon, agony. Everyone who competes, everyone who has an agonizing struggle, which is so accurate of being an athlete. Any great athlete will tell you, this is hard work to do this.

This is agonizing work. An Olympic champion, Patty Sue Plummer said, and I'm quoting her, every single day I hated what I was doing. Now here's an athlete, here's a winner who's training every day. And she goes, I hate this.

Every day I hated what I was doing and loved what I was doing because I knew it was going to come down to who was willing to hurt more. And this word aptly describes what it is to be an athlete. If you're a runner, as soon as you start running hard, your body overheats. When your body overheats, you start running low on blood sugar and then your body starts compensating. Your blood vessels distend.

They get bigger so you can get more blood flowing through, more oxygen to the muscles. Your lungs start, you start gasping for air to get more oxygen in. There is an agonizing event that takes place. A fifth century BC Greek poet said of the Olympic athletes, the athlete delights in the toil and the cost.

That's Skip Heitig with a message from the series now streaming. Right now, we want to tell you about a special opportunity you have to take your knowledge of the Bible to a deeper level. Speculation about the end times is at an all-time high and Christianity is the only faith that devotes nearly one-third of scripture to future events. Learn about the future from the authority of the Bible when you take a study of the end times at Calvary College. With evening classes on campus or online, you can get an education in biblical studies that will impact your spiritual life for the rest of your life.

The spring term starts January 10th, so apply today at Do you want to see people come into a relationship with a living God? The way to know Him is by knowing His word. That's why we've made these life-changing Bible teachings available all around the world, and you can help take this broadcast further with a generous gift today. Your gift helps share the gospel with more listeners like you. To give, just visit slash donate. That's slash donate, or you can call 800-922-1888.

800-922-1888. Thank you. Come back tomorrow as Skip shares about an important motivation that can help you press on in your race of faith. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-17 18:27:01 / 2023-07-17 18:35:52 / 9

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