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April 6, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Steve Pettit continues the series entitled “Run the Race,” with a message titled “Run the Race” from the book of Hebrews 12:1.
There are some significant elements in the book of Hebrews. It's actually shrouded in mystery. It's a mysterious book. Five.
What it has to say to us is not only clear, but the value for the Christian today is significant because it was written especially for those who are struggling with their faith and are on the brink of giving up and turning away the book of Hebrews was written for spiritual apathy. We have to press own. We have to be persevering. We have to run the race today on The Daily Platform.
Dr. Steve Pettit, longtime evangelist and now president of Bob Jones University is continuing a study series entitled run the race, which is a study of the book of Hebrews chapter 12. If you would like to follow along in the study booklet you can get one on Kindle or you can order a printed copy from the website. The Daily Platform.com you please take your Bibles and turn with me to the book of Hebrews chapter 12 Hebrews 12 this morning I grew enjoying almost every imaginable support as a child is a teenager and even as an adult I've always thoroughly enjoyed things that involve swimming or kicking or shooting or passing or catching or lifting or or or hitting or blocking or tackling.
I played on soccer teams football teams baseball teams basketball team swim teams and even a golf team, but there is one sport that I have never had an interest in participating in and that's track and field, where the primary activity is running. If you have a body like mine you will fully understand because at very short legs and I run more like a penguin than a horse and running a race. The goal is to beat the people around.
It's interesting to me that when the Bible describes the Christian life in a sports terminology. It speaks of running a race. First Corinthians 924 know ye not that they which run in a race run all but one received with the prize. So run that you may obtain second Timothy 47 I fought a good fight, I finished the race, I have kept the faith this morning as we read Hebrews chapter 12 we find the writer here is describing the Christian life in a race metaphor. Let's look at Hebrews 12 verse one this morning it says 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. Last week we began our series and we talked about.
Essentially, the big picture of the book of Hebrews. We looked at it, setting the time frame of it when it was written, and then we really talked about the style and how it's like to beat Saul where you have this exaltation of Jesus in you, you end up with this wow factor, and then the you have this exhortation to be faithful to Jesus and you have this woven factor allowing the low put together and basically throughout the first 11 chapters we essentially have this combination of exhortation and exposition and exaltation of Christ, and now we come to Hebrews 12 and basically this is the practical application of the book and that's what begins with the word wherefore because he's looking back to everything he has said and now he's telling us what we need to do. He says you need to run the race so three simple questions I'd like to ask as we try to unpack this one verse this morning. First of all, what is the race let us run with patience the race that is set before us and simply define the race is a description or it is a metaphor of the whole of the Christian life is the entire Christian life of faith and just like the race has a start and a finish so the Christian life has a start, and it has a finish when is the Christian life actually begin some people that grow up in a Christian home have a tendency to think that if a grown up in a Christian home and that mutton must make them a Christian.
Well, if you grew up at McDonald's. Would that make you a French fry growing up in a Christian home, Doug growing up in a garage doesn't make you a car, growing up in a Christian home doesn't make you a Christian. When do you become a Christian.
Hebrews 1023. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for he is faithful that promised the Christian life begins when there is a confession of your faith when there is an act of personal trust in the promises of God's salvation through the death and the life of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 414 seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast our profession getting inset getting saved involves a confession of faith. So let me stop here and ask you have you made a personal profession of faith. I grew up in church. My dad was a deacon in the Sunday school teacher at the age of 12 years old I went through a confirmation class and I I confirmed my belief in what the church call. I acknowledged it but I did not put my personal faith in Jesus Christ. As a result of hearing the gospel in a conviction over my sin and my need of Jesus. I didn't really get saved so I was 19 years old. There are many people who grew up with a head knowledge of Jesus and they'll confess their belief in Jesus, but there's a big difference between the head and the heart and it doesn't become real to you until you put your personal hearts faith in Christ. That's when the Christian life began.
But just like a race a race has to be run.
It starts with faith but it continues with faithfulness and you can't start the race and then stop it. Once you get in it, you're in it you start the race with the purpose of finishing the race. So what is the Christian life. It begins with faith in Christ. That's justification and then it continues on throughout your life. The race to what we call sanctification, and dad is a race that involves activity. It involves you investing effort. It's interesting that the Greek word for the word race is the word agon can you think of any word that is an English equivalent to that like agonize or agony. I look at some of the courses that our students have to take and my first thought is agony like calculus one to three and four. I could imagine the extreme pain that that brings to my mind.
Some of you looking Greek and you think agony and yet the word agon is more than paying. It's actually the idea of being in a great contest like the Olympics and is there pain involved is there agony involving getting in shape for the Olympics. Of course, but the pleasure that you have from winning far exceeds the pain you have from getting in shape. The idea of the word agon then is a heroic struggle in the Christian life is that it is a struggle. It is in agon, but it is overcoming something that will come to us in the future and it is challenging the Christian life is not a job. It's a race. It is strenuous. It is exhausting. It includes, for example, the pursuit of holiness and striving for personal Christ likeness.
It involves the resistance of sin. The Bible says run that you may obtain every man that strives for the crown.
The mastery is temperate in all things calmly times in the course of the day you have to say no to what your flash screams out the say yes to your self-denying, your so you're saying no to yourself. The idea of running the race is the idea of what is intentional.
It is commitment is dedication is sacrifice is pushing through the pain is being disciplined but the agon also involves not only the idea of sanctification a personal holiness, but it also it is the idea of being involved in the advancement of the gospel in the world and there's an agon to that there is an agon of planting a church are going to a mission field and starting a worker being involved in spreading the gospel. There is an agon to that Paul says in Colossians 1, whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily. Paul is talking about his gospel work and their sacrifice. And there's dedication and there's an agon but with that that is a part of the race so all of us as believers that were saved.
If we are true Christian that we should be striving in our life to be holy and we should be involved in the work of God. The advancement of the gospel taking light into darkness and taking the message that will deliver people from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear sense of the race is to be run and then let me say the race has to be run to the finish. See if the race is the whole of the Christian life. It has, it starts in the past when you get say you run the race but then there's a future to that and that is we faithfully run the race and the race is not completed until you cross the finish line. Where's the finish line will Paul said it. I fought a good fight, I finished the course of The faith he's talking about the fact that he was getting ready to die.
The race is done and the race is one when we when we are faithful to the finish. So let me ask this question which aspect of the race is the most important, the start, the finish or the run itself. What is the most important. Maybe I should assess question. Are they all of equal value and the answer is absolutely because salvation is an indivisible whole you cannot shop all justification from sanctification and you cannot shop all sanctification from the ultimate entering and the glory are glorification it sought God looks at it as an indivisible whole and in order for you to qualify for the reward you have to get into the race. You have to stay IN and run the race and you have to finish the race. You have to run to the end. In order to win. You can't win if you don't finish and if you lose, that is, you don't finish you lose everything you say are you saying are you talking about losing your salvation. My answer is absolutely not I'm talking about proofing your salvation because the authenticity of genuine saving a is proved in your faithfulness. It's not salvation you earn, but it proves that you are a genuine so he's telling us to run this race so that leads me to the second question, and how is it that the writer inspires us.
Everybody needs to be motivated.
We all need to be fired up and in the opening phrase. The author presents a very strong image to inspire us look at what he says in verse one.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, the writer's intention here is to challenge Christians through a couple of images and has both a positive and a negative motivation. By the way in life. We need both in our classes, we have a positive motivation of a high grade and we have a negative motivation of not failing, and we need that a battery has a positive and the negative pole. So what is the positive inspiration that he gives us look at what he says.
He says wherefore seeing we also compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses. There are two pictures here.
The first is a cloud of witnesses, a dense, thick cloud.
Now this is not a single cumulus cloud that is perched up in the sky behind a sea of deep blue and a shining sun but is the idea of the entire visible sky is blanketed with a dense, thick covering of clouds.
If you have not seen that in South Carolina.
It's obvious you're not from here because when the storms come. It's all gray above. What's the picture here think with me moment we have a great cloud of witnesses you and that means that means that we have not a handful of people that are in heaven, but we have a thick cloud of people who have run the race and they were faithful to the Lord and the race is over and they stand for us as witnesses. How many of you have known anybody in the last year who is die and they went to heaven. Raise your hand. Now look around. We had people who were teaching here at Bob Jones University last semester who over the summer.
Went to heaven and now they are part of the great cloud of witnesses, they ran the race. They were faithful to the race and during glory and you know what he says this is an inspiration to us, these people been faithful. What is it tell me it tells me the race is not as long as we think it is. I know you're young you're 18, 19, 20 years old. You think you have your whole life in front of you, but you're gonna blink and you're gonna be 30 married and you can have three kids and you're gonna blink and suddenly those kids are now graduating from high school in their thinking about going to college and of course ago to come to Bob Jones University and before you know it you're going to be a grandparent before you know it you can have more aches and pains and you ever imagine in your life at 18 years old, and suddenly you can start finding out that your friends are passing away, and you think life is really long knots really, really short and we have a great cloud of witnesses would run the race and they been faithful. But not only do we have a cloud of witnesses, but we also have the picture here of a jampacked stadium that is a stadium notice he says we are in a race and the idea of a race is racing in a stadium, for example in in ancient Rome the Coliseum with seat up to 65,000 people in the standard GM with spectators who are watching the race that I don't think the writer here is suggesting that there looking in heaven from us and us down here is were running the race. I think were looking to them as a testimony to their faithfulness.
Why, because in Hebrews chapter 11. He's just finished a whole list of people who ran the race and they were faithful we call Chapter 11 the Hall of Fame of faith and so we have these witnesses. These people that have gone before and there like a stadium that are packed and that we are down on the field and they are cheering its own in this great inspiration is set before us that it may did it. Then we can do it. We run the race we finish the way race and we win the prize. This little clip on what to play for you was sent to me this week from a friend of mine is an assistant pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, New Hampshire's name is Ben Lanphier and Ben just finished doing 1/2 marathon 1.2 mile swim 56 mile bike ride, and 13 point mile run. And here he is at the finish line is there cheering him all cool now how many of you would like to come running in the heaven and all of heaven's there to greet you. That's what I think of when I saw that race. Folks were running in a race. We have inspiration we have heaven before us, we have people who like our standing there cheering its own as we are running. Not this half marathon, but we're running this full marathon because life is a full marathon, so he gives is this positive inspiration but did notice secondly he also gives us a negative punch at the end of chapter 11. The writer makes an observation and notice what he says in verse 939 and these are all busy talking about talking about everybody in Chapter 11 who were these these were old testament saying and what does he say about them in verse 39, having attained a good report through faith received not the promise God having provided something better for us. What is that all about women. Chapter 11 the writers making this observation that Old Testament saints receive divine approval by what they heaven, but they did not receive the fulfillment of the divine promises. So what you mean by that.
Well, in the Old Testament what they received was not a completed message. In other words, the Old Testament was pointing forward to a better day. The coming of Jesus said he lived before Christ and so everything that preceded the coming of Christ was not as great as it was after Christ came in in the Old Testament, the saints were blessed people, but they were limited people in their relationship with God. For example, they did not have access into the presence of God and they went to God's presence they be killed. They did not experience full freedom from a guilty conscience over the past because they had to offer continual sacrifices and it constantly reminded them of their sin. They didn't have the power to change their heart because they didn't experience new birth regeneration with the Holy Spirit living inside of them and yet here's what he is saying they basically compared to us were handicapped, but they still won the race because they were still faithful. It's sort of like somebody who wins the alert the Olympics with the prosthesis. You know somebody ran the Olympics and they won the Olympics mean we cheer them out but what if they ran the Olympics with one good leg and they still want. We would be blown away and here's what he saying in spite of the disadvantages of the Old Testament saints. They still receive God's approval because they were loyal and they persevered in their faith.
Hebrews 1113. They all died in faith in Hebrews 1139 they received not the promise but they were faithful. So what is he saying in verse 40 it says that God has provided something better for us.
That is, we are living in a new and better day. What is at better day. It is the coming of Jesus is that he is common, died on the cross so that now all our sins can be forgiven.
He is calm so that now the Holy Spirit lives inside of us is calm, but now we have access into his throne room of grace and we can go to God in any time in our life and pray.
In other words, to put it very simple.
We have it better in all saints are living in an advantage position is the difference between using a typewriter and using a computer keyboard.
There is a difference and what you have today is so much better than what I had when I came to Bob Jones 40 years ago and I had to sit there with a typewriter to write papers now.
I still try. Did you still type we still get the papers at which you are better and managed. Now here's the punch that these and Chapter 11 did not experience the fulfillment of the divine promises in their lifetime, and yet they ran the race and they they won the reward and here's what he saying to you and this is the negative. If you and I have all these advantages and we don't prove ourselves to be faithful than we are. The biggest loser's losers big loser. So were challenged that we have before us. These people have been faithful, and God is given us everything necessary to live the Christian life if you don't live the Christian life faithfully is because you did not appropriate. The advantages that God is given. That leads me to the third and final question and that is what is the reward.
What is the reward that we get we know this, that victory is not determined by who crosses the finish line 1st. That's not the issue. The question is really who finishes because the real award some would think maybe the reward here are crowns in heaven and I believe the Bible teaches us about crowns in heaven.
I don't think that's what Hebrews 12 is teaching.
I think the reward for us is that we actually go to heaven. We actually enter into glory. And as we began in faith and we run in faith, we finish in faith, we persevere to the end. So that's what Hebrews is about. It's about the perseverance of the same and right here we have a little bit of attention because the Bible teaches the preservation of the saints, for example, it says my sheep hear my voice.
I know them and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
The Bible teaches us that God preserves us.
We are chosen in the kingdom before the foundation of the world. We are safe and secure. We are justified in Jesus Christ and we stand before him righteous in God does not condemn us. Nobody can can condemn us, so we preserved and yet we have this race we have to want me at the persevere and we have to be faithful and the perseverance is the testimony of our faith if we persevere. It's the proof that we have been preserved and it almost seems like it's two opposing truths and yet the Bible filled up with like, like, how can God know everything and yet we be responsible or how can the Bible be perfect and be written by imperfect men. Those are two truths that seem to oppose one another, it can seem like that but not really because it will definitely be understood in eternity is sort of like standing on a railroad track with two rails, one over here one over here. Maybe you're out west so you can see the rails as far as the eye can senior standing there and you're looking out and you see these two rails that are right next to you, but as far as the eye can see. And inevitably, what do those two rails eventually do in your eye that eventually what they come together and ultimately in the Bible, we have these anti-gnomes. These laws that seem to oppose one another, and ultimately they will come together and where they all come together when we are in heaven and we have perfect knowledge. God is put us in a race is an agon.
The focus is not on pain but the focus is on the reward and the reward for all of us who were faithful and persevere and believe and trust is that one day by the grace of God we will enter in the glory and we will be in his presence forever.
If you're looking for to that day. Would you say amen. God bless you. You are dismissed you been listening to a sermon from Hebrews 12 by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. For more information on Dr. Pettit series visitor website. The Daily Platform.com where you can get a copy of Steve's study booklet entitled run the race. The Kindle version is also available. Thanks again for listening.
Join us again tomorrow as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform