I have been pondering more and more on the race and its end. I do not know whether it is because of age, the perilous times in which we live, or the passion I have in my heart to see the Lord. Whatever the reason is, the tape at the end of the race seems to be approaching at an alarming speed! I want to "hit" it running!
The Christian life is a "race" (I Cor. 9:24). It is seen in Scripture as an obstacle course that needs to be overcome (Acts 20:24 – "with joy"; II Tim. 4:7 – "finished"; Rev. 2,3), so that our "run" would not be in "vain" (Phil. 2:16). The "prize" (I Cor. 9:24) is set before us.
Hebrews is a compendium of truth, revealing salvation's history. I take my remarks mainly from Hebrews 12, a "revival chapter." Jesus is the example and the One to whom we look in conflict and victory (12:1-4). He encourages us to remain steadfast in suffering and in His discipline, in order to be a partaker of His holiness (12:5-14). The Lord challenges us to enter into the full birthright privileges (12:15-17). If we heed Him who speaks, then we can be assured of the crown and the heavenly city (12:18-29)!
Jesus: Author and Perfecter (vs. 1-4)
"Looking [away] unto Jesus..." is to be vitally connected to Christ by faith, love, and obedience. This is the basic foundation of all spirituality in the New Testament. We must "follow in His steps." We have not yet "resisted unto blood striving against sin."
Run, weary soldier of the cross. Run because the captain and leader of our faith goes before us. He who refused 12 legions of angels to deliver Him and who, as man, understands and identifies with your trials, urges you on. He is the Perfecter of your faith. Do not be intimidated by the devil, deterred by circumstances, discouraged by others, defeated by failures or criticisms, overwhelmed by false accusations of damnation, or destitute due to lack of human support. The blood of Jesus stands against all the "fiery darts of the evil one." Rise up again with a renewed faith and vision, not with comparisons to others or to their ministries. "Success" is to follow our leader and example to the cross and on to victory in love to Him and obedience to His Word! See the "joy that is set before you." The cross always precedes the crown! A "great cloud of witnesses" has gone before us and has conquered. They urge us onward and upward!
Disciplines of God (vs. 5-14)
The disciplines of God are an answer to your prayer requests (i.e. "to be like Jesus...make me holy...make me a man/woman of God...take all of me...) You have not asked for the process--to be rebuked, chastened, or scourged--but it is part of God's perfecting of your faith, life, and ministry. He is producing in you "the peaceable fruit of righteousness."
Inheritance Rights (vs. 15-17)
Do not allow the "root of bitterness" to grip your soul, producing a bitter fruit of anger at the Lord and His Church and unforgiveness to His servants. Give diligent search to rid the sourness of your soul, which pollutes others and robs you of receiving God's grace. Do not lose your heavenly birthright of divine priesthood, spiritual authority, and double blessing. Be on the watch and full alert not to forfeit the full blessings of God as Esau, who, though still a son (Gen. 27:38; Heb. 11:20 – he received a "blessing"), forfeited the most important privileges contained in the full possession of the birthright. Brethren, make your "calling and election sure" (II Pet. 1:10,11). Press on, lest having received the promise we fail to enter because of unbelief (Heb. 3,4), which is the beginning of the downward spiral, producing fleshly works and ministry without heart, form without power, and ritual without intimacy...all for a mess of pottage! Greediness and lack of self-control, materialistic desires, temporal pursuits, and proud egotism (Gen. 25:30-32) proved him unfit for Kingdom blessings (I Cor. 3). The forfeiture was irreversible.
Heavenly Incentives (vs. 18-29)
If we are to look unto Jesus, we are also to listen to Him (12:25). Let us give special heed...more than to angels, Moses, or Aaron. We have been called to heavenly glory--to the heavenly riches of the Church of God--far greater than that afforded to the OT saints. Oh, what heavenly realities are afforded to those who finish well the race. Run, then, with patience, fellow soldier, drink deep at His fountain of blessings and refreshment (Isa. 12:3-6) with a vision of the goal and the prize. There is no automatic guarantee afforded to the runners--full spiritual blessings of the heavenlies here on earth. These can be forfeited! Careless neglect, hardened unbelief, and spiritual laziness lead to misery and joyless service, spiritual poverty, and loss of rewards. Run on, saints of the most High, and "lay aside every weight" and any besetting sin that would hinder or cause you to stumble!
Let us receive grace (root meaning of the word: "something which gives joy...let us have thankfulness" [R.V. footnote]). Let us be joyful and thankful in the power that He bestows. The message is clear. The promise of infinite grace and the joys of entering into the full blessings of sonship are for those who "attain, apprehend, and press toward the goal of the high calling" (Phil. 3:8-15).
Run. The "course" is set. Our file-leader for salvation (Heb. 2:9) and faith goes before us (12:1,2). The Perfecter of our faith will guarantee full inheritance rights to all who finish the course--ruling and reigning with Him as an overcomer. Press on! The best is ever before us. He leads us "from faith to faith" (Rom. 1:17), "from strength to strength" (Psa. 84:7), "from glory to glory" (II Cor. 3:18). In Him there is opened an inexhaustible fountain of Salvation (Zech. 13:1). He never fails. You are nearer now than when you first believed!