Hebrews 12:1, 2
INTRODUCTION: The phrase, “the race that is set before us,” reminds us that the Christian race has a predetermined course. It is not left up to the participants to make the rules. Furthermore, it is essential that we run according to these rules and not those of our own choosing. Not only in a race, but in any type of athletic event, there are certain predetermined rules to follow, else the participant disqualifies himself or is penalized (II Timothy 2:5).
We have all heard stories of an athlete who thought he might have finished first, nevertheless was disqualified because he went against the rules. In the 1924 World Series between the New York Giants and the Washington Senators, a man hit an inside-the-park home run in the old Polo Grounds, a run that would have won the game, but he was called out because he failed to touch first base.
Paul said, “I don’t want to break the rules and become a castaway” (I Corinthians 9:24-27). Like Paul, we should determine to run all the way to the finish line, and run according to the rules. The Bible clearly reveals the rules of the race God has set before us.
I. WE ARE TO FAITHFULLY ATTEND THE HOUSE OF GOD
Jesus Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). If we have the mind of Christ, and certainly every true Christian desires such an attitude, we will love the institution for which our Savior died. Clear command is given in Hebrews 10:25 not to be negligent in assembling ourselves together.
II. WE ARE TO LOVE THE BRETHREN
Twice in John 15 Jesus commands His followers to love each other (verses 12 and 17). Not only believers, but even the unsaved world recognizes that love for one another is the badge of Christian discipleship (John 13:34, 35).
III. WE ARE TO BE SPIRIT-FILLED
Although every believer possesses the Spirit (Romans 8:9 and is indwelt by the Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19), not every believer is necessarily filled with the Spirit. “…be filled with the Spirit” is a definite command of Scripture (Ephesians 5:18). To be filled with the Spirit means that I am wholly submissive to the will of God. Such a filling results in a dynamic life of power and productivity (Acts 1:8; Galatians 5:22, 23).
IV. WE ARE TO CONFESS CHRIST BEFORE MEN
There are some who say, “I will keep my religion to myself.” That is not possible in the Christian race (Matthew 10:32, 33). Please note the consequences of denying Him (verse 33).
V. WE ARE TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE
Absolute perfection is impossible in the human realm; but it is not only possible, it is mandatory for God’s peole to live separated, holy lives (I Peter 1:14-16; Philippians 2:15).
VI. WE ARE TO CARRY THE GOSPEL MESSAGE TO THE WHOLE WORLD
The Great Commission is binding upon every church in every generation (Matthew 28:18-20). It is awesome to think of reaching the whole world with the Gospel. We can best do that by first reaching those around us — family members, friends, etc.; then by helping to establish churches in our own local area and nation, then by reaching out to other countries and peoples through the work of dedicated missionary evangelists.
CONCLUSION: When each one runs according to the rules, we all benefit. As a Christian you are not running a solitary race. You are part of a team. All of your teammates suffer with you if for some reason you do not keep the rules. In football, the whole team is penalized if just one player is off-side. To keep the rules is to help the whole church, which in turn helps the whole cause of Christ.