Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV)
1 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,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Finishing the Race

Introduction
Knowing the facts about any subject is very important. We read books and attend classes to learn about any given topic, but merely knowing the facts about something doesn’t mean we can apply that particular knowledge. A person may know how to throw a perfect curveball but may not have the ability to throw the pitch. The same is true in the spiritual realm. An individual may know all about the things of God and yet have no experience and no relationship with God.

Jesus wants us to know about Him, but more importantly He wants to be the author and finisher of our faith.

The Bible uses many terms that can be applied to our life with Christ. The term “warfare” is a familiar one which shows we are in a battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are definitely in a battle this morning. Another familiar term is “walk,” which designates a life of progress, step by step. We are also told that our life with Christ is a “journey,” showing that we are on a trip with a real destination in view. The comparison I want to focus on now is that of a “race”.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV)
1 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,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The reference is to the Greek Olympics which were held every five years. It was a great honor to participate in these contests. Young men trained diligently in order to compete. They practiced with weights on their legs and ankles to build strength, and they practiced constantly to increase their speed and endurance. Their path was marked for them, and there were no shortcuts to the finish line. We can imagine strained muscles, veins showing, contestants gasping for breath, and beads of perspiration on their brows as they neared the finish line.

As in most competitions, the Greek Olympics had only one winner. However, in this Christian race in which we are involved today, we are in a competition with only ourselves. Every Christian can be a winner in his or her own personal race. As individuals, we must overcome temptation, our personal desires, worldly allurements, or anything else that will cause us to lose our focus and falter. The things that hold us back are called weights, and they will keep us from running a successful race. A weight will keep you from coming to church. A weight will keep you in bed instead of praying. A weight will put you in a recliner instead of seeking the face of God.

We should resist anything that might be a hindrance to us personally and deprive us of a complete victory. A person should cast aside all activities which keep him from giving his best and his all to God. In the end, we all want to be victorious in the Christian race. If we do this, we will be the winners of the race.

Matthew 24:13 (KJV)
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

You don’t have to be the fastest, smartest, or the most competitive. All you have to do is finish…

Hebrews 12:1 speaks of a great cloud of witnesses who surround us. Though our path in the Christian race is sometimes difficult, and we may even feel as though we cannot go any further, the victors who have gone before us leave a testimony of victory and an assurance that we too can have victory. Envision a huge stadium with us as the runners. The stands are filled with onlookers, many former runners who have finished the course. They are examples to us, they were successful and we can be too.

Others have gone before us and finished the race. Testimonies have been told of the victories gained on the trials and tests we face today. I repeat to you the following scripture:

Matthew 24:13 (KJV)
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Keep on serving God. Keep on trusting God. Keep on coming to church. Keep on the faithful journey. Keep on running the race!!!

As you can look to others who have gone before, there is a generation that will be looking to you and me for guidance and examples. As Christians we should remember that someone is watching our lives. We are silent witnesses for biblical truths of God to a young person, a new convert, or someone who is going through a struggle. Through living a victorious life and overcoming sin, we are instruments to help struggling Christians who may be fighting the same battles that we have won.

I conclude with the words of Paul which has encouraged me time after time.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (KJV)
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Let’s follow the example of Paul and stay in the race and finish our course. Running in the race is one thing but finishing is something total different and superior. Join with me and let’s finish the race together.

Pastor Kelley