I have been pondering more and more on the Race and its end. Whether it is because of age, the perilous times we live in, or the passion I have in my heart to see the Lord, I do not know. Whatever it 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.
A Look at Hebrews 12
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, we can be assured of the crown and the heavenly City (12:18-29)!
Jesus: Author and Perfecter (vv. 1-4)
“Looking [away] unto Jesus …” means 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 (vv. 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, ministry. He is producing in you “the peaceable fruit of righteousness”.
Inheritance Rights (vv. 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 in 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 Esau unfit for Kingdom blessings (I Cor. 3). The forfeiture was irreversible.
Heavenly Incentives (vv. 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 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 is “something which gives joy … let us have thankfulness”—R.V. footnote). Let us be joyful and thankful in the power which 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 to all those who “finish the course” full inheritance rights—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!
Your faithfulness to us is deeply appreciated. I know we say it often, but your partnership with us in love, prayers, financial support, encouragement, friendship, letters, calls, etc. have been the human instruments to sustain us. We are ever so grateful to the Lord and to you. THANK YOU (II Cor. 1:11)!
You are in our prayers. We labor following the Lamb as He leads, provides, protects, empowers, encourages, and comforts us. He remains faithful. We await the Day when we shall see Him in all of His glory … when the consummation of the Bride and the Bridegroom will be completed. Our rewards and crowns, whatever they may be, will be cast aside that we may behold and worship Him Who sits upon the Throne and the Lamb. There will be no night, no curse, no Temple, no sunlight, no death, neither sorrow, nor crying, and no more pain. The Race will be over and eternity will have just begun! I say to us all … ONWARD with no retreat (Heb. 10:35-39)!
Servants and joyful pilgrim-runners,
Reuben & Carmen Sequeira
Matthew 11:24; Luke 13:24