You are on page 1of 16

RUNNING THE RACE

OUTLINE

I. WITHOUT HINDRANCES

II. BEFORE SPECTATORS

III. BY THE RULES

IV. WITH PATIENCE

V. WITH PURPOSE

87
Lesson 1
RUNNING THE RACE
Running The Race Without Hindrances
Hebrews 12:1, 2

INTRODUCTION: As Christians we are in a race and in order to run that race well, we must be
properly prepared. We are to “lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us”.
To run successfully, a runner must run “light”. He must have nothing on or in his body that
might impede his progress towards the finish line. Imagine how ridiculous it would be to see a
runner with weights tied to his body, struggling helplessly down the race course. Such is the
picture we have here in Hebrews 12:1.
We cannot very well “look unto Jesus” if we are preoccupied with all those weights and
sins that are clinging to us. Anything that keeps us from progressing in the “race of life” is
either a weight or a sin and must be looked at as something that besets or hinders us. Our
“coach” very wisely instructs us to “lay aside” these things.

I. WEIGHTS
A weight may be something good in itself but under certain circumstances, a hindrance.
For instance, a coat is a necessary piece of clothing under certain conditions, but it is not the sort
of item which would aid a runner. A weight then is something which, in itself, is entirely
legitimate, but if used wrongly, becomes a hindrance in running the race. Sin is sin regardless of
the circumstances, but weights are legitimate things turned to a false use.

Here are some of the more common legitimate things that can be turned into weights:

A. Money. Money is a legitimate medium of exchange used in all modern societies and
a standard by which we measure the value of a thing. Nowhere does the Bible condemn money
as wrong or the use of it. It does, however, warn against “the love of money”, adding that it is
“the root of all evil” (I Timothy 6:10).
B. Pleasure. Having a good time, participating in or watching sports events of various
kinds, picnicking, camping, going to places of amusement are not in themselves wrong. But
they can, and do become weights which hinder us from running a good race. We all need
occasional periods of rest and recreation. Jesus Himself was aware of this basic human need
(Mark 6:31). At the same time, we must realize the extreme to which our present day society
has gone in its emphasis upon leisure and pleasure seeking. One of the signs of the latter times
is that men shall be pleasure seekers instead of God seekers (II Timothy 3:4). We must be
extremely careful lest a legitimate pleasure becomes a cumbersome weight.
C. Self-love. Self-love is a legitimate emotion (Ephesians 5:29). A person’s love for
himself determines his self-image. On the other hand, self-love taken to the extreme becomes a
weight to the Christian runner. A man must deny himself, said the Lord Jesus (Matthew 16:24).

Lesson 1 (cont’d)

II. THE SIN WHICH BESETS US.

88
What is “the sin which so easily beset us”? It is different for every Christian. Your
besetting sin may not be someone elses. Much depends on a person’s background and training.
Here are some of the more common “besetting sins”:
A. Lust. A dirty mind (James 1:14, 15).
B. Envy. An ill will at the success or good fortune of others (James 3:14 - 16).
C. Greed. An insatiable desire of covetousness. This is the spirit which provokes us “to
keep up with the Joneses” (Luke 12:15).
D. Unbelief. This sin is the worst of the besetting sins, for it leads to all other sins. It is
true that each of us has some special form of sin to which we are most prone, but it
seems the writer of Hebrews has in mind that one sin which, above all others, besets us
and hinders our effectiveness on the race track - unbelief (compare Hebrews 3:13).

CONCLUSION: By God’s grace we are called upon to lay aside these weights and besetting
sins (Matthew 5:29, 30). Jesus is not suggesting the actual removal of these physical organs. He
is emphatically teaching, however, that nothing should be so dear and precious to us that we
should allow it to hinder us in running the race. Whatever the particular sin is that hinders us,
we need to recognize it, call it by its right name, refuse to rationalize our practice of it and claim
the blood of Jesus against it.

1. If a runner is to run successfully how is he to run?

2. Anything that keeps us from progressing in the "race of life" is either a _____ or a ____.

3. Are weights good in itself? And when do they turn bad?


a.
b.

4. Weights are legitimate things turned to a false use. True or False.

5. What is the root of all evil?

6. There are four "besetting sins" listed, which one is the worst?

7. Why is unbelief the worst of the "besetting sins"?

8. What was Jesus teaching in Matthew 5:29?

89
Lesson # 1
Answer Key
Running the Race
Running The Race Without Hindrances

1. Light

2. Weight or a Sin

3. a. Yes
b. When they are wrongly used.

4. True

5. The love of money

6. Unbelief

7. It leads to all other sins

8. That nothing should be so dear and precious to us that we should allow it to hinder us in
running the race.
Lesson 2
RUNNING THE RACE
Running The Race Before Spectators
Hebrews 12:1, 2

INTRODUCTION: The famous “Honor Roll of Faith” in Hebrews 11 summons “a great cloud
of witnesses” who tell us of the value of a life of faith. They also, as spectators in the arena,
cheer us on to victory as we seek to imitate their example. We have here a reference to the
ancient Olympic games, so popular among the Greeks, whose culture spread through much of
the civilized world of that time by the conquests of Alexander the Great.
A great crowd of spectators usually occupied the seats of the amphitheater. In like
manner the apostle represents Christians as “compassed about” with a large number of witnesses,
spectators or fans, so to speak. This does not mean that all those who have died and gone to
heaven are actually looking at the conduct of Christians. It simply means that we ought to act as
if they were in the stands cheering us on.

I. THERE ARE UNSEEN WITNESSES.


A. We are being watched by God Himself. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy
Spirit are watching. God is not merely watching us in the sense of observing what we do, but to
guide us in the race with His Word and cheer us on with His promises (John 16:13; II Peter 1:4).
B. God’s holy angels are witnesses. These angels are called “ministering spirits”. We are not
told how many guardian angels are assigned to each believer. According to Hebrews 1:14, they
are in the plural. There is reason to believe there are many around us at all times.
C. The fallen angels are also witnesses. They are not in the grandstands to cheer us on, but to
discourage us and harass us (Ephesians 6:12).
D. All the saints of God who have died before us are witnesses. The great heroes of faith
mentioned in Hebrews 11 are among the spectators, those who have proceeded us. These
spectators in the stands give us the “home field” advantage. Their faithful lives, their victories
over conflict, their perseverance in the mist of trials, are like cheers to motivate us to run a better
race.
One of the most helpful things we can do is to study the lives of great men and women of
faith. (Those in the Bible such as Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, Esther, Mary, etc.
Others such as Martin Luther, John Wesley, D.L. Moody, etc.) Their lives cheer us on. They
are all an inspiring part of the “great cloud of witnesses”.

II. THERE ARE SEEN WITNESSES.


There are those who are watching us and seeking to help us run a better race, such as
parents, teachers, pastors and spouses. There are others in the grandstands who are there to
discourage us, not cheer us on. It may be someone who pretends to be a friend. They are not
helping us to run the race if they constantly seek to corrupt us with bad habits (Proverbs 1:10).

Lesson 2 (cont’d)

CONCLUSION:
Just as you watch an athlete and are inspired by his achievements especially if you are
young and trying to develop your own skills in a particular sport, so you too are being watched
as a Christian. You may be the only Christian someone knows. They are deriving either
inspiration or discouragement from your example. The manner in which you run the race is
exceedingly important for there are those who are watching.

1. What book and chapter is the "honor roll of faith"?

2. Why is God watching us?

3. What are angels called according to Hebrews 1:14?

4. Is it possible to have more than one guardian angel?

5. The fallen angels are here also to help and cheer us on. True or False

6. Who makes up the “great cloud of witnesses” besides God and the angels?

7. Are there "living witnesses" to help us and cheer us on, and also, to discourage us as well?

8. If you are being watched, and you are, what are they deriving from your example?
a.

b.
Lesson #2
Answer Key
Running the Race
Running The Race Before Spectators

1. Hebrews 11

2. To guide and cheer us on in the preach with His Word

3. Ministering Spirits

4. Yes

5. False

6. Saints who have died before us

7. Yes

8. a. Inspiration
b. Discouragement
Lesson 3
RUNNING THE RACE
Running The Race By The Rules
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 those 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, though 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 became 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 15 & 17).
Not only the 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).
Lesson 3 (cont’d)

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 people 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-sides. To keep the rules is to help the whole church, which, in turn, helps the whole
cause of Christ.

1. Is it left up to the participants to make the rules?

2. Is it impossible to run the race according to the rules?

3. Are we commanded to go to church according to Hebrews 10:25?

4. What is the badge of Christian discipleship?

5. To be filled with the Holy Spirit means what?

6. If a person denies Christ before men, what will Christ do?

7. Are we commanded to live separated and holy lives?

8. We are to get the Gospel out to the world; list the start & end of that command.
a.
b.
c.
Lesson # 3
Answer Key
Running the Race
Running The Race By The Rules

1. No

2. Yes

3. Yes

4. The love for the brethren

5. To be wholly submissive to the will of God

6. Deny them before the Father

7. Yes

8. a. Family and Friends


b. Local Area and Nation
c. Other Countries
Lesson 4
RUNNING THE RACE
Running The Race With Patience
Hebrews 12:1, 2

INTRODUCTION: We do not ordinarily think of patience as an essential quality in a runner,


but the word “patience”, as it is used here means perseverance or endurance. “Keep on keeping
on”, is what the Holy Spirit is telling us. This theme runs through the whole of Hebrews.
Abraham is said to have obtained the promise because “he had patiently endured” (6:12 - 15).
Moses is said to have endured because he saw “Him who is invisible” (11:27). Continued
patience is urged in the light of past endurance as well as the coming of Christ (Hebrews 10:32 -
37). In fact, we could say that the entire New Testament sets forth patience, through precept and
example, as one of the noblest Christian virtues (James 5:11).

I. ENCOURAGEMENTS TO PATIENCE.
It helps us to be patient when we consider that:

A. God is patient (Romans 15:4). How many times do we read that God is “longsuffering”
B. Christ is patient. We need only to look at His relationship with His followers to know
that He was indeed a patient man. They were fluctuating, fearful, sometimes proud and
arrogant; but He patiently bore with them and molded them into a mighty force that
world turn the world upside down. Even toward His enemies He was patient (Hebrews
12:3).
C. The Apostles were patient (II Corinthians 12:12).
D. God’s ministers are patient (II Corinthians 6:4; I Timothy 3:3).
E. Farmers are patient (James 5:7). Think of how ludicrous it would be for a farmer to
plant seed one day and the next day return to the field expecting a harvest. With
patience, he waits through storms, drought, changes of weather, etc., until the grain
ripens.

II. HOW PATIENCE IS ACQUIRED.


It is through trials and testing that patience develops. Paul said that we may well “glory
in tribulation”, for out of all the difficulties we are bound to encounter through the course of our
Christian race suffering, sickness, ridicule, etc., we are learning the all-important lesson of
patience (Romans 5:3, 4). James echoed a similar truth: “The trying of your faith worketh
patience”, he said (James 1:2 - 4).
Lesson 4 (cont’d)

CONCLUSION: The race is a lengthy one, more a marathon than a sprint. It extends
throughout the whole of our earthly life from the moment of conversion until the day of our
death, or when we are caught up to meet the Lord - whichever comes first.
The course is narrow and rough. The runner often becomes disheartened by the
difficulties encountered. But, though we may get tired in the work, we should never get tired of
the work (Galatians 6:9). We are tempted to become weary through the cares of this life and the
monotonous round of daily duty, as well as through the constant bombardment of anti-Christian
sentiments (T.V., classroom, books, magazines, unsaved friends, etc.). And yet, the Holy Spirit
says to “run the race with patience”, with constant effort, with unflagging zeal, with an
enthusiasm that never leaves us when the going gets tough.
Thank God we have others for our example who have run the race with patience - “the
great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 11). But most important of all, the Son of God Himself is
said to have “endured the cross” because of “the joy that was set before Him” (12:2).

1. Patience is an essential quality in a runner. True or False

2. What does the word “patience” mean?

3. How did Moses endure?

4. Name five (5) people who are patient?


a.
b.
c.
d.
e.

5. How is patience developed?

6. How long is our spiritual race?

7. We will get tired in the work but are we to get tired of the work?

8. Who set the greatest example of running the race with patience?
Lesson #4
Answer Key
Running the Race
Running The Race With Patience

1. True

2. Perseverance or Endurance

3. By seeing Him who is invisible

4. a. God
b. Christ
c. Apostles
d. Ministers
e. Farmers

5. By trials and testings

6. From conversion to death or the rapture

7. No

8. Christ
Lesson 5
RUNNING THE RACE
Running The Race With Purpose
Hebrews 12:1, 2

INTRODUCTION: We come now to the key of this whole matter of running the Christian race
- “looking unto Jesus”. What a wealth of meaning is to be found in that brief expression. There
is a purpose behind every race. Runners do not enter a race for the mere sake of running.
Behind all of the endless hours of practice, the Spartan regime, the personal sacrifice, there is the
thought of the goal and the victor’s stand. If there was no recognition in the end, no gold medal,
would there be sufficient motivation of the athlete to put his body through the rigorous training
necessary to compete in such games? Of course not. Neither is the Christian runner without
sufficient motivation (Philippians 3:14). The “joy that awaits us” in Heaven, with all its beauty,
delights and rewards.
The writer tells us that we are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses”; and we have
seen that these witnesses in the arena are the great heroes of the faith who have already run the
race and have entered into their reward. Their example cheers us on and causes us not to lose
sight of the purpose for which we have been called as Christians. We have seen that others can
do it, that is, reach the finish line, in spite of hindrances, discouragement or whatever, which
means that we can too.
But there is another and even better lesson here. We can look to Abraham and be
encouraged and to Moses and David and others; however, there is a greater than all the great
heroes mentioned in Hebrews 11 to which we are told to look, and that is to “Jesus Christ, the
author and finisher of our faith”. He alone is the source of power for all who run in the arena of
faith and who wish to reach the prize of the high calling of God. Let us consider the reasons
why we are to look to Jesus as we run the Christian race.

I. WE OWE SALVATION TO HIM.


Christ is said to be the “author” of our faith. The word “author” means the source of
something; or one who makes a beginning (Galatians 2:20). As children look to their parents,
the source of their physical life, for help and guidance, so must we look to the Son of God, the
source of our spiritual life. There is no salvation, no race of faith, apart from Him (Acts 4:12).

II. HE HAS PROMISED TO PRESERVE US.


The second reason we are to look to Jesus is that He is the one who preserves or keeps us
- He is the “finisher” of our faith. He finishes or perfects what He starts. What an
encouragement this could be in running the race (Philippians 1:6; I Corinthians 1:8). This gives
proof of the help which we have from Christ to finish the race that is set before us. For He who
is the author of our faith, and enters us in the race, is also the finisher of all that He starts.
Lesson 5 (cont’d)

III. HE IS OUR SUPREME EXAMPLE.


“Look unto Jesus”, we are told in verse two. “Consider Him”, is the expression in verse
three. Summed up, these expressions simply mean that Christ is to be our supreme example in
the race. For can we be truly Christian without resembling Him (Romans 8:9; I John 2:6)? We
look to Him for our example in love, compassion, meekness, courage, convictions, patience, etc.

CONCLUSION: We are to look to Jesus in every period, in every plan, in every decision, in
every trouble of our lives. We are to look to Him as we pass through the valley of the shadow of
death. And then, throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity, we will look to Him who authored
and finished our faith.

1. What is the key of this whole matter of running the race?

2. Do we run the race just to be running?

3. What is the “joy that awaits us” at the end of our race?

4. Can we finish the race like all the other heroes of the faith?

5. “Jesus Christ, the _________ and __________ of our faith.

6. Who is the source of our spiritual life?

7. Can Christ finish what He has started in us?

8. Can we truly be Christians (Christ-like) without resembling Him?


Lesson # 5
Answer Key
Running the Race
Running The Race With Purpose

1. “Looking into Jesus”

2. No

3. Heaven

4. Yes

5. a. Author
b. Finisher

6. Christ

7. Yes

8. No. We need to follow His supreme example of running the race of life.