OLYMPICS: “A YEAR
TO GO AND NOW.”
[Picture above: “Keeping to the Timetable: Lord Coe at St Pancras International, with the newly minted medals superimposed on the Olympic rings”: Daily Express July 27 2011.
“The 85mm diameter and 7mm thick medals, weighing in at 375-400g, were created by metalwork designer David Watkins. They show images of Nike, the Greek Godess of Victory, stepping out of the depiction of the Parthenon to arrive in the host city.
“On the reverse is a design based on the five symbolic elements:” Daily Express July 28 2011.]
Lord Coe said:-
“This means more to me than winning a gold medal.”
year today and Seb Coe might have to forgo his little
luxury of lying in bed listening to jazz …
because the world will be waiting for the opening of the greatest show on
earth. Coe brought these Games to
it brought a problem in
He will write his speech for the opening ceremony probably the day before the Games open, and maybe have another go at it later. “This speech is big. I’ll never do it again.”
the world’s best middle distance runner, Coe won gold at
“It will be 19 days in the office. I am starting to realize that I will never have been to the greatest track and field show on earth and seen less of it,” said Coe. “This is bigger to me than winning the Olympic gold medals. Rationally, getting this right has to be so much more profound than anything I did individually in my sport. I like to think I filled a few stadiums, got a few kids interested in sport, but no personal legacy can ever be bigger than this.”
“… I’m not sure
the country is fully aware yet of what impact the London Olympics is going to
have,” said Coe. “I’d say we’ve got about 70 per cent behind us and it is
growing all the time. But it’s better
than my last job [Conservative MP for
“I always keep myself one step removed. In
“I get nervous, but I control it by moving away from the hubble bubble. The honest answer to how I will feel on July 27, 2012 is that I don’t know. But, and again this goes back to my competitive days, if you have done everything you know you need to do, then you go in pretty confident.
“What you want is not to go in there with great big glaring weaknesses because you haven’t addressed them.
“That is why this year is so important, with the test events, because we don’t want to get to the opening ceremony and think, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s something we didn’t figure on’.
“If we are running around on the day doing last-minute things, that would be a real indictment on our organisation. If someone is saying at the opening of the tennis, ‘Has anyone got the balls?’ you are in trouble.”
Coe will have to get up earlier than his normal 5. 15am a year today. At 54, he still does an early-morning exercise routine and then gets a train into the office. It is just that the office has suddenly got a bit bigger.
“I’ll sleep on the evening of the 26th. If I don’t, it will be excitement rather than because we’re heading towards calamity,” he said. “July 27, 2012, will be the day you want to wake up to. I’m normally in the office by 7.45am and finish mid-evening, but the evening of the 27th will be late.”
There will be a hundred heads of state to meet for instance. “When the opening ceremony is on I’ll be like my friends in television, looking at it in components, watching if that bit comes in on time and that bit.” …
* * * * * * *
“One notes more in sorrow than anger that the history of the
Olympics has not always been pleasant. Nearly 300 students were shot dead in
By now the world knows in its heart that the 1996 Games should not
have taken place in
A record 197 nations took part … but the 10,000 competitors were
swamped by a media army.
As a driving force pushing the Games towards its Armageddon, the
media behemoth has been excelled by commercial cohorts. They first marched on stage at Los Angles,
and turned round the financial fortune of the Olympics. The temptation was obvious and
Juan Antonio Samaranch, the IOC’s president and a former Franco blueshirt, is the chief architect of this disaster. Encouraging growth, he has appeared to remain
oblivious to the moral and aesthetic costs and to the multiplication of the
Seemingly on an unstoppable roll, the right to stage the Games is largess for Samaranch and his group to distribute. As if a Medieval court, they travel from city to city, fawned upon, feted, and bestowed with largess in turn. As each “lucky” Games location is anointed, the IOC remains in the enviable position of royalty sitting back. While others do the work and shoulder blame, it can be consoled by the thought that local taxpayers will pick up any financial shortfall.
Given this role model, many competitors have been encouraged, in turn, to dedicate themselves to Mammon. In the past all contestants appeared to have, aside from competition, careers and jobs to consider. This is still the case with many, but worship by some household names at the monetary shrine has meant several are never out of sight in the world and other championships. Beneficiaries or not of sport’s new wealth, many of the star performers in Atlanta, including some of Britain’s, were, if not past their sell-by date, approaching it. Some of their challenges collapsed before there was even a chance to cheer. One result of this focus on big names in mainstream sports is that those activities whose real opportunity for a share of the limelight has been the Olympics, such as badminton and judo, now risk permanent life in the wings.
Another result is that the so-called major sports,
a slow turnover seems inevitable as leading lights push on into virtual
middle age. It is certainly a malaise
needing to be addressed in Britain, which in 1996 put on a lacklustre Olympic
performance with a medals total that equalled the number of golds
France took home, the penalty once again of being still without an inspired
sporting infrastructure. Minus the type
of enthusiasm that helped
A British government that has permitted playing fields to be sold off, rather than investing in the future, has to take immense blame, but other branches of our national life do not merit exemption from guilt. The media for one, with its penchant for ploughing a narrow furrow of sporting interests. And in athletics, it does not become those who have had the luck to carry off cash that might be more equitably distributed to cry that more money and facilities are needed. This is true, of course, but the need is lower down the ladder as well as for the elite.
The top rung feeds off the grass roots, such is the shift in sporting emphasis. Sports shoe companies, it seems, now command more loyalty than national flags. In tennis alone the Nike contracts of Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Monica Seles amount to $133m for 20 years. Paying for this are kids who mimic their heroes.
It was the East Germans who in the past showed notably how effectively drugs could aid performance. Tempted by cash cows, more competitors are going down a similar path. In their case they are going not just to sporting glory and national prestige, but financial wealth and an extended sports career, thwarted only by injury. Few in authority appear willing to confront the implications head on. When Michael Turner, a highly respected specialist in sports medicine, suggested before Atlanta that as many as 75 per cent of track and field athletes at the Olympics would have been on performance enhancing drugs, the hornet’s nest he stirred up buzzed furiously, but only with a puerile protest of ‘rubbish’.
Yet there are now drugs that cannot be currently identified in the lab, ranging from growth hormone to erythropoietin (EPO). It is said a few injections of EPO can increase the oxygen-carrying ability of the blood, improving performance by as much as 35 per cent, without a day’s extra training. Only the naïve get caught.
In-competition urine testing, in other words, has been made largely
pointless, ensuring that any exceptional performance is viewed with
suspicion. It is exactly what happened
The IOC survives such scandals because ordinary people fervently wish to believe in an ideal that crosses boundaries and transcends bitterness. But, if the link today between commerce and the Olympic ideal was shown to be based on spurious assumptions, commerce would depart, pulling the plug rapidly on finance. As it is, the form of Games now expands to every four years ensures that the IOC prostitutes itself for big bucks.
It has been said of
Grown so big, the summer Games have been called the ‘greatest show on earth’. Made analogous to a circus, that show now threatens the very basis on which the success of the Olympics has grown: the competitive ambition and natural friendship of young people joined in an unparalleled sporting combination. It is an irresistible image, dear to a public mesmerised by the profusion of sport erupting every four years, but an image now vastly distorted. To avoid defenestration, the Games need defusing.
An old suggestion, being resurrected, is to spread them in more manageable proportions among the number of nations, making them arguably less susceptible to terrorism. …
The bubble of the IOC’s self-importance needs bursting. … Rather than sink without trace in a quagmire, at least it would be better for the old ideal to go down in a glorious battle. That is what the Olympic sprint is all about.” (JOHN LOVESEY.)
* * * * * * *
OLYMPICS: A LONG TIME AGO ‘AND NOW’.
THE CHRISTIAN OLYMPIAD
By F. V. MILDRED.
The Apostle Paul refers to the Olympic Games as an illustration of the Christian life, and in particular singles out the foot race in these words:-
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so, run, that ye may attain” (1 Cor. 9: 24, R.V.) The foot race was the most highly esteemed of all the contests in the ancient Games, and Plato tells us that the herald used to announce that race first of all and call competitors into the stadium. It was the custom among the ancient Greeks to have a gymnasium linked with a stadium, because all competitors had to exhibit their prowess in the gymnasium before the eyes of the umpires before being allowed to enter the stadium.
stands for the church where Christians are trained for the stadium which is the
world. The isolated believer, the Christian who
shirks membership at the local church, is not being properly trained for the
stadium. For it must be remembered that
in the stadium of the world there are many temptations; there are even foes who
may trip us up. Satan and the hosts of
evil are intent to make us fall that the name of Christ may be disgraced
thereby. “We are
not ignorant of his devices,” but we need much practice in the good life
and in the service of the Lord if we are to acquit ourselves honourably in the
world. Think of the vast number of
spectators. The stadium at
Who are the competitors? Among the Greeks there were stringent rules as to the competitors. All had to be of pure Greek blood, and they had to prove that they had not forfeited their citizenship by any misconduct. They had to take an oath that they had been at least ten months in training and that they would obey the rules of the Games. For a month before the Olympiad began, each candidate had to practice before the umpires in the gymnasium attached to the stadium where the Games were to be held. Only [regenerate] Christians can take part in this spiritual Olympiad. This is not a race for [eternal] salvation, or eternal life; it is a race for the prize of the Kingdom, that divine Utopia which Christ will set up immediately on His second Advent. No one can win or merit eternal life; it is God’s [free] gift upon acceptance of His Son as Lord and Saviour. “The [free] gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord:” [Rom. 6: 23, R.V.]. But the Kingdom of the thousand years is a reward which can be won or lost. Hence the importance of training in the gymnasium (the church) for the contests in the stadium (the world).
There were five crowns giving in the Olympic Games
in the ancient world; for leaping, throwing the discus or javelin, running,
boxing and wrestling. Remarkably enough
there are five crowns mentioned in the N.T. as rewards in connection with the
kingdom. They are:- 1, the crown of joy for soul-winning; 2, the crown of glory for fidelity as pastor of a church; 3, the crown of incorruption for
holiness of life; 4, the crown of
righteousness for watchfulness for the second advent; 5, the crown of life for martyrdom.
Not one of those crowns is a gift; each is a reward to be won. For example, how can we secure the crown of
life except by martyrdom?
The Church today is worldly-minded and often spiritually helpless. It needs the tonic of this truth of “the kingdom as a reward” to stir it from its lethargy. The three things needed by the athlete are the same three things needed in the spiritual contest. Good food (the Word of' God), fresh air (prayer) and exercise (“exercise thyself unto Godliness”). If we do our part, the Lord will do His. The achievement of a balanced character and a useful Christian life of service are a blessed result of fellowship with God. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2: 12-13). It is clear that no unbeliever can do this. He must receive salvation first before he can work it out by the aid of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the unbeliever must be born again before he can become a candidate for the Christian Olympiad.
* * * * * * *
PRESS TOWARD THE MARK
A young Christian student of a Bible school, learning the possibility of being left behind when the Lord comes for His saints and having to go through part of the Great Tribulation became terribly fearful and depressed. A friend pointed out to him that his fear was a good sign of his spiritual state, and was God-given and God-commanded – “Let us fear lest a promise of being left us of entering into His rest” (the Millennium or Sabbath rest of the people of God, as literal, not spiritual, as the rest of Canaan which the Israelites missed through unbelief, and to which the writer was comparing it), “any of YOU should come short of it.” “Don’t,” said his friend, “be depressed in doing or being what God has enjoined you should do or be, but rather follow the example of the apostle Paul who, when he found he had, ‘not yet attained to the resurrection from among the dead’ and ‘counted himself not to have apprehended that for which he had been apprehended of Christ Jesus,’ far from being fearful and depressed, ‘one thing he did, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before he pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’” The young student saw his mistake, his depression was lifted, and like Noah of old, who “by faith being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with godly fear (R.V.) prepared an ark to the saving of his house,” he now with that same godly fear presses on towards the goal.
W. P. CLARK.
* * * * * * *
THE POSSIBILITY OF THE HIGHEST
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
Two of the Apostles asked of Christ the highest gift in the whole universe that any human could ask - two thrones on either side of His. “Can you,” He replied, “drink of the cup that I drink of?” (Mark 10: 38). We can, they said. You will, He replied; but the particular thrones you ask are not Mine to grant. Here is the immense question for us all: - Can you? In this moment’s violent world-storms, and with a strain upon us all threatening to tempt us to disheartenment if not despair, and with identical thrones before us, one golden utterance of our Lord summons us to the highest:-“ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO HIM THAT BELIEVETH” (Mark 9: 23).*
[* The difficult is that which can be done immediately; the impossible, that which takes a little longer.‑SANTAYANA.]
0ur first essential is to master the nature of the faith by which we ‘can.’ Faith is not believing that God will give us what we want, but that He will give us what He has said. Faith is simply taking God at His word, and therefore acting on every word of God: the Lord’s promise is not merely to saving faith, but assumes a trust that responds to every utterance of the Most High. So the Apostles said to Christ:- “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17: 5); and the moment the man, to whom our Lord spoke, heard the astounding words, “he cried out and said, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9: 24). So Paul says to the Thessalonian Christians:- “Your faith groweth exceedingly” (2 Thess. 1: 3). Faith is the live wire along which travels the shock of life; and the golden achievements of Hebrews 11, the mightiest miracles of the world, all were wrought, not by merely saving faith, but by the power that grasped and lived the Word of God, all down their years. Faith is belief in action; and the action can grow until it covers all that God has said.
The next essential is to remind ourselves of the trustworthiness of God. God’s character is in His word; and exactly what He is, every utterance of His is also. So on four mighty pillars every promise of God is based. The first is God’s holiness: God’s holiness makes it impossible for Him to deceive a soul: therefore the promise is meant. The second pillar is God’s kindness: God’s kindness makes it impossible for Him to forget the promise that He has made: therefore the promise is never forgotten. The third pillar is God’s unchangeableness: God’s unchangeableness makes it impossible for Him to alter: therefore the promise holds good. The fourth pillar is God’s power: God’s power makes it impossible for God to fail: therefore the promise is effectual. Faith is not blind: faith is the highest kind of intelligence in the world: it assumes, and acts upon, what are already the foundations of the universe - God, and God expressed in His words.
Now we see the boundless
horizon that opens before us. Paul
states it:- “All scripture is inspired of God and is profit able for teaching, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction which is in righteousness”: and is given with what object? “that
the man of God” - every child of God can become a man of God – “may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work”
(2 Tim. 3: 17). The whole Bible is given to create the whole
man. The Apostle James expresses it thus:- “That ye may be perfect and entire” - a perfectly rounded character,
accomplishing a fully orbed achievement - “lacking in nothing”
(Jas. 1: 4).
This was the golden aim of the Apostles – “Admonishing every man and
teaching every man that we may present every man” – God’s design makes no exceptions – “PERFECT IN CHRIST” (Col. 1: 28).
There is a peak of one Alps so lofty and difficult that it is said never
to have been trodden by human foot: there is no peak in God’s
Next, Paul reveals the secret of the power. “In everything and in all things have I learned the secret: I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST which strengtheneth ME” (Phil. 4:12). Our Lord had already stated it negatively:- “Apart from me ye can do nothing” (John 15: 5); but to the father, in close contact with Himself, He says,- “Nothing shall be, impossible to you” (Matt. 17: 20). The Saviour so knows His own reservoirs of power, He so realizes the limitless possibilities of the God-indwelt soul, that He says that the ‘all things’ found within the covers of the Book are constantly and forever possible to every born-again soul, through contact with Himself. When one of the martyrs under Queen Mary came in sight of the stake he cried,- “Oh, I cannot! I cannot!” Those who heard him supposed he was about to recant; but, falling on his knees, he engaged in an agony of prayer, and then, rising, cried triumphantly,- “I can! I can!” and he did. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Ignatius, with one arm actually in the lion’s mouth, exclaimed:- “Now I begin to be a Christian!”
It is well that we should realize sharply the negative of this truth. The faith in each Scripture is the wire charged with the omnipotence of God to fulfil that particular Scripture in my life: if I refuse that Scripture - whatever it be, on whatever subject - the wire falls dead; and the power to live it which that truth contained falls dead also. Our Lord was so painfully conscious how little His disciples, and much less mankind as a whole, would tap these infinite resources, that He utters a word of tragic pathos. To His disciples He says,- “O ye of little faith!” and to the world at large,- “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you?” It is the solitary cry of the unaccepted and un-comprehended Christ. It is as if He said:- “Take me home: I want to get back to where my Father, who is love, is never doubted; where blessing is never blocked; where love meets the response of a perfect trust.” Our doubt today must drive the same pain through the tender heart of Christ. “Whatever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14: 23).
So then we remind ourselves of the promises of God. Here are some of these amazing utterances. “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matt. 21: 22). With the solitary limit of the revealed mind of God in His Word, infinity of blessing and, achievement opens before us. “All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11: 24). We stand aghast at the tremendous sweep of these assertions of Christ, and there is no profounder exposure of our faithlessness than to lay side by side these words of infinite promise with what we actually get from the God who cannot lie. Speaking of the multitude “astonished with a great astonishment” (Mark 5: 42) at a miracle of Christ, George Muller, that modern master of faith, says:- “Faith knows nothing, nothing, nothing of astonishment. Take it from an old disciple, that if, when the next answer to prayer comes, you are astonished, it is a proof that either you had no faith, or that it had failed in the end. I say it again, faith knows nothing of astonishment. Faith is like a good coin - sure to be honoured. Whatever comes, we take it humbly and gratefully from God, and with no astonishment.” A woman noted for her faith was asked by one who had come from far to learn the secret of her life,- “Are you the woman with the great faith?” “No,” she said; “I am not the woman with the great faith; I am the woman with a little faith in a great God.” None of us can say more than that.
So we share the father’s cry. “Lord” - for he sees the whole Godhead in the face that has come down from the mountain – “I believe” - though my boy at this moment is utterly unhealed – “help thou” - the cry that never fails to move the heart of Jesus – “mine unbelief” - for faith can grow; and I want mine to grow exceedingly. A friend once complained to Gotthold, the German, of his weak faith, and the distress this gave him. Gotthold, in answer, pointed to a vine, twined around a pole, and loaded with heavy clusters of grapes. “Take,” he said, “for pole and prop, the cross of the Saviour, and the Word of God: lean on these with all the power God shall give. Weakness continually prostrating itself at the feet of God is more acceptable to Him than an assumption of faith which falls into false security and pride.”
* * * * * * *
One supreme and final Revelation has a message as challenging and bright with promise as an earlier section was with the inky blackness of despair. It is the message of the faithful servants, so called in Matt. 24: 42-47; the overcomers (Rev. 2 and 3, 7: 14, 12: 11, 21: 7), “the undefiled in the way,” here described as “the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb” (14: 4, 5). Listen to our Lord’s words in the epilogue:- “Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give to every man according as his work shall be” (22: 12). Chapters 2 and 3 tell us about these rewards. Chapter 14 is the Harvest chapter. It begins with the privileged first fruits who must be carefully distinguished from the 144,000 sealed Jews in chapter 7. Then follows the main Harvest (vv 15-16), when the wheat and tares are sifted. Finally comes the Vintage of the wicked at the time of Armageddon. We read of throned saints, of the crowned saints, of those who share in the victory of the Lamb and reign with Him a thousand years (20: 4). “The world (man’s artificial civilisation deep dyed in sin) passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” We are called to the heavenly citizenship of Philippians 3: 20-21. To be an overcomer means being a good soldier of Jesus Christ. There is a race to run; a prize to be won. “Look to yourselves,” writes John in his second epistle, “that we lose none of those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”
SAMUEL F. HURNARD.
* * * * * * *
By JOHN WESTON.
When the Saviour, having finished His great work on
the cross, had risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, God saluted Him
with these words, “Ask of Me
and I will give Thee the heathen for Thy inheritance and the uttermost parts of
the earth for Thy possession.” It
was ever His intention to give the world into the Hands of His Son as part of
His vast inheritance. The time has now
arrived and we behold Christ ascending the throne of His father David in
As Son of Man He sits now for the first time upon
His throne. He has no throne in
heaven. He is sitting, as He tells us,
on His Father’s throne. He came here as
King. “To this
end was I born - for this cause came I into the world.” But instead He was led to
It will be a wonderful earth. This earth will break forth into singing as never before. “And I saw an angel coming down from heaven having the key of the bottomless pit and having a great chain in his hand and he laid hold of the dragon. They caught that old serpent which is the devil and Satan and bound him for a thousand years and cast him into the bottomless pit and shut him up and set the seal upon him that he deceive the nations no more. But after the thousand years are fulfilled he must be loosed for a little season.” The world without sinners and without Satan. Satan no longer capable of tempting men. The whole world breathes relief. The Prince of Peace brings a permanent peace among all the nations of the world. “He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth.” “The nations shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” Youth and life will be greatly prolonged. A child shall be a 100 years old and men and women shall live for more than 1,000 years. “There shall be no more pain. Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Even the habits of the animal world will change. They will lose their lust for blood and their wildness. Instead they will sport together and a little child will be able to lead what were once wild beasts. Every cause of fear shall be removed.
The curse which had originally been pronounced upon
the earth because of man’s sin is taken away.
“Instead of the thorn shall come up the myrtle
tree. The wilderness shall blossom as
the rose and the mountains shall break forth into singing and all the trees of
the field shall clap their hands.”
Language is exhausted in Scripture in picturing the glorious scenes of
the millennial reign of Christ. There
will be wonderful fertility everywhere, producing teeming abundance, and it
will come in when man is at the end of his tether. All this when sinners have
been sent to their eternal doom.
Earth again is paradise. Even the
desert blossoms as the rose. And this
paradise will be a far happier place than
People are born during the millennium, but the parents have not yet received their new bodies. A vast uncountable number are born and many of them are not born again. It is man that is at fault, not his conditions nor his environment. Every man has a fallen sinful nature. Here all is as perfect as it can be under the reign of the Son of God. But children are born during the millennium and many of them have not been converted. Without the new birth, failure must be written on every page of human history. Of course, during the millennium, obedience is asked for by the King, but many, while outwardly obedient, are disobedient in heart. Christ says, “As soon as they shall hear of Me they shall obey Me.” The strangers shall feign obedience to Him. He knows it beforehand. Strangers to His cross and salvation, they obey, but it is feigned obedience.
This feigned obedience soon breaks out into open rebellion. When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison and shall go out to deceive the nations. God has tried man in many ways and now He says, Will man with a perfect government with My own Son on the throne, surrounded by believers everywhere and divine love and every blessing from heaven being poured upon him, will man then live a life acceptable to God? No. Will he still be at enmity with God? Yes. Can nothing cure him? Can his nature not be changed? No. God cannot change the old nature. He has to impart a new life altogether. Man must be born again into a new nature. Satan in his solitary confinement of a thousand years has not changed his heart nor subdued his will. Some people think that if man is put into hell for a great many centuries, after he has been there a long time he will be sorry for all he has done. Well here is the devil put into solitary confinement, but he comes out just the same. He walks to and fro in the world and quickly discovers that millions have not turned to the faith. He induces the vast number of these unredeemed men to join him in making war against the Son of God. It is Satan’s last attempt to defy the Christ of God. It is man’s last act of rebellion and sin. Satan gathers together a myriad in number as the sand of the seashore. After all that God has done and after this glorious reign of the Son of Man for a thousand years a multitude stands prepared to murder God’s only Son a second time. Helped by Satan they take their stand where sits enthroned the Christ, but the end has at last come. God’s patience and long-suffering is exhausted. “Fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them, and the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. That is, death will not be allowed to remain. “And I saw a great white throne and Him that sat upon it from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them, and I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened, and another book was opened which was the Book of Life, and whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” The heavens passed away with a great noise. There has been sin in the heaven - not in the heaven where God is, nor has Satan access into the presence of God. His heaven is untouched but the other heavens have been made unclean by sin. The heavens pass away with a great noise and the elements melt with a great heat and the works therein are burned up.
And He that sat upon the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.” The Lord creates a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Never again will the heavens and earth be soiled by sin.
Then cometh the end when Christ after putting down all earthly power delivers up the Kingdom to God the Father. When all things have been subdued shall the Son also be subject unto God, that God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost may have all honour.
‑ The Advent Witness.
* * * * * * *
RUNNING FOR THE PRIZE
who run for a prize are careful not to carry any superfluous weight, and do not
wear any long and trailing garment that might embarrass their free course, and
even throw them down. Hence our Lord
warns us, in the first of His parables which refer to the kingdom, of “the cares of this age, and the deceitfulness
of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in which choke the word, and
it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4: 19).
These, then, are the weights
which are to be laid aside. He who is seeking the riches of the
present world is not running the race for the kingdom. The earthly
blessings promised by Moses’ Law to the obedient Jew would be hindrances in the
way of one running the present race. And
Jesus bids the rich young man to lay them aside, and follow Him, on His way to
the millennial kingdom and its glory (Matt. 19). What will the Lord Jesus say to those
believers, who are seeking, with all their might, to gain wealth? when He has told us, that, into the millennial kingdom of
glory it is impossible [difficult] for the rich disciple to enter (Luke 6: 20-26).
No warrior entangles himself with buying or selling, or like pursuits,
that he may please his general (2 Tim. 2: 4). “Thou, O man of God,
flee these things” (1 Tim. 6: 11). While Abraham walked with God in freedom in a
Lot was hindered and entangled by a house within
R. GOVETT. (On Heb. 12: 1.)
* * * * * * *
By W. C. MOORE
E. E. SHELHAMER says:- “Hard as it is on human nature, yet I thank God for all the criticism and ostracism which has come my way. Many times I have been so crushed that for the time being hallelujahs were rather faint, but through grace I was enabled to keep smiling. Though they came from high and low, I did not receive one blow too many. True, some of them were uncalled for, some were unkind, but God graciously turned them to my account and they have broadened and enriched my soul.
“When I was penniless and friendless, I had to take everything. Later, when God smiled upon and gave me more or less recognition - then came the subtle temptation that has ruined more than one man: ‘You have suffered enough; you have some rights and it is beneath your dignity to silently bear these unjust misrepresentations.’ Thank God I did not yield! Many a man has gone down, after years of climbing to a place of influence and power, simply because he could not take in a magnanimous and Christ-like manner everything that came against him. Then he began to pull off in spirit from his brethren, especially those who had the courage to tell him his faults or inconsistencies. Next he was like a ship on the high seas without compass or rudder. And lastly, he was either a shipwreck, or worse, a floating derelict. God help us!
“When we get to the judgment we may find that misunderstandings and ill-usages have played a greater part in keeping us humble and getting us safely through to the skies, than anything else except the Blood of Christ.”
Instead of getting upset or riled by opposition and criticism, we should thank God for it. “In everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5: 18). Jesus says, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5: 10-12).
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5: 44). Pray for them - not against them. On the cross Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
We often lose our testimony by defending ourselves. When we “fight back” - our actions speak so loud that people cannot hear what we say. Love seeketh not her own - not her own reputation, not her own way (1 Cor. 13: 5.) “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Avenge not yourselves ... Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12: 14, 17, 19, 21). Take every affront, every insult, every injustice done to you - as a God-given opportunity for manifesting the love of Christ - thus following Jesus, thus representing Him, “Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, He threatened not” (1 Pet. 2: 23).
God blessed the evangelistic ministry of Chas. G. Finney in a very remarkable way for many years, - and, of course, he met opposition. In the midst of it God helped him, and he says:- “I said nothing publicly, or as I recollect privately, to anybody on the subject (of the opposition); but gave myself to prayer. I looked to God with great earnestness day after day, to be directed; asking Him to show me the path of duty, and give me grace to ride out the storm.
“After a season of great humiliation before Him, there came a great lifting up. God assured me that He would be with me and uphold me; that no opposition should prevail against me; that I had nothing to do, in regard to all this matter, but to keep about my work, and wait for the salvation of God.
“The sense of God’s presence, and all that passed between God and my soul at that time, I can never describe. It led me to be perfectly trustful, perfectly calm, and to have nothing but the most perfectly kind feeling toward all the brethren that were misled, and were arraying themselves against me. I felt assured that all would come out right; that my true course was to leave everything to God, and to keep about my work; and as the storm gathered and the opposition increased, I never for one moment doubted how it would result.
“The Lord did not allow me to lay the opposition to heart; and I can truly say, so far as I can recollect, I never had an unkind feeling toward Mr. - or Dr. -, or any leading opposer of the work, during the whole of their opposition. The Lord soon revived His work. The revival soon took effect among the people, and became powerful.”
“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God” (1 Peter 2: 19-20). “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (Jas. 4: 6). May the Lord help me, and each hungry child of God, in these closing, testing days - to humble ourselves as never before under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us in due time (1 Peter 5: 6) for His glory!
* * * * * * *
THE ADVENT AND THE CHURCH
I have not found a respectable or acknowledged creed in all Christendom, from the beginning until now, that teaches the doctrine of a millennium before Christ’s coming. I have not found one single passage in all the Bible that sustains the doctrine of a millennium before Christ’s coming. But, on the other hand, I have found a long and unbroken line of witnesses from the days of the Apostles until now, who testify with one voice that the hope of a millennium of universal righteousness, liberty, and peace before Christ comes, is a falsehood and a dream. I have found many eminent divines, who have blest the church and the world with their piety and wisdom, eagerly looking for the Saviour’s advent as the only thing that is to lift the church out of its present depression and gloom. And beyond and above all, I have found the Word of God everywhere pointing to the same great and glorious event as the only hope of the pious, and as the great link which alone can connect us with or bring us into the joys and jubilations of the millennial era. Theorize and speculate as you please, when the Lord cometh He will find the world as now, full of vice, unbelief, sensuality and guilt. We may prefer our vague dreams, and set them up against God’s positive revelations; but His truth abideth.
J. A. SEISS, D.D.
* * * * * * *
With eyes aflame, with panting breath, they come,-
THE RUNNERS, - every nerve and muscle tense, -
Urged forward by a thousand deafening cries,
On, on, they rush, when one, close to the goal,
For but one moment glances back in pride
To note how far he hath outrun the rest,
Alas! Tripped by a pebble on the course
He stumbles, falls, arises, but too late, -
Another sweeps ahead with blood-flecked lips
And bursting heart! One final, awful strain,
With human effort, grand, supreme,
He leaps into the air, - and falls in death
Across the line,- A VICTOR, but at what
A fearful cost! He gave his life, his all.
I ponder o’er this tragedy of days
“Hast not thou also entered on a race
My soul, in contest for a ‘crown of life’
A ‘prize’ thou canst not win except thine all
Thou givest! Then, be wise, and watch and pray
Turn not thine eyes one instant from ‘the mark’
For fear thou dash thy foot against some small,
Well-rounded truth, which in thy pride thou hast
Over looked, and thus thou stumble, fall, and though
Thou shouldst arise ’twould be too late to win.
“Ah, then, consider thy ‘forerunner’ Christ,
Yea, call to mind the ‘cloud of witnesses’
Around – those noble, faithful ones of old, -
And strip thyself, my soul, make straight paths for thy feet;
Breathe deeply of the Spirit’s conquering power,
And run with patient, meek, enduring zeal!
Almost thou hast attained, my soul, my soul!
Shall angels, principalities, or powers,
Or height, or depth, or other creature draw
Thee from the goal so near? Ah! Yes, so near
The glory-light streams through the parting veil;
Have faith, press on, one effort, grand supreme, -
And thou hast won in death love’s blood-bought crown.”
* * * * * * *
COMPETING FOR A PRIZE
[This tract was written at the time of the 2004 Athens
Olympics by a Presbyterian minister who had studied Classics at
The Olympics, more than any other sporting event, still represents athletic excellence, as the Olympic motto proudly announces: citius, altius, fortius – ‘faster, higher, stronger.’ The apostle Paul was a big fan of the Olympics. It comes out again and again as you read his writings. Describing the discipline and integrity of the Christian life he wrote: If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. (Olympic cheats take note!) In the last few weeks before his death he summed up his life using a picture taken from the games: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.
But perhaps the most challenging reference Paul makes to the games is this one: Every one who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
‘Strict training’? I’ll say! If this was true in Paul’s day, surely it’s even more true today, with the stakes, the pressure, and the training programmes all raised to a whole new level.
recent article in the Saturday Telegraph reported on the preparations being
Paul Green, going for the Taekwondo gold, on the possible long term effects of his punishing training routine: “People say, ‘Why do you put yourself through it? You’re going to be in a wheelchair by the time you’re 60’ – stuff like that. But I think it’s worth sacrificing things to get to your goal.”
Time magazine reported a few weeks ago on the training programme for the elite Romanian gymnasts. From the age of fourteen, the country’s top fifteen gymnasts live in a specialised training camp all rear round. They have eleven or twelve training sessions each week, and all other aspects of their lives are carefully controlled.
They are allowed only one or two visits home during the year. One Romanian sports writer says, ‘[It’s] like a military camp – titanic work, military discipline and special diet.’
Why do these athletes do it? Paul says, For a crown that will not last. In Paul’s day it was a wreath of pine or parsley leaves. It looked well for a day or two, but after a while it withered and disintegrated. All that labour and effort, but nothing lasting to show for it.
Of course gold medals have replaced the pine wreaths and last longer than their owners do. But even if the medal lasts, a souvenir of a glory day long past, will anyone remember?
Olympic reunion centre in
But the brutal fact is they are forgotten. How many Olympic gold medallists can you name out of the many thousands? These men and women trained to phenomenal, almost superhuman lengths to become the best of the best. Yet how few are really remembered? Their ‘immortality’ has a short shelf life. Even Olympians grow old – those once world-class muscles grow frail. And in the end their all too mortal bodies will die.
If even Olympians can’t achieve lasting glory or immortality, what hope is there for those of us whose bodies, minds and lives are considerably more average? We have our own goals and ambitions – perhaps not an Olympic medal, but a happy marriage, a bigger home in a nicer part of the country? That new model car you’ve been admiring in the showroom? A string of G.C.S.E. or A-level passes, a good degree? To make a success of your own business? To get the golf handicap down to scratch? To make the 1st.XV?
What would Paul say about such ambitions? Not that there’s anything wrong with them in and of themselves – but they’re ‘crowns that will not last’. If this world and this life was all there is, it mightn’t matter so very much. If death really is the end of everything, I suspect most of us would settle for a crown that only lasts 50 or 60 years. But death is not the end. The Bible says so, and – if you’re honest with yourself – you know it’s true as well.
The great good news of Christianity is that, as Paul puts it, there is “a crown that lasts forever”. Jesus Christ, God himself, came to earth and lived and died to give everlasting life to anyone who trusts in him. Life in all its fullness to all eternity. There’s [also*] a goal worth pursuing! If we [Christians] live as though this life is our lot we are making the biggest mistake it’s possible for a human being to make – one we will regret forever.*
[* Note. “Everlasting life” and the “goal” are not synonymous, as many of the regenerate imagine! – Ed.]
* * * * * * *
THE ARENA OF FAITH
By ERICH SAUER.
[Translated from the German by G. H. LANG.]
Isthmian games were a festival of Ionians, and stood at first under the
The Isthmian games were held in honour of Poseidon the god of the sea. Their site was a spruce grove dedicated to him.
Pythian games were held near Delphi, in the region of Phocis, near the foot of
Pythian games commenced in
the year 586 B.C. At first they were
musical competitions, and were songs accompanied by playing the cithara, lute,
and lyre (a form of the guitar), and later the flute. Afterward gymnastic contests were added, such
as chariot and horse races. As the laurel
was sacred to the sun god Apollo, the victor’s garland at
fourth chief Grecian games were held at
Paul’s time athletic games were held in most Roman provinces. Almost every city had its regularly recurring
contests, the organization of which belonged to the most important duties of
the local authorities.
[* Some of these Asiarchs had friendly relations with Paul (Acts 19: 31)]
sporting festivals were held in almost all the cities to which the seven
letters in the book of Revelation were addressed, for example,
The festival fell in the time of the new moon after the summer solstice, about the beginning of July. When to the simple races other contests were added, the duration of the games was gradually extended from one day to five.
In the year 776 B.C. a certain Koroibos won the race. Thenceforward the name of the victor was registered. This year was also the beginning of the reckoning of the Olympiads. An Olympiad was the four-year interval from festival to festival. But this reckoning did not apply to the common civil life.
The most flourishing period of the Olympian games was in the sixth and fifth centuries B. C., until the Peloponnesian war (431-404). But in spite of all the conflicts between the Grecian tribes they continued, and even under the Roman rule. Indeed, Roman Emperors, as Nero, sought to gain the honour of the Olympian Victor’s wreath.
at the entrance to the central sacred circle stood the holy wild olive tree
(Gk. elaia kallistepbanos) from which were taken the twigs for the
victor’s wreath. Close by was the vast
temple of the Olympian Zeus. Floors, columns, and statues were found in place
and are now in the
The Olympian Games continued in changed form until the fourth century after Christ, when they were forbidden by the emperor Theodosius, as a relic of heathendom. This was in A.D. 394, that is, after the 293rd Olympiad.
AMPHITHEATRES AND CIRCUSES OF THE ROMANS: CIRCUS
MAXIMUS AND COLOSSEUM AT
The games and contests of the Romans bore another stamp. With them the amphitheatre and the circus were the characteristic places.
The Roman amphitheatre was an oval or circular
building, without roof, with surrounding rows of seats forming ascending
steps. The interior space was separated
by a wall from the area of seats. It was
strewn with sand and was the scene of the contests. It was therefore called the arena (Lat., arena, sand).
It was surrounded by cages for the beasts and rooms for the
combatants. The lowest row of seats was
for the umpires of the games. The place
of honour was the Podium. Here sat the
Institutor of the games, and likewise the vestals, the priestesses of the State
and of the goddess Vesta. Next above were the seats of the senators,
the knights, and the people. For
protection from the sun and rain large awnings (Lat. velaria) could be drawn over the
heads of the onlookers. The author has
seen in the amphitheatre at
crowds gathered to these games in the amphitheatre. Even the night before the games the people
streamed there to secure seats: for though the space was so vast it was
nevertheless difficult to find room. The Flavium Amphitheatrum, built by the Emperors Vespasian and Titus,
the so-called Colosseum, in Rome, had over 50,000 seats. That of Scaurus
held 80,000 persons. From literature or
from ruins a total of some 270 Roman amphitheatres are known. They were found all over the
Such an amphitheatre must have been a splendid sight. Every seat would be occupied. Beneath, the nobility, senators, senior officers, ladies in richest apparel sparkling with gold and jewels. The Vestal priestesses of the State in priestly attire. Far above sat the common people, the peasantry, the soldiers - even slaves had free access. High over the arena an awning was spread; coloured carpets decorated the balustrades; flags flew on their staffs; garlands of roses climbed from pillar to pillar. Between were shining statues of the gods, before which stood bowls of incense. Often figs, dates, nuts, and cakes were thrown among the people, as well as roasted fowls and pheasants. Lotteries were distributed, by which could be won garments, furniture, gold, silver, even houses and estates. In one day a lucky man could become rich. Everything breathed of pleasure and happiness. They laughed and joked, spun love-stories, and made bets for or against each contestant: yet what a horrid spectacle it was that the crowd awaited!
The other place of the Roman games was the circus. The name comes from the Latin word circus = circle; but its form was not a circle, but a wide far-stretching racecourse. There was racing, boxing, and wrestling at the great Circensian Games (Lat. Ludi Circenses), which were known everywhere in the Mediterranean world. It is these contests which Paul not seldom uses as pictures of the conflicts of the spiritual life.
largest circus was the Circus Maximus in
Among the Romans, besides foot‑racing, wrestling, and boxing, horse and chariot races played an important part, and to a large extent also fights of wild beasts. They were more prominent than foot-racing. Indescribably ferocious and lustful spectacles took place in both the circus and the amphitheatre of the Roman world in the time of the Emperors.
In the great Hellenistic cities, the manner of life of the masses, who did little or no work, became more and more degenerate. Panem et circenses - Bread and games! - these they demanded from their rulers. By day they stood about idle: in the evening they went to the amphitheatre, this disgusting invention of Roman brutality. In addition to this there came a senseless exaggeration of sport. The mad emperor Caligula could without risk think of nominating his favourite horse Incicatus to be Consul (!), and thus the chief officer of State. The emperor Nero himself appeared as charioteer, singer, musician, and poet, and toured the provinces with a senseless display of splendour as an actor and stage performer.
In the amphitheatre, before thousands upon thousands of spectators, the gladiators (Lat. gladius, sword) fought for life or death. If one spared himself he was driven on with red-hot rods. Great was the enthusiasm when one picturesquely fell in the battle, while thousands applauded. Caesar caused not only that man should fight with man but that bands should encounter bands; 300 horsemen against 300 horsemen, 500 footmen against 500 footmen, 20 elephants against 20 elephants. After the completion of the amphitheatres, especially after the time of Caesar, the wild beast conflicts were more often performed there, rather than in the circuses.
Water was let into special basins, and the spectators were treated to regular sea-fights. Whole flotillas contended. The emperor Claudius (mentioned in Acts 11: 28; 18: 2) gave on the Fucin lake a spectacular sea-fight between galleys with three banks of rowers and those with four, seating altogether 19,000 men. Domitian, the contemporary of the apostle John, caused a new and still greater lake to be dug, on which fought fleets in full war array. All this was not mimic war, but real fighting in which thousands fell or were drowned.
If these displays might in some sense have given a certain impression of magnificence, the execution of criminals, which also took place among the shows in the amphitheatre, could offer only the exhibition of the horrible and vulgar. Bound to stakes, the condemned were completely defenceless against starving wild beasts. Sometimes they were allowed weapons, but only to the prolonging of their torment. Robbers, hanging on crosses, were torn limb from limb by bears. Often these executions were given a theatrical, mythological and dramatic form, wherein the condemned played the part of some dying hero of heathen legend or stories of the gods. One saw Mucius Scaevola hold his hand over a bowl of burning coal or Hercules mount the pyre and burn.
possibly in the time of Nero, and so of Paul, this dramatic, mythological
form of execution was applied also to Christians. The crowd
delighted when the martyrs were made to play the part of Hercules, who was
burnt, or of Ixion, who was broken on the wheel, or
of Marsyas, whose skin was stripped from his living
body. Women must appear as Dirce, who according to tradition was tied by the hair to a
bull and dragged to death. Such suffering is reported of the renowned
martyr Perpetua near
Usually the bloody spectacle began with a parade of gladiators in full armour. Before the Emperor and his suite they laid down their weapons and cried, “Ave, Caesar; morituri te salutant!” “Hail, O Caesar; those about to die greet thee!”
First came a mimic battle. Then the trumpets gave the signal, and the fight with sharp weapons began. Gladiators stepped forward, singly or in bands, with sword, dagger, or net. Horse-men with long lances charged one another. Others fought from chariots.
If one fell alive into the hand of his opponent, the spectators decided for life or death. If they waved their kerchiefs or held their thumbs upward, then life was granted. But if they turned their thumbs downward that was the order for the death-stroke. Even light-minded and frivolous women and girls gave the sign that sent a man to death.
all parts of the world wild beasts were hunted to provide for the
When the first blood flowed there rose the roar of the crowd and their cries of approval. There was downright thirst for blood. Even before the defeated had time to appeal for mercy the cry for blood resounded and the stroke followed that ended life. Slaves, in the garb of the god of the underworld, dragged the still convulsing bodies into the room of the dead. This was done by hooks thrust into the breast. The victors received palm branches, gifts of money, and costly foods. They were “satiated,” made “rich,” and treated as the “kings” of the day (cf. 1 Cor. 4: 8).
In the intervals the blood-soaked sand was shovelled from the arena. Negroes scattered fresh sand, scented water was sprinkled. Then the blood-shedding began afresh.
To keep up the nervous excitement by ever keener stimulus, the items of the programme became ever sharper and bloodier. The “last” conflicts were the most terrible and exciting.
All this must one keep in mind to understand certain expressions of the picture language as it is employed in the letters of Paul, especially in his first epistle to the Corinthians when he warns them against self‑security and self‑exaltation.
THE ROMAN AMPHITHEATRE AND
PAUL’S FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE
“For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death; for we are made a spectacle unto the world and to angels and men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong: ye have glory but we have dishonour. ... Already ye are filled (satiated), already ye are become rich, ye have reigned without us” (I Cor. 4: 9, 10, 8).
Observe the words “spectacle” (Gk. theatron), “filled” (satiated), “rich,” “reigning as kings” (feeling as if one were a king), set forth as the “last.” In this particular bringing together of the terms may there not lie a special view-point of the apostle? Indeed, in these remarks of Paul, in which, by use of holy irony, he contends against the pride of the Corinthians, it appears that he has in mind the proceedings in the games in the arena. He compares the Corinthians and himself with those who step out into the circus or amphitheatre. At the start came the lighter and less dangerous combats. The last items on the programme became the fiercest contests when it was a matter of life and death. Also the execution of criminals condemned to die took place, as we saw, in the arena in broad theatrical publicity.
Paul compares the Corinthian Christians to those who entered the arena at the beginning, who had the easier battles, and thus, of course, had usually finished their contests first. Thy apparently had already won their victory, while he had still to fight. So in holy irony he says: You have already received your gifts, even as the victorious combatants in the arena were richly rewarded by coins flung down by the lockers on: “you are rich.” You have already had your feast, even as the fighters in the arena who conquered had a great meal: “you are filled” (satiated). You have been already honoured and feel yourselves to be kings: “ye have reigned as kings.”
But all this did not alter the fact that these so haughty, self-conceited Corinthians had faced only the easier battles. Therefore their wrestlings and apparent victories were only like the first, the easier part of the programme of the spectacle (theatron) in the arena. But Paul and his fellow-workers had to maintain the harder battle. Theirs was like the last items of the programme. They were epithanatioi, that is, gladiators, whose contest ended in life or death, or those who were adjudged to die, and so to experience the worst. Their battle was more serious than that of those who suppose all is so simple, so matter of course, so secure. His devotion was more definite; he did not shirk the hardest fight. Therefore he goes on to say:-
“Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and we toil, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat; we are made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things, even until now. I write not these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children” (1 Cor. 4: 11‑14).
There is another reference to the spectacles in the arena of circus and amphitheatre in this word of the apostle in the same letter:-
“If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at
[*See the following Item on the resurrection of reward.]
Paul had not literally had to fight with wild beasts in the amphitheatre at
So that the expression can only be figurative. In
by his remark, “I have fought with wild beasts in
Ephesus,” Paul cannot have meant the uproar of the silversmith Demetrius
and the stupid, unbridled raging of the thoughtless, excited mob in the
theatre (Acts 19: 23‑34). For
Paul had indeed written the first letter to
Therefore that letter must have been written earlier, and his reference to fighting with wild beasts must refer to previous experiences. The passage can only be understood either that Paul had in mind some special single attack in Ephesus of which we do not know, or that he desired to indicate in general that everywhere raging enemies had surrounded him, so that he himself had always afresh risked his life for Christ’s sake. But all this he had been enabled to do and suffer only in view of the resurrection and perfecting, the triumph of the work of Christ and the glory of the world to come. Therefore only faith in the resurrection gave him the strength to devote himself so fully and wholly to his Lord and Redeemer.
the amphitheatre that world of the apostle is simply not to be imagined. Also as regards the names of the twenty-five
brethren and sisters of the church in Rome found in the salutations of the
apostle at the close of his epistle to the Romans, we shall certainly not be mistaken if we say that not a few of those
greeted ended their earthly life in the arena. The persecution of the Christians by Nero (A.D. 64) broke out only a very
few years after the letter to the Romans was written. Now it is always the faithful who are the
first to be persecuted, so that it may be taken for granted that not a few became
martyrs for Christ whom Paul described here as “fellow-workers in Christ Jesus ... beloved in the Lord
... approved in Christ ... who laboured much in the Lord” (Rom. 16: 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12). Over Romans 16
flames the awful glare of the burning of
But let us never forget that the witnesses of the martyr church of the first centuries would not have been vigorous enough to offer up their lives in full devotion to Christ even unto death unless they had previously lived a life of consecration and testimony. They would never have been able to die and conquer in the arena of the amphitheatres had they not proved steadfast and true in the arena of faith.
Only he who proves faithful in the practical tests of daily life can stand fast in the great tests and trials of special situations. Only he who conquers in the ordinary will be able to conquer in the extraordinary. Only he who is faithful in the small things can be faithful in the great (Luke 16: 10). But such an one will then also have the blessed experience “as thy days, so thy strength” (Deut. 33: 25). To the faithful the Lord will grant special accessions of His strength in special circumstances. But faithfulness and devotion are prerequisites for all Divine gifts and blessings.
Therefore despise not the commonplace. Do not underestimate the need of being victorious in the small burdens and tests. Mere admiration and enthusiasm for those heroic martyrs in the time of the ancient Roman emperors does not help us today. We should not only look on and admire but be practical followers of their faithfulness and devotion to Christ. Faith in final victory involves responsibility to live victoriously today. The heroism of Christ’s witnesses in the arena of circus and amphitheatre should be to us an unforgettable spur to self-denial, endurance, and steadfast striving towards the goal, in the arena of faith. This is the reason why in our present exposition we have given so detailed a description of the circus and amphitheatre. We obtain insight into the surroundings of the early Christians. We understand certain New Testament allusions and references to those conditions. But we are thereby also impressively called to unreserved devotion of our own life to Christ. Thus shall we be runners in the race, followers of Christ’s witnesses of former times, and shall together with them become partakers of the coming final glorious victory.
“Therefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses . . . let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12: 1).
Let us consecrate our life to Christ! Let us press on in the arena of faith (Heb. 6: 1).
3: 11 we have our first
unfolding of the gravity of the words: “If by any means I might attain unto the out-resurrection out of the
dead”*; the stress should be
upon the first clause: “if by
any means I might attain.” Paul counted all things but loss for Christ, yea, he had suffered the loss of all things, and suffered
them gladly. Then, he had specified his
ambition to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship
of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death – all of this is
included in the words, “if my
any means.” Thus there was no length to which Paul was
not ready, willingly, to go, that he might attain the out-resurrection. - R. E. NEIGHBOUR,
God’s reward awaits our giving. “Charge them that are rich in this present age, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate (their wealth); laying up in store a good foundation” – the investment of a substantial sum – “against the time to come, that they lay hold on the life which is life indeed” (1 Tim. 6: 19) – the glory of the Millennial Life; or, as Mark puts it, - “in the age to come [the Millennium] eternal life.” As Augustine says:- “Beware lest ye be like the man of earth, who when they awaken in another world, awake with empty hands, because they placed nothing in Christ’s hands, which were stretched out to them in the hands of His poor and needy.” Or as our Lord puts it:- “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon (a Syrian or Aramaic word meaning ‘money’) of unrighteousness” – earthly wealth – “that when ye shall fail” – in death – “they” – the friends you have so made – “may receive you into the eternal tabernacles” (Luke 16: 9). – D. M. PANTON.
2. HADES THE PLACE OF THE DEAD.
However dim Scripture may be in its portrayal of the intermediate state, it is at least explicit in negativing the current conceptions of Hades, both Roman and Protestant. Nothing short of a betrayal of the original Christian position has been the abandonment, through sheer unbelief, of the clauses in the Creed on Hades and the Ascension: if these clauses are merely figurative and pictorial (the Modernist legitimately retorts) so can be the clauses on the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. Thus also the modern obliteration of the doctrine of Hades has dislocated, and to a large degree nullified, the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead, which, when an intermediate world is eliminated, is made so unnecessary as to slip out of belief. The elimination of a single truth is a hurt done to all revelation. Mr. Govett sets the state after death on its Scriptural foundations. - THYNNE AND JARVIS.
“ ‘The dead in Christ shall rise’ – not descend – ‘to meet the Lord in the air’ (1 Thess. 4: 16)*. …
* The actual locality of Sheol, or Hades, is indicated by such scriptures as these:-
Matt. 12: 40; Num. 16: 30-33; 1 Sam. 28: 13,
14; Job 26: 5, 6; Amos 9: 2; Eph. 4: 9; and Ps. 63: 9. So scripture speaks
into it (Prov. 1: 12; Isa. 5: 14; Exek. 31: 15, 16), and of rising
up out of it (1 Sam. 2: 6; Ps. 30:
3’ Prov. 15: 24;
* * * * * * *
THE CROSS IN THE COLOSSEUM.
Years ago we were in the Colosseum. It is the site where formerly the Golden
House (Lat. Domus Aurea) of
Nero stood, a vast palace with many villas and gardens, fountains and lakes,
and halls adorned with gold, marble, and ivory.
It was the scene of Nero’s persecution of Christians, where shortly
after Paul’s time they were killed in the most horrible ways. Fifteen years after Nero the emperors Vespasian and Titus, of the Flavian house, built the
vast Flavian amphitheatre, the greatest example of
Roman construction. The name Colosseum was given only later in the Middle Ages because of the nearness of a colossal statue of
Nero (Lat. Colossus Neronis). By night the mighty ruins
rear against the sky like a spectre. The
most important walls, rows of seats, boxes, and doors can still be plainly
recognized. We entered the former
Imperial box and gained an impressive view.
We saw the box where sat the Vestal priestesses in white robes, the
priestesses of the State, who had the chief decision for life or death of the
defeated gladiators. We saw the great
chambers with the railed cages where some 2,000 wild beasts were kept, lions,
bears, elephants, giraffes, tigers, and other beasts of prey from Africa and
But what did we see in the arena, in the very centre, directly in front of the ruins of the royal box? A CROSS! A plain high cross! About the year 1300 a cross was erected here in memory of the martyrs. In the course of time it was lost. In the year 1927 it was again erected by order of the Italian Government, with this most significant inscription on its base: “Ave crux spes unica,” that is “Hail to thee, O Cross, the only hope!”
A cross in the Colosseum! Exactly where formerly believers on account of their testimony to the Crucified suffered a bloody death, exactly there a cross stands erect today, bearing this so simple but mighty inscription! The seats of the heathen mockers, the walls of the Colosseum itself, lie in ruins. On the place where God’s witnesses died, in the middle of the arena, stands, like a sign of triumph, a victorious and lofty cross.
Three times I have been in the Colosseum: three times have I stood long and thoughtfully before this cross and its inscription.
Immediately before we had been in
the Forum Romanum, the splendid market‑place of
But the band of the persecuted remain victors. Their faith in Christ was stronger than all the hate of their enemies. The cross, on account of which they suffered, became the symbol of triumph.
The temples of the heathen, and the palaces of their rulers, have sunk in dust; but the temple of the church remains. How is this?
It is because Christ, the Crucified, is also the Risen One: because in this His temple, the temple of the church, the true God dwells: because this house, though outwardly plain, is the royal house of the Eternal!
Thus history testifies: thus will at last eternity testify: and thus we also join in the testimony of the Colosseum cross, crying:
Hail to the, O Cross, the only hope!
From this confidence of victory we can draw fresh incentive to hasten joyfully forward to the heavenly goal. Because Christ has triumphed we also can conquer. His cross is at once the sign of victory, of duty, and of promise for all who believe on Him. Therefore faith in Him is both hope and assurance, and looking unto Him we can run with steadfastness the race of faith.
* * * * * * *
Crowns are given for what? In order that we might become rulers in the Kingdom glory. Christ our Lord is competent to adjudicate matters of the world. He is going to associate with Himself co-rulers, statesmen, who are to regulate things in ages to come in all parts of the world. God does not want hot-house plants to be rulers over His kingdom. Those who have stood the test are to be rulers in the kingdom. What kind of folks did President Hoover select as members of his cabinet? They were picked men. He had had his eyes on those men, probably, for months and even years, and others were consulted as to the availability, the competence, of these men. They were tested men. God is looking out for such men who are to be rulers with Him in the management of kingdom affairs.
* * * * * * *
THE RACE THAT IS SET BEFORE US
By ERICH SAUER
“Therefore let us also seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, 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, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider him that bath endured such gainsaying of sinners against himself, that ye wax not weary, fainting in your souls” (Heb. 12: 1‑3).
The whole gospel is full of life. Its source is God the Living One. Its mediator is Christ the Risen One. Its power is the Spirit of God, “the Spirit that maketh alive.”
For this reason God’s salvation is not something which has only historically happened and was completed in the past, but it is a continual process. It is not a present received once and for all, but a giving which increasingly presents us with something more. Every grace is a vital dynamic action given to us by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. There is nothing static but everything is dynamic. There is no standing still but a marching forward, no looking aside or backward, but a striving towards the goal. Everything is alive and active, a spiritual working, a holy motion, pulsated and animated by “waves” produced by Spirit-wrought heavenly powers.
God’s gifts are not like an anchor which holds the ship of our life firm, but they are rather to be compared with the sails of a ship into which the wind of the Spirit of God can blow mightily, thus carrying the boat forward.
THE “APPOINTMENT” OF THE RACE
The author of the Hebrews letter declares that we should run with patience [‘patient endurance’] the race “that is set before us” (Heb. 12: 1). This does not only mean the race as lying before us from the viewpoint of time or, so to speak, space. What is meant is something dynamic. The race (Gk. agon) is “set before us” as our task. It is our duty to run. The race is God-appointed (Gk. prokeimenon). The phrase Prokeitai agon! (Lat. Propositum est rertamen), “The battle lieth before!” was the usual Greek (answering to the Latin) expression for the race which was to be run, and which was publicly announced by a crier, together with the rules of the race and the prize.
You cannot separate your own personal life of faith from being a runner in a race. God has appointed that you should run. True sanctification can be experienced practically only in a life of a Spirit-energized dynamic effort, and this effort involves our whole being, spirit, soul, and body. He who will not run in the race has from the very start abandoned the crown and the prize of victory. And as Satan, the great adversary, never admits being beaten until his final overthrow (Rev. 20: 10), the battle and the race will never end for us until we have reached the goal of our course.
This means that you must take your personal responsibility very seriously. You must reckon in confident faith with the victorious powers of Christ the Saviour. But on the other hand do not overlook the reality of the enemy. Weigh seriously all the paralysing powers which emanate from him. Concentrate on the goal. Live in the holy energy of a consecrated life. We can never make peace with sin. Never forget that a real life of faith means a running in the race. Remember: “And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowned, except he have contended lawfully” (2 Tim. 2: 5). The new birth is not the finishing-post but the starting-post. If you would reach the finishing-post, you must run.
The race is a very serious affair. Demons surround us. Powers of darkness block our way. And these powers are not only around us but endeavour to work in us (Eph. 6: 12). Let us therefore be hard on ourselves. Let us bring our own bodies into subjection (1 Cor. 9: 27). Let us control our own souls. Let us concentrate and fix our spiritual eyes on Jesus Christ. Only those who strive will be crowned. Only victors will be exalted. Christ Himself says: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” (Rev. 3: 21).
What is the background of this battle? Our answer is as follows:-
1. We must be warriors because the whole universe is involved in a mighty revolution, the mightiest indeed, which has ever taken place ‑ it is the battle between Satan and God; and because, according to the testimony of the whole Scripture, the central battle area of this conflict is this our earth, the habitation of mankind, so that here the decision will be reached. This is the cosmological and super-historical background of our conflict.
2. We must be warriors because, although Christ by His
death and His resurrection has won the victory fundamentally, yet historically the
full practical outworking of this His victory has not yet been secured. Thus, in the development of God’s redemptive
plan, our present dispensation lies in the tension between the hiddenness of
3. We must be warriors because it necessarily
corresponds to the combined divine and human character of the
For these three main reasons the race is God-appointed.
THE ATTITUDE WHICH IS NECESSARY TO REACH THE GOAL
What attitude of mind must we have if we wish to win the race? A poet has rightly said:
To fight is not enough alone;
‘Tis only victors mount the throne!
In order to be a conqueror a very definite spiritual attitude of faith is required. The author of the Hebrews letter gives us four main points of view:
LOOKING TO THE VICTOR.
He who would be victorious must look to Christ. “Let us look unto
Jesus.” The battle which He
fought out on
It was during the first world war. In the German cities was every kind of suffering and need. Many housewives had great difficulty in giving their loved ones enough food from the small rations obtainable. One day a simple woman arrived at the seaside from a north German city. It was the first time in her life that she had been able to enjoy a sight of the vast ocean. She was quite overwhelmed with the magnificence of the view and with the endless waters. In her astonishment she cried out: “At last after all something which they cannot ration!”
We smile at this woman. And yet one can understand her when one considers her circumstances. But the inexhaustible heavenly resources are a thousand times greater, and these the Lord in His grace has placed at the disposal of His children. Here we find truly a fulness which exceeds all earthly measure, riches which God does not distribute in small portions but in mighty overflowing heavenly gifts. God’s children are royal children, for which reason they should live royally by enjoying these spiritual riches in their life of faith. Their heavenly Father proves Himself to be a generous royal Giver in all His blessings.
About thirty years ago I took part in a Christian
How does our God act? Does He only give us “out of” His riches? Here a little joy and there a little victory? Today a little help and tomorrow perhaps an occasional answer to prayer? No, He the all-sufficient One gives “according to” His riches. His standard is not our daily needs - even though if this only were the case that would make us very happy: “As thy days so shall thy strength be” (Deut. 33: 25), but He uses the measure and criterion of eternity for our temporal needs and gives us His blessings “according to” His fulness.
This is the reason why the word “abound” is one of Paul’s favourite expressions (Gk. perisseuein). He speaks of abounding faith (2 Cor. 8: 7), of abounding love (2 Thess. 1: 3), abounding liberality (2 Cor. 8: 2), abounding diligence and knowledge (2 Cor. 8: 7), abounding hope (Rom. 15: 13).
Another word which he uses again and again is the word hyper = super.
The apostle has a tendency to build up words using “super” (Gk. hyper) and he does it so often that this is one of the characteristics of his literary style. Of a total of 29 combinations using the word “super” which occur in the whole New Testament no less than 19 belong to him alone and 4 are shared with other biblical authors.
Thus he speaks of a “super” ‑ growth in faith (2 Thess. 1, 3).
A “super” ‑ victory and conquest (Rom. 8: 37).
A “super” ‑ exceeding grace of God (2 Cor. 9: 14).
A “super” ‑ fulness of riches (Eph. 2: 7).
A “super” ‑ exceeding greatness of His power (Eph. 1: 19).
A “super” ‑ exceeding glory (2 Cor. 3: 10).
Furthermore he speaks of a knowledge of a “super” ‑ exceeding love of Christ (Eph. 3: 19).
A peace in Christ which “super” ‑ exceeds all understanding (Phil. 4: 7).
A “super” ‑ excelling joy even in tribulation (2 Cor. 7: 4)
The foundation of this is however the “super” ‑ exaltation of Jesus (Phil. 2: 9).
The exceeding “super” ‑ abundant presence of grace (1 Tim.1: 14).
The “super” - abounding of grace just where sin had formerly “abounded” (Rom. 5: 20).
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour is not vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15: 58).
Astounding, indeed, is the fulness which the apostle describes in 2 Cor. 9: 8 in a very few words, in fact in a sentence of less than four lines: “God is able to make all grace abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency, in all things, may abound unto every (= all) good work.”
In Christ is not only a full measure but a “super” ‑ full measure of divine all-sufficiency. His giving more than meets the needs of our daily life. Therefore we do not need to worry ourselves miserably in everyday life but we have the right to be victors in Him, yea to be more than conquerors, to be “super-conquerors in Him” (Rom. 8: 37).
In the benediction of the second prayer in the Ephesian letter the apostle combines these his two favourite words “abounding” (Gk. perisseuein) and “super” (hyper) and thus coins a new word which he then further strengthens by the addition of a second word (Gk. ek): “Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above (Gk. hyper‑ek‑perissou) all that we ask or think ... unto Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the ages Amen” (Eph. 3: 20). We can perhaps come closest to the surprisingly rich and deep meaning of the Greek word by translating: “Exceeding abundantly more” or: “Far beyond all measure more,” “More than overflowingly,” “Far beyond all that we need, and even then exceeding abundantly more than that.”
God does not merely wish to fill the vessel of your life up to the brim. He does not only even pour in His fulness of blessing so that it just comes to overflowing. No, even the word “overflowing” is not adequate. God makes us to “more than overflow.” Such a “super-mighty” redemption is given us in Christ.
And now, my reader, place your own experience against these God-given possibilities. Must we not humble ourselves before the Lord - you and I - and be ashamed of ourselves that we have drunken so little from these fountains? How often we are like a foolish beggar who should stand before a wealthy benefactor begging for gifts which this generous man had already offered and held out to him! And yet at the same time this beggar complains of his misery, bewails his poverty, begs and begs, but does not stretch out his hand to take the gift which has been long proffered him, in fact immediately after he had begun to beg! So the bewailer continues bewailing and the giver remains the profferer; but in spite of all the begging on the one side and the willingness to give on the other side the situation remains unchanged. How different the situation would be if we adopted the attitude of faith: “And if we know that He heareth us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of Him” (1 John 5: 15). But this can be experienced only by looking unto Christ in genuine faith.
“Let us look unto Jesus!”
The moment however we look away from Christ our experience of His fulness ceases. There is no power to overcome. Things become important for us which, seen in the light of eternity, are of no consequence. Then the deceiving power of sin bewitches us. And if, in our opinion, we are not properly honoured or respected, if our own self-will, our desire to possess, our own presumed importance does not receive satisfaction enough, then we slip into sin. We are easily hurt, become loveless, are filled with an earthly mind, or become fretful and anxious. We have lost our sense of proportion because of not looking unto Christ. The centre of gravity has been changed and is no longer in God but in ourselves. We have lost our way because we have lost our sense of direction in Christ.
In this condition only one thing can help us: Looking afresh to Jesus Christ, Repentance and humiliation before Him and then continuing steadfastly to keep our eyes upon Him. This purifies and restores us, and only this attitude of mind brings with it growth in grace and blessed happy sanctification.
In a West European city there was once a royal visit and the streets were lined with crowds of people. In the foremost line, waiting to see the royal visitor, stood a mother and her little boy. At last the royal guest arrived, and with him the pomp of his court, and drove by. Everything happened relatively quickly. Suddenly the young mother stretched out her arm and enthusiastically pointed to the king as he drove by, so that her little boy should see him. And with a loud voice she cried: “Look at him and never forget it all your life!”
How do we act in respect of Christ, the King of all kings? Let us take for our motto in life: “Look at Him and never forget it all your life!” Let us look unto Jesus! He is our salvation, our helper, our example, our strength.
LOOKING TO THE COMRADES IN ARENA.
The author of the Hebrews letter founds his admonition: “Let us ... run the race” on the example of the heroes of faith in the Old Testament. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses ... let us run” (Heb. 12: 1). This means: “Ye witnesses of Jesus Christ in these New Testament times of the church, look back into the history of the Old Testament. Think of all that has been endured, suffered, and fought for: think also of the victories. Always, at all times, there have been heroes of faith. Ye are not alone. Ye are not the first to have suffered for the truth.”
This is the real meaning of Hebrews 11, this mighty and imposing chapter on the victors of faith. If we had to invent a title for this chapter to express that which the author of the letter obviously wishes, we could think of no better one than the three short words: “Faith is able.” Hebrews 11 is nothing less than a proof from practical experience, covering more than four millenniums, that men and women of all times, in various lands, in all positions, exalted and humble, in the most varied situations, in war and peace, have been able to stand the test and prove the reality that living faith is the power of God. This however means at the same time that what others have been able to do, you also can do. Your God is not only a God of yesterday but the very God of today. Your God.
And if Hebrews 11 introduces such a long list of heroes of faith, this is done in order to give the proof that true faith has not only been exercised in exceptional times of revival or a relatively short period, but also in the long periods between these special times of blessing. In fact it is a power giving spiritual victory at all times, in fact in your times, in your life and my life, in your circumstances and all your trials and testings, so that there is no excuse if you fall.
Thus looking to our fellow-runners brings us encouragement and at the same time a deep consciousness of our responsibility. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses ... let us run!”
When it is pointed out that this large number of men and women of faith* “compasses us about” (Gk. perikeimenon), and when they are compared with a thick “cloud” of witnesses, it is intended that their large number should be emphasized. Just as the historical frame of more than forty long and weary centuries during which these battles of faith were fought should serve to emphasize the time factor, so the expressions “compassing about” and “cloud” should emphasize the great number of these heroes of faith and this as the set time, so to speak, under the view-point of spiritual “space” and region. Wherever you look you will see witnesses of faith. They “compass” you about. That, however, means you are encouraged from all sides. You are actually surrounded by irrefutable proofs that true faith never fails.
The expression “witnesses” scarcely means that these men of God are “spectators,” from a position outside the earth and its affairs, of our present race and strife. It is not as though they watch from their exalted seats the battle in the “arena” here below. There are no scriptures which tell us that those who have left this earthly life take an active conscious part in the things concerning the church militant. They are characterised here as people who give witness in their generation, and who, when we examine their life, are an example for us today of “faith in action” winning victories in God. Although death has taken them away from this scene, their testimony remains. So that by this means and in this sense these heroes of faith of yesterday are, as it were, present with us today. In fact, they “compass us about” and encourage us in the faith.
Finally, the high dignity of all active service and sacrifice for Christ is thus brought into its true Biblical light. The witnesses of faith of the present are thus brought together with the witnesses of the past, which, so to say, raises the confessors of the present to the peerage attained by the prophets of the past. They are made members of the great army of God’s heroes, of those who bear God’s highest honours and whom God Himself confesses (Heb. 11: 16). They are people who indeed went through shame and who were despised, but of whom, of a truth, the earth is not worthy (Heb. 11: 38). And this, too, is a reason why we should take courage, even though the doings of our personal life are incomparably smaller and most unimportant compared with these heroes, and even though our service and witness, and the whole frame of our life, according to the appointment and the leading of God, is but very humble.
LOOKING TO THE GOAL
Only if the runner keeps his gaze fixed and concentrated on the goal has he any prospect of victory. For this reason Paul says (and the Hebrews letter moves in just the same lines of thought as the apostle Paul): “Forgetting the things which are behind, and streatching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3: 13, 14).
Men are not only formed in character by their past (family descent, education) and present circumstances (environment, work and profession), but also very markedly by their future. Man inwardly grows the higher his ideals are. So also in spiritual life hope and sanctification belong together. “And every man that hath this hope set on Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3: 3).
Thus Christ suffered on
This attitude of heart must be ours too. When you suffer shame for the sake of your testimony, rejoice over the future crown of glory. “Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10: 32). If you renounce the enjoyments of the pleasures of sin for the sake of sanctification and holiness, you may be sure that one day you will be privileged to enjoy the hidden manna (Rev. 2: 17). If you sacrifice money or goods for the sake of the spread of the gospel be assured that God is no debtor. Everything which we take out of our earthly account for His sake is paid into our heavenly account. “Not that I seek for a gift; but I seek for the fruit that increased to your account” (Phil. 4: 17). All such expense is in reality income.
This striving towards the goal thus comprises every outward realm of life. The prize is indeed such as to make it well worth to give ourselves up wholly to attain it.
In the opening words of Hebrews 12 the writer uses in the original Greek three remarkable words: “Therefore ... we also!” (Gk. toigaroum kai hemeis). The first of them is especially impressive (toigaroun). In other places the New Testament writers, expressing a very similar thought, used a short word for “Therefore” (Gk. only ara or oun or dio). But in our context a strikingly emphatic intensification is added to this word (Gk. toigar which serves to emphasize oun) The idea is to emphasize as heavily as possible the necessity that we New Testament believers shall draw the practical consequences of the example of the Old Testament heroes of faith, and especially of the example of Jesus Christ our Lord. As if the idea of the word “therefore” were expressed by three parallel terms following immediately one upon the other: “Therefore ... we also” Since victory is possible in previous history at all times, even in times of suffering and trial, Therefore ... we also! Since in the long gallery of faith our forefathers showed heroic courage and endurance in keeping their eye on the goal, Therefore ... we also!
And above all: Since Christ our Saviour proved it possible to be victor amidst the sufferings of the cross, and hoped and endured and sacrificed Himself to the end, Therefore ... we also!
And now we must change the plural into the singular, the “we” must become “thou.” Because others have been enabled, Therefore thou also. Since Christ is thy example, Therefote thou also! And finally we must get quite personal and change over from “thou” to “I.” Since Christ has prepared the way for me, Therefore . . . I also!
In the arena of faith: “Let us look unto Jesus!” ...
Persevere! Keep running! Hold out to the end! Do not give up or be disheartened! With the same freshness as you began [your Christian life] at the starting-point, remain steadfast until the goal. Only thus is it possible to gain the prize in the arena, only thus to be crowned. This is the message of the whole of the Hebrews letter, especially of Hebrews 12.
* * * * * * *
THE LAST KNOWN GLADIATORAL CONTEST
OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE*
[* From The Leader, the following information was disclosed by an anonymous writer.]
Telemachus was a monk who lived in the fourth century. He felt God saying to him, ‘Go to
When he arrived in the city, people were thronging in the streets. He asked what all the excitement was about and was told that this was the day that the gladiators would be fighting and killing each other in the Colosseum; this was the day of the games, the circus.
He thought to himself, ‘Four centuries after Christ, and they are still killing each other for enjoyment?’
Telemachus walked to the Colosseum and took his place amongst the other 80,000 people just in time to hear the gladiators saying, ‘Hail Caesar! We die for Caesar!’ and he thought, ‘this isn’t right.’
So Telemachus got up out of his seat, ran down the steps, climbed over the wall and went out into the middle of the arena, got between two gladiators, held up his hands and said, ‘In the name of Christ stop!’
The crowd protested and began to shout, ‘Run him through!’ One of the gladiators came over and hit Telemachus in the stomach with the back of his sword. It sent him sprawling in the sand.
He got up and ran back again and said, ‘In the name of Christ stop!’
The crowd continued to chant, ‘Run him through!’ One gladiator came over and plunged his sword through the little man’s stomach.
He fell into the sand, which began to turn crimson with his blood. One last time he gasped out, ‘In the name of Christ stop!’
Suddenly, a hush came over the Colosseum. Soon a man stood and left, then another, and
then another and within minutes all 80,000 had emptied out of the arena. It was the last known gladiatoral
contest in the history of the
One little man changed the course of history by taking a stand for what was right and just and true, even though it cost him his life.
The Word of God says that those who loose their life for Christ’s sake will find it: and that life, in a resurrected, glorified, immortal body, will be lived once again in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ upon this earth, (Rev. 20: 4, 5).
* * * * * * *
“It is a fact that many in the sub‑apostolic Church so understood the Apostle. Moreover, it is true that the extraordinary emphasis laid on the Martyrs should have warned the Church that co-royalty with Christ in the Age to Come ‑ as distinct from the Eternal Kingdom beyond ‑ is by no means so comprehensive of all the redeemed as has been supposed. But it is also true that such critics overlook the first division of the fourfold thrones:‑ (1.) overcomers, “I saw thrones, and the sitters upon them”; (2) Christian martyrs; (3) Old Testament martyrs; and (4) martyrs under Antichrist. The first group, overcomers not necessarily martyred, are thus defined by our Lord:‑ “He that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron.” (Rev. 2: 26.)
“For only in the double revelation is there the perfect balance of truth. Justification [by faith] is instantaneous on a simple act of faith once for all: reward follows on sanctification through a lifetime of service. That a believer’s sins, if unconfessed and unabandoned, will be judged by our Lord on His return is clear from 2 Cor. 5: 10:‑ “We must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Is there a believer anywhere in the world who denies that ‘bad’ things done in the body are ‘sins’? but if this is conceded, the discussion is closed. Moreover, it is to ‘receive the things done,’ that is (in the case of evil) their punitive consequences: as Paul says elsewhere (Col. 3: 25) ‑ “He that doeth wrong shall RECEIVE AGAIN FOR THE WRONG that he hath done, and there is no respect, of persons”: no plea that the offender is a believer, or a very distinguished believer, will avail ought.”
3. THE KINGDOM
“Much (we hope most) of the opposition felt at
believer’s possible exclusion from the
So Lange, summarizing the Church’s outlook for nineteen centuries on Christ’s co‑kings in the Millennium, divides that outlook into three:‑ “Some hold that they are all the saints; others, that they are only the martyrs; others still, that they are the specially faithful, including the martyrs.” And the last great orthodox work on the Apocalypse, by Dr. Swete, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, expressly states it:‑ “The limitation of the First Resurrection is (1) to the martyrs, and (2) to those who suffered reproach, boycotting, and imprisonment, without winning the martyr’s crown.”
“Faithful hearts may well grow weary of learned disquisitions on the Sermon on the Mount, from the Roman Catholic to the Plymouth Brother, all written to show why we are not to obey it exactly as it stands. For the invariable conclusion is that the Christian believer may lay up treasure; he may take oaths; he may slay the enemy on the battlefield whom he is commanded to love; he may refuse the beggar as often as he chooses: the fasting is ‘spiritual,’ and the non-resistance ‘ideal’; and the whole Sermon is ‘pre-Pentecostal’ or ‘the dispensation of the Acts’ or ‘Millennial.’ Even those who refuse oaths sometimes amass ample fortunes. How will these commentators report to the Preacher of the Sermon when they meet Him face to face? Actual, practical obedience is our only safety and our only sanctity. ‘Why call ye me Lord, Lord, AND DO NOT THE THINGS THAT I SAY?’ (Luke 6: 46).”
6. CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITY.
“Thus we confront our crisis. Officers are required for the administration of a kingdom: so God has deliberately interposed a prolonged period between the two advents, that our Lord might be enabled so to test His servants, in His absence, as to discover which are fitted for positions of responsibility and trust at His return. The Nobleman, before He departed, laid plans for the selection of officers to aid Him in the administration of the Kingdom; He devised a plan for bringing to light who those officers are on His return; this plan is in operation at the present moment, purposely so contrived as to reveal individual capacity for office, and personal fitness for trust; and ‑ most impressive of all ‑ the Long Journey is now nearly over, and at any moment the investigation may begin. “Make haste about cultivating a Christ-like character. The harvest is great , the toil is heavy; the sun is drawing to the west; the reckoning is at hand. There is no time to lose; set about it as you have never done before, and say, ‘This one thing I do’”
- A. Maclaren.
7. THE KINGDOM
“The revolution in the outlook of the Churches stands
out vividly when we compare their present attempt to build the
* * * * * * *
THE RACE AND THE CROWN
By ROBERT GOVETT, M. A.
No human effort (it is said) was both so short and so violent as the Greek footrace. Around the stadium, or course, rose an amphitheatre of white marble, like the terraces of a palace, seated with ‘a cloud of witnesses.’ Tier above tier;* he who ‘acted as herald,’ to use Paul’s phrase (1 Cor. 9: 27), marshalled the lists, explained the rules, and dismissed the runners by trumpet-blast; all starting ‘scratch,’ the athletes bent forward – “stretching forward to the things that are before” (Phil. 3: 13) - to catch the fullest possible momentum: then followed the rush, and (in the long race) weary lap after weary lap; until at last the ‘mark,’ or ‘goal,’ was in sight, where the judges sat: then, as the victor burst past the mark, the race was over, all other runners being ‘disapproved’; and the winner, crowned with a wreath of pine and banqueted, received the homage of an entire nation. “Know ye not that they which run in a race all run, but ONE receiveth the prize?” (1 Cor. 9: 24).
[* “Wembley [i.e., the old stadium] accommodates 126,000 spectators; but a
Now the Holy Ghost, not once but many times, emphasises this as a picture of the short, sharp struggle of the Christian race. “So run,” says Paul (1 Cor. 9: 24) to the whole Church of God; for runners do not march, they race: “so run,” run in such a way that, run as the few run, run as only the winner runs: “in order that YE may attain” - have the prize deliberately in view: “it is not enough merely to run - all run; but as there is only one who is victorious, so you must run, not with the slowness of the many, but with the energy of the one” (Dean Stanley). We have no option but to seek the highest.
Now the Holy Spirit reveals conditions for success in the race; and the first is a careful self-preparation. “Every man that striveth in the games” - that enters the lists – “is temperate in all things” (1 Cor. 9: 25). It is obvious that an untrained runner has little or no chance against a disciplined athlete, hardened, schooled, fit. Here are the actual directions from an old Greek book for the ten month’s training: - “There must be orderly living, on spare food; abstain from confections; make a point of exercising at the appointed time, in heat and in cold; nor drink cold water, nor wine at random; give thyself to the training master as to a physician, and then enter the contests.” The athlete thus trains to prolong his wind, to harden his biceps, and to produce that which the Greek so loved - a perfect human: we, to produce a perfect saint - as developed in spirit and character, as he in muscle and frame. “The abstinence of the athletes did not relate only to criminal enjoyments, but also to gratification’s in themselves lawful; so the Christian’s self-denial should bear, not only on guilty pleasures, but on every habit, on every enjoyment, which, without being vicious, may involve a loss of time or a diminution of moral force” (Godet). Even the gossamer band of silk in the trousering above the knee (a runner in cross-country championships has told me) he had to discard: a ‘weight’ (Heb. 12: 1) can be fatal.
Observance of the rules is a second vital condition of success. “If a man contend in the games, he is not crowned, except he have contended LAWFULLY” (2 Tim. 2: 5) - that is, according to the rules of the running: he may run magnificently; but if lawlessly, he is instantly disqualified. “You may be making great strides, but you are running outside the track.” (Augustine). The New Testament is our racing manual: it tells us exactly what to do, and what to avoid: we are not at liberty to invent our own rules, or construct our own holiness; every rule is in the Book, and every rule is essential for the prize. “Ye were running well: who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” (Gal. 5: 7); that is, swift running is obeying the Holy Scriptures. We seek the glory; but first, what secures the glory. “I press on toward the goal unto the prize” (Phil. 3: 14): “the mark, or goal, is perfect holiness; the prize is glory, the crown of holiness” (Godet). *
[* “If it could be proved, after the contest, that the victorious combatants had contended unlawfully, or unfairly, they were deprived of the prize and driven with disgrace from the games” (Dean Alford).]
But self-mastery abides the supreme condition for success. “I therefore so run, as not uncertainly”; that is, if I fulfil the conditions, I shall not be supplanted (as I might be in a human footrace) by some fleeter runner; every believer is sure of the prize if only he fulfils the conditions: “so fight I, as not beating the air”; My fisticuffs are no feints, but I land every blow; “but I buffet my body” - bruise it black and blue, make it livid, every blow striking home (Ellicott) – “and bring it into bondage” - lead it as a slave (1Cor. 9: 27). Here is disclosed our most dangerous enemy, “the flesh with its affections and lusts”; my blows, says Paul, are so aimed as to cover my adversary - and that adversary, my own body - with bruises, and so lead it captive. He discovers, by self-examination, his besetting sins, and he lands his blows there: we must learn to know our weak points as well as Satan knows them. “I fatigue my body, by the incessant and exhausting labours to which I condemn it” (Dean Stanley). Paul was no ascetic, no monk; but, while a nourished body is the most effective instrument for God we shall ever have, a pampered body is a lost race. For the race is no splendid spurt, it is a dogged drudgery; it is lost by either self-confidence or self-despair: the real failures in life are those who surrender before the sun goes down. “The only way to keep pace with God is to run at full speed” (General W. Booth).
Paul now points out that, as the difficulties are incalculably greater and more subtle in the spiritual race, so the prizes are incomparably richer, and the losses more terrible. “Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown” - a garland of olive or bay or parsley or pine, that hardly faded sooner than the athlete’s glory itself; “but we an incorruptible”; a never-fading wreath, as Peter calls it (1 Pet. 5: 4). So the extraordinarily potent lesson here revealed is that self-denial is only pleasure postponed. “This,” said King Edward to Cannon Duckworth in the disrobing room after the Coronation, “is one of the happiest days, if not the happiest, I ever spent.” Earthly crowns are not always even transient joys. “The only crown I have ever worn,” said the Austrian Emperor Charles II., who died since the Great War, “was a crown of thorns.” No crown is ever applied to a believer in Scripture except for achievement, never for inheritance - stephanos never diadema; (diadema is applied only to Christ, (Rev. 19: 12, and Antichrist, Rev. 13:1); and it is curious that, exactly as five victor-wreaths were given in Greece for five totally distinct achievements - leaping, throwing, racing, boxing and wrestling - so five crowns, and five only, are held forth for spiritual athleticism’s - the crown of joy for soul-winning (1 Thess. 2: 19), the crown of glory for church oversight (1 Pet. 5: 4), the crown of incorruption for sanctity (1 Cor. 9: 25), the crown of righteousness for vigilance (2 Tim. 4: 8), and the crown of life for martyrdom (Rev. 2: 10). These will blaze when the sun has gone out forever.
Paul closes with one of the supreme warnings of Scripture. “‘Lest by any means after that I have acted the herald to others, I MYSELF’ - not my works only, but mySELF – ‘should be REJECTED’ [as unworthy of the crown and the prize (Ellicott)].” As bishop Ellicott says:- “Not reprobate: the doctrinal deduction thus becomes, to some extent, modified; still the serious fact remains that the Apostle had before him the possibility of loosing that which he was daily preaching to others: as yet he counted not himself to have attained (Phil. 3: 12); that blessed assurance was for the closing period of a faithful life (2 Tim. 4: 7).” The runner will never be disowned as a son, but he can be deeply disapproved as a servant: a backslider may be in the race, but he is not in the running.* Full of years, and laden with victories, Paul - the Paul who never doubted his [eternal] salvation after the Damascene vision, and who has crouched the believer’s eternal safety in the most Calvinistic language in the Bible - has not ceased to dread the flesh, and still trembles for his crown. No man who misses the approbation of Christ obtains no other, not even his own; and meanwhile, as we grow older, we find the flesh no less carnal, the world no less subtle, and the Devil no less Satanic than they always were. “Hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown” (Rev. 3: 11): yours already, hypothetically; yours certainly, if you run to a finish as you are running now; but forfeitable, if you slacken to a present inferior in the race.
[* “We cannot consider ‘receiving the prize’ to imply salvation generally, for this is even possible where wood, straw, and stubble have been built up; but that it intends the highest degree of bliss, conditional upon faith and the advance in sanctification” (Olhausen).]
[Hence the importance of Scriptural doctrine, - (the superstructure the believer builds upon
the only foundation, Jesus Christ) - and
the need of grace and back-bone to stand against false doctrine, so rampant
We can, and will miss the Kingdom if we are not
So we summarise some final points.
(1) No criminal, no slave, only the freeborn Greek could enter the lists: so God’s race is only for the re-born: the race starts at the foot of the Cross, and conversion puts us in the lists.
(2) The racer who fouls - or ‘bores’ - a fellow-runner is at once disqualified. Carpenter, an American at the Olympic Games, cut out the Englishman Hartell, and instantly lost the race.
(3) Unbelief is a strychnine which paralyzes: if we imagine there is no race, it is certain we shall win no prize.
(4) We should never doubt our [eternal] salvation: we should never assume our prize. When in 1923 Sullivan swam the Channel on his seventh attempt, he said:- “Every beating I got made me the more determined to do it, and I have trained hard year after year for it.”
(5) A trainer of prize-winners may himself lose the prize.
(6) The nearer we approach the goal, the lonelier the race.
(7) Let us remember the Cloud of Witnesses. The eyes of God are upon us; the eyes of Christ know our works, and rejoice in our running: the eyes of the holy angels are watching struggling Jobs and budding Pauls; the eyes of the malignant Powers are always studying us; the eyes of the world are never off us; and, at the goal, the whole Church will know exactly how we ran. What an amphitheatre!
So we cheer each other on as, to panting breast and trembling limbs, the goal rises on the horizon. Bishop Wordsworth beautifully suggests that from the Greek word here for ‘prize,’ we get, through the Latin and Italian, our word ‘Bravo’: so we love to cheer each drawn, white, dusty face, and together seek the Bravo of the returning Lord. The last lap used to be called ‘the sob’: no cross-country winner ever breasts the tape without bleeding feet.
Carry me over the long, last mile,
“I have finished,” (the stadium), Paul cries at last, when the two hundred yards had vanished under his victorious feet; “henceforth there is laid up for me THE CROWN” (2 Tim. 4: 8); or, in the dying words of Payson, - “The battle is fought! the battle is fought! and the victory is won for ever!”
* * * * * * *
NOTES ON THE CHRISTIAN STADIUM
1 CORINTHIANS 9: 24.
“This is my aim in all I do: but inasmuch as many run in a race, many reach the goal, but only one receives the prize, - I, as an Apostle, run my course, and you must run yours, as each to labour not to be rejected at last, but to gain the glorious and incorruptible prize.” - Dean Alford.
“The one combatant who received the prize did so as the result of great effort, strenuous and persevering. For neither apathy nor weariness were compatible with success. Indifference kills Christian life. The half-hearted go not out far from the starting-point. Many have earnestness enough only to ‘enter’ for the race and fight; as soon as they have ‘entered,’ they think all is done. To be amongst the runners is not enough; we must exert our powers; we must call into activity all our energies. ‘Strive [agonise] to enter in at the strait gate.”
1 CORINTHIANS 9: 25.
“The racer must keep to the rules of the course, and confine himself within the limits of the stadium. Speed will stand him in no stead without this; and though he may reach the goal, he will not receive the prize. And it is so with the Christian racer. He is not at liberty to choose his ground, to invent a short road, or to seek an easy road there: he must keep in the way of God’s commandments. We are to be temperate in all things - in our enjoyments, our grief’s, and most lawful and permitted affections. There is no prize for him who stops half-way.”
- D. MOORE, M.A.
“Some cannot win because they carry too much weight. “How hardly shall a rich man enter into the kingdom of heaven!” Another class start well, and they run very fast at first, but at last they leap over the rails and go quite out of the course altogether.”
- C. H. SPURGEON.
1 CORINTHIANS 9: 26.
“There is not a member or a nerve in the body but it is capable of being a great sin or a high virtue. Every part admits of sanctification. All are given for a purpose, and that purpose is to glorify God. What we have to do is not to destroy anything, but to guide it - not to despise, but to elevate - not to cast off as an enemy, but to employ as a servant.”
- J. VAUGHAN, M.A.
1 CORINTHIANS 9: 27.
“This fear of the Apostle’s was no chimerical (i.e., an ‘unfounded, unreasoned and
imaginary’) one. Actual fact [named
immediately after] sustained his solicitude. Who
was the herald of the host of
- ROBERT GOVETT.
* * * * * * *
THE LAST LAP
By SAMUEL SCOVILLE
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so run, that ye may attain. I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage; lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected [for the prize]” 1 Corinthians 9: 24, 27.
I was a fresh man at Yale. The Captain of the race team told me that Yale was anxious to have me win the Intercollegiate Mile. Then old Miles Murphy, the best trainer the world has ever known, muttered some advice in my ear about not getting pocketed and lying back until the last quarter. The next moment I was out upon the track, which was ringed around with stands full of shouting, cheering spectators.* Thirty or forty of us contestants got out on our marks across the cinder path: then came the bang of a pistol - and we were off. **
[* So Hebrews 12: 1: “Let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, run with patience the race that is set before us.”
** So 2 Timothy 2: 5: “If a man contend in the games, he is not crowned, except he have contended lawfully.”]
One of the boys who ran that day was an almost unknown runner, representing a small school. At the first corner, while fighting for the lead, he was accidentally spiked and thrown headlong. One of his legs was gashed by the long spikes on the shoes of another competitor, and his hands and face were cut by the sharp cinders. By the time that he had struggled to his feet again, the whole field was thirty yards ahead of him.
He had fallen. His face was blackened and bleeding. He was left far behind. It seemed hopeless for him to go on. Nevertheless he started after that crowd of runners as bravely as if nothing had happened. *
[* So Philippians 3: 13: “Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize.”]
All around the first lap he remained behind them all. Little by little, however, he began to cut down the lead of the runners nearest him, and by the end of the first half he was up among the laggards of the race, twenty yards or so back of the leaders.
Then came that bitter third quarter. There is nothing in athletics harder than the third quarter of a fast mile. One has already run a half at full speed and there is still another to come. An iron band seems to tighten around one’s chest. There is the salt taste of blood in the mouth, and one longs desperately to give up and fall down and rest.
Yet that boy who had been last, blackened and bleeding, with set teeth, cut down one faltering runner after another of those farthest behind, until, as the leaders neared the finish of the third lap, they heard behind them the pad, pad of flying feet coming nearer and nearer.
In another moment the pacemakers had reached the fourth quarter, and the deep-toned bell signalled the beginning of the last lap, while the cheers of the crowd swept across the track like a storm.
The sound was like a spur to the speed of that boy who had been last. He shot by a little group of runners, and in the backstretch was hard upon the heels of the four leaders. As they swung around the last corner into the home-stretch, those four, who were in front, heard the sound of flying feet approaching them from behind, and knew that the race that day was to be fought out by five instead of four.
As all five of them swung into the home-stretch, the spectators leaned forward from the stands and called upon the runners by name for one last desperate effort. No one called to the boy who ran last of that quintet nor even knew his name.
At the finish a red strand of worsted was stretched breast-high across the track. The runner who first broke that cord was the mile champion for the coming year. There was grouped the judges and the timers, and to the men struggling toward it, that thin red line seemed to move back and back to an interminable distance.
The extreme limit of their endurance had been reached, and as their strength flagged, each runner called upon the very soul that was in him to bear the pain and carry him to the finish.
Lurching and staggering with mortal weakness each one drew upon the last atom of strength in him for a final effort. A strange silence fell upon the crowd, and in the stillness the rapid, laboured breathing of the runners could be heard.
Suddenly, up level with the fourth man came the blackened gashed face of the last runner, and slowly drew away from him.* Now the finish was only thirty yards away, and suddenly beside the third man showed that same disfigured face, whose staring eyes saw nothing but the goal.
[* So Matthew 19: 30: “Many shall be last that are first; and the first that are last.”]
That third man did his best and gave all that he had to hold his place - I ought to know, I was that third man - but slowly and surely the boy who had fallen at the start drew away from him. Then he challenged the other two who were running neck to neck, and five yards from the finish drew up even with them.
For an instant that seemed a year the three struggled for the lead, and then, at the very finish, the runner who had been left lying prostrate in the dirt when the race began threw himself forward, broke the tape a scant inch ahead of the other two, won the race, and broke the Intercollegiate Record for the Mile.*
[* So 2 Timothy 4: 7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course. I have kept the faith : henceforth there is laid up for ME THE CROWN.”]
In forty years of athletics I have never seen again so gallant a finish, and to the day of my death never will I forget that race or that runner.
There are times in the lives of us all when we stumble and fall and are defiled by dirt and cut and gashed and hurt. Yet we are only beaten if we give up and lie down hopeless and helpless. No matter how far the fall or how dreadful the failure there is only one thing to do - get up and go on and on and on and never, never quit!
The start is important, but – IT’S THE FINISH THAT WINS!
The Writer of the Epistle of Hebrews had seen the races at the great Olympic Games, and still His instructions about the race for life [in the age to come] ring down to us through the mist of the years:
“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 [PERSEVERANCE] THE RACE THAT IS SET BEFORE US, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”
* * * * * * *
TWO ADDITIONAL NOTES
FOR EVERY BELIEVER IN CHRIST.
1. The Christian’s calling is to enter the
- The Prophetic Word.
2. We are called to be faithful witnesses of the truth. Henry VIII, deeply incensed with a sermon by Bishop Latimer, ordered him to apologize on the following Sunday. The Bishop began: “Hugh Latimer, dost thou know before whom thou art to speak? To the high and Mighty Monarch, who can take thy life, therefore take heed. But consider well, Hugh upon whose message art thou sent? Even the great and mighty God, who is all‑present, and who is able to cast thy soul into Hell. Therefore, take care that thou deliver thy message.” He then repeated the same sermon, but with greater intensity. The Court trembled. The King, summoning the Bishop, asked sternly how he dared be so bold. Latimer, falling on his knees, said that he had but done his duty to his God and his Prince. Henry, rising, took the Bishop by the hand, exclaiming, ‑ “Blessed be God I have so honest a servant!”
* * * * * * *
RUN TO WIN
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown of laurel that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man shadow boxing. No, I beat my body to make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9: 24-27).
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of
witnesses, let us throw off everything
that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with
perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfector
of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its
shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from
sinful men, so that you will not grow
weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12: 1-3
An exposition of Hebrews 12: 1, 2,
by A. L. CHITWOOD.
PARTICIPATION IN THE RACE
Christians* are in a race, and the highest of all possible prizes is being extended as an encouragement for them to run the race after a manner which will result in victory. In Heb. 12: 1, 2, the Spirit of God has provided Christians with instructions concerning how this race is to be run, and any Christian running the race after the revealed fashion can be assured that he will finish the contest in a satisfactory manner. On the other hand though, any Christian not so following these provided instructions can, under no circumstances, expect victory in the contest.
[* That is, regenerate believers are being addressed at all times throughout this exposition.]
If ever there was a group of individuals who should be preparing themselves for that which lies ahead, it is Christians. God has set aside an entire dispensation lasting approximately 2,000 years to acquire a bride for His Son, who will rule the earth during the coming age as co-regent with Him. Positions among those who will form the bride are to be earned, not entered into strictly on the basis of one’s eternal salvation. And even among those who eventually enter into these positions, there will be no equality. Rather, there will be numerous gradations of positions held by those occupying the throne as co-regents with Christ in that day.
Christians will receive positions in Christ’s [Millennial] Kingdom exactly commensurate with their performance in the race. That is to say, positions with Christ in the coming age will be assigned to household servants in perfect keeping with their faithfulness to delegated responsibility during the present dispensation, for faithfulness after this fashion is how Christians run the race.
There will be “a just recompense of reward” for each and every Christian after the race has been run (Heb. 2: 2; 11: 26), which is the Biblical way of saying that exact payment will be given for services rendered. And such payment will be dispensed at the judgment seat following an evaluation of the services rendered in the house.
The one thing which consumed Paul, governing his every move following the point of his [initial]¹ salvation, was being able to successfully compete the race in which he had been entered. Paul knew that he was saved. He spent no time rethinking circumstances surrounding his salvation experience to make certain he was really saved; nor did he live after a certain fashion out of fear that he could possibly one day lose his salvation - something which Paul knew to be an impossibility (Rom. 8: 35-39). Rather, Paul set his eyes on the goal out ahead, a goal which salvation made possible (Phil. 3: 7-14).
The race in which Christians presently find themselves is, in the light of Heb. 11: 1ff and other related Scriptures, a race of the faith (cf. 2Tim. 4: 7). The “saving of the soul” is in view (Heb. 10: 39). And the saving or losing of one’s soul has to do with occupying or being denied a position with Christ in His Kingdom (cf. Matt. 16: 24-17: 5; 25: 14-30; Luke 19: 12-27).
Thus the race in which Christians are presently engaged is being run, more specifically, with a view to proffered positions on the throne with God’s Son in that kingdom. This is what is at stake. And there can be no higher prize than that of one day being elevated from a servant in the Lord’s house on this earth to a co-regent with Christ on His throne in the heavens.*
[* The author believes Christians will rule ‘in the heavens,’ and not upon the earth; but the scriptures promise Abraham an earthly inheritance after resurrection, in “the land,” (Acts 7:5). It is inconceivable that resurrected Christians (accounted worthy of an inheritance in the kingdom) will rule in the heavenly sphere of that kingdom over Old Testament saints (like Abraham, the friend of God, or David, a man after God’s own heart) living only in its earthly sphere!!]
How many Christians though know these things? How many, for that matter, are even interested? Christians talk about being saved and going to heaven, though most don’t have the slightest idea concerning what is involved in saved man’s association with the heavens.
Being saved with a corresponding assurance of heaven is often looked upon as an end in itself. However, if such is the case, where does the race in which we are presently engaged fit in the Christian life? It doesn’t for one’s eternal salvation and assurance of heaven are based entirely on Christ’s finished work, completely apart from the race.
One is saved with the race in view, and the race is for a revealed purpose. The teaching so prevalent today which views salvation only in the light of eternal verities - i.e., one’s eternal destiny is either Heaven or Hell, depending on the person’s saved or unsaved status, with that being the end of the matter - is a theology which completely ignores and obscures ‘the Word of the Kingdom.’ Teachings concerning the importance of salvation have not been balanced with teachings concerning the purpose of salvation.
If ever there was a group of individuals on the earth with something to live for, it is Christians. They are in possession of the highest of all possible callings. But in spite of this, the world has never seen a group quite like those comprising Christendom today - a group of individuals who could profess so much but really profess so little.
The message is there, but Where are the Christians who know and understand these things? The race is presently being run, but Where are the serious contenders? The offer to ascend the throne with Christ has been extended, But Where are those who have fixed their eyes on this goal?
GOAL OF THE RACE
The race in which Christians find themselves is not something optional in the Christian life. Rather, it is a race in which all Christians have been automatically enrolled. Christians enter the race at the moment of belief, at the moment of salvation.
Thus, there is nothing which a Christian can do about entering or not entering the race. He has no choice concerning the matter. He has been entered in the race, with an ultimate God-ordained goal in view.
He though does have a choice concerning how he runs the race. He can follow provided instructions and run the race after a fashion which will allow him to win, or he can ignore the provided instructions and run the race after a different fashion, one which can only result in loss.
And not only are instructions given for properly running the race, but information is also given concerning why the race is being run and exactly what awaits all Christians, all runners, after the race is over.
The race is being run in order to afford Christians the highest of all possible privileges - that of qualifying to occupy positions on the throne as co-heirs with Christ during the coming age. Award having to do with positions of honour and glory in the Son’s kingdom await the successful competitors, and the denial of awards,* resulting in shame and disgrace in relation to the Son’s kingdom, awaits the unsuccessful competitors.
these things will allow an individual to view both evangelism and the Christian
life which follows within the proper interrelated Biblical perspective. Man has been saved for a purpose which has to
do with the coming
is taking an entire dispensation, lasting approximately 2,000 years, to acquire
who will ascend the throne and rule in the numerous positions of power
and authority as co-heirs with the Son. [Luke 20:
35; 22: 28, 29; Phil. 3: 10-14; Heb. 11: 35b; Rev. 2: 26; 3: 21;
The opening chapter of Colossians touches upon the overall matter within this framework about as well as any place in the New Testament. This chapter reveals both the Christian’s transference from the realm of darkness to one of light and the reason God has brought this change about.
The Christian’s removal from one realm and placement in another is spoken of in verses thirteen and fourteen: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. In whom we have redemption through his blood . . .” Man, by means of redemption, has been delivered from one realm and placed in another, for a purpose; and that purpose is outlined in verses both preceding and following the statement surrounding this fact.
Redemption is mentioned again in verses twenty and twenty-one, but all the remaining verses in this chapter - verses both preceding and following those dealing with man’s redemption - relate to the purpose for redemption. And nothing is said in these verses about one’s eternal destiny. Rather, because one has been saved and his eternal destiny is now a settled matter, because he has been removed from one realm and placed in another, a “hope” and an “inheritance” come into view (cf. vv 5, 12, 23, 27). And the chapter concerns itself primarily with this hope and inheritance, which are in connection with the present race of the faith and have to do with positions of honour and glory in the future kingdom of Christ.
The words “hath translated” in Col. 1: 13 - “hath translated us” - are from a word in the Greek text which means to be removed from one place and positioned in another. When the First Man, the First Adam, fell, he found himself transferred in an opposite sense to that given in Col. 1: 13. Adam found himself separated from God; and since Adam fell as the federal head of the human race and his progeny (the unredeemed) today find themselves in the sphere described in Col. 1: 13 as “the power of darkness,” this would have to be the place in which Adam also found himself following the fall. Adam’s fall resulted in his removal from the realm where he could realize the reason for his creation and his placement in a realm where he could not.
Adam’s subsequent redemption though (Gen. 3: 15, 21) allowed God to place him back in the position for which he had been created. Redemption allowed God to remove him from the realm into which he had fallen and place him in an entirely different realm. But his redemption and removal from the realm into which he had fallen did not do away with the sin problem. Adam was not redeemed as the federal head of the human race in the same sense that he had fallen as the federal head. The old sin nature which he possessed following the fall remained unchanged (cf., Gen. 1: 2-4). Adam, as redeemed man today, was still a fallen being; and all his progeny beyond that point were begotten after his fallen image and likeness rather than after his previous unfallen image and likeness (cf. Gen. 3: 21; 5: 3).
And the purpose surrounding the redemption of Adam’s progeny, as in Adam’s case, is no different. Redemption is for the purpose of placing man back in the position for which he was originally created. The Second Man, the Last Adam, has “reconciled” man “to God,” He has “made peace through the blood of the cross” (Rom. 5: 10; Col. 1: 20, 21). That which was lost through Adam’s fall has been regained through Christ’s redemptive work: “For by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of the One shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5: 19).
“The power of darkness” and “the
kingdom of his dear Son” in Col. 1: 13
point to places diametrically opposed to one another, but these places must be
looked upon in the sense that both have to do with the same thing. Both have to do with kingdoms - the present
is the present world ruler, and “the whole world lieth
in wickedness [‘in the wicked one’],” i.e., in the
Both kingdoms are actually looked upon as one kingdom in Rev. 11: 15 - “the kingdom of the world,” which will one day become “the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (A.S.V.). Viewing matters in this respect, man, at any point in his existence, has never been separated from the kingdom in which he is destined to one day rule. Man was created to rule in the kingdom; and in his fallen state, no longer in a position to rule, he still finds himself associated with the kingdom, though under Satan’s control and dominion. Unredeemed man finds himself in the present “kingdom of the world” (called in Col. 1: 13, “the power of darkness”), and redeemed man finds himself actually in “the kingdom of the Lord, and of his Christ,” though Christ is not yet occupying the throne (called in Col. 1: 13, “the kingdom of his dear Son”).
“kingdom of his dear Son” in Col. 1: 13 should thus not be thought of in some
spiritual sense. The present
The whole act should be understood in the same framework as our being raised up together and made to sit together “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1: 3; 2: 6). The key words are “in Christ.” Positionally we are in the heavenlies “in Christ,” the Second Man, the Last Adam (completely separated from Satan’s kingdom), even though actually here and now we still reside in this body of death in Satan’s kingdom. Spiritual values are involved, but these spiritual values cannot ignore a literal fact: We reside exactly where Eph. 1: 3; 2: 6 and Col. 1: 13 state that we reside, removed from “the power of darkness” and placed in “the kingdom of his dear Son.”
(Viewing matters relative to the place Christians reside in relation to “the kingdom of the world” will settle the matter once and for all as to what part, if any, a Christian should have in the political structure of the present world system. In the light of Col. 1: 13 and related Scripture, the matter can only be viewed one way: Christians involving themselves after any fashion, on any level, in the politics of the present world system - [in the politics of world government as it presently exists] - are delving into the affairs of a kingdom from which they have been delivered.)
only would the first part of Col. 1: 13
necessitate that “the kingdom of his dear Son”
be looked upon as a present reference to the literal coming
Our salvation thus involves the transference from one kingdom into another, but the purpose for our salvation involves something beyond that transference. It involves the kingdom in which we now find ourselves. And the race is associated with the latter, not the former.
We are presently running to win awards, and these awards all have to do with the same thing - positions of honour and glory in “the kingdom of his dear Son” in that future day when Christ and His co-heirs ascend the throne together.
THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM
“author and finisher of our [‘the’] faith,” the One we
are to look unto as we look away from anything which could cause distraction, is
described in Heb. 12: 2 as One Who had His
eyes fixed on “the joy that was set before him”
as He bore “our sins in his own body on the tree”
(1 Peter 2: 24). Christ viewed Calvary within the framework of
that which lay beyond
ignominious shame and indescribable sufferings of
Following His resurrection, when Christ confronted the two disciples on the Emmaus road and other disciples later in Jerusalem, He called attention to a constant theme throughout the Old Testament Scriptures: Israel’s Messiah was going to first suffer these things [events surrounding Calvary] and then enter into his glory (Luke 24: 25-27, 44, 45).
Joseph, a type of Christ, first suffered prior to finding himself seated on Pharaoh’s throne ruling “over all the land of Egypt” (Gen. 37: 20ff; 39: 20ff; 41: 40ff). Moses, another type of Christ, first suffered rejection at the hands of his people before being accepted by them. Rejection was followed by his experiences in Midian, and acceptance was followed by the people of Israel being led out of Egypt to be established in a theocracy in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 2: 11ff; 3: 1ff; 12: 40, 41).
such as Psa. 22-24 or Isa. 53: 1ff
James, and John on the Mount with Christ during the time of His earthly
ministry “saw his glory” (Luke 9: 32), and Peter, years later,
associated the “glory” which they had seen at
this time with “the power and coming of the Lord Jesus
Christ” (2 Pet. 1: 16-18). Christ’s “glory”
thus has to do with that day when He will occupy the throne and rule the earth
(as Joseph on the throne ruling
In Heb. 12: 2, the wording is slightly different. In this passage we’re told that Christ’s “sufferings” preceded “the joy [rather than ‘the glory’]” set before Him. This though, in complete keeping with Old Testament prophecy, is clearly a reference to “sufferings” preceding Christ’s “glory” and to Christ looking beyond the sufferings to the time when he would enter into his glory.
In the parable of the talents in Matt. 25: 124ff, Christ referred to individuals who would enter into positions of power and authority with Him as entering “into the joy of thy Lord” (vv. 21, 23; cf. Luke 19: 16-19). Thus, the “sufferings” and “joy” of Heb. 12: 2 follow the same order and refer to the same two things as the “sufferings” and “glory” found elsewhere in Scripture.
In keeping with the theme of Hebrews though, there’s really more to the expression, “the joy that was set before him,” than just a general fore-view of Christ’s coming glory. The thought here is much more specific. Note in the parable of the talents that “the joy of thy Lord” is associated with Christ’s co-heirs entering into positions on the throne with him, and the key thought throughout Hebrews is that of Christ “bringing many sons unto glory” (2: 10).
is what Christ had His eyes fixed upon when He endured the humiliation, shame,
and sufferings of
ENDURED THE CROSS
something, and note it well. It is
viewed the events surrounding
being more specific, Christ, through His work at
“endured the cross,” knowing these things, with
His eyes accordingly fixed on “the joy that was set
before Him”; and man today, viewing
DESPISED THE SHAME
“for the joy that was set before him,” not only
endured the Cross but He despised the shame.
The word “for” in this verse - “for the joy” - is a translation of the Greek word anti, which refers to setting one thing
over against another. The “joy” was set over against the “shame.” Christ considered the ignominious “shame”
of that coming day when He and His bride would ascend the throne together so
far outweigh events of the present day that Christ considered being spat upon,
beaten, and humiliated to the point of being arrayed as a mock King things of
comparatively little consequence. He
then went to
a Christian should view present persecution, humiliation, and shame after the
same fashion Christ viewed these things at
The epistles of 1, 2 Peter have been written to encourage Christians who are being tested and tried; and this encouragement is accomplished through offering compensation for the sufferings which one endures during the present time. And this compensation - rewards having to do with positions of honour and glory in the Son’s kingdom - will be exactly commensurate with present sufferings (1Peter 1: 6, 7; 4: 12, 13; cf.Matt. 16: 27).
(Note that the “sufferings” in 1, 2 Peter, resulting in future rewards, appear in connection with an inheritance “reserved in heaven” and a salvation “ready to be revealed in the last time,” which is “the salvation of your souls” [1Peter 1: 4, 5, 9]).
the example that Christ set at
SAT DOWN AT GOD’S RIGHT HAND
Following His death and subsequent resurrection, Christ spend forty days with His followers, presenting “many infallible proofs” concerning His resurrection and instructing them in “things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1: 3; cf. Luke 24: 25-48; 1 Cor. 15: 3-7). He was then taken up into heaven. With His arms outstretched, blessing His disciples, “a cloud,” the Shekinah Glory, received Him out of their sight (cf. Luke 24: 50, 51; Acts 1: 9; 1 Tim. 3: 16).
Then, even before the disciples had removed their eyes from that point in the heavens where Christ disappeared from their sight, two messengers who had been dispatched from heaven stood by them and said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1: 11).
Two things are certain from the words of these messengers: (1) Christ will one day return, and (2) His return will be in the same manner as His departure.
Christ ascended, in a body of flesh and bones, and He will return in this same body (Zech. 12: 10; 13: 6); Christ ascended from the land of Israel, from the midst of His people (Zech. 14: 4); Christ was blessing those in His midst at the time He was taken into heaven, and Christ will bless Israel at the time of His return (Joel 2: 23-27; cf. Gen. 14: 18, 19; Matt. 26: 26-29); Christ was “received up into glory,” and He will return “in the glory of His Father with His angels” (Matt. 16: 27; 1Tim. 3: 16).
During the time between his ascension and His return - a period lasting approximately 2,000 years - Christ has been invited to sit at his Father’s right hand, upon His Father’s throne (Psa. 110: 1).
The “right hand” points to the hand of power, and universal rule emanates from this throne. Though the Son occupies a position denoting power and is seated upon a throne from which universal rule emanates, the Son is not exercising power and authority after a kingly fashion with His Father today. Rather, He is occupying the office of Priest, awaiting the day of His power as King. He is to sit on His Father’s throne until that day when the Father will cause all things to be brought in subjection to the Son. Then, and only then, will Christ leave His Father’s throne and come forth to reign upon His Own throne as the great King-Priest “after the order of Melchizedek” (Psa. 110: 2-4).
MY THRONE, MY FATHER’S THRONE
In Revelation, chapters two and three, there are seven messages to seven Churches, and each of the seven messages contains an overcomers’ promise. These are promises to overcoming Christians, and all seven are millennial in their scope of fulfilment. All seven will be realized during the one-thousand-year period when Christ and His co-heirs rule the earth.
The last of the overcomers’ promises has to do with Christians one day being allowed to ascend the throne with Christ, and this forms the pinnacle toward which all the overcomers’ promises move.
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Rev. 3: 21).
The analogy in this verse has to do with Christians patterning their lives after Christ’s life, with overcoming and the throne in view. Christ overcame and is presently occupying a position with the Father on His throne, and Christians who overcome are to one day occupy a position with the Son on His throne.
Note the exact wording of the text: “. . . to him that overcometh . . . even as I also overcame . . .” A conflict ending in victory is in view first, and then the throne comes into view. The latter is not attained without the former.
Christ’s overcoming is associated with His sufferings during the time of His shame, reproach, and rejection; and Scripture makes it very clear that overcoming for Christians is to be no different. Christ has suffered for us, “leaving us an example ...” (1 Peter 2: 21). But beyond the sufferings lies the glory, as the night in the Biblical reckoning of time is always followed by the day (cf. Gen. 1: 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
In Revelation, chapters two and three, overcoming is with a view to the throne; and in portions of Scripture such as the Books of 1, 2 Peter, suffering is with a view to glory. Thus, overcoming is inseparably associated with suffering, as the throne with glory.
A RULE WITH A ROD OF IRON
The Father has not only invited the Son to sit at His right hand, awaiting the day of His power on His Own throne, but He has told the Son certain things about that coming day, things which He has seen fit to reveal to man in His Word. Portions of the 2nd Psalm provide one example of this:
“Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen [Gentiles] for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (vv. 8, 9).
Then a portion of these words of the Father to the Son have been repeated by the Son in His words to the Church in Thyatira, forming the fourth of the seven overcomers’ promises in Revelation, chapters two and three:
“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father” (Rev. 2: 26, 27).
For one thousand years Christ and His co-heirs are going to rule the earth with a rod of iron. They are going to rule the earth after this fashion to produce perfect order where disorder had previously existed, to produce a cosmos where a chaos had previously existed. And at the end of the thousand years, after perfect order has been restored, the kingdom will be returned back to God the Father so that “God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15: 24-28).
Co-heirship with God’s Son, participation in the activities attendant the bride, being seated on the throne with Christ for one thousand years, ruling the earth with a rod of iron - events which will occur once, never to be repeated - await those who run the present race of the faith after a manner which will allow them to win.
is what lies ahead for those who, as Moses, possess a proper respect for “the recompense of the reward.” Moses looked beyond present circumstances
and, “by faith,” considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in
away from anything which could distract as they look unto Jesus, “the author and finisher of our [‘the’] faith.” They must keep their eyes fixed on the goal,
looking beyond present circumstances to that which lies ahead. They must center
their attention on the “joy” which lies ahead
rather than upon present “sufferings,” viewing
both the “joy” and “sufferings”
within the same framework which Christ viewed them at
Runners who heed Christ’s instructions and follow the example which He has set will win. They will realize the goal of their calling.
Those though who fail to so govern their actions in the race cannot win. They can only fall by the wayside, short of the goal of their calling.
“SO run, that ye may obtain” (1 Cor. 9: 24).
* * * * * * *
FINALLY, ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND:-
“God’s race is only for the re-born: the race starts at the foot of the Cross, and conversion puts us in the lists. (2) The racer who fouls - or ‘bores’ - a fellow-runner is at once disqualified.” - (R. Govett).
“If I can be thus crowned,” says Prebendary Webb-Peploe, “can I be otherwise than a fool if I am not prepared to sacrifice all to win it?”
“The work is earnest - therefore don’t trifle; the opportunity is short - therefore don’t delay; the path is narrow - therefore don’t wander; the task is difficult - therefore don’t relax; the ‘prize’ is glorious - therefore don’t faint” - (D. M. Panton).
“I am coming soon,” says “He that is holy and He that is true,” “ Hold on to what you have so that no one will take YOUR CROWN” (Rev. 3: 11).
“Blessed experiences of the past are no guarantees for equal fulness of blessings in the present and future. A Christ of only ‘yesterday’ does not help you, but the living Christ of to-day always does. Our vision must not be directed only backwards – however fundamental our former experiences may be – but upwards and forwards. ‘IT IS NOT THE BEGINNING [OF THE RACE] BUT THE END THAT CROWNS THE CHRISTIAN’S PILGRIMAGE’” – ERICH SAUER.
THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING; LET US NOW - WITH OUR LORD’S GRACE AND THE HOLY SPIRIT’S POWER – “PRESS ON TOWARDS THE GOAL TO WIN THE PRIZE” (PHIL. 3: 14).