[Note. This tract contains two hyper links which should be opened.]


On page seven (The Leader, 1st. October, 2002 issue *) my eye caught a very interesting headline: "PRESSING TOWARDS THE MARK." As I began to read the short advertisement* my heart lifted, and for a brief moment, I believed God had answered my prayers.  The following is what I found:-

[* The advertisement was also placed in the Coleraine Chronacle, October 3, 2002.]


For many, the Pits area in Portstewart is synonymous with the roar of well tuned engines, the smell of burning fuel and the exciting anticipation of competing in the race.  From a Biblical perspective, the apostle Paul spoke of the race, as he earnestly pressed towards the mark to gain the prize (Philippians 3: 7-14).  His mind, like that of every true believer in Christ, was focused on this one thing.  The finishing line in the Christian race was always before him.  He knew without doubt that beyond this present life he would have eternal joy in the presence of Christ.  Do the realities of heaven and hell and the value of your soul affect you?  Do you ever think about what lies beyond the finishing line of your life?  If you have any interest in these great matters, why not come along to the Pits and hear Mr. Harold Paisley, (Ontario, Canada), preach the gospel?  It may be the starting point of a new life in Christ for you.”


Had the writing stopped at this point, I would have attended Mr. Harold Paisley’s meetings to hear more as soon as possible, but to my great disappointment the advertisement continued:-


In the race that leads to heaven there are no losers, but remember that everyone is a loser eternally, who does not believe in the Son of God.”*  


[*The bold type and underline is mine. -Ed]


Before reading Mr. Utting’s article, there are a number of questions I would like to ask my reader.


1. Is eternal salvation a “prize or a "free gift"?  It cannot be both!!


2. If it is a "free gift," what then was “the prize which the apostle Paul sought to "attain"?


3. Are all motorcycle riders allowed to enter and race in the North West 200 Motorcycle Race? or is it only for those who have a racing license?  Here is the first separation and selection.  If a racing license places one on the starting grid of the race; do all racing motorcyclists participate in that race?  Here is a second selection, out from amongst those racers who are previously selected - holders of a racing license.


4. If regeneration qualifies one (“by grace through faith in Christ”) to participate in the Christian race, will it automatically follow that all Christians will do so; and go on to finish the race and win a prize? 


5. Are there no losers in the Christian race?  The Scriptures teach the contrary: "For I would not BRETHREN, have you ignorant”… “Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness." - They did not enter their inheritance: they fell on the right side of the blood, but short of their inheritance in the land – “NOW THESE THINGS WERE OUR EXAMPLES”... “Now these things happened unto them by way of example: and were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come” (1 Cor., 9: 24- 10: 1-12; cf. Heb. 12: 1-7.).  Where all who, sheltered under the blood of the lamb, left Egypt, under the leadership of Moses, led by God through the desert Saved or Unsaved?


6. What does our context teach?  Is it related to a “free gift” - (that is, eternal life, by way of justification by faith, and the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone); or to “a prize” which can be lost afterwards?  That is, a REWARD, based upon the standard of a disciple’s obedience and righteousness?   Except your righteousness exceed …” (Matt. 5: 20).


7. After having the imputed righteousness "which is of God" (v. 9); Paul seeks to “attain unto the resurrection from the dead” (v. 11) ; and press “on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (v. 14).  Will all regenerate believers ‘attain’ unto this resurrection of reward?


8. If a motorcycle racer completes the race and finishes first, will he qualify for a prize if he refused to compete according to the rules of the Race?   Then our failure to observe God’s rules must disqualify us from obtaining His “Prize”!  And is this not precisely what the Bible teaches us? (Matt. 5: 20; I Cor. 6: 9, 10; Gal. 5: 19-21; Eph. 5: 5, 6.).


I have the greatest of respect for all who preach the gospel of God’s grace, but when they guarantee prizes (contrary to the teaching of Scripture) to all regenerate believers (on the basis of Christ’s imputed righteousness alone), then I feel it is my duty to object in the strongest way possible. Why?  Because they have failed to distinguish between what we received as a “Free Gift,” from that which our Lord and His apostles describe as a “Prize”!  No wonder the Church of God today is fast asleep - dreaming that they have already qualified themselves to win crowns on bare faith alone!  


My prayer and heart’s desire is that the Holy Spirit will awaken and encourage both writer and reader to act upon and be obedient to the demands and expectations of our God. May we find His grace and strength to run ‘the race’ with perseverance, and be allowed to finish the course with honour and thankfulness.  Mistakes have been made, and will be made; but let us make sure we can retrace our steps, correct our course, be allowed to continue the journey by being restored, strengthened, and forgiven by His enduring love and compassion. Jer. 8: 4, 5; Heb. 12: 1-9.  Let pay close attention to the His warnings and fear "lest haply, a promise being left of entering into His rest," should affect us today in the loss of our inheritance, as was the case with disobedient Israel.  Num. ch 14; Heb. 4: 1, 5, 9, 11.


W. H. T.








THE FREE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD,” Rom. 6: 23, R.V.  At his conversion a man becomes possessor at once of this free gift, through his faith in the work, atonement ransom-paying in blood, and resurrection of our Lord, "Who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity," Titus 2:14.  The acceptance of this free gift of eternal life, is the birth-point of the Christian.  It should be also at once the starting-point of the race for the Prize, a lifelong contest which is won by few and by supreme effort alone.  It is described in Phil. 3: 11-14.


"If by any means I may attain the (select or out) resurrection from (among) the dead.  Not that I have already attained, or have been already perfected, but I am pressing onward, if so be that I may lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have laid hold of ; but one thing I do: ... I am Pressing on toward the mark, UNTO THE PRIZE of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (See Wordsworth).


"Paul, when writing these words, was probably a prisoner on the Palatine Hill at Rome and was therefore in the immediate neighbourhood of the Circus Maximus, which lay in the Valley on the southwestern side of the Hill.  Doubtless he there often heard the loud and enthusiastic shouts of the multitude cheering on their favourite charioteers, and applauding the successful efforts of the victors in the course, which stirred so strongly the passions of the Roman people in the age of Nero.  Paul derives his imagery and language from that exciting spectacle.


"The Apostle has a spiritual Circus of his own.  He too is a charioteer.  He presses eagerly onward to the mark.  He also has a prize to gain - the palm-branch of Victory from the hand of Christ. *


To open "In The Arena Of Faith:" click here. * * *


But, before his conversion, "When he was furiously racing onward in his mad career of persecution, he was suddenly arrested by Christ; his car was upset; he was flung prostrate on the ground ... He was apprehended and laid hold on by Christ, in order that he himself might apprehend and lay hold on the prize which Christ gives.  Thenceforth he is a pursuer in the Christian Circus; he forgets what he has left behind, and he is continually stretching himself forward to what is before.  The Apostle compares himself to an eager charioteer hanging over his horses, and urging them on to the goal; and he pursues onward after the mark in order to win the prize of his heavenly calling in Christ.


"The Victory in the Circus was determined by the place gained by the charioteer after going a certain number of heats round the ends and along the side of the Spina (or low wall which was the back-bone of the course).  In the Roman Circus the Victor descended from his car at the end of the race, and mounted the Spina, and there received his prize." (See Wordsworth).


Now, Phil. 3: 11, and 14, shew that our PRIZE is the First Resurrection, described in Rev. 20: 4-6; and all the glories contingent thereon. In 1 Cor. 15 : 50, again, the Apostle clearly is speaking of the inheritors of the Kingdom of God and the glories attending their resurrection, or rapture; not by any means of every and any believer: many alas! are wicked, slothful, and worldly Christians who will be dismissed with shame from the judgment-seat of Christ, and some be cast into the outer darkness for the time appointed, where will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, Matt. 24: 48-51, 25: 30; 1 John 2: 28; Luke 6: 46-49.


But those who reign with Christ in His Millennial glory will be the blessed and holy that participate in this first and special resurrection. Other glories, rewards, and honours are mentioned in the promises to the Overcomer recorded in the letters to the seven Churches in Rev. 2 and 3, also in Matt. 25 : 21, 23, etc., etc. No less than five different crowns are offered to faithful servants of the Lord Jesus at His return.


*To open "Out-Resurrection From Among The Dead" : click here. * * *




With superhuman 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
When Greece was mistress of the world, and say,
Hast thou not also entered on a race
My soul, in contrast 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, of every weight;
Gird up thy loins, 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;