1. (24) Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so run, that ye may attain. (25) And every man that striveth in the games is temperate in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. (26) I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as beating the air: (27) but 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: (1 Cor. 9: 24-27, R.V.).
2. (12) Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may apprehend [or, apprehend, seeing that also I was apprehended] that for which also I was apprehended by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I count not myself yet to have apprehended: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, (14) I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus: (Phil. 3: 12-14).
3. (1) 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, (2) looking unto Jesus the author [or Captain] and perfecter of our 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: (Heb. 12: 1, 2).
1 Cor. 9: 24-27. 1. The Race and the Reward (v. 24).
2. The Runner and the Rules (vv. 25-27).
Phil 3: 12-14. 1. The Unattained Prize (v. 12).
2. The Unabated Perseverance (v. 13).
3. The Unquenched Passion (v. 14).
Heb. 12: 1, 2. 1. The Personal Consecration (v. 1).
2. The Patient Continuance (v. 1).
3. The Perfect Conqueror (v. 2).
Spiritual life is vividly depicted under various figures, and the one before us is that of an Athlete. The figure is taken from the Greek athletic festivals, with the focus especially upon the oldest and most famous of the events, the footrace. The Christian life is therefore portrayed as a strenuous, self-denying, sacrificial contest. To enter the Greek contest certain conditions had to be fulfilled. They had to prove they were of pure Greek blood, that they had not forfeited the right of citizenship by misconduct, and had undergone the ten months training and diet prescribed. The first step to entering the Christian contest is to possess the life of Christ. As only a Greek of pure blood could enter the Greek contest, and there was no exception, so is it in the Christian race. Every runner must have been born into the family of God through faith in Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord. The race begins at the Cross, and everyone must first possess His badge of pardon, peace, purity and power. Having then the essential condition for entry, there is set before us the Race and the Reward. Three things will characterise the runner filled with the holy ambition of obtaining the prize. He will give earnest attention, put forth strong exertion, and possess unwavering determination. Only those who have this attitude of heart can hope to win. Then we must be stripped for the race, unhindered by any encumbrance. Laying aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us.
What are the weights? The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things (Mark 4: 19). We must keep the flesh in subjection and exercise self-denial and self-restraint. In short, there must be death to the self-life, and absolute personal consecration. The will must be wholly yielded to God, and only His will sought. There must be the continual reckoning of ourselves dead to sin, and in order to win the great reward of the sanctified life there will needs be the refraining from that which is lawful, because it is not expedient. In our own strength all this is impossible, and is only made possible by the power of God given us through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1: 19-21). Pauls cry must ever be ours, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Phil 4: 13). Paul declared that he had not attained the perfection desired nor grasped the prize, but forgetting past attainments he presses forward with unabated perseverance, with patient continuance and unquenched passion, having his eye upon the perfect Example and Conqueror, his Lord and Master. He who would win the prize must keep to the track, strive lawfully, be watchful and continue instant in prayer.
What is the prize? Not a fading laurel wreath, the reward of the Greek runner, but an incorruptible crown; a crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4: 8), and of life* (Jas. 1: 12; Rev. 2: 10).
Jerry McAuley, the notorious river-thief of
September 21st, 1884, at Broadway Tabernacle in
He had run the race, he had finished the course; the prize lay before him.**
* It requires little thought on the part of the regenerate (that is, by those who have been awakened by the Holy Spirit to their responsibility and the coming glory of Christ/Messiah to be manifested upon this earth) - or, as a aged American preacher in The Iron Hall said: Its a no brainer - to understand what the life in this context of works really is life in the coming age (1 Tim. 6: 18, 19; Heb. 6: 5, 6; Luke 20: 35).
The crown of life, says James, will be given to those, and only those, who endure temptation and are approved (Jas. 1: 12): it is the reward in the inheritance (Col. 3: 24), at the end of the race that is set before those already saved; it is the approval - (before resurrection and establishment of Messiahs Millennial Kingdom) - given to those who have stood by Him in His trials (Luke 22: 28): it is Gods promise to overcomers, for only they will enter and rule with Jesus their Lord during the thousand years: Rev. 3: 21; Matt. 5: 20; Rev. 20: 4. See also in Selected Quotations No. 336.