The Race

Paul compared his walk with Jesus like running a race. Hebrews 12:1 “… let us run with
patience the race that is set before us”. I suspect he might have read what Solomon
said in the book of Ecclesiastes 9:11 “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is
not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches
to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill”.

In this race of life there are two courses from which to choose, a natural and a spiritual,
Deuteronomy 30:17 “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore
choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live”. Each of us are born into this world
where we start this race on the natural course, Ephesians 2:2 “Wherein in time past ye
walked according to the course of this world”. But in due time, every soul is given a
chance to run on the spiritual course, Eccl 9:11 “time and chance happeneth to them all”.
When this chance comes, we can stay on the natural course or we can change to the
spiritual course. If you stay on the natural course, you’re on your own, 1 Corinthians 2:14
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are
foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”.
But if you choose to run the spiritual course untill the end of the race, you will receive
unsearchable joy, 1 Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them
that love him”.

God needed a bold, fearless and faithful man to show the Gentiles (and the Israelites)
that they to could become sons and daughters of God. God chose Paul and he accepted
the task, Acts 22:10 “And I said, What shall I do, LORD”? Paul was instructed go to
Damascus where he would learn of his race ahead, Acts 22:14 “And he said, The God of
our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One,
and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. 22:15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all
men of what thou hast seen and heard”. Paul learned by revelation the will of the father
and His son,Galatians 1:11, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was
preached of me is not after man. 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I
taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ”. Paul chose to accept the gift of grace
and run his race with Jesus. It was shown to Paul by Jesus that he would suffer much
on his race, Acts 9:16 “For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my
name’s sake”. But I’m pretty sure Jesus also revealed to him He would bring him
through the fire, 1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is
common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye
are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to
bear it”. As warned by Jesus, Paul did suffer much on the course of life he had been
chosen for, 2 Corinthians 11:24 “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a
night and a day I have been in the deep; 11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in
perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in
the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings
often, in cold and nakedness”. But through all these temptations and trials, he chose the
way the Lord provided for his escape. Acts 20:24 “But none of these things move me,
neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and
the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace
of God”.

Paul knew he had to stay on the right course and finish his race, that’s why he said
might finish my course” in verse 24. Paul, whom Jesus himself chose and divinely
revealed the gospel to, said after he received this holy revelation,1 Corinthians 9:27 “But
I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have
preached to others, I myself should be a castaway”. Absolutely Paul new he must
endure to the end! Jesus himself revealed it to him in Matthew 10:22 …”he that endureth
to the end shall be saved”. If Jesus taught it to His apostles, He most certainly revealed
it to Paul. Paul also said in Philippians 3:12, “Not as though I had already attained, either
were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am
apprehended of Christ Jesus”.

When Paul was given the opportunity to change his course, he chose the spiritual,
Philippians 3:14 “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ
Jesus”. We will all be given this opportunity to change our course in life, Joshua 24:15
“choose you this day whom ye will serve”, meaning, which course will you run?

Paul said when you get in this race you have to give it all you have to win the prize,
1 Corinthians 9:24, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth
the prize? So run, that ye may obtain”. In a natural race, all the runners line up at the
start with the intent of putting every ounce of their strength into crossing the finish line
first. Some may have spent a lifetime preparing for what’s at the end of this race, but
only one can win the natural race. In the spiritual race that Paul is talking about, the
finish line is the end of time, Revelation 10:6 “And sware by him that liveth for ever and
ever, … that there should be time no longer”. Time will be no more at the end of this race.
Paul said we will all be caught up together at the finish line, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 “Then
we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to
meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord”. The same man
described it another way in 1 Corinthians 15:51 ” Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall
not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,
at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,

and we shall be changed”. Paul explains the mystery. Those Christians that are buried in
the ground and are no longer in the air, will be raised up at the finish line with those that
are in the air and are alive and remain. At that point in time, they are both “caught up
together in the air” and instantly both those that were dead in Christ in the ground and
those Christians that are alive in the air at his coming will be changed to immortal. Allelujah!

Paul warned that not everyone that started this spiritual race of life would finish it,
2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but
after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4:4 And
they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”. If it’s not
possible to switch back to the natural course after running the spiritual, then why would
Paul warn us some would do just that?

Jesus warned against trying to run both the natural and the spiritual race at the same
time, Revelation 3:16 “So then because thou art lukewarm (trying to run both courses),
and neither cold (natural) nor hot (spiritual), I will spue thee out of my mouth”. It’s not
good enough to just switch from the natural course to the spiritual. Once you change,
you must grow in faith and keep the faith to the end. Paul said in, 2 Timothy 4:5, “But
watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof
of thy ministry” and if we do this, we too will be able to say what Paul said at the end of
his race, 4:7 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the
righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that
love his appearing”.

Many Christians are taught and choose to believe that Gods love cannot be lost once you accept Jesus as your savior and I completely agree as long as you keep yourself in
his love. But if you have been given the chance to change your course and you choose
to stay on the worldly or natural course, then you are not in Gods love. God does not
love everyone, but Gods love is available for everyone. The Bible says, 1John 2:15,
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world,
the love of the Father is not in him”. Thankfully Gods mercy is ever available,
Lamentations 3:22 “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his
compassions fail not. 3:23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness”.

Notice in 2 Timothy 4:7 that Paul said “I have fought”, “I have finished”, and “I have kept”.
Jesus provided the help, but Paul did the work. Even though God chose Paul for a
Devine purpose, Paul still had to stay on the spiritual course and finish his race.

History states Paul spent the last nine months of his life imprisoned in Rome and then
was martyred by the order of Nero, by being beheaded with a sword. God rest his soul
until that great and dreadful day of the Lord.

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