Summary: Believers can take certain approaches to be sure they will strongly finish the race.
Strong to the Finish
Sept. 11, 2005 FBC, Chester Mike Fogerson, Pastor
A Popeye singing, "I’m strong to the finish"
B Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith Heb 12:1-2 (NASB)
1 In this passage, the Christian is linked to an athlete
2 Believers are likened to several things in the New Testament, shining lights, branches & vines, soldiers, pilgrims.
3 Pilgrims (travelers) is the closest resemblance to the figure of a racer in our text, but with one glaring exception: a traveler gets to rest, a racer does not. The moment a racer takes a rest, he stops being a racer and becomes a rester.
a The Jews who received this letter were being encouraged to keep moving forward in their Christian lives.
b Believers can take certain approaches to ensure that they will strongly finish the race.
C I hope you will commit to taking a step toward ensuring you stay strong in the faith.
1 What are you doing to ensure you’ll stay strong to the finish of your Christian life?
2 Let’s look at two approaches we can take to ensure we’ll stay strong to the finish.
I The first approach is that we...remember we’re not on the first track team. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us
A In Hebrews, the author took his readers through a hall of faith that was full of Old Testament heroes.
1 Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab...literally a Who’s Who in the Old Testament.
2 These Old Testament heroes were giving an eyewitness account that God could see the early believers in the early church through tough times.
a If these Old Testament heroes (who lived before the incarnation, before redemption was accomplished on the cross, resurrection, ascension) trusted God in discouragement/trials, how much more should we trust because we know about Jesus!
b The author is saying they had an easier, if not better, picture of God to trust in.
B Christians, we may have just started running the race, but the track we’re running on is as old as time.
1 It troubles me to hear a Christian say, "I rarely read the Old Testament, except for Psalms & Proverbs."
a For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4 (NASB)
b Family problems-Joseph; job’s too big-Moses; tempted to retaliate-David.
2 God has (& will) put great people of faith in out track team.
a Moms, dads, grandparents, SS teachers, pastors, lay people
b You’re not the first person to struggle with faithfulness
C (IL) On the Edge movie clip
1 What one man can do another man can do!
2 What one person can do with God, another person can do with God.
3 If you’re ever going to do anything for God, do it now.
TS: Realizing we’re not the first runners is encouraging, but there is more help available to us who want to stay strong in the faith.
II The second approach is that we must bring our "A" game ...let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...
A The athletes in ancient races came prepared to finish strong.
1 There were two things that racers discarded:
a All unnecessary burden/encumbrance/weight. (IL) Leg weight are O.K. for practice, not the race.
b Long, flowing robes that would entangle them (running naked was common).
2 For the early believer to bring his A game, he had to come ready.
a Encumbrance would be worldly temptation (they do not have to carry bad habits).
b The sin that entangles us is probably the sin of unbelief (he uses "through faith" 21 times in Hebrews 11).
c It was faith in Christ that enabled them to finish well "...and let us run with endurance the race set before us..." Go the distance!
B To bring our A game to the race, we’ve got to be ready.
1 Temptation to sin will not go away so you must win over it, or it will slow you down.
a We’ve got to deal with our temptations, not ignore them
b Know where you’re weak & take steps to overcome it.
c Scriptures, prayer, Holy Spirit will tell you
2 Never allow unbelief (SIN) to trip you up!
a Sin takes us out of step with the Holy Spirit.