Refusing to Finish the Race

Advancing Age & Weary Saints

It is so difficult for us to imagine the following events happening. Think about a boxer who had thrashed his opponent in every round and is far ahead on the scoring cards of all the judges, then he refuses to fight the last round. Think about a marathon runner who has spent years in training for the Olympics and is far ahead of all other competitors in the final race, then she simply stops one hundred feet short of the finish line, refusing to finish the race.

Weary from life?  Eternity is longer.  Finish the Race.

Weary from life? Eternity is longer. Finish the Race.

Your response would be, “Such could never happen,” but almost all of us have seen people doing this spiritually. Far too many Christians draw back in their devotion to the Master in their latter years. They were faithful to the Lord for many years, but for unexplained reasons they quit. Look at the following words from heaven encouraging us to never quit.

Jesus spoke to the church at Smyrna and told them, “Be faithful until death” (Rev. 2:10), and then gave the motivation for faithfulness—”…and I will give you the crown of life.” We must run the entire race and never think about stopping short of the finish.

Jesus said, “He who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matt.24:11). These words are surrounded by descriptions of adversity—famine, earthquakes, lawlessness, wars and false prophets. They describes the worst tribulation of all times which His disciples would soon face. His message? Do not give up! Endure! Endure to the end! Regardless of what it costs, finish the race!

Paul repeatedly urged Christians to endure whatever may come for the reward awaiting them is so great.  “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). Pay special notice to the contrast he makes between the labor and the reward. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).

The writer of Hebrews described the end of those who give up. “We are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of our souls” (Heb. 10:39). The reason we cannot give up? Because Jesus, our forerunner, waits in heaven to give us eternal rest (Heb. 4:11; 6:19-20). Keep your focus on all that awaits you. The events of the past do not really matter! What matters is that which lies ahead! Don’t give up!

Make application of this to your life. As long as God gives you breath, give yourself to Him even, though advancing years rob you of the energy you once had. Be determined that the zeal which burned in your heart to serve Him when you were baptized will be the zeal you have at your final breath.

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An Appeal to Sacrifice

An Appeal to Sacrifice

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

What first jumps out at me is the “appeal.”  Paul (and therefore God, since Paul was writing under inspiration – 1 Cor. 14:37) is appealing to us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice and be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  God doesn’t force us to do anything (Josh. 24:15).  Rather, happeals to us.  What love!  What consideration!

What next gets me thinking is that Paul is making this appeal to us “by the mercies of God.”  That tells me that not only are we forgiven by the mercy of God, but even our obedience of God, our spiritual growth and progress, our walk with him, only happens due to his mercy.  That makes sense, when you stop and think about it.  We all have sinned, after all (1 John 1:8), and we deserve death for our sins (Rom. 6:23)…not the opportunity to serve and glorify the One whom we have wronged.  Again, what love!  What consideration!

What is the appeal?  To present our “bodies” as “a living sacrifice.”  In other words, All To Jesus I SurrenderNone of Self and All of Thee.  Christianity is not just a weekend activity or an extra-curricular activity.  Our Christianity is not our alter-ego, and it does not revolve around our lives.  No, our lives revolve around our Christianity.  The kingdom and the righteousness of God come first, above everyone and everything else (Matt. 6:33; 22:35).  Christian, is your life like that?  Do you want to be “holy and acceptable to God”?  Guess what you have to do?

What is our “spiritual worship”?  He was just talking about dedicating our entire lives to God.  Does that mean all of our lives consists of worship to God?  No, because the Greek word translated “worship” here could also be translated “service.”  (Plus, consider this.  Are we worshiping God while we’re sinning?  While we’re sleeping?  While we’re eating?  There’s no biblical example of anyone doing that, and the more examples we think of the more absurd the notion becomes.  Worship in spirit and truth [John 4:24] consists of purposeful actions which he has commanded us to do in praise and honor to him [Col. 3:16; 4:2; Acts 2:42]).  So here’s what God’s really telling us.  Do you want to really be “spiritual”?  Do you really want to serve God?  Dedicate your entire life to obeying his revealed will in the Word of God.  That’s true spiritual service.

In order to do that, we can’t be “conformed to the world.”  Ask yourselves this, Christians.  How different from the world are you, really?  God’s not talking about not liking tacos because your non-Christian neighbor likes tacos.  God’s talking about not watching porn like the majority of this country does.  God’s talking about not cussing or gossiping like the majority of the people around us do.  God’s talking about dressing modestly at all times when you’re in public…unlike most people in our society.  God’s talking about your Facebook “About” page having “Christian” under the “Religion” section…and not having dirty jokes, foul language, and immodest pictures in the “Status” section…get the picture?  Would the people you work with, go to school with, and hang out with be surprised to see you with a Bible in your hand, or if they got an invite to come to church with you, or to see you with bowed head in prayer?  If so…why is that?

In order for us to not be conformed to the world, we have to “be transformed.”  How?  “By the renewing of our mind.”  We have to change the way we think.  We have to change our worldview, our priorities.  How do we do that?  Read Psalm 1.  Want to be like the man described in verses 1 and 3?  Want to not be like the people described in verses 4 and 5?  You have to be like the man described in verse 2…every single day.  Do that…with an open and honest heart (Luke 8:15)…and you’d be surprised at how quickly the transformation starts to occur.  Don’t, and you’ll just keep on being a Christian-In-Name-Only…and you won’t like what happens to you on the Day of Judgment (Matt. 7:21-27; Heb. 10:26-31).

(Here’s a test.  If you’re truly interested in transforming your mind and are unfamiliar with Psalm 1 and the other scriptures I’ve cited thus far, you will have already turned to them in your Bible or looked them up on the Internet by now.  If you just nodded your head and moved on, you have a ways to go before you’ll start to look different from the rest of the world.  This is real, people.  It’s not going to happen to you by accident, and not without dedication and hard work.  Just sayin’…)

If you work very hard at transforming your mind (cf. 2 Pet. 1:5-11), guess what you’re doing?  You’re “discerning what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  You won’t have to wonder about where God stands on things, or what would Jesus do.  You’ll know, because you are storing up God’s will in your heart in order to avoid sin (Ps. 119:11; Heb. 5:12-14).  Not only that, but you will be finding out what Proverbs brings out time and time again…that doing things God’s way really is the good way, the acceptable way, the perfect way.

This is what Christianity is all about, folks…

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Anything in the Truth

Can the Bible Mean Just Anything?

We live in a society that seeks to interpret everything. When the President or some other important official makes a statement, news commentators are quick to point out what was said and what wasn’t said. Did he mean this or did he mean that? The analysis is endless. Many take words that were said, rip them out of their context, and sound bite them giving them an entirely different meaning than when they were originally uttered. And this is, more or less, an accepted practice among some because of the failure of many to believe that there is such a thing as truth. If there is no truth, then the words that I say can mean anything that you want them to mean and what you say can mean anything that I want it to mean and we just end up believing what we want to believe regarding someone else’s statements without ever having considered the possibility that someone might have meant something different than what we thought they meant.

The Bible cannot be interpreted correctly to show just anything.

The Bible cannot be interpreted correctly to show just anything.

The truth of the matter is that words have real significance or, as Rush Limbaugh says, Words mean things. Many people believe that they can say what they want without consequence until they are forced to face the facts of the words that they used and the meanings that those words have. At that point, many don’t like the idea that you have pointed out to them what their words truly mean because if words have objective meanings and their words don’t line up with truth, then they might just be wrong and that would be something that they couldn’t accept.

In that regard, the Bible is no different. The Bible has words and those words have meanings. Those words were originally uttered in a specific language and in a specific context, which, when we properly investigate, will render for us the objective meaning of the word. It’s not up to us to redefine those meanings to fit our own interpretations; it’s our task to understand what those words meant when originally uttered. So, the Bible just can’t mean anything. The Bible must mean certain specific things.

The Bible is a book that claims to be truth, not truth as we filter it through our subjective mind, but truth in the objective sense; it is true for everyone. Jesus said, Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32). It was through abiding in the word of God that the disciples came to know the truth. So, since the objective truth is in the words, then that puts objective meaning in those words. The implication of that is that the Bible can’t just mean anything.

And we can’t just understand the Bible to mean anything that we want it to mean. Look at what Paul said regarding revelation in Ephesians 3:3-4: how that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ. God’s words can be understood, Paul says, just as he, Paul, understood them. That means that there is no reason not to understand the Bible alike. That the Bible can’t mean just anything.

Yet, there are millions today who are convinced that the Bible can mean just anything. When individuals say things like, You can interpret the Bible for yourself as long as you don’t force your opinions upon me, they are in essence saying that the Bible can mean anything. When someone says, Well, that’s just your interpretation they are in essence saying that the Bible can mean anything. When others say things like, This is what the Bible means to me, but it has its own meaning for you then one is saying that the Bible can mean anything.

If the Bible is God’s truth for man, then it can’t just mean anything. It must mean that which God intended it to mean. And we can KNOW what God intended it to mean because he has revealed these things to us through the Mind of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12). It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to learn and believe God’s objective truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

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