Faithful to the Finish
2 Timothy 4:6-8
Intro: I was sitting in a repair center waiting patiently (well, not Real patiently) for our van to be fixed so we could get Home! The shop was decorated with Finish Line Flags. Everywhere I looked I saw those Black and White finish line flags. It caused my mind to go to the Spiritual Race we are taught about in the Bible; the Race that every person is supposed to Run; the Race that every Christian IS Running.
I. The Start Which is Exciting
The start of this Race to Heaven is certainly exciting!
I thought of Paul, who was still known as Saul, as he journeyed to Damascus to persecute Christians. A bright Light from heaven shined down on him and he heard the voice of Jesus Christ. He was smitten with blindness, was convicted of his sin, and was convinced that Jesus was Alive and really was God the Son.
Saul/Paul was SAVED. He was changed from being Religious to having a Relationship with Jesus- A Child of God. The Start is Exciting! Remember? Do you remember when you first felt conviction? Do you remember when you first repented and surrendered to the Lord? Remember when your sin was forgiven and cleansed away? Remember when the guilt was removed? When your heart and spirit were Born Again by the Holy Spirit of God? When you became a new creation in Christ Jesus? Have you ever heard someone who has just been saved say:
“Everything is Brighter”
“ I Feel as Light as Feather”
“ I Love Everybody”
“ I’m so Happy, I just can’t describe it.”
Uncle Bud Robinson, a early Holiness preacher, said it like this: “It was like Heaven kissed the earth and I was right in the middle of the smack.”
One of our favorite songs says, “When I was drifting out in sin, I had no peace, no joy within, BUT Jesus came & made me Glad, He’s the dearest Friend I’ve ever had.”
Another song says, “What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart. I have joy in my soul for which long I had sought since Jesus came into my heart”.
There is no greater experience than Salvation! The Start of this race is exciting.
II. The Suffering Which Must be Endured.
Paul says in the text, I had a Course to Finish; I had a War to Fight.
More than most Paul knew from the very start that this Race had suffering.
When Ananias was sent by the Lord to pray for Paul he was told that God would show him “what great things he must suffer” for the cause of Jesus Christ. AND Suffer he did!
He suffered shipwrecks; beatings; stonings; poverty; weariness; afflictions; sorrow in relationships; grieving over the back sliding of dear friends and fellow laborers.
Not just Paul but Every Christian in this Race faces Suffering! We all have trials of life; sickness & disease; family troubles; financial difficulties; sorrow in relationships; lost loved ones; the back sliding of friends and associates... But, we must Endure!
No one has an Easy Life; not Saints; not Sinners. No one has a Trouble Free Life.
No one has a Life of Roses with no Thorns; a Life of Sunshine with no Storms; Life of Abundance with no Lack. We must CARRY ON!
You probably heard about the Olympic runner who broke his leg while running his quarter mile lap with the relay team. He ran for over half the lap with a broken leg!
There was one runner from South Africa who had had both legs amputated at the knee and was fitted with steel braces. It’s amazing to think about that: he was not just walking but running; not just running but running Races; not just running any race but running in the Olympics!
The Start which is Exciting; The Suffering which we must Endure, and:
III. The Salvation Which is at the End.
When the suffering gets bad; when you are so overwhelmed with trouble that you are about to give up; WAIT! Remember the salvation which is at the End!
We are not running a pointless race. We are not running just for the sake of running; or because we have nothing else to do. We are Running to Heaven!
Paul was excited when his race began and he committed himself to preach the gospel of Jesus for the rest of his life. He soon found out that this race brought suffering. Still, he endured and persevered. He wrote to the Philippians and told them that he did not consider himself to have already won his race. Also, he was not giving up either in frustration or in self satisfaction. He was Forgetting the things that were behind; He was Reaching Forth to those things which were before; and He was Pressing toward the Mark for the Prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Forgetting- Reaching- Pressing That’s a great recipe for Victory!
Keep Your Eyes on the Finish Line; There is Salvation at the End.
We know right now the joy of salvation and the joy of sins forgiven. Then we will know the Fulness of our salvation for not only our spirit and soul will be saved, but our body will be saved also. We hear Paul rejoice in the fact that there is a Crown of Righteousness at the Finish Line with his name on it. We rejoice with Paul that there is one waiting at the Finish Line with OUR Name on it. Jesus said, “He that endureth to the End, the same shall be SAVED.” A song said, “It’s not the one who runs the swiftest; or the one who shines for a day; but the one who endureth to the end, he shall be saved.” Finally, the words of yet one more song: “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus, Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ; one glimpse of his dear face all sorrows will erase; so Bravely Run the Race till we see Christ
Be Faithful to the Finish!
Bro. Dwain Galiher
Pastor of JHPC