The Heavenly Marathon- Heb. 12:1-3
Intro: In recent years, fitness programs have become quite a fad, including jogging and running. There have been hundreds of long distance races every year in the US and numbers of Marathons as well, where people actually run over 26 Miles!
Of course, in Bible times things were some different. The first record of competitive racing was a 210 yard race held in honor of the Greek god Zeus. (Not even a quarter of mile).
Later the games grew to include wrestling, javelin and discus throwing, chariot racing, and long distance running. The race know as the Marathon was created in honor of a military victory.
Miltiades was an Athenian general who led his force of 11,000 men against the Persians who numbered over 20,000. They fought in the plain of Marathon, just over 25 miles from Athens and miraculously the Greeks defeated their larger foe. Miltiades was afraid the citizens of Athens would surrender before they could hear of his victory in the field so he sent a runner named Pheidippides to take the message of his victory to the people of Athens. Pheidippides ran the almost 26 miles with all of his might, entered the city, gave the message of victor, then collapsed and died. In his honor the long distance race was named the Marathon and added to the Olympic games.
By NT times, these games had been going on for hundreds of years and were well known around the world. Paul in particular used the analogy of running the race to illustrate the Christian life, from Earth to Heaven. And my friends, this race is not a Sprint or Dash, it’s a Marathon.
I. Getting in the Race.
There is only one way to qualify for this Heavenly Marathon- Salvation through Jesus Christ.
Conviction of Sin
- John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him;
- Paul after his deliverance from prison- the Philippian Jailer “sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”
- Eze 14:6 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations
- John the Baptist- “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”
-Jesus- “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” “Except ye repent, ye shall perish.”
- Disciples “went out and preached that men should repent.
- Paul said in Acts 17:30 that God “commands all men every where to repent.”
Repentance is not just sorrow for sin, but also confession of sin and a turning from sin.
Along with Repentance there must be Faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. There must be an acceptance of the shedding of His blood for all sin so that a man or woman is Born Again, for Jesus said, “Ye must be born again,” and “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”
When you are saved, cleansed from sin, washed in the blood of Jesus, then you are in the Heavenly Marathon and you have joined in this Race from Earth to Heaven.
II. Putting off the Weights.
Text- let us lay aside every weight and sin which does so easily beset us and let us Run...
The Bible has a lot to say about “putting off” and “laying aside” and “putting on.”
1Pet 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice (ill will toward others) and all guile (deceit, deception, dishonesty) and hypocrisies(pretending, faking) and envies (jealousy) and all evil speakings (tearing down others with your words; running someone down)
Eph. 4:22 Put off... the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.... 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good.... 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor (the outcry of strife; yelling & fighting), and evil speaking, (slander) be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you
Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him
Once you get in this Marathon, it is vital that you put off the weights of this world. There are many things that will hinder us and hold us back and cause us to fail in this race. We must recognize them and lay them aside.
Lay aside the Weights of Wrong Attitudes.
Lay aside the Weights of Worldliness- immodest fashions, immoral activities, sinful associations. You Cannot Run this Heavenly Marathon weighted down with addictions and filthy habits. We must lay aside all forms of alcohol, the use of tobacco, the abuse of drugs, the viewing of pornography in any form. We must guard our eyes and ears from all filth whether it comes through a TV, Video, or from the Internet or a cell phone.
Paul said to the Galatians, “Ye did run well, Who did hinder you?” It’s a tragic thing when someone Gets In the Race but Refuses to Put Off the Weights.
III. Running Through the Gates.
It is not enough to start this race, We must Finish It. Our Text passage states that we must “run with patience the race set before us; Looking unto Jesus the Author and the Finisher of our Faith.”
- 1 Cor 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. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 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.
Ecc 9:11 says that “the race is not to the swift.” That points out the fact that its How Fast you Run, but How Long you Endure! An old song said, “Its not the one runs the swiftest, or the one who shines for a day, but the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.”
Jesus said in Mt 10:22 “ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Mt 24:13 “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
Paul said that every one who Finishes the Course and Keeps the Faith will receive Crown of Righteousness. When the Home Gates Swing Open for Me I want to be Running! I want to Run all the way through the Gates into my heavenly Home.
Bro. Dwain Galiher
Pastor of JHPC