The Rewards of Running the Race

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April 30, 2018
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June 28, 2018

The Rewards of Running the Race

In this race of life, while everyone is running, not everyone will be a champion for Christ.  Like any other race, some will win and some will lose.  What kind of crown are you running for?  1 Corinthians 9:24-25 says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”  You are either running for a crown that will last or one that won’t, either the temporal or the eternal.

You cannot be a champion unless your prize is in heaven and not on earth.  If you read history, you’ll find the Christians who did the most in this present world were those who thought the most of the next.  All left their mark on earth precisely because their minds were occupied with heaven.

Most of us here have lived some form of the American dream, even if we don’t realize it.  But along with the American dream comes the American delusion, that we can somehow secure our own piece of heaven on earth.  We often forget our home is in heaven and not on earth.  For many of us, the source of our greatest problems are not the basics but the blessings.  As we run this race of life, they can become like an anchor around our ankle.  The blessings can quickly take preeminence over the Blessor, as the gifts become our focus rather than the Giver.

I believe the single greatest reward for running the race is that one day we will finally see Jesus.  Right now we live by faith, but Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  None of us has ever seen Jesus except by faith, and one day our faith will be rewarded by sight.

Now if you’ve never placed your faith in Jesus Christ, this probably sounds crazy to you.  The Bible says, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” If you don’t believe in God and you don’t believe in heaven, then you believe that by faith.  You see, in the end every single person is a person of faith. The difference is I have hope for tomorrow, but all you have is today.  This life is not the end, it’s only the beginning.

The biggest day of your life will be the day you see Jesus Christ.  Getting ready for that day should be the single greatest focus of your life.  And when you believe you will one day look into the eyes of Jesus, who saved your soul and bled and died for you, it will change the way you live.

The amazing thing is the Bible says, “We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”  We will be instantly conformed to the image of Christ – that was God’s plan from the beginning for the human race.  And that which God began on earth, He will finish in heaven.

1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  To paraphrase, heaven is going to be out of this world!

There are three things that will happen when we see Christ…

1) We will have the body of Christ.  We will live for all of eternity in glorified bodies like that of the resurrected Savior.  1 Corinthians 15 says our bodies will be transformed from mortal to immortal, from corruptible to incorruptible.  Just think, you’ll never grow weary, sick, old, or die. You’ll have a body that will be forever young with no aches or pains!

You see the human race is a dying race because we have been diseased by sin.  Romans 5:12, “For as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”  I am a dying man preaching to dying men and women, but I’ve got good news for you.  Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”

2)  We will have the mind of Christ.  Just as amazing as it will be to have the body of Christ, it will be even more amazing to have the mind of Christ.  Imagine, you will have perfect knowledge and understanding. You’ll never again ask God, “Why?”  One of the hardest things I have to do as a pastor is look at somebody going through some trial or tragedy and try to answer their question, “God why?”

3)  You’ll have the nature of Christ.  We will finally and forever be holy and sinless.  The moment you trusted in Christ as your Savior, you received a new nature.  Because of this new nature, you don’t have to sin.  I didn’t say you couldn’t sin; but you don’t have to sin.

The goal of the Christian life is to become more and more like Christ in this life so when we see Him, there’ll be less to transform later.  That transformation started on earth the moment you were saved, and God will complete it in heaven.  I’m afraid that some of us are playing fast and loose with Jesus Christ, and when we see Him, we’ll be heartbroken, embarrassed, and ashamed.

My brother and I were probably in junior high and my mom and dad were gone.  We had the house all to ourselves.  We popped in a movie and were having a good old time – pop cans, pizza boxes, TV dinners, couch cushions here and there…the house was a mess. But then we heard a car pull in the driveway, and we realized the party was over.  Pizza boxes went under the couch, pop cans between the cushions, but it was too late.  They had come back and found the house a mess.

The question for you is when you see Christ, how will you be living?  Will you be ready to see Him, or will you be taken by surprise and unprepared?