2037. The Rule Of The Race

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No. 2037-34:433. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, August 5, 1888, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. {Heb 12:1,2}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 236, “Shameful Sufferer, The” 229}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2037, “Rule of the Race, The” 2038}
   Exposition on Heb 12:1-17 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3260, “Spiritual Convalescence” 3262 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Heb 12:1-17 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3327, “Our Lord’s Heroic Endurance” 3329 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Heb 12 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3111, “Warning and Encouragement” 3112 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Heb 12 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3206, “Church of the Firstborn, The” 3207 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Heb 12 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3492, “God’s Word Not to be Refused” 3494 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Isa 35; Heb 12:1-6 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3545, “Our Glorious Leader” 3547 @@ "Exposition"}

1. The apostle says, “Let us run.” He has in his mind’s eye the Olympic games, where all the different tribes of Greece were gathered together in general assembly to display the prowess of the country. Among the athletic exercises were foot-races. The apostle makes this foot-race an illustration of the Christian life. We must run with patience along the appointed course if we would win the prize of our high calling.

2. He stands with us at the starting-point, and earnestly says to us, not “Run,” but, “Let us run.” The apostle himself is at our side as a runner. The presence of such a comrade is most invigorating. It is good doing good things in good company. “Let us run,” he says, “with patience the race that is set before us.” Who will back out of a race in which so great a saint takes his place at our side? Ho, you who aspire to be associated with the excellent of the earth, press forward side by side with an apostle! “Let us run,” from Paul’s lip, puts wings on our heels.

3. Before we start, with a wave of the hand the apostle directs us to the spectators who throng the sides of the course. There were always such at those races: each city and state yielded its contingent, and the assembled throng watched with eager eye the efforts of those who strove for the mastery. Those who look down upon us from the heavens are described as “so great a cloud of witnesses.” These surround us. Thousands upon thousands, who have run this race before us, and have attained their crowns, behold us from their heavenly seats, and see how we behave ourselves. This race is worth running, for the eyes of “the nations of those who are saved” are fixed upon us. This is no insignificant business, this running for the great prize. Angels, and principalities, and powers, and hosts redeemed by blood, have mustered to behold the glorious spectacle of men agonizing for holiness, and exerting their utmost strength to copy the Lord Jesus. You who are men, now run for it! If there is any spiritual life and gracious strength in you, exert it today; for patriarchs and prophets, saints, martyrs, and apostles look down from heaven upon you.

4. Our apostle, anxious that we should so run that we may obtain, points to certain burdens and impediments which he foresees will hinder us, and he says, “Let us lay aside every weight.” Notice how he includes himself, so that his warning may not sound like upbraiding. We cannot win if we are weighted: the pace will have to be very swift, and we cannot get to it, or keep it up, if we have weights to carry. Unloaded, we shall find the race taxing all our powers; but weighted, we shall be doomed to failure. Oh, to lay aside all carking care, fretfulness, ambition, anger, greed, and selfish desire! These were never worth the labour they have cost us; but now that we have become running men, we must be finished with them. Down they must go, until the last ounce is on the ground. Like the Greek footman, we would strip; and instead of adding weight, we would diminish even our own bulk, so that we may fly along the course. Oh you who would win, heed the caution, and “lay aside every weight,” whether it is great or small; and press towards the mark! Run for it, man! You need to do nothing else except run.

5. Still attentively considering us, the apostle notes that even when the weights are laid aside, there is a garment on us which will assuredly twist about our feet, and throw us down. Sin, as well as care, must be laid aside. It easily besets us, and therefore we must be all the more careful to be rid of it. Our original sin, our natural tendencies, our constitutional infirmities — these must be laid aside as garments unsuitable for men who are running the heavenly race. We cannot win heaven and wear sin. Heaven is for the holy: “there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defiles.” Darling sins must go first: these, since they are most loved, will have the most power to hinder. Every kind of sin must be watched against, struggled against, and mastered. “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” We hope to see all our tendencies to sin killed and buried — buried so deep that not even a bone of a sin shall be left above ground. This will be heaven for us.

6. Do I not hear you say, “May God help us?” This must be a tough race which requires such stripping as this. If every weight of care must be laid aside, and every rag of sin, who is sufficient for these things? How can we poor limping mortals run in such a race as this? Even the starting is beyond us: how much more must perseverance in it exceed our strength! See, my brethren, how we are driven to free grace, how we are driven to the power of the Holy Spirit! The race which is set before us most clearly reveals our helplessness, and our hopelessness, apart from divine grace. The race of holiness and patience, while it demands our vigour, displays our weakness. We are compelled, even before we take a step in the running, to bow the knee, and cry to the strong for strength. We dare not retreat from the contest; but how can we begin a struggle for which we are so unprepared? Who will help us? To whom shall we look? Does not all this very admirably introduce the verse which is specially my text — “Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith?”

7. But the apostle has not quite finished with us, for he warns us to remember the rules of the course in these words, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” You are not to run in any way, or anywhere: you must stay on the appointed course, or you might as well stand still. The way of God’s command, the way of obedience, the way of humble trustfulness, the spiritual way, the way of the life given from above — this, and no other way will do, for this is the race set before you! Do you shrink? Does the way seem too mysterious, too contrary to the flesh, too trying? All this adds to the force of the precept — “Looking to Jesus.” Because the way itself and the rules of the running are such as your nature will fight against, therefore look all the more earnestly to the great Captain of your salvation.

8. In a race a great point is the way in which a man keeps his eyes. He cannot run straight who has a squint eye to this or to that. Straightforward is the best running; but he who has his eye on this and on that will run crookedly, and waste his strength. Look to the end, and then run in a direct line. I have read of a competition between certain young ploughmen who were set to plough for a prize. Most of them made very crooked work of it. After they had ended, one of the judges said, “Young man, where did you look while you were ploughing?” “I kept my eyes well on the plough handles, sir, and saw what I had to hold.” “Yes,” the judge said, “and your plough went in and out, and the furrow is all crooked.” He asked the next ploughman, “and where did you look?” “Well, sir,” he answered, “I looked at my furrow, I kept my eye always on the furrow that I was making. I thought I should make it straight that way.” “But you did not,” answered the judge, “you were all over the place.” To the next he said, “What did you look at?” “Well, sir,” he said, “I looked between the two horses to a tree that stood in the hedge at the other end of the field, right in front of me.” Now that man went straight because he had a fixed mark to guide him. This helps us to appreciate the wisdom of the text, “Looking to Jesus.” Run: run straight: you cannot run straight unless you keep your eye on one who is always the same. “Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith,” you will have an effective preservative from wandering. Spiritual ploughmen, take heed that you do not look back, but plough a straight furrow towards Jesus on the throne! Spiritual runners, make a covenant with your eyes so that you will look only to him who is the great goal of all your running! Looking to Jesus means life, light, guidance, encouragement, joy: never cease to look on him who always looks on you.

9. To help us, the apostle describes the mark to which we are to look in four ways. “Look to Jesus,” the Saviour, is the sum and substance of it all; but he is presented before us in four lights: first, the author of faith; secondly, the finisher of faith; thirdly, the pattern of faith; and lastly, the goal or the end of faith. We must look to Jesus Christ in each of these four respects. Oh, for the Holy Spirit’s help while I speak on it!

10. I. First, then, we are to look to Jesus as THE AUTHOR OF FAITH.

11. The apostle would have us view the Lord Jesus as the starter of the race. When a foot-race began, the men were drawn up in a line, and they had to wait for a signal. Those who were in the race had to look at the starter; for the runner who should get ahead by a false start would not win, because he did not run according to the rules of the race. No man is crowned unless he strives lawfully. The starter was in his place, and the men stood all waiting and looking. At last he dropped his glove, or a handkerchief, and away they went. Our word at starting in the Christian life is, “Look to Jesus.” We must fix our eye on “the beginner of our faith”; for if we do not begin by looking to him, however quickly we may hurry along, we shall run in vain, and labour in vain. To what purpose will your running be, if the judge determines that you started improperly?

12. The beginning of faith is “looking to Jesus.” Let us consider this. We have to look to Jesus, first, by trusting in what he has done for us. It is described in these words — “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” Jesus has endured the suffering and shame which were due to us. Oh soul, you can never start on the road to heaven unless you look to him who “endured the cross” on your behalf! Your sin will make you to endure the wrath of God for ever, unless you do look to him who bore our sins in his own body on the tree. You must get a faith’s view of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, or else you have not even begun the heavenward race. Do you look upon your own righteousness with pleasure? This is a bad start for you, your back is on the prize. “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.” Do you look to your moods and feelings? You will make a bad start with these, for they will guide you into a fog, in which you will lose the track. Look to Jesus, the suffering Saviour. He by his bearing the cross has removed your heaviest weights, and by his death has destroyed your entangling sin. He can renew your nature by his resurrection power, and save you from the dominion of sin by his glorious reign. If you only look to him, you start well; but not otherwise.

13. The Greek word for “looking” is a much fuller word than we can find in the English language. It has a preposition in it which turns the look away from everything else. You are to look away from everything else to Jesus. Do not fix your gaze upon the cloud of witnesses; they will hinder you if they take your eye off Jesus. Do not look on the weights and the besetting sin — these you have laid aside; look away from them. Do not even look upon the race-course, or the competitors, but look to Jesus and so start in the race. What have you to trust in except his blood and righteousness? Beware that you set up nothing as a rival confidence. Look away from everything you have ever relied on in days gone by, and say to your soul, “No one but Jesus.” You must have a single eye and a single hope. “Christ is all,” and he must be all to you, or you are out of the race altogether.

14. The instructive original has in it the word “eis,” which is translated “to,” but in addition has the force of “into.” We shall do well if we look to Jesus, but better still if we are found “looking into Jesus.” I want you, when you begin your divine life, to take care that you look to Jesus with so penetrating a gaze that your “to” grows to an “into.” Do not read only the outside of the volume of his life, but release its seals and read his heart. Dive into the meaning of what he has done for you. Look at his enduring the cross, know what it means, and enter into the fellowship of his sufferings. Study well the sin-bearing, the curse-bearing, the forsaking, and the sorrow to death. Think how the Lord Jesus came under shame for your sakes, and see how he rose above it all. Look to him until you are familiar with the different views of the one great Sacrifice. Under the law, a poor man brought his two young pigeons, and the birds were divided in the middle, and so offered. A richer man brought a lamb or a young bull; this was divided carefully, and all its anatomy laid bare: this was to be done with the leg, and that with the shoulder, and there was an ordinance concerning the fat and the inwards. Just as some believers know the details of the sacrifice, so we want you, dear friends, to be among this better instructed class. May you discern the Lord’s body, and penetrate into the secrets of his soul, and so begin your Christian life with an intelligent and instructed faith. This will secure better running throughout the rest of the road. Still you must look to Jesus only, whether you know little or much. It is not your knowledge, but him who must be your one basis of trust. You must take Jesus to be Alpha as well as Omega. To you his name stands at the head of the book, and it is also the Amen which closes it. To your experience the Scripture is true — “In the beginning was the Word.” You begin to run when you look to Jesus.

15. But then, dear friends, we also begin looking to Jesus, because of what he has done in us. I would remind you who are a good way on in the course of those first eager paces with which you started heavenward. Did you not begin with looking to Jesus? Just as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so continue in him. The Lord Jesus first called us out of darkness into his marvellous light. He sweetly inclined us to think upon himself as the way, and made us wishful to become heavenly footmen. It was he who quickened us, even as of old he raised the dead. The Father quickens whomever he wills, and even so does Jesus. Even now I seem to hear his voice crying, “Lazarus, come out!” Well do we remember when serious thought, anxious desire, deep repentance, lingering hope, and trembling faith entered our souls through “looking to Jesus.” Did he not give us pardon at the outset? It was by looking to him that the great load of sin fell from off our conscience. With pardon of sin came a great loathing of sin: washed in the precious blood we could not wantonly repeat the stains. Our earliest repentance and its fruits came from “looking to Jesus.” Our heart of stone had been hardened by looking elsewhere, but the vision of the sacred head crowned with thorns did the softening work. We looked and were enlightened, enlivened, enraged against sin, and enamoured by Jesus.

16. Our first acceptance with God came from looking to Jesus by faith. We found ourselves accepted in the Beloved. Oh my friend, do you remember that rapturous moment when you perceived that the robe of righteousness had covered you from head to foot, and that your filthy clothing had been taken away? You cannot forget that time of love. At that moment you felt the love of God within your spirit like a consuming fire, burning up your sin. You also were filled with love for the Lord your God. You wondered how it came there until you perceived that you loved him because he first loved you. Then every evil was abhorred by your soul; then you were ready for any holy service; then self-denial became a pleasure for you; then you forsook the company of the wicked, and sought the companionship of the saints. The love of Jesus had started you on a race which otherwise you would not have chosen: you were converted, turned, turned quite around. You acknowledged that henceforth you were not your own, and could not run towards self: you were bought with a price, and therefore must run towards your Redeemer. A sight of the Crucified did it all.

17. So, dear friends, Jesus is the beginner of our race of faith by what he has done for us, and by what he has done in us.

18. Have I any here this morning who are about to start for heaven? Watch that you start correctly. I urge you, do not fall into any delusion. Do not imagine that your life will avail you anything, however good and moral it may have been, unless you begin by looking to Jesus. Mr. Bunyan, in his “Pilgrim’s Progress,” frequently speaks of those who tumbled over the wall, or came in by other irregular ways; but they all missed the end. Just as they came in without Christ, so they went out without hope. One who came near to the celestial city, who had not come in at the gate, was made to know that there is a backdoor to hell, even from the gate of heaven. You must begin with looking to Jesus, or you will end with a fearful looking for of judgment. Does not Jesus say, “I am the beginning?” Would you set up another beginning? He must be the first letter of your hope, or else you do not even know the alphabet of salvation.

19. II. But now, secondly, we must look to Jesus as THE FINISHER OF FAITH. Just as Jesus is at the beginning of the course, starting the runners, so he is at the end of the course, the rewarder of those who endure to the end. Those who would win in the great race must keep their eyes on him all along the course, even until they reach the finish line.

20. You will be helped to look to him when you remember that he is the finisher of your faith by what he has done for you; for the text says, “He endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” You also shall have heaven, for he has it; you shall sit upon the throne, for he sits there. Look to his passion on the cross, to begin with; look to his session on the throne, so that you may hold on to the end. Look to Jesus as dying for the pardon of your sin, but as living for the justification of your souls. Incarnation and death have led on to intercession and endless life.

21. Jesus has sat down: he takes his rest because he has completed his work. Here on earth he was filled with shame, but up there in glory he is full of honour, for he is seated “at the right hand of God.” Here he was bound and led captive; there he is King of kings and Lord of lords, for he sits at the right hand of the throne of God. Here on earth we see his manhood, born in a manger, living in poverty, dying the ignominious death of the cross; there we adore his divine glory, for he is “at the right hand of the throne of God.” Think of your Saviour as your God, clothed with all power and authority. Surely this should urge you to quicken your pace, and never to become weary or faint. You began by looking to him as a sufferer, persevere by looking to him as a victor. “Be of good cheer,” he said, “I have overcome the world.” In that fact he gives you an assurance of your own victory. The seed of the woman has bruised the serpent’s head, and therefore the Lord will tread Satan under your feet shortly. The death of Christ is our death for sin; but the life of Christ is our life to holiness. The shame of Christ was our shame, and the triumph of Christ is our triumph. Therefore, looking to Jesus let us run.

22. We are helped to run to the end, not only by what Jesus has done for us, but by what Jesus is doing in us. Beloved, you who are in the middle of the race, remember that Jesus sustains you. Every atom of your strength for running comes from your Lord. Look to him for it. Do not take a step in creature strength; nor seek after any virtue, or growth, or progress apart from his life and grace. He says, “From me is your fruit found.” He works all our works in us, and because he works in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure, therefore we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

23. We are not only sustained by looking to Jesus, but we are invigorated by it. If we win a glance from his eye, our feeble knees are confirmed. We take breath as we behold him on the throne, and dash forward again. Those dear eyes of his are to us as stars are to the mariner. Jesus says to us, “Come on, I am victorious, and so shall you be.” A sight of the exalted Leader fires the zeal of each believer, and makes him run like a roe, or a young hart.

24. Looking to Jesus, you will get many a direction; for, as he sits at the finish line, his very presence indicates the way. If our eyes are up to him, as the eyes of a servant to her mistress, we shall run well. “Do not be as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle”; but say with David, “You shall guide me with your eye.” A look from the eye of Jesus is enough for a saint; and if you, my hearer, are indeed “looking to Jesus,” you will avoid crooks and turns, and will take the shortest road to holiness and eternal glory. Consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, and you will not grow weary, neither will you miss your way.

25. Look to Jesus, for by that look he draws you. The great magnet up in heaven is drawing us towards itself. Christ’s cords of love give us speed. The more in the power of the Holy Spirit you meditate upon our Lord’s passion on the cross and his session on the throne, the more you will be drawn towards him, and the faster you will move. “Draw me, we will run after you” is the cry of the Old Testament Church, and it is ours also. Lord, we would look so that you may draw.

26. While we are running we look to our Lord as the finisher of faith, and we see him leaning forward and holding out the crown.

   ’Tis his all animating voice
      That calls us from on high;
   ’Tis his own hand presents the prize
      To our aspiring eye.

The sight of the crown removes all weight from our crosses. The race ceases to be severe when we see Jesus enthroned. I see him today at the end of the course holding out the wreath to me, and saying, “He who shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.” Oh that each one of you may see him, and feel that “the crown of glory that does not fade away” is worthy of a life’s running. So will Jesus, by holding out the reward, become the finisher of faith.

27. When the race is over, Jesus will appear as the finisher of faith by coming forward to crown you with his own right hand. Yes, his hand shall award the prize, and his lips shall say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Jesus himself will admit the faithful to the place which he has gone to prepare for them. Therefore be of good courage and run! Jesus at the end of the race will enthrone us with himself: “Let us run.”

28. I invite you, taking the sense of the word “looking” which I have already hinted at, to contemplate these things in your mind. Look away from all self-denials, difficulties, labours, sufferings, temptations, and persecutions; and equally look away from all pleasures, profits, and preferments, and look to Jesus, who has won the race himself, and now helps you in the race, and holds out the crown at the end of it. Look until you begin to look into him and see something of his inward glory, and of its outflowings to his redeemed. Say to yourself, “All things are in him for me. All spiritual blessings God bestows upon me according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Does the Father bless me in my enthroned Lord? Then my feet shall not weary in the heavenward way. Does Jesus lean forward as if he would crown me even now? Then I will quicken my pace to come to him. Does the Holy Spirit help my infirmities? Then I will run swiftly in his strength.”

29. So I have tried in my own feeble way to set before you Jesus as the Author and the Finisher of faith: look to him and run.

30. III. Let us next consider our Lord Jesus as THE PATTERN OF OUR FAITH. Run, as Jesus ran, and look to him as you run, so that you may run like him. How did our Lord pursue his course?

31. You will see this if you first note his motive: “Who for the joy that was set before him.” Jesus had a motive in all that he did. Men do not do much if they act from mere feeling, and have no underlying purpose. Indeed, a life without an object must be a frivolous, useless life. Jesus had before him the great joy of glorifying the Father in the salvation of his chosen. For this he lived, for this he died: it was a joy to him to think of accomplishing this object. Beloved, if you want to run your race properly, it must be for the glory of God, and in the hope of the salvation of your fellow men. These two things, blended into one, must be your joy. Oh that this motive took possession of our entire being! The chief end of man is to glorify God: let it be my chief end, even as it was my Lord’s. Oh that I might glorify you, my Creator, my Preserver, my Redeemer! To this purpose I was born, and for this purpose I would live in every action of my life. Brethren, we cannot run the race set before us unless we feel like this. We must, like the Saviour, seek the glory of God by saving our fellow men. Live for this. Live to seek out the wandering sons of men, and so to be a shepherd under the Great Shepherd. Learn from him to carry the lambs in your bosom. There is no running heavenward unless the service of God is a joy for us. We run in an approved fashion when we spend and are spent in glorifying God. May you throughout eternity have to rejoice that you were not fruitless! Oh, may none of you be written down as “creation’s blot, creation’s blank”; but may you all have the joy of glorifying God on earth, and finishing the work he has given you to do!

32. How are we to imitate Jesus? First, we are to copy his endurance. He “endured the cross.” Ours is a trifling cross compared with what pressed him down; but he endured it. He took it up willingly, and carried it patiently. He never rebelled against it, and never relinquished it. He bore the cross until the cross bore him, and then he bore death upon it. He could say, “It is finished.” Brethren, let us do the same. Are you persecuted, are you poor, are you sick? — take up the appointed cross. Christ ran with a cross on his shoulder, and so must we run. Do not try to escape trouble: the followers of the Crucified must be familiar with the cross. Endure it patiently, joyfully, in the strength of God. “Looking to Jesus,” behold his cross whenever you begin to faint under your own. Think of the bloody sweat, the scourging, the wounds, the blasphemies of men, the forsaking by God! Behold and see if there ever was sorrow like his sorrow, or endurance like his endurance. Shoulder your cross, and run towards the Crucified.

33. Imitate your Lord in his magnanimity. He endured the cross, “despising the shame.” Shame is a cruel thing for many hearts. Our Lord shows us how to treat it. See, he puts his shoulder under the cross, but he sets his foot upon the shame. He endures the one, but he despises the other. What! Shall his disciples make much of what he despised? Are you such gentlemen, that no one may come between the wind and your nobility? I wonder when I hear some people say, “I cannot stand being laughed at.” Does laughter break bones? “But ridicule is very sharp!” Is it? Do the wounds bleed? “Well,” cries one, “a keen sarcasm from a wit stings you!” Does it? Have you no cure for such bites? Some of us have in our minds been like Marcus Arethusa, {a} who was stung to death by wasps; and yet we are none the worse, but rather we are all the better, for there remains no place where a new sting can operate. Oh, that some of you, who are so tender, could have thicker skins in this respect! I heard of a prayer the other day which I did not quite like at first, but there is something in it after all. The good man said, “Lord, if our hearts are hard, make them soft; but if our hearts are too soft, make them hard.” I know what he meant, and I think I can pray that last prayer for some of my friends who are so delicate that a sneer would kill them. May the Lord harden them until they can despise the shame! Answer shame by making it see that you are ashamed of the scorner. Laugh at the laughter of fools, despise their despising. With glorious greatness of spirit Jesus remained unprovoked amid the cruel taunts of godless men. Run through the ribald throng. Shut your ears and run, despising the shame.

34. Our Saviour is to be imitated in his perseverance. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and “is seated.” He never stopped running until he could sit down at the right hand of the throne of God; and that is the only place where you may sit down. My brother, Satan puts before you a comfortable armchair, and he says, “Take your ease.” No, no; run until you can sit down at the right hand of the throne of God. There are many dainty little arbours all along the Hill Difficulty, with couches and tables; and men, if they get into them, are very apt to fall asleep, and lose their roll of comforting assurance: therefore, pass these arbours by. Runners must not sit down: that would be to throw the race away. The only running that will save is persevering running. From starting-point to the finish line there must be no pausing. We must practise daily obedience, daily holiness, daily service. An off-and-on religion is a false religion. We must keep to the running until God gives us rest. Our Lord has won the victory. His enthronement “at the right hand of God” has well rewarded the man Christ Jesus for the depth of his shame and misery. We must not cease our following of him until we triumph too. When we have finished our course, then we shall receive our crowns; but as yet we must copy the Captain of our salvation by running steadily on.

35. Our Lord’s body bore five wounds, and these shall help your memory to think of the five virtues in which you are to imitate your Lord. The piercing of the right hand is the memorial of his faith. He believed in God in the depth of his agony, and trusted that he would deliver him. Oh, for more faith! The left-hand wound is his patience. He “endured, as seeing him who is invisible,” he did not revile again; he said “Your will be done.” The foot-wound reminds me of his humility, and how he was obedient to death, even the death of the cross; and that other foot-wound suggests to me his perseverance. His feet were nailed to the wood: his soul was joined to his work. Best of all, in that great wound in his side I see his love. The spear opened a passage to his heart. Love as Jesus loved, loving God and loving men; then you shall triumph as he triumphed, and he will crown you as he himself is crowned. May God help you to run like this.

36. IV. Lastly, our text sets before us Jesus as THE GOAL OF FAITH. We are to run “looking to Jesus” as the goal that we should aim for. We go towards our Lord every step that we take.

37. True faith neither goes away from Christ Jesus, nor takes a roundabout road to Jesus, nor so much as dreams of going beyond Jesus. We have wise men around us nowadays who are going a long way beyond the gospel. The old faith which inspired apostles, enabled the glorious army of martyrs to lay down their lives, and produced the noblest of human characters in past ages, is not good enough for the superfine sophists of these days. This boastful century demands a new God, a new Christ, a new heaven, a new hell, a new gospel, and everything else new except a new heart. But we, brethren, are not going to run in that direction. We run towards Christ, and that is the good old way, “the way the holy prophets went.” We never expect to get beyond the teaching of our Lord Jesus either in this life or in the life to come. The purpose of our life is, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and for ever.”

38. Now, we are to run towards him, looking to him. Looking to Jesus and running to Jesus will look well and run well together. The eyes outstrip the feet, but this also is good; for the feet will be made to move all the faster by this. Look so that you may see more of Jesus. I have already told you what differences there are in men’s perceptions of Christ: now I want you to keep on looking and running, so that you may be among the best instructed, seeing most of him and in him. Those who have seen most of Jesus have only taken a cupful out of the great ocean of his fulness. We who live in this land of murk and cloud may imagine that we have seen the sun, for now and then it peeps out through a veil of mist; but ask an Italian who lives beneath the clear blue sky, where the sun is at home, and walks the heavens without a veil, and he will tell you that an Englishman does not see the sun. For myself, the sun seems in those regions to brighten my nature, and cheer my mind: the lord of day talks to my heart and makes it dance for joy. Many a believer lives in a foggy atmosphere of doubts and fears; he sees his Lord now and then, but it is not half a sight. Oh that we could all dwell under the unclouded skies of full assurance, and see Jesus more nearly! I urge you in your running to come nearer and nearer to Jesus, so that you may see him more and more clearly.

39. Let us run towards Jesus so that we may grow more like him. It is one of the virtues of Jesus that he transforms into his own image those who look at him. He photographs himself upon all sensitive hearts. There are no mirrors that I know of which improve the looker’s eye; but this mirror of God, as you look into it, enlightens your eyes and beautifies your character. As you see Christ you become Christians. Oh beloved, our lives would not be so faulty, so wrinkled, so unattractive, if our eye were more completely taken up with seeing the transcendent charms of the Altogether-Lovely One! It would make us glorious if we saw more of the glory of Jesus.

40. Run so that you may come nearer to Jesus. Seek after more near and dear fellowship with him. He is not far away from us. He is absent as for his physical body, but he is with us in spirit. He comes very close to us at times, when he finds us fit for the joy. We remember him from the Hermons and the hill Mizar. We can never forget the golden moments and the hallowed places where he has revealed himself to us as he does not do to the world. There are hours when our head is on the bosom of Christ. There are times when we sit at his feet and hear his words, and looking up behold his beauty, and are ravished with it. Run towards him until you are nearer to him in communion than you have been up until now. This is worth running for; but you will not have it without running. Remember how the spouse in the Song could not find her Lord until she had gone through the streets of the city mourning until she embraced him.

41. Keep on looking and running until you are with him. Oh, I talk to you now about being with him, but how soon this may be experienced in the most literal sense! During my ministry in this place it has occurred two or three times, that when the service has ended, dear friends have attempted to go to their homes, but they have died in this House of Prayer. What must it be to go from this congregation to the assembly above? What a change from the poor talk of the preacher to the voice of the Well-Beloved! We do not know how near to Jesus on the throne we may now be. The sea fog is around our vessel. Could we see before us, the white cliffs of our native shore are almost within touch. Do not think that we are far out at sea. Within the next week, perhaps, some of us will see the King in his beauty. We may spend next Lord’s day in heaven! Does anyone shrink from such a prospect? No: each heir of heaven says “Amen; so let it be.” Then the sweat of the race will be wiped away, and the sweet of the triumph will begin. Then the fatigue and distress will have ended, and the rest and the glory will have begun. I would cheer you with the thought that you are much nearer the finish line than you think. How soon you may sit among the blood-washed throng! You older brothers and sisters in the course of nature must be there soon: be glad of it. Do not talk about being on the wrong side of seventy: you are on the right side, for you are so much nearer heaven. Formerly when great ships went to the India, the passengers would for a while toast the friends they left behind. But when they were in the Indian Ocean, they began to drink the health of friends ahead. Though comparatively young, I have many, many friends who are in the land beyond, to which I am making my way. I greet the glorified. Some of the dearest and best people who ever lived were members of this church, but they are now safely landed on the celestial shore. They are waiting and watching for us. We are coming, brethren! We will be with you soon. Best of all, our Lord is there. Once crowned with thorns, his head is now radiant with the diadem of universal dominion. He will come to welcome us on that blessed shore. Hurry, oh time! Be like a seraph with six wings and bear us swiftly to that golden strand where we shall see the face of him we love, and shall be

   Far from this world of grief and sin,
      With God eternally shut in.

Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Heb 12]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Lord’s Day — The Eternal Sabbath Anticipated” 912}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Christian Zeal — Running The Christian Race” 694}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Heaven — The Redeemed In Heaven” 877}


{a} Marcus Arethusa: Lived around 362 AD. See Explorer "http://oca.org/FSLivesAllSaints.asp?SID=4&M=3&D=29"

Public Worship, The Lord’s Day
912 — The Eternal Sabbath Anticipated
1 Lord of the Sabbath, hear our vows,
   On this thy day, in this thy house;
   And own, as grateful sacrifice,
   The songs which from the desert rise.
2 Thine earthly Sabbaths, Lord, we love,
   But there’s a nobler rest above;
   To that our labouring souls aspire,
   With ardent pangs of strong desire.
3 No more fatigue, no more distress,
   Nor sin nor hell shall reach the pace;
   No groans to mingle with the songs
   Which warble from immortal tongues.
4 No rude alarms of raging foes;
   No cares to break the long repose;
   No midnight shade, no clouded sun;
   But sacred, high, eternal noon.
5 Oh long-expected day, begin;
   Dawn on these realms of woe and sin:
   Fain would we leave this weary road,
   And sleep in death, to rest with God.
                     Philip Doddridge, 1755.


The Christian, Christian Zeal
694 — Running The Christian Race
1 Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve,
      And press with vigour on;
   A heavenly race demands thy zeal,
      And an immortal crown.
2 ‘Tis God’s all animating voice
      That calls thee from on high;
   ‘Tis his own hand presents the prize
      To thine aspiring eye.
3 A cloud of witnesses around
      Hold thee in full survey;
   Forget the steps already trod,
      And onward urge thy way.
4 Bless’d Saviour, introduced by thee,
      Have we our race begun;
   And crown’d with victory, at thy feet
      We’ll lay our honours down.
                        Philip Doddridge, 1755.


The Christian, Heaven
877 — The Redeemed In Heaven <7s.>
1 Who are these array’d in white,
   Brighter than the noonday sun,
   Foremost of the sons of light,
   Nearest the eternal throne?
2 These are they who bore the cross,
   Faithful to their Master died,
   Suffer’d in his righteous cause,
   Followers of the crucified.
3 Out of great distress they came,
   And their Master died,
   In the blood of Christ the Lamb,
   They have wash’d as white as snow.
4 More than conquerors at last,
   Here they find their trials o’er:
   They have all their sufferings pass’d,
   Hunger now and thirst no more.
5 He that on the throne doth reign
   Them for evermore shall feed,
   With the tree of life sustain,
   To the living fountain lead.
6 He shall all their griefs remove,
   He shall all their wants supply;
   God himself, the God of love,
   Tears shall wipe from every eye.
                     Charles Wesley, 1745.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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