Running the Marathon Part2

Dear PRCW-ers and readers of this post: This is a continuation of what has been written in the last two days from Philippians 3 with regard to running the marathon. While running the race, we are to reach for the prize. We find this articulated at the end of verse 13 and in verse 14. Verse 13 says, “reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” The term is describing a runner who stretches and strains every muscle as he runs toward the finish line. Then in verse 14 he used that word “press toward”. Pressing toward the goal refers to the end one has in view. The Apostle had a holy dissatisfaction with where he was at. So he kept pressing on. Past blessings or experiences wouldn’t do for the present. He walked daily with the Lord, always wanting more, always learning, always growing – never merely getting by, never merely treading water or coasting along.

We’re to be always moving forward, constantly maturing. This means wherever you’re at, you need to be living in obedience to what the Lord has shown you in His Word and to keep seeking Him for more wisdom.

Have you ever heard of the phrase “improving your baptism”? It comes from the Westminster Larger Catechism q/a 167. This is described as a lifelong calling of “being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament…by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness” (LC q/a 167). To borrow John Calvin’s language, he speaks about Christian baptism as a mirror. We cannot improve the way we look if we don’t know our appearance. Baptism shows us what we look like in our sin. But it also shows us how we really look in Christ, who has washed away our sins, and how we appear before the sight of God as forgiven and cleansed. This helps us in temptation by remembering that we are baptized. We are marked out by God. By remembering our baptism, we are also strengthened to fight our sin by remembering that Christ died for our sins and was raised from dead (Romans 6:1-5, 4:25).

This also means that if the Lord has dealt with a certain sin in our lives, we’re not to slip back into it again. If He has cleaned out a dirty closet of our lives, we’re not to start throwing the clutter of sin back into it. If we want to grow, we have to be moving forward.

Why are we to move forward? To reach the goal. And what is the goal? The goal is the prize – and the prize is to be like Christ. There should be that desire in the Christian life as well, to win. What’s the goal here? It is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Some day, we’ll be like Him for we shall see Him as He is (cf. 1 John 3:1-3).

That is an encouragement from Scripture. What we’re facing right now will pass. The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). The Christian life is full of heartaches and there many complexities and mysteries that we can’t unravel. But life is not meaningless. We can press on toward the goal, the prize is ahead of us. The Bible speaks of the crown of righteousness which the Lord will award those who are faithful, the unfading crown of glory (2 Timothy 4:8). We will be given what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him, God’s Word say (1 Corinthians 2:9).

It ought to humble us that God has called us and blessed with salvation. Does it? Does it make you say in your heart – “Who am I, O Lord, that I should be a guest in your house? Why was I made to hear Your voice when others didn’t? O Lord, make others hear instead of remaining outside without this blessing!”

Make this your heartfelt response:

1 How sweet and awesome is the place
with Christ within the doors,
while everlasting love displays
the choicest of her stores.

2 While all our hearts and all our songs
join to admire the feast,
each of us cries, with thankful tongue,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

3 “Why was I made to hear your voice,
and enter while there’s room,
when thousands make a wretched choice,
and rather starve than come?”

4 ‘Twas the same love that spread the feast
that sweetly drew us in;
else we had still refused to taste,
and perished in our sin.

5 Pity the nations, O our God,
constrain the earth to come;
send your victorious Word abroad,
and bring the strangers home.

6 We long to see your churches full,
that all the chosen race
may, with one voice and heart and soul,
sing your redeeming grace.
(Isaac Watts, Trinity Psalter Hymnal #425)

In Christ,
Pastor Rich Anjema