Oliver Araiza is a local church evangelist out of West Union, West Virginia.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto 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 set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
I ask you to look at just a portion of verse one. The Bible says, “Let us run.” That’s the title of my message. “Let us run.” Oh, that God would give us another generation of young people that would decide in their hearts today that they were going to be willing to run the race for Jesus. Boy, what a difference that would make in our world, in our society, in our home town, in our family, and in our church.
Throughout the New Testament, it was just understood that once a person was saved the reasonable thing to do was to run the race that was set before them. To run the race in the Christian life is to live by faith and be obeying and growing in grace. Jesus, nor His apostles, ever recruited disciples for bench warmers or spectators. He recruited men and women and young people for the intent they would run the race.
May God give us an understanding that a personal race, a will, a plan has been set down for you by God, an understanding that will be enlightened by the Holy Spirit. You see, young people, if you’ll allow the Spirit of God to show you that a race has been set before you and allow the Spirit of God to teach you, it would ultimately and utterly change your life. The Lord may use a preacher to persuade you in thought, but until it becomes your own personal conviction, then you will never find out what it is to run the race for Jesus. God, give us some young people that come to that point where they are spiritually taught by the Holy Spirit about these convictions, what they are and what they believe is because of what the Bible says.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” He didn’t tell us to creep, crouch, or crawl, but He said, “Let us run.” He didn’t say to lead, loaf, or lollygag, but He said, “...let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” He didn’t say to sit, slouch, slump, slide, or slither. He said, “...run with patience the race that is set before us,” He didn’t say walk, wiggle, or waddle, but He said, “...run with patience the race that is set before us,” God, give us a generation of young people who will decide for the rest of our lives we are going to obey in faith and build a generation of young people that are going to run for Jesus sake. The Scripture does not allow us to limit this phrase to a sprint, a marathon, or an obstacle course. The runner must simply be prepared for the demands of the course, but we do know that we are to run.
There will be times when the need of the hour is to stretch at full speed with the cheer and excitement of a great cloud of witnesses. At these times the athlete and the fans will enthusiastically enjoy the thrill of victory. When those times come, then let’s run for Jesus. God is going to supply opportunities that will demand us to act in faith. So when the race set before us demands an intense burst of speed for us to act in faith, let’s run the race. May God give each of us the insight and purpose to act in faith and do what God wants us to do, run that race and jump those hurdles and obstacles and just keep on going for God.
When I preached a snow camp up in northern Michigan, I gave the young people a challenge. “I want to give you a challenge for your youth group. I want you to go back home, by the grace of God, and work like the devil, because he does work hard. Do your best to try to double the size of your youth group in one year.” The pastor invited me to come back for the next year.
A year had gone by and I was headed into the chapel to hold the service. I saw a young man who looked as though he had been waiting to talk to me. We walked together the rest of the way to the chapel. He gave me his name. His daddy was a pastor. He said, “Brother Araiza, remember last year when you told us to take the challenge to double the size of our youth group? We got together that night and we all got on our knees and prayed that God would allow us to double the size of our youth group. But Brother Oliver, I want you to know that we more than doubled it.” The reason was a group of teenagers decided that they were going to run the race that Jesus has set down before us. Souls were saved and that youth group and that church were moving forward.
Give us another generation of teenagers that will drive a stake down into the heart of your home area and claim your public schools for Jesus once again. Give us another generation of teenagers that will weep and be broken hearted for thousands of high school teenagers on the way to Hell because nobody wants to win them to the Lord Jesus Christ. It will only happen when we have teenagers that decide to run for Jesus.
Let’s decide that we are not going to lose another member of our youth group, but do our best to keep every teenager in our youth group. Let’s just decide to run. Decide that you are going to sit up front in church and back the preacher up. You are going to back the youth director up. You are not going to be a rebel and sit toward the back. You are going to say, “Amen.” You are going to pray for your friends. You are not going to let the devil claim another one of your church’s young people. Give us a generation of teenagers that will decide to run for Jesus. Give us another generation of teenagers that will have preacherboy classes again. Give us another generation of preacherboys in the back rooms of the Sunday school building back there preaching and praying and seeking for the power of God. The Bible says, “...let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” Let’s get back to where we have youth services and the preacherboys preach, and the preacherboys take the offering, and the girls sing the specials. “...let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” Let’s decide we are going to once again have soulwinning marathons and emphasis. God, give us some teenagers that will decide to run for Jesus!
At other times the race set before us demands strength and determination because of the hardness of the course, but let us run. Trials, tribulations and suffering will be in some parts of the race. This is why we must run with patience, with endurance. Think about the trials and tribulations and sufferings. Everyone will go through those at some time. Because of the trials there are many runners that are lost during that part of the race, but my friend, teenager, you are going to keep on running through those. If you keep on going through the trials and tribulations, no doubt at the Judgment Seat you’ll shine and you’ll be rewarded. We want to hear Him say, “Well done,” and be runners that make it through those hard times. If you are listed among the ransomed ones, you have been chosen as a team member to run the race set before you. Whether you are sprinting or hurdling or pace running, always understand that God gives grace for the race.
If you are sitting here and you are neglecting salvation, you are neglecting the greatest gift that anyone could ever receive. Remember Jesus told His disciples, don’t rejoice that the demons are subject to you, but rather rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.
The Bible tells us in the book of Hebrews 2:3, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;...” So many people are guilty of the sin of neglect. Some are neglecting to even receive salvation. Others are neglecting their responsibilities. They are neglecting, even though they know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, and they know how to win souls and how to serve God.
Many times we’ll hear the testimonies. “Oh, I thank the God for the day the Lord filled my cup 57 years ago.” I’m not belittling someone’s salvation testimony, but Jesus wanted to do more than just save your soul in the last 57 years.
He saved you for a reason, so that you would run your race, so you would serve, and live your life for His sake. Run the race that’s been set before you. This idea of being saved, soured, and sitting is nothing but a bunch of polluted slop served by the devil. Every Christian should be making strides and going forward. Every Christian should be running. Christians who neglect their salvation are Christians who never get involved.
That’s why your youth pastor brought you here, so you would get your heart stirred and start getting involved. They are just trying to get you committed to something in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christians who neglect their salvation, they don’t take bus routes or get involved in Sunday school classes. They never give a dime to the Lord’s work. They have a careless attitude toward the lost. They are saved and silent.
The Christian that will not give a Gospel witness about salvation is like someone who has the cure for cancer, and not only do they have the cure, but they have an entire warehouse full of it, but they won’t tell anybody about the good news.
Do you realize, young people, that if you are saved today, its because someone decided to run and didn’t neglect so great salvation? We are commanded to run. Run as a soulwinner. Run as a student of the Bible. Run as a tither and a giver to the Lord’s work. Run as a servant and run as a prayer warrior. You can be a world class runner for Jesus on your knees because you can go places on your knees that you can never go on your feet. You can run to the throne of grace on your knees. “...let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”
As we think about Hebrews 2:3 where it says we are not to neglect so great salvation, it provokes us to ask ourselves the question, “Am I running the race that Christ has set before me?” Are you running that race, or are you running your own race?
A preacher friend of mine had a young lady on his church staff that was just very gifted at computer work, layout and design. Though she had never had any formal training in computers, she excelled in it. She was a tremendous layout artist. That is what she primarily worked on as a church secretary. She worked on laying out brochures for preaching conferences and missions conferences, Gospel tracts and material for the Sunday school, for the bus routes. We are talking about really a wonderful opportunity. But she got to looking at her life and her talents and said, “I really can’t go too far doing church work. I’m going to quit my job and go work in the secular field.” No doubt she probably started making more money. Then one day God brought shocked her into reality about running the race that Christ set before us. She found herself sitting at a computer desk working on a brochure for a national dog show, and she had taken those God given talents that were once used for the Gospel ministry, and she had traded those talents in. She traded races. She jumped track. I can’t help but wonder if she asked herself about the eternal value.
My friend, what race are you running? There has been a race set before you. The Bible says in II Timothy 2:5, “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” The way that we run lawfully in the Christian walk is in Ephesians 6:10 where the Bible says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” If we are going to be the kind of spiritual people we need to be, we have to make that our priority. We need to get back to the days where we have young men that are concerned about getting the power of God on their lives. We need to get back to the time where we get more excited about having a prayer meeting, than having a basketball game. We need to get to the point where we don’t have to coax you with pizza game time and all kinds of prizes, just get you to come to church. There ought to be a time when the youth pastor can say, “We are going to have a prayer meeting on Friday night. We are not going to have anything to or a ball to bounce, but we are going to get on our knees and pray and ask God to save our nation.” If you can’t get excited about that, why don’t you get your wicked heart to this altar and get right with God?
If you can get more excited about the Bulls, or the Braves, or the Bills, or the Broncos, than the blood of Jesus Christ, then you need to hit the altar today. Give us a generation of young men that are going to spend some time praying. If you are going to run this race, you are going to have to run lawfully. Strive lawfully. The way to do that is to be in the power of the Spirit of God. You just can’t make that frilly and fancy. It just takes dedication and love for Jesus.
There are many today who are striving unlawfully. I’ve always enjoyed watching races. I remember as a youngster growing up, when the Olympics would take place and there was one particular event that I always make a point to watch and that was the sprint races -- the 100 meter race or the 400 meter race. Particularly I liked watching that 100 meter race. I remember in 1988 when the Olympics were held in Seoul, Korea. There were others, but the entire eyes of the world were on two men -- an American runner by the name of Carl Lewis and a Canadian runner by the name of Ben Johnson, who was a world class runner. He wasn’t born in Canada; he was born in Jamaica, but he moved in high school and became a world class runner.
In 1988 in Seoul, Korea, those two men lined up at the starting blocks with other runners. I watched those men run. They say a good runner when he takes off he maintains about a 75 degree angle the first 10 to 25 yards of the sprint and then many times those guys will stand up and they’ll just cut the air and keep on gaining speed. I saw the man get the pistol and he said, “Runners, mark, set, go.” The gun went off. Those men bolted out of those starting blocks like race horses. The entire crowd went bananas when Ben Johnson set a new world record of 9.79 in the 100 meter race that has never been beaten since. But then a discrepancy arose. They had put that gold medal around Ben Johnson’s neck, and they played the National Anthem of Canada. He set a new world record -- 9.79. Then there were accusations about possible steroid use. He was tested and the test came back positive. That gold medal was stripped off the neck of Ben Johnson and given to Carl Lewis. Do you know why? Because he strove unlawfully.
For the child of God, we are just playing games, if we try to live the Christian life and run the race that Jesus has set for us in the power of our flesh. We are going to fail, brother. To run with patience the race set before us, we must consider three things.
#1. Preparation for running the race. Look at verse one. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,...” To prepare for running this race, the first thing we have to do is be willing to lay aside some things. We have to be willing to just set them aside, lay them aside. By the good grace of God, some of you will come to that point today and you will lay some things aside, easy as that. But some of you are going to struggle with it. I hope that you won’t, but some of you probably will. You’ll struggle with it and you’ll drag this thing out. What a shame. Why does it have to be that way for the child of God?
Lay aside every weight. A weight is something is simply unnecessary baggage for the runner. It is something that is non-essential. There are things that restrict us, and weigh us down, and the Bible gives us some ideas of what these things could be. In Galatians 5:7, the Apostle Paul warned the Galatians he said, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you...” So we know that one of the things that could be a weight are your friends. Young people, if you hang around rebels, you are going to eventually become a rebel. If you have personal revival this week and go back and make a public stand about your decisions, you don’t have to worry about getting rid of your worldly friends. They will get rid of you. Some of you had better understand that is the reason you fail time and time again, because you go back to your same friends that pull you away from your race.
I’m thinking right now of a young man I preached to when he was just a little guy in junior church. He came to camp and got right with God. He was attending a pretty good size Christian school. They didn’t have the same emphasis on preaching and soulwinning, just desiring to serve the Lord. He came back home after camp and and said, “Mom and Dad, I want you to know that at camp I got my life right with God. If I have to go back to, (and he named the school), if I have to go back to that school this fall, I’m telling you, there is no way that I can make it at that school because there is nobody that thinks like that. There is nobody there that wants to serve the Lord like I want to. If I have to go back to that school, I can’t keep my decisions.” It was his senior year. He left that big school where he was going to graduate with the class he had gone to school with probably six years. He laid aside some unnecessary baggage. There were some friends that were holding him back.
I’m not saying turn back on your friends. Pray for them. Tell them what God’s done in your heart. Maybe God will use you to bring them back. But you need to be careful about who you make your close friends, because they are going to have an influence upon you. The Bible says we must be willing to lay aside every weight that easily besets us. Your weight could be an excuse. Some of you may come from a home where you don’t have a godly mom or dad. Are you hiding behind an excuse? “Brother Oliver, I go to a public school.” That has never been an excuse not to serve God. God has placed you as an influence in that school and you could win a lot of young people to Christ.
Some of you use the excuse, “Well, my mom and dad don’t support me in my decisions.” I’m just about fed up with that excuse to be sorry. It doesn’t matter what kind of odds are against you. If you want to run for Jesus, you can. You get enough desire and prayer and Bible, you could do it. “You don’t understand, Brother Oliver, my parents don’t back me up.” I could give you a list of teenagers right now who come from just pitiful conditions. You couldn’t even believe the kind of situations that they have to go home to every night, the kind of things they have to see in their home. You can’t believe the things they have to hear, the language, the activity that goes on in those homes, yet they came out serving God. Why don’t you decide today to lay aside the excuse, the weight that besets you?
The Bible also says that we must, “...lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,...” I don’t know what your sin is that’s holding you back. Maybe it’s the sin of jealousy. Maybe you are so jealous of somebody in your youth group that you can’t even think straight. Maybe it’s manipulation. Maybe you are one of those kind, if you don’t have everybody going your way, you are going to throw a fit about it. Maybe you are going to manipulate everything to your advantage. You don’t ever let anybody else get a word in edgewise. You are going to get your way, no matter what. If it’s not that way, you’ll start pulling people aside and popping hints and manipulating, doing this and doing that.
“...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,...” I don’t know what your sin is. Maybe your sin is a bad attitude toward authority. Maybe you have a bad attitude toward your parents, or the leadership of your church. Just stop and think about that. I guarantee you there is nobody in this world that is going to love you more than a godly pastor. You buck his authority and his counsel. You won’t listen to his preaching. You let all these rock-n-roll singers get up and talk to you and you’ll just applaud them and give them all your money to buy their CD’s and magazines. You’ll buy their posters and stick them on your wall. Those guys don’t want nothing but to rape your mind. You’ll esteem them as some kind of hero. Yet the man of God that weeps over you and prays over you and tries to work and preach sermons to help you, you rebel toward him.
I don’t know what your sin is. Maybe your sin today is rock music. Maybe that’s why you got your hair cut the way you do. Maybe that’s why you got all the holes in your ears. You are just showing that you are tagged in, tied to the world. Then this tattoo craze. I’m amazed at all the Christians I see today with tattoos. Rock music, the country music, I know that these country western singers, they’ll sing songs about adultery and booze, but when Christmas time comes around they’ll all have their Christmas hymns and sing about little baby Jesus, but I’ll guarantee you they’ll never sing about Lord Jesus because He’s not their Lord. By the way, don’t you think these country and western singers are heros to be esteemed highly either. The Bible says that we are to be willing to lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily beset us.
Notice that word beset. It is a besetting sin. It is something that we easily fall into that is just always around and always tempting us and always luring us, maybe because it is around us everywhere. You won’t find something that is around you more than rock music; you can’t even go to a store or a restaurant without hearing some wild, rock n’ roll singer screaming in your ear. You go into the average Christian bookstore and you look at some of these contemporary Christian singers and they look like the Kiss singers of the last generation. They don’t look any different, long strung out hair, all kinds of earrings, tattoos. It looks like they walked straight out of Hell. God tells me to be a Bible Christian. I don’t know about you. I don’t want to be a contemporary Christian. I want to be a fundamental Christian. Fundamental means getting right back to believing the Bible. Lay aside and sin and weight that besets us.
Maybe it’s your videos. Maybe some of you have been sneaking into those dirty video places and renting some bad videos that fill your mind with filthy thoughts. The sad thing about it is God doesn’t even convict your heart about it, at least you don’t even act like He does. You allow yourself to watch that garbage.
Selfishness, self-centeredness, pride, and arrogance, the Bible says if you going to run the race that Jesus has set before you, you’ve got to be willing to lay aside every weight and every sin that besets you. Understand this, young people, a conditioned runner will find himself making many laps to the altar. That’s where consecration comes from. That’s where getting right with God; that’s where humility is shown. It’s when you say, “Yes, Brother Oliver, God spoke to my heart.” That’s an act of humility. The Bible says that God resisteth the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. If you want to know what it’s like to have your heart pure and clean and get right with God, just humble yourself. Hit this old fashion altar today. Secret decisions are very seldom ever kept. Nobody knows whether they are kept or not. That’s why they are kept secret. First, if we are to run the race set before us, we must be prepared for the race.
#2. We must have inspiration for running the race. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto 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 set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The inspiration for running for you and I, young people, is the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s our inspiration for running. Do you know what revival is? Vance Havner said, “Revival is when a Christian reestablishes the Lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ in a person’s life.” Making Jesus the first love of your life. That ought to be just something that we all desire, to let Jesus be the One we are running for and living for.
The Bible says in I Corinthians 9:24, “...one receiveth the prize...” Only one, one is going to receive the title of fastest man in the world. The Bible says they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we do it to obtain an incorruptible crown. We run for the gold that never perishes. When you have Jesus on your mind and Jesus is your inspiration for running, you are looking to Him for your satisfaction and giving Him your affection. My friend, when you do that, then that inspiration is going to put purpose in every stretch. It’s going to put inspiration and purpose in every start. It will put inspiration and purpose in every stride. It will do something for you, when you realize you are doing it for Jesus.
I remember when I had just gone to Bible college. We heard this thing about the names of Jesus, made famous by an old black preacher. As a college preacherboy, I memorized that. We used to preach it all the time. It goes like this: “Would you please allow me to mount the old ship of Zion and climb the highest masts and restir the gift within me around His name?” Then we go into the names of Christ. “His name is Adam, Amen, Ancient of days, He’s Bread, the Bridegroom, the bright and morning Star, the sweet Balm of Gilead. He’s Captain, Camphor, the chosen of God, and our Christ. He’s Daysman, Deliverer, Governor, Guide, and glorious Lord. He’s Life, Light, Lily, living Stone, and the Lord of Glory. He’s Mercy’s Paradox and the Nazarene, sweetest name on mortal tongue, sweetest carol ever sung, Jesus, precious Jesus.”
Teenager, if you just fall in love with Jesus today it will take care of all your separation. It will take care of all your sin. It will take care of your affection. It will take care of your rock music and rebellion, if you just fall in love with Jesus and let Him be your affection, your inspiration for running. Go for the gold.
The Olympians run for the corruptible crown, but my friend, you and I, because we run for Jesus, we run for the One that is more precious than gold. The spiritual athletes runs for the incorruptible crown. Paul mentions it in Philippians chapter three. Paul, the apostle, was saved and he preached salvation by grace through faith. He talks about ‘that I may win Christ,’ it appears to me that he is saying in this verse, ‘I’m going to live my life as though it’s up to me to win it.’ That I may win Christ. He was saved by grace though faith. The only way that anybody has ever been saved is by grace through faith, but Paul said, “I’m going to live my life as though I’m trying to win it. He had such love and adoration for his Saviour. He says, “That I may win Christ.” I want to show Him my love and my affection, my adoration. I’m going to live my life like I’m trying to earn the greatest thing that He already gave me -- salvation. That is a real champion’s attitude. Let us run. Our inspiration for running is Jesus. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
#3. The consideration for running the race. If we are to run with patience the race set before us, then we must take serious Hebrews 12:3-4. “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” Every runner can expect his share of sprained ankles, bruised knees, and pulled muscles. How many of you pulled a muscle before? Man, that hurts, doesnt it?
I remember playing football in high school. We were playing the First Baptist Church of downtown Dallas, a big Southern Baptist school. We wanted to beat them. I played that game with two pulled muscles, two hamstrings. Talk about one rough game. It seemed like every time I started off with the ball, my eyes would fill with tears; it would hurt so bad, but we wanted to beat those guys so bad, the pain was just worth it.
Every runner can expect his share of sprained ankles, pulled muscles, bruised knees, but none can compare to the agony and suffering that the Lord Jesus Christ endured on our behalf. He ran His race for us. It was His joy. His inspiration was our salvation. He endured the cross. He despised the shame. He endured the contradiction of sinners, and He did all that for us. The next time you think about quitting you better thank the Lord that He didn’t quit. Maybe some of you came with the thought in your mind, ‘I’ve been to camp two years in a row and failed on my decisions. I’m not going to make anymore. I’m just coming to check the girls out, or to check the boys out. I’m not going to make any decisions.’ Well, you need to realize again what Jesus did for you. So you’ve fallen down, so you’ve ruined your testimony, then get back up. Consider what Jesus did for you. Consider what the Lord went through for you.
“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” How shameful and how sad it is to know that men, women, and even young people at one time were in the race and winning victories for Jesus, but because of some heckles from the sideline you quit or maybe some verbal persecution from people at work or family members, or maybe they were mistreated or falsely accused or misunderstood, or maybe it was somebody who received an overly harsh judgment by a friend, or even a leader. Maybe you were let down by a spiritual leader, or maybe because of illness or a financial crunch, and at one time you were on course and winning victories for Jesus, but now you are on the sideline. You are on the bench with the rest of the dead beats. Why don’t you decide to get up and get right with God and get on course and get running because we’ve got a race to win for Jesus? Your generation is in need of runners. Who is going to take the baton in your youth group? Who are going to be the ones to reach the kids in the public school? Who are going to be the next preacherboys? Who is going to be this generation of runners? Who are going to be the dreamers and the doers of this generation? Who are going to be the prepared runners that get right with God? Who are going to be the inspired runners and put Jesus first in their life? Who are going to be the considerate runners that no matter what happens, they’ll never quit on Jesus?
Turn back a page to chapter 11 that gives us a list of runners of the faith of the Old Testament, runners of the past. The people whose name are listed in Hebrews 11 are listed because they decided to run. Verse fours says, “By faith Abel... ” It tells us about Abel in verse four, about Enoch in verse five, about Noah in verse seven, about Abraham and Sarah in verse eight. It tells us about Isaac and Rebekah in verse 20, and in verse 21 Jacob and Rachel and Joseph in verse 22. Moses’ parents in verse 23, and Moses in verse 24, and Joshua and Rahab in verse 30. Then it goes to other heroes of the faith in verse 32 down to verse 40.
Then we think about the New Testament runners. We think about the apostles, Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James, Simon, Judas, Matthias, and Paul, the one called out of due season. The majority of those men were just average, ordinary men like your mothers and fathers. Average people, but their names are in the Bible because they were runners. We think of other men like Timothy and Titus, people like Pricilla, Aquilla, and Phoebe and many, many others. If we would go deeper tonight, we would think about the martyrs. We’d think about the Polycarps, Ridleys, Latimores, and John Huss, Martin Luthers and the Hudson Taylors and the great missionary men that we know of today. Men like C.T. Studd, William Borden, Christmas Evans, Adoniram Judson, William Booth, George Whitfield, Robert McCheynne, David Brainerd, Charles Spurgeon, David Livingstone, Jonathan Edwards, D.L. Moody, Charles Finney, and Billy Sunday. We think about men of our contemporary day today like Tom Malone, Lester Roloff, John Rice, and Bill Rice. All of these men were runners. Now the baton is going to be handed over to us. Every person here has got to make up their mind what they are going to do. Are they going to take the baton, or drop it?
Has anybody here ever ran on a relay team? You know what passing that baton is like. You will literally work hours and hours on that hand off, that pass. You’ll want to do it in such a way where you don’t look backwards. He is holding his hand out and the runner coming behind him is coming full speed. They’ll take that baton and slap it in the palm of that man’s hand. When he hears that sound, that runner has a hold of that baton and he is pouring on the speed.
Do you realize if you drop that baton, there is hardly anyway in the world you can win? That baton has been passed down the line. We see it in the Bible. The men of the Old Testament, men of the New Testament, then we find those martyrs in the Dark Ages, but the ball is in our court now. The reason why those men were runners is because number one, no doubt in my mind they were prepared runners. They dealt with their sin. You deal with sin first. You ask God to show it to you. You get right with God about it. If you’ll repent about your sin, the dedication will take care of itself.
Then looking unto Jesus and then considering Him when we’re tempted to quit. It’s been done. We’ve seen it in the past. The men of the past as they ran the race, they made their mark for Jesus. As independent, fundamental Baptists, they’ve left us a majestic heritage honored by God. Now it’s your turn. Now that baton is passed to you. How are you going to treat your sin? What are you going to do about your rebellion? What are you going to do about your music? What are you going to do about your attitude? What are you going to do about your manipulation? What are you going to do about your jealousy? What are you going to do about your relationships with your parents? The prepared runner lays aside every weight and sin that pulls him down. “...and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”
We are not going to get runners for Jesus out of Michigan State or Ohio State or the University of Texas. They are not going to come from West Virginia University. I’ll tell you where the runners are going to come from. They will come from our churches, our teenagers that are prepared, that are inspired, and that are considering Him. Let’s just decide tonight that we are going to run the race that has been set before us. Let’s get charged up and fired up. Let us run.