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Grace for the race

Jan 15, 2013

We have commenced a study on the fruits of the spirit and just concluded a study on the fruit of godliness. Before we proceed further, however, it seems best that we ought to lay a foundation for our understanding of the fruits of the spirit by first making sure we understand some of the basics of the doctrine of grace. Otherwise, we run the risk of becoming entangled in legalism and becoming “works-oriented.”

And if we are not careful, we will find ourselves in a Roman Catholic mindset and spiritual bondage in that area. I know whereof I speak for I came out of Roman Catholicism after I left the minor seminary in the 1960s. In fact, much of evangelical Protestantism has been afflicted with exactly that in practical terms for generations.

For the next number of Journal monographs, we will be discussing Grace for the Race. I use that word race there as a reference to two places in the New Testament: First, Paul says in…

1 Corinthians 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.

The word race in Greek is stadion and referred to a contest in the Greek games which today would be the equivalent of the 200-yard dash. Question: since Paul noted that there are many runners, but only one can win; was he likening this to the race for salvation?

In other words, there are many Christians out there trying to get to heaven, but was Paul inferring that only one would win the prize?! Not hardly. So why liken it to a footrace? Let us look at the context. We notice that in verse 23, Paul talks about being a partaker of the good news with the Corinthian believers.

1 Corinthians 9:23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

So it is a ridiculous notion that it is race that only one can one; but still, why the analogy? Let us look at the other reference to a race.

Hebrews 12:1 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,

What kind of race do you run with patience? That almost sounds oxymoronic, does it not? That word race there in Greek is G73 avgw,n agon {ag-one’} …and it really does not mean a footrace per se, but rather any struggle or contest or battle. The race that is set before us is the personal struggle or battle that each of us wages against sin. So the race Paul is referring to is not a me-against-you type of race where one of us will win while the other loses.

The competition is not between you and me. The competition is between you and you; and there is another race between me and me. That is to say; it is a struggle between James-Adam and James-Christ. (And between [your name]-Adam and [your name]-Christ.) It is a battle between the old Adamic nature and the spiritual Christ nature.

The carnal and the spiritual are at war in our members. What we need to win this battle or race is grace. In fact, without grace, we cannot even commence the race—and we will show that in our discussion. (To be continued.)

Category: Teaching