Bible Lands Unveiled is a series of on-location Bible studies that will give you a look at the impact of the Gospel around the world. This set was filmed in Greece and includes four messages, “I Have Many People in this City,” “Turn the World Upside Down,” “The Unknown God,” and “Run The Race!” You can find a written document of this teaching here.…

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(Music Playing)

AMIR: So we’re in Athens, Greece and we’re in one
of the most ancient stadiums in the world.

This stadium is known
as the Kallimarmaro.

The Kallimarmaro means
the “beautiful marble.”

This is the only stadium in
the world made out of marble.

And this is something that goes back more than
2000 years ago to the time of the Greek Empire.

This is a marvelous way of understanding
the life of the athletes of those days.

This particular stadium;
it’s “Stadio” in the Greek.

By the way, that’s also how
in the Hebrew we call it.

It’s the way for
people to run a race.

And this is exactly what we’re
going to talk about today, “Run the race.”

The Bible says in the book of Hebrews Chapter 12
something very significant regarding running a race.

And the Bible says the following thing in
regards to the race that we need to run.

The Bible says in Hebrews 12,

“Therefore we also, since we’re surrounded
by so great a cloud of witnesses,

let us lay aside every weight,
and the sin which also easily ensnares us,

and let us run with endurance
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 has sat down at the right
hand of the throne of God.”

The Bible tells us that
we need to run the race

The author of Hebrews is telling us of a race,
but we know that Paul himself more than once

talked about running the race
and even completing the race.

And now we have to ask what type
of race is Paul talking about?

Definitely, definitely
implying of the physical race.

But actually talking about the race of
life, the race of living life of believers.

And I know that he’s not talking
about physical exercise.

It’s not about that simply
because when he wrote to Timothy,

1 Timothy Chapter 4, Paul
is writing the following thing:

He says, “If you instruct the brethren in these
things, you will be good minister of Jesus Christ,

nourished in the word of faith and of the good
doctrine which you have carefully followed.

But reject profane and old wives’ fables,
and exercise yourself towards godliness.”

He’s speaking of exercise, but he says,
“Exercise yourself towards godliness”

And then he says, “For bodily
exercise profits a little,

but godliness is profitable for all things, having promised
of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

So Paul is definitely aware of the fact that the race
could be interpreted as a bodily or physical exercise.

But he says physical exercise is okay, but it’s only with a very
small value compared to the exercise of living godly life.

Living godly life is not easy,
as much as starting a race is not easy.

I know that I’m not a runner, but I do know that the
times I do run, you know, you start with great enthusiasm.

But after the first few minutes, you
kind of understand that it’s not easy.

And in fact, it takes a lot to
overcome the first obstacle,

and then get to the point where things
are better and you can get used to the pace.

But ladies and gentleman,
running is not something easy.

And the question that we
need to ask yourself is:

How did Paul even think of race and using the
analogy of life as believers as a race in a stadium?

Paul was an Orthodox Jew.

He was a pharisee.

He wasn’t part of that life.

So where was Paul around the world that introduced
him to the life of athletes running a race?

Well definitely, we know that Paul was in prison in
Caesarea for two years, and Caesarea has a stadium.

But there is no doubt one of the most
important stadiums in Paul’s understanding

of that type of lifestyle, he
saw when he came to Athens.

The Bible says in the Book of Acts
Chapter 17 that Paul spent time here.

And we know that part of the life of the Athenians
was all about satisfying the body and looking good.

And the Greek, by the way, introduced to
the world the whole idea of weight lifting

and body treatments and massages and
spa, and all of those things.

That came all from
the Greek period.

The Greek said, “Well,
there is no ‘one God,’ there are many gods.”

And we need to remember that in part of
the Greek ideas, men is also part of God.

And therefore,
we need to work on our education.

We need to work on our beauty.

We need to work on our health.

And they were so much into that,
that that became their own God.

And godliness was not something that they
exercised, but something completely different.

So as an Orthodox Jew, he was exposed to the
stadium in Caesarea, to the stadium in Rome,

but no doubt that the one
that was the greatest of all

was this stadium right here,
the ancient stadium of Athens.

And we know that in Acts Chapter 20:18-24, the Bible tells us the following thing:

Paul is writing or is saying to the people of
Ephesus, and he’s telling them in verse 22,

“And see, now I go bound in spirit to Jerusalem,
not knowing the things that will happen to me there,

except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every
city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.

But none of these things move me;
nor do I count myself dear to myself,

so that I may finish my race with joy,
and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus,

to testify to the gospel
of the grace of God.”

So we see that Paul understands that his life, not just
as a believer, but as a minister of the Word is the race.

And he says, “I don’t care
if they’re gonna hurt me.

I don’t care if they’re
gonna lock me up.

I know one thing: All I
want is to finish my race

and the ministry which I received from
the Lord to testify to the Gospel.”

By the way, make sure you
understand: who runs the race?

Who are the people that are
eligible to be part of this race?

The Bible says everyone.

The Bible says anyone who accepts
the Lord is a runner in that race.

There are no people that are exempt
from the duty to testify of Jesus.

There are none.

The Bible says that you must tell the things, or the glory of
the one who brought you from darkness into His marvelous light.

He says He took you out of
that so you will testify.

You will tell
everyone of His glory.

So that’s a duty that we need
to need to remember.

The Bible tells us about all of these things,
and we need to remember the believers are the runners of this race.

And at no point in the Bible it says
that some can and some cannot run.

If God is calling you to Him, God
will equip you also to run the race.

Running the race is
living life of godliness

and fulfilling the ministry of testifying the
Gospel of Jesus to the people around the world.

I don’t think it’s something
that only few can do.

And why running, by the way?

Why running; why not walking?

Running is something
that is challenging.

Running is something that
takes a lot of effort.

Running is something that that
requires from you some skills.

And running is something that is often describing
how we flee from the things of the world.

We must run; run away from things.

So that’s the way we
need to remember that.

The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians
Chapter 9 how we should run.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all
run, but only 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.

Therefore I run thus:
not with uncertainty.

Thus I fight: not as
one who beats the air,

but I discipline my body and
bring it into subjection,

lest, when I have preached to others,
I myself should become disqualified.”

Paul is telling us: when
you enter that racetrack,

you’re not to run in a way that you know
you’re going to lose from very beginning.

In other words, you can’t just
walk and stroll through that race.

You have to run and run in a way that you
will win because only one gets the prize.

Now of course, he’s saying look,
you’re a winner if you run the race no matter what

because our crown is not the perishable
one; it’s the imperishable one.

We’re not running
to get the wreath.

We’re not running to
somehow get the fame of this world.

We’re running to get something
that is far above and far beyond

and that’s that prize, that crown that
Paul described that is reserved for Him,

and not only for Him, but also to all
those who love the appearing of Jesus.

The Bible says that we should run with
endurance, that we should have self-discipline.

And how can we do that?

Well, I can
tell you one thing:

The reason why he’s telling us to run with endurance is
because everything that is going on around the world,

all the troubles and all the sin
that ensnares us from all around,

and all the hypocrisy, and all the bad
things that are happening all around us,

they can easily bring us down
or they can easily also tire us.

Also, let’s face it; so many people are asking
themselves, “When will the rapture take place?

I cannot wait to be with Jesus.

I need to be with Jesus.”

The Bible says, “We should
run with endurance.”

We should be patient.

We should run, and the only way to do that is not
if you set your eyes on the things of the world.

The Bible says, “Looking at Jesus,
the author and the finisher of our faith.”

In other words, as we run, unlike the worldly
runners that are running, looking at the finish line,

we run like that where it says
the following thing:

It says this: “Therefore, my beloved,
as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only,

but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

for it is God who works in you both to
will and to do for His good pleasure.

Do all things without
complaining and disputing,

that you may become blameless and
harmless, children of God

without fault in the midst of a
crooked and perverse generation,

among whom you shine as lights in the
world, holding fast the word of life,

so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ
that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

You see?

The perseverance and the
endurance is so important.

And again, the things that will bring us all the way down are the
things around us, the crooked generation that we’re surrounded by.

But we must run with that endurance so we
will not run or we will not labor in vain.

And that brings me to the
question of how not to run.

How not to run.

And where is actually the
finish line and the destination?

When the Bible tells us: “To run looking at
Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,”

so what is the destination?

Because the Bible in Colossians Chapter 3 tells us that
“He’s seated at the right hand of the Father” right now.

That means He’s not
here; He’s up there.

That means the finish line of the
believer is not here; it’s up there.

When we reach His presence,
when we make it to heaven,

that is the finish line, and until
then, we must run the race.

Our destination is heaven.

We are heaven-bound runners,
and this is where we can say that we’re done.

And, by the way, the finish line can either be if you
die while you’re believer and you’re going to heaven

or if you are alive during the
rapture and you will be there.

But that’s the finish line.

Nothing before.

And when Paul felt that his life is coming to an
end and only then is when he said,

“I have finished the race, I’ve run the
race, and I’m going to get that crown.”

The Bible says that the finish line of Paul as he described in
2 Timothy Chapter 4:7, he said this:

He said, “I have fought the good fight, I
have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Finally, there is laid up for
me the crown of righteousness,

which the Lord, the righteous
Judge, will give to me on that Day,

and not to me only but also to
all who have loved His appearing.”

So you see that the finish line
is where you get also the crown.

That is, of course, when we get it to heaven.

Now my question to you is:
Can we run this race in vain?

Well, the Bible says in Galatians
Chapter 2:2 the following thing:

In Galatians Chapter 2:2, the Bible says regarding
running the race, it says the following thing:

He says, “Now after 14 years, I went up again to
Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.

And I went up by revelation, and communicated to
them that gospel which I preached among the Gentiles,

but privately to those who were of reputation,
lest by any means I might run, or had run in vain.”

The only way you can run in vain is if
you are not communicating the Gospel

to either reputable people
privately, or to common people openly.

But you must never forsake your first duty
to talk about the Lord, communicate the Gospel.

In other words, Paul was concerned
that he might run this race in vain.

In fact, in Philippians Chapter 2:16,
Paul says the following thing in regards to running in vain:

He says in Philippians Chapter
2:16 the following thing:

He says, “Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in
the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

So we see that the Word of Life, that word that
gives us life is the thing we need to hold onto.

And we need to not only hold onto it,
but share it so others will have it.

So we definitely
will not run in vain.

So this is an important thing.

These are the things.

And what is the prize,
by the way, what is the prize?

What are we getting?

That cloud of witnesses that we’re talking about in
Hebrews Chapter 12, the Bible says is this.

It says, “Therefore we also,
since we’re surrounded by great cloud of witnesses,

let us lay aside every weight,
and the sin which also easily ensnares us,

and let us run with endurance
the race that is set before us

looking unto Jesus,
the author in the finish of our faith,

who for the joy that was set before Him
endured the cross, despising the shame,

and has sat down at the
right hand of the Father.”

This is the prize, to be with Him
and to have eternal life with Him.

So I will conclude; this life
of the believer is a race.

The race, by definition,
includes sharing the Gospel.

Living the life of the believer without
communicating the Gospel is running in vain.

Running that race requires
perseverance and endurance.

The crooked, sinful generation we’re surrounded by
will always cause us anguish, pain, disappointment.

But we have to always remember to set our
eyes, not on the things of this world,

but on Him who for the joy
that was set before Him,

suffered everything and secured
that crown of righteousness for us.

The race begins the moment
you accept the Lord.

And the finish line is right there
when you get back to His presence.

Run the race.

Fight the fight.

And finish well.

And remember,
it doesn’t matter how you started.

It matters how you finish.

It doesn’t matter where you come
from; it matters where you go to.

(Music Playing)