So run, that you may obtain the Prize

Let no man take thy CROWN

SO RUN, THAT YOU MAY OBTAIN THE PRICE (1Cor. 9:24)

PURPOSE OF REDEMPTION

God has provided redemption for fallen man with a purpose in view. Before salvation, a man is dead in sins and trespasses and is in a realm of association with darkness, with the lake of fire (Hell) as his ultimate destiny. Redeemed man has received eternal life as free gift and is placed in a realm associated with light, with heaven now as his ultimate destiny. The redeemed man has been saved for a purpose, and this purpose is the same as the purpose for his creation 6000 years ago. Man was created to have dominion. (Gen.1: 26-28) and God saves man with this same dominion in view. God has set aside an entire dispensation lasting 2000 years to acquire a bride for His Son, who will rule the earth during the coming age as joint-ruler with Him. Though eternal life is a free gift, the positions among those who will form the bride are to be earned. And even among those who eventually enter into these positions, there will be no equality. Rather there will be numerous gradations of positions held by those occupying the throne as joint-heirs with Christ in that day.

RACE & CROWNS

The apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians pictured himself as being in a race. (1Cor.9: 24-27) Paul’s burning desire was to finish the race in a satisfactory manner and obtain the crown. He didn’t want to find himself having to drop out along the way because of exhaustion, or find himself disqualified at the end by not having observed the rules. (2Tim.2: 5) This is a message directed to those who are already the children of God; and this message centers around a believer’s present pilgrim journey in view of the coming Messianic Kingdom. It is not a call unto salvation of unsaved but a call unto Christ’s Kingdom and glory for the saved. (1Thess.2: 11,12) As soon as we repent and believe in the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus we are born from above (John 3:3,16) and immediately we find ourselves enrolled in a race with crowns to be won or lost at the termination of the race. How well we run the race depends upon our faithfulness, for only through faithfulness can works ensue, which can, in the coming day (at the judgment seat of Christ, 2Cor.5: 10, Matt.16: 27) be approved. Only in this manner we can be approved for crowns, allowing us the privilege of occupying positions as joint-heirs with Christ in His coming kingdom.

Thus the race in which believers are presently engaged is being run with a kingdom in view; and it is being run, more specifically, with the goal of obtaining proffered position on the throne with God’s son in that kingdom. The bond slaves of the Lord on this earth are being offered the highest of all possible prizes of being elevated to a joint-heir with Christ on His throne in the heavens. How many believers know these things? How many, for that matter, are even interested? The teaching so prevalent today views salvation, only in the light of one’s eternal destiny. Being saved from the lake of fire with a corresponding assurance of heavens is often looked as an end in itself. One’s eternal salvation and assurance of heaven are based entirely on Christ finished work, completely apart from the race. But, as soon as one is saved, he is in a race, and the race is for a revealed purpose. The offer to ascend the throne with Christ has been extended, but where are those who have fixed their eyes on this goal, and so run that they may obtain the crown?

TRIALS & APPROVAL

The trial of every man’s work in fire, at the end of the race, at the judgement seat of Christ (1Cor.3: 13) will be with a view to approval if found worthy. James 1:12, refers to believers being approved prior to receiving a crown; Blessed is the man that endureth temptation for when he is tried (approved) he shall receive the crown of life. 1Pet.1: 7 refers specifically of being approved at the end of the present testings. In 1Cor.9: 24-27 Paul states that the believer is in a race with a crown in view which will be acquired only after the runner has been approved at the conclusion of the race. Know ye not that they, which run in a race, run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain the prize. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible crown. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. The Greek word translated as castaway means disapproved. It is the opposite of the words translated as tried (approved) in James 1:12, 1Pet.1: 7, and 1Cor.3: 13.

A FUNDAMENTAL TYPE

A believer’s disapproval for the crown in 1Cor.9: 24-27 has its contextual parallel in the verses immediately following (1Cor.10: 1-11) which record Israel’s disapproval for entrance into the land of Canaan. These eleven verses repeatedly indicate certain experiences of the Israelites under Moses and sins of the people which charaterised their wilderness journey. Now these things were our examples to the intent we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world (ages) are come. (1Cor.10: 6,11). Thus there is a type-anti type treatment of Israelites under the leadership of Moses, with believers under the leadership of Christ. The approval or disapproval of a believer at the conclusion of the race, at the judgement seat of Christ must be understood in the light of the experiences of Israelites in the wilderness, under the leadership of Moses. This the primary, fundamental type which God uses in His word to teach believers, great spiritual truths concering their present pilgrim journey under the leadership of Christ.

The Epistle to the Hebrews is a book in which the author continually draws spiritual lesson from the Old Testament scriptures. The great burden of Hebrews is not that of rescuing the unsaved from the lake of fire but that of delivering the ones already rescued safely through their present pilgrim journey to the goal of their calling, that is, bringing many sons unto glory… (Heb.2: 10). Hebrews chapter three begins by referring to the heavenly calling of believers, and the author takes the whole of chapter 3 and the part of chapter 4 to call attention to the journey of the Israelites as they left Egypt under Moses and headed towards an inheritance reserved for them in the land of Canaan. And this is set forth as a type of the believers’ present journey toward an inheritance reserved for them in the coming kingdom. And that which befell the Israelites on the wilderness journey can also befall believers on their pilgrim journey. Later the writer of Hebrews moves into teachings concerning the highly priestly ministry of Christ, placing the emphasis not only upon the Christ’s present ministry on behalf of the believers in the heavenly sanctuary, but also upon His future ministry when the results of His present ministry will be realised — that day when He will rule the earth as the great king-priest after the order of Melchizedek. On that future day certain fearful looking, for of judgement and fiery indignation is all that can fall on a sinning child of God who refuses to continually avail himself of Christ’s present high priestly ministry. (Heb.10: 26-31) Therefore, whenever the Lord (high priest) speaks to us (believers) through His word and points out to us our failures or hidden sins we must never hesitate to humble ourselves, confess our sins and bring us under the cleansing power of His blood (1John 1:7-10). Then we are exhorted to look into the promises of the great recompense of reward at Christ’s return and live by faith (Heb.10: 35-39). Finally we have the instructions in Heb.12: 1,2, which reflect in a broad sense, back on every thing which has been previously said. By looking at the great cloud of witnesses, through that which has been recorded about their lives in the Bible, let us derive instructions and encouragement and run with patience the race that is set before us, so that we may obtain the prize (Phil.3: 14). Scripture as a whole simply cannot be understood apart from viewing the Old Testament types. Scripture is to be interpreted in the light of Scripture.

COMPARISON

TYPE & ANTI-TYPE

The approval or disapproval of a believer at the judgement seat of Christ must be understood in the light of Old Testament typology-namely the experiences of Israelites under the leadership of Moses. This the type dealt with, through five books of the Old Testament — from Exodus 12 through Joshua — from the point of the appropriation of the blood of the paschal lambs in Egypt to the point of either their overthrow in the wilderness or their entrance into the land of Canaan. Within this overall type we can find God’s instructions, how to safely and successfully move from Egypt to Canaan, that is how to safely and successfully move from this world to that heavenly land to which we have been called. That is to say, this primary, fundamental type covers whole of the believer’s experience – from the point of salvation to that future time when believers either come into a realisation of or fail to realise the goal of their calling. It covers the whole length of the race the believers are running, from the starting point to its finish. When we study the type we can find instructions, how a believer should govern his life so that he can ultimately realise the goal of his calling. The believers can also find warnings, within this type, concerning what will happen if he fails to govern his life according to those instructions.

THREE PARTS OF THE RACE

The type begins in Exodus chapter twelve, which corresponds to the starting point of the race. The Israelites were suffering helplessly as slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh, king of Egypt did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with heavy burdens and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage. God heard the groanings of the children of Israel, and He spoke to them through Moses and said

  1. I am the Lord and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgements

  2. And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God…

  3. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning which I did swear to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob; I am the Lord. (Exo.6: 6-8)

The first part of the above promise of the Lord to the Israelites relates to the starting point of their wilderness journey, the second part relates to their actual journey through the wilderness and the third part relates to the end of their wilderness journey. Here we see the three parts of the over all plan of Lord for the Israelites. These correspond to the three distinct aspects of salvation which the Lord wants to accomplish in man, which are respectively (1) the point of salvation (2) the subsequent pilgrim walk and finally (3) the entry into the kingdom of the heavens. God deals on entirely different principles on each of these sections. Let us carefully examine these three sections, comparing the type with the antitype.

(1) (2) (3)
All those who have not started the race Many who run the race Few who will successfully finish the race
Egypt Wilderness Canaan
World Church Kingdom of the Heavens
Eternal Punishment in the Lake of Fire (Hell) Free Gift of Eternal Life (Heaven) Rewards of participating in the Kingdom

(1) DELIVERANCE FROM EGYPT

The first part of this plan of God, in this type, was wonderfully fulfilled in Exodus 12. The Israelites could not have even dreamt of ever being delivered from the power of Pharaoh and his great host of horses and chariots and very strong horsemen. But on one particular day, the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies. (Exo.12: 411,51) Just like waters gushing out of a burst dam, all of a sudden the whole lot of the Israelites got out from Egypt, on one particular day. How did it come to pass that the people of Israel get out from the land of Egypt on that single day? What really happened on that day? God had decreed that the firstborn in all the families throughout all the land of Egypt must die. (Exo.11: 5) However, the Lord made a distinction between the Israelites and the Egyptians by providing Israel with a substitute, which could die in the place of, in the stead of, the firstborn in the family. Each Israelite family was to take a lamb without blemish, and kill it on the previous day, in the evening. Following the death of the lamb blood of the lamb was to be taken and placed on the two side posts and on upper doorpost of the house in which the Israelite family dwelt. (Exo.12: 3-7)

A few hours later at midnight the Lord was to pass through the land of Egypt and execute the previously decreed sentence. Death would befall the firstborn throughout all the land of Egypt at this time. No distinction would be made between household of the Egyptians or the Israelites in this respect, for the firstborn in every household was under exactly the same sentence. The distinction, which the God established, between the Israelites and the Egyptians lay, not in executing the punishment, but in providing the Israelites with a substitute to bear the punishment. When the Lord passed through the land of Egypt at midnight, He looked for one thing. He looked for the blood of the slain lamb on the doorposts and lintel of each house. If the blood was there, He passed over the house, simply because the blood indicated that death had already occurred in that house. The death of firstborn had already occurred through a substitute. A lamb had died in his place, and the Lord looked upon the matter, just as if the firstborn in the family had himself died. It cannot be over-emphasized that the Lord looked for one and only one thing when He passed through the land of Egypt at midnight. He looked for the blood on the doorposts and lintel. Once the Lord saw the blood, He was fully satisfied and He looked no further. The Lord did not look into their houses to see whether they were good people or bad people. They were spared, not because any of their goodness, but because of the blood of the lamb. The absence of blood on the doorposts and lintel of a house whether it was an Egyptian or an Israelite household — indicated that death had not occurred in that house. In all such houses where there was no blood, the firstborn himself was punished with death. Those who were inside the house might have been very good people. But all their goodness had no value on that night, when the Lord was looking for only one thing, the blood applied on the doorposts and lintel of the houses, wherein they lived. There was a great cry among the Egyptians that night, for there was not a house where there was not one dead. Pharaoh straightway called for Moses and Aaron by night and constrained them to leave the land of Egypt with all the people of Israel. The Egyptians confessed, we are all dead men (Ex.12: 33). And it came to pass the very same day, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of Egypt by their armies.

POINT OF SALVATION

The Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt is a clear picture of the point of salvation of any individual, today. Egypt is the type of the world and Pharaoh is a type of Satan. All those who are born in this world are born as slaves to sin and Satan, and are unacceptable to God. The wrath of God and the punishment of eternal death is upon all those who are born in this world (Rom.5: 12). But God has provided a substitute in the Lord Jesus, who is the spotless and blameless Lamb of God take away the sin of the world. (John 1:29). He has shed His blood; but the blood, as in the type, must be properly applied. The proper application of the blood of Christ is accomplished through a simple act of faith. By accepting our sinful condition and believing in the substitutionary death of our Lord Jesus we become dead to our old man (first born) and we are born again, (John 3:3,7,1Pet.2: 24) and God recognises that a substitutionary death has occurred, resulting in His satisfaction. On the day of our salvation we were evil and wicked sinners and we could not do anything to please God. (Eph.2: 8,9) But He saved us because He was well-pleased with His own Son who offered Himself as a sacrifice acceptable to God in our stead. Once God saw the blood; He was fully satisfied; He passed over; He looked no further; He did not look into our lives to see whether we have done good deeds or bad deeds. On that day, God, not only forgave all our sins but also has put away our sins once for all and will not remember them forever. (Heb.9: 26, 10:10). In this manner we are redeemed from the eternal punishment (lake of fire) which is upon all men born in this world.

(2) WILDERNESS JOURNEY

Immediately after being delivered from the land of Egypt, the Israelites started their journey through the wilderness, and set out toward the land of Canaan, for which they had been called by God. According to the second part of His promise in Exodus 6:6-8, God was with them throughout their wilderness journey, caring for them, providing for all their needs, protecting them, guiding them and leading them. They had been removed from Egypt to realise the rights of the firstborn in the land of Canaan Ex.3: 7,8, 4:22,23, 19:5,6) But most of them did not keep their eyes focused on the goal of their calling. They provoked God to jealousy by frequently remembering and desiring the things back in Egypt. They often disobeyed and lightly esteemed the God who delivered them from Egypt. But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not; yea, many a time turned He His anger away and did not stir up His wrath (Psalm 78:38-42). God repeatedly forgave their iniquities and restored His communion with the Israelites on numerous occasions throughout their wilderness journey. But God kept a record of their rebellious deeds committed during the wilderness journey, and at the end of their journey He could say, all these men have put me to the test now these ten times, and have not harkened to my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I swore to give unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it. Num.14: 22,23)

PILGRIM WALK

In a similar way during the pilgrim walk of believers, whenever we repent from our failures, backslidings or misdeeds, the Lord is gracious to forgive us and cleanse us and completely restore His fellowship with us. But there is a difference between the point of our salvation and the various points of our restoration. All our deeds (whether good or bad) prior to the point of our salvation are completely blotted out, to be remembered no more. But after we are saved, every minute detail of our life during our pilgrim walk will be kept in record and will be brought up before us at the judgment seat of Christ, at the end of our pilgrim walk. (2Cor.5: 10, Rom.14: 10,12 Matt.16: 27, Rev.22: 12).

(3) ENTERING CANAAN

The Israelites, at the end of their wilderness journey, at Kadesh-Barnea, could have entered the land of Canaan, overthrown the enemy and attained the purpose for which they had been called out from Egypt. They were called not only to rule over all the Gentile nations but also to be the channel through which God would bless all the nations. They were to be a peculiar treasure unto the Lord, placed above all people (all the Gentile nations) as a kingdom of priests and an holy nation. (Ex.19: 5,6) This is what God had purposed for them according to the third part of His promise in Exodus 6:6-8. But unfortunately, at the end of their wilderness journey, God had to decisively declare, Surely they shall not see the land which I swore to give unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it. (Numb.14: 20-23) Out of the six lakh men who were delivered from Egypt (Ex.12: 37) only two men could enter the land of Canaan. All, except Caleb and Joshua were overthrown in the wilderness. They all were not allowed to enter the land and attain the purpose for which they had been removed from Egypt. (Numb.14: 30)

ENTERING THE KINGDOM

All believers who follow a similar path to that taken by these Israelites will be denied entrance into the heavenly land to which they have been called. The whole matter is really very simple to understand if one has the eyes to see that which the Lord has outlined in His word. That vast majority of believers don’t know that they have been called to one day occupy positions as co-heirs with the King of kings in a heavenly land. Then, there are many other believers who have heard the message and have either ignored or rejected it because their interest lies in the things of this present world. Only a small minority of believers (like Caleb and Joshua in Moses’ day) today, have some understanding and appreciation of the purpose of their redemption. Believers exhibiting this type attitude, governing their lives accordingly will one day realise the goal of their calling. Even though many are called and possess the free gift of eternal life, only a few will be chosen from among them to be rewarded with participation in the coming glorious kingdom.

SATISFACTION OF GOD

AT THE START AND AT THE END

Dear reader, do you want to be a Caleb or a Joshua and one-day enter the land to which you have been called? Take heed, to the words of Caleb, If the Lord DELIGHT IN US, then He will bring us into this land and give it us. (Numb.14: 8) On the day of their deliverance from Egypt at the starting point of their wilderness journey, God did not look into the lives of the Israelites. He saw only the blood on the doorposts and lintels of the houses wherein they lived. He delivered them because He was DELIGHTED on seeing the blood of the lamb, shed on their behalf. (Ex.12: 12,13). But at the end of their wilderness journey God was looking into the lives of the Israelites and with many of them He was NOT WELL PLEASED, because they did not wholly follow the Lord, and so they were overthrown in the wilderness. (Numb.32: 10-12, 1Cor.10: 5). Only Caleb and Joshua could ENTER the land, be victorious over the enemy and realise their calling, because they DELIGHTED the Lord by wholly following Him, during their wilderness journey.

In an exactly similar way at the point of salvation, in the starting point of our pilgrim walk, there was nothing in us which could PLEASE God. We had the punishment of eternal death upon us. But God was WELL PLEASED with His Son who suffered and died in our stead. We were freely forgiven and delivered from eternal condemnation, because God was FULLY SATISFIED with the precious blood shed on the cross of Calvary on our behalf. But at the end of our pilgrim walk, if the Lord DELIGHT IN US, then only, He will bring us into His heavenly kingdom. The Lord Jesus very firmly told, he that doeth the will of the heavenly Father, alone shall ENTER into the kingdom of heaven. (Matt.7: 21-23). After the point of our salvation we should not live according to our own wisdom and desires, but we must yield ourselves wholly into the hands of our Lord, allowing Him to fully accomplish His will in our lives.

At the starting point of our pilgrim walk, we received the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life, solely because the Lord Jesus fully yielded Himself to the will of the Father. Even when He faced the cruel death of the cross, He prayed saying,” O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, THY WILL BE DONE.” (Matt.26: 42). At the end our race we will be APPROVED for the crown, based on how much we have pleased our Lord, by allowing Him to fulfill His will in and through our life, after the point of our salvation. Men of this world may tell lies, cheat others and do all sorts of evil things to acquire what they need and to achieve their aims and ambitions in this world. But when a believer rejects the ways of the world and chooses to live according to the will of God, always doing what is pleasing to Him, he will incur may losses, shame and sufferings. (2Tim.3: 12) Satan, the god of this age, will hinder us even from acquiring what we need for our living in this world. 2Cpr.4: 4, Luke 4:5,6) But if we patiently endure all such sufferings in this age and continue to PLEASE the Lord, and be obedient to Him, we shall also reign with Him in the coming age. (2Tim.2: 12) But if we deny our Lord for the sake of enjoying the riches, pleasures and fame of this world in the present age, He will also deny us when we stand before His judgment seat, at the end of this age. Consequently, we will forfeit the positions reserved for us in His coming kingdom. That is why the apostles exhorted the disciples to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM of God. (Acts 14:22) At the starting point of our race, all the sufferings due for us was completely borne by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary, and we got the salvation as a free gift. (Rom.3: 24,25) But at the end of our race, we will be approved for receiving the crowns only if we patiently endure the sufferings that come on our way throughout our pilgrim walk after the day of our salvation. Regarding Moses, the Lord testified in His word that he chose to SUFFER affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season … for he had respect unto the RECOMPENSE OF THE REWARD. (Heb.11: 24-26).

GLORY THROUGH SUFFERINGS

Sufferings and Glory go hand in hand in Scripture. The latter always follows the former — never the inverse — and the latter cannot be realised apart from the former. On the Emmaus road, following His resurrection, Christ rebuked two disciples whose eyes were still closed to the truth concerning Christ’s suffering and glory. (Luke 24:25-27). The sufferings of Christ refer to the events, which took place during His first coming when He appeared as the Lamb of God to take away our sins. The glory of Christ will be revealed during His Second Coming when He will appear as the King of kings. The sufferings of believers and the glory that is to follow is explained in the same framework in Rom.8: 17-23. The condition is clearly set forth in verse seventeen, ” …IF so be that we SUFFER with Him that we may be also GLORIFIED together.” The thought is continued in verse eighteen with the statement, “For I reckon that the SUFFERINGS of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the GLORY, which shall be revealed in us.” The time of this glory is specifically revealed in the following verses, when the SONS OF GOD will be manifested (Rom.8: 19-23) and brought unto GLORY, (Heb.2: 10). Therefore, when being tested and tried during the present time, believers are told to “rejoice, in asmuch as we are partakers of Christ’s SUFFERINGS, that when His GLORY shall be revealed, we may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (1Pet.4: 12,13, James 1:2-12).

CONCLUSION

  • We could start the race, because the Lord Jesus surrendered Himself completely to the will of the Father, and suffered and died as the Lamb of God in our place.

  • But at the end of the race we will be counted worthy to win the prize (crown) only if we allow God to fulfil His will in our lives, patiently enduring all the sufferings which may come, while truthfully walking in the ways of the Lord.

  • Let us so run that we may obtain the prize.