So Run That Ye May Obtain

by Pastor J. C. O'Hair

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.

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Who May Obtain What?

In Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 9:24) the Lord instructs His people in this language, “so run that ye may obtain.” This Epistle is addressed to all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord: It is addressed to saved people. I Corinthians 1:2. The Lord’s redeemed people are to run in a race. They are to strive and be temperate that they might win an incorruptible crown. I Corinthians 9:25. The Lord offers a prize for the Christian who runs well.

The Lord would not have any one be troubled or confused as to the difference between running and striving for a prize, and receiving eternal life as a free gift. Sometimes critics of the Bible state that there are contradictory statements in this Book of God. But the contradictions are not in the Bible when properly understood. They are in the confused mind of the person who is not spiritually, diligently and carefully examining the Scriptures. We read in I Corinthians 14:33 that God is not the author of confusion. We read in Romans 6:23 that “the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Most assuredly, no individual need strive or run for that which God declares to be His free gift. In the Scripture quoted, God does not instruct an unbeliever to be temperate in all things. The unbeliever, in the Bible, is called the natural man. And in Romans 8:7 and 8 God’s Word clearly states that the natural man can neither please God nor be subject to the law of God, because by nature he is at enmity with God.

It is useless for an unsaved man to try to conduct himself in obedience to God’s instructions given to those who have become His children by faith in His Son. In Romans 3:24 God’s Book clearly states that a believing sinner is justified without a cause, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. According to Romans 3:28 the believer is declared righteous without any endeavor on his part.

Inasmuch as the Bible does not contradict itself, the Lord wants every person to know the difference between being made righteous without striving, and then striving for the mastery in a sincere endeavor to live a righteous life. Let us compare I Corinthians 9:24 with Hebrews 9:12: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” I Corinthians 9:24.

“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He (Christ) entered in once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Hebrews 9:12.

What utter confusion must be in the mind of the individual who thinks he is running a race to obtain eternal redemption when this eternal redemption has already been obtained by the omnipotent sinless Son of God Who suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. I Peter 3:18.

Thus we see when the Lord said, “So run that ye may obtain”, He was speaking of the incorruptible crown which will be the reward of the faithful saint who runs well the race that is set before him. This he will do by looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot keep ourselves. None of our good works or earnest endeavors to be good will in any way help us to get to heaven. But surely they will be much to our credit when we arrive there as sinners saved by grace.

So let us, as believers, run, strive and be temperate. Let us labor for the prize.

From heaven’s glory Christ came down to sinful men on earth.
We’ve reached another Christmas day to celebrate His birth:
Eternal God in human form, the Virgin’s holy Child:
The One of whom the prophets wrote, the seed of woman—undefiled.

Gabriel came to Mary’s home God’s message to proclaim,
To tell her of the Saviour’s birth; to give to her His name:
“Call Him Jesus”, God’s command; on David’s throne He’ll reign;
He’ll save His people from their sin and Israel’s rights regain.

In Bethlehem’s manger He came forth—Israel’s glorious King.
The shepherds kept their flock by night and heard the angels sing:
“Peace on earth! Good will to men! Christ is born today!”
The wise men came. to see the King; God’s star had led the way.

And there was born the Son of God Who lived in Israel’s land,
Who came to earth to do God’s will—all that God had planned.
Christ came to set the captive free; give Satan’s slaves release;
He spake the Word of God, to men, brought comfort, health and peace.

By word and work Christ proved His claim; Has right to David’s throne.
But Israel said, “He shall not reign”—rejected they the Stone,
In the garden Christ was found, and by Judas there betrayed.
Before the rulers He was led, in purple robe arrayed.

Crowned with thorns they hailed Him king, in derision and disgrace
They hated Him without a cause; they spat upon His face.
Pilate found no fault in Him, desired to set Him free:
His rulers cried, “We’ll take the blame! nail Him to the tree”.

So the Lord of glory died; but He suffered not in vain.
Not only was His death foretold; but He must rise again.
No other way could God be just and sinful men forgive;
The penalty by Christ was paid! By faith the just shall live!

Eternal life is God’s free gift through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And when we’re saved, God gives us work with promise of reward.
And as we worship, serve and wait until we hear the call
We know our labor’s not in vain; for God remembers all.

He gives us grace for every day to serve by word and deed;
He keeps us by his power Divine; supplies our every need.
The riches of our blessed Lord are enjoyed by every one
Who will obey the word of God and abide in Christ His Son.

By His Spirit we are sealed until redemption day.
Then the Lord Himself shall come and take His saints away.
In heaven we shall then appear, in bodies glorified;
All living saints who still remain and all the saints who’ve died.

We’ll sing anew redemption song when we reach that happy place;
Ever with our Lord we’ll be, as sinners saved by grace.
Tears and crying will all be o’er; no death and never night;
Eternal day for God’s redeemed; forever pure delight.

It this Christmas season then, as we give to those we love,
Let our hearts be fixed on Him Who lives for us above.
If this message reaches one, who’s not yet saved from sin,
why not take God’s Christmas Gift and let the Saviour in?

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For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.