Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

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Running the full race of faith together is big in benefits for heaven.

In the middle of Hebrews 12:1 the Bible tells us, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” The English language doesn’t show it, but “let us run” is not everyone running their race without others – it is running the race together. We are in a race of faith, and it is clear throughout Scripture that this race is not individual. Sure, we each run with our own two legs, but we are running the race of faith together – with responsibility for others, notably, those in our Christian Inner Circles.

Let me read Hebrews 12:1-2a. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith . . . .”

With those Christians with whom we have significant involvement, we are to help one another start and finish the race of faith. Faith is not to be a solitary or autonomous or individualistic pursuit, but, unfortunately, that seems to be the unacknowledged culture of Christianity today.
God has always wanted a people more than just a person. The person of God is noteworthy. But, it is the people of God that is the emphasis of Scripture and God’s heart. 1 Pet 2:9 says this quite clearly. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

In heaven, we will please God by working together to continue to build our faith. There will no race and no finish line in heaven, as death is our finish line. But, being involved significantly in running the race of faith together now is essential for preparation for heaven. It is how we learn to work together to help build one another’s faith.

The task for you and me is to pull ourselves away from so much individual faith and begin to think more and more about living our faith together. This is our race of faith, and one way to approach it is these 65 Togethers of Scripture – all of which are obeying the Bible in what it says God wants us to do together.

Each Together benefits God in the way of increased worship and glory through our increased likeness to Jesus Christ. Each Together also benefits us with enhanced life in heaven.
Those who put effort into running the race of the faith together to become more like Christ and prepare for heaven will have their own unique prize. The levels achieved in whatever goes to heaven in their spirit as a result of however they obeyed Scripture in implementing each of the 65 Togethers will make up their prize. They will have a reward made up of the 65 different levels of gain on each of the 65 Togethers. The possible combinations are astronomical, allowing the prize of lifestyle in heaven to be very individual. Everyone will get the prize for which they ran.
A Christian who puts in moderate overall effort in running the race of faith with other Christians will end up with a prize of moderate enhancement of life in heaven. One who put in hardly any effort will get the basic package and will be completely happy. But a Christian who put in much effort in running the race of faith with other Christians will live a bit more royally throughout eternity.

Because the stakes are so high, and so important to God, we are to help one another through the entire race of faith to become continually more like Jesus Christ. This race takes such great perseverance that we need to run it together. And we are to see that we all finish the race by staying faithful until our dying breath.

To say it a slightly different way, this race is helping one another let God grow our spirits into the image of Christ thorough essential faith together. Running this race prepares each of us for heaven as a result of how we each run our own race of faith, hopefully with the help of those in our Christian Inner Circle.

God saved us by sending His Son Jesus to die for us so that He would have a redeemed people He could change into the image of Jesus, His Son. This is what life is all about. This is the race! We need to want what God wants. And, He wants us running toward Christlikeness.
If it is difficult to see the growth of our faith, of our spirits developing more like Jesus Christ, as a race, consider that an accident or illness could cut our life short and end the race for us. We really are in a race against time to become like God’s Son!

We need to change our attitude about our faith. We must stop thinking of it as a way to be constantly blessed by God in enjoyable ways. A wonderful day with few problems is a blessing, but not the best blessing. Instead, the blessing we should seek is to be able to exercise our faith against some difficult challenge so that we grow in thinking, feeling, and acting like Jesus in some new way. That is what we help with when we run the race together. Focusing on the 65 Togethers of Scripture is the path of the race.

Living the faith together is the race those watching in heaven want to see. The race is not learning the Scriptures without living them out. We must pull one another along in the race by making sure Bible knowledge is not the finish line. We have all heard hundreds of fine sermons that gave us Scripture to act on, but no one has held us accountable to “run with it”.

The race follows a course marked out for each of us by God. It is not designed by us. We do not choose the course of our own race. The instruction is not just to run, but to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. This race designed for us will be uncomfortable and, therefore, requires perseverance.

Also consider that the course marked out for us is most likely fluid and not known beforehand. Unlike physical races where runners can “walk the course” a few times to become familiar ahead of time, the course for us is spiritual and cannot be foreseen. It is designed by the divine care and guidance of God, what we call the providence of God. We see it only as life develops hour by hour, day by day, month by month, and year by year. It is a course designed to conform us to the image of Jesus, so only God can design it. It is most likely that our courses are unique to each one of us so as to prepare us to do whatever God wants us to do now as well as later in heaven. And to do it as Jesus would.

Next the writer of Hebrews tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus”. Jesus is the One who brought us into the race and the One who, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is perfecting us in our faith for God’s glory. If the race is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, than the running is to be His way of running, marked by His character.

This race includes suffering and requires perseverance. That is why we need to run the race of faith together! All of those things we do together is the race. It is not head knowledge, but the Scriptures of the 65 Togethers applied most powerfully in our Christian friendships, Christian families, and Christian marriages.

This race we run together is to be conformed to the image of Jesus, God’s Son. Anyone who has studied what the life of our Savior was like will know that this is a pretty tough race. It should be easy to see that our spirits cannot be changed into the likeness of Jesus without facing things similar to what He faced when He lived here within sinful culture and among sinful people. Considering it in our minds can only go so far. Actually facing difficulties like Jesus did is what will change something in our spirits to be more like Jesus and glorify God – as well as give us greater enjoyment in heaven.

It takes a lifetime to dress in the spirit of Jesus – and yet we treat it like it can be done quickly in a few fellowship gatherings. To change our spirits takes knowledge of the Scriptures and repeated application in loving God and one another. No matter if we have only 2 or as many as 30 believers in our Christian Inner Circles, the 65 Togethers of Scripture can keep us busy for a lifetime of loving and serving and changing our spirits into the likeness of Jesus. The more time we make for people with the Togethers in mind, the greater the investment for heaven.
Let’s review. This is the Together that helps prepare us for heaven in 65 ways because running this race of faith together will include each of the Togethers and their benefits for eternal life. This Together of running the full race together also prepares us to pursue growth of faith together later in heaven.

In addition, running the race together elevates commitment to God more than the other Togethers because it is a commitment to do all of them. Such high-level commitment to God’s desires will make us ready to dive right in to whatever new plan God has for us in heaven when we get there.

With our Christian friends and family members, let’s go beyond what comes naturally and comfortably to more aggressively run the race of faith together. Let’s see in our relationships what needs to be done to help one another obey God’s way of living that changes us into the image of Jesus.