As Christians, we are on the escape out of the valley of this world. For many, their love grows cold as they replace the best for that which is just good. They stop fighting the fight of faith and drift backward. Yet as believers, we often are imperfect in our escape. We must remember that we run the race with our eyes on the Lord, and God our Father who is not ashamed of us, even in all of our weaknesses.
We are on the escape.
We are on the escape.
You know, Christ also warns about this when He says in the end times the love of many will grow cold. Right? They don’t just walk and fall off a cliff. It grows cold.
The Bible’s saying be on the alert. There’s an urgency about the Christian life. You’re being attacked all around. You’re like a boat sitting on a river and the current’s slowly trying to pull you backwards. You’ve got to keep fighting. And that’s why Paul can get to the end of his life and he says, “I have fought the fight of faith!” Right? You can’t drift to Heaven. You fight to Heaven. It’s by grace, but it is a fight. It is a fight.
So one of our conditions of our escape is you do not look back. Don’t let your heart get tied up with worldliness. Guard your heart. And one of the best ways that you can do this is so simple, but we can’t despise it, we have got to keep ourselves in the Word of God. Because all around us we’re hearing all these ideas, and that’s what Paul’s saying in Romans 12. He says don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world. Don’t let that current pull you into its form where you start to slowly think the same thoughts as the world and your priorities start to have the same priorities as the world. He says, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We’ve got to be in the Word every morning crying out to God, saying, “God, help me not to drift.” It’s what Hebrews says – it says don’t drift. God, help me not to drift. So help me to think the right thoughts about You. Please renew my mind and help me to set my mind on the things up above. We need the Word of God constantly to keep us from drifting. So if you don’t want to look back, stay in the Word. Stay in the Word. But we also need to hear this exhortation that many people in the world live in a stupor going from one lawful thing to the next while sacrificing the best things. Enjoy the things that God has given us just like Paul exhorts Timothy to exhort others in that epistle, but never forget the Christian life is a life of escape and the judgment of God is coming. It’s coming. So when we come up to things that are good things we need to not ask the minimalist question: Is this just permissible? We need to be asking the question: Is what I am about to do going to help me run? Is it going to help me run? I think one way to summarize all this is a story of me actually running literally – a track thing in grade school, and let me caveat this story at the outset that I don’t win this race. So in grade school, we had a track team. I think I was in 5th grade. And the way that you made this track team is you put your name down on a piece of paper. There was no competition. There was no massive pool to draw from. I think pretty much everybody in the class was on the track team. So we were not star athletes. And I was actually laughing with my mom about this story not too long ago and talking to her about the coach. And she said, “You know, you realize that coach was just a mom that volunteered?” And I was like, “It’s all making sense.” Because going up to this track meet we trained twice. I don’t know if you know anything about running, but that is woefully inadequate training for a track meet. And so we get to the track meet. We all line up on the starting line. We’re lining up with these other schools. I started to have a really bad feeling about the whole deal. And when the gun went off, it was all confirmed. Their regular one-through-three pace was my turn three dead sprint, and so literally just to keep up with this pack of runners, I am in a dead sprint from the outset and losing ground with every step. And about halfway through right before we got to turn three, I was hopelessly behind the pack and I was running out of gas, and honestly about to quit the race. Because I’m not just in last place, I’m in like: is that one of the race officials? No, that’s another one of the runners back there. That’s how far I am in last place. Because I was running with everything I have. And I don’t know if you’ve really ever exerted yourself in exercise and running before, but you start kind of shutting down and you start getting tunnel vision, but in my tunnel vision I looked up and I saw my dad standing up. And it impacted me so much, because here he was – I was embarrassed about the whole thing, so I’m thinking of him up there, like “that’s my kid in last place.” You’d kind of be tempted to go: “Whose kid is that?” But my dad was standing up. And when I saw my father, I began to run like I had never run in my life. And I actually caught the pack. And at one point, a little ways around turn three, I was actually in third place and I was running like I had never run before, watching my dad. He could tell that I was in trouble. So he starts walking down the stands and he comes towards the finish line and he’s waving. It got me so much, because has it ever hit you that your Father is not ashamed of you? Right? We’re in this world escaping, but we’re doing it pretty imperfectly. We often get tangled up in the same old things and if you’re like me, you wake up a lot of mornings like, “Oh, Lord, I’m going to be a Christian for 20 years here in a couple of months, and I had hoped that about 15 years ago I would be done with what I’m still struggling with.” And you start to get really down. And then you realize something. You read something in Romans that says something like, “While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us.” When I was in my worst state, He loved me. It says in Hebrews He is not ashamed to be called their Father. He’s not ashamed of you. When I saw my father looking at me – my earthly father in those stands – it occurred to me I’m here in last place, but he doesn’t care. He loves me. And he starts waving. So I start running. And I literally passed out over the finish line and fell straight into my father’s hands. He caught me over the finish line. I didn’t win the race, but I ran like I had never run before. Why? Because my eyes were on my father. And I knew he wasn’t ashamed of me. Brethren, this world and this life that we’re in is an escape. And we’re not there yet. We’re still in the valley running and it’s very easy to get tired. It’s very easy to start falling back. And the valley’s so good and there’s so much in the valley that is pleasing, right? There’s so many good things and lawful things in the valley, but in all these things, we have to remember that this is an escape. But it is not an escape that is entirely dependent upon me. It is initiated and carried on by grace. So if you want to escape, if you want to keep running, if you’re feeling tired this morning, the thing that you need is not a good kick in the pants. What you need to see this morning is you need a fresh glimpse of God and His love demonstrated in Christ Jesus toward imperfect runners; that Christ has declared you righteous once and for all, and that your failings are not counted against you. And not only that, but even your failings fall under the category and context of Romans 8:28 that He is working all things for your good. All things for your good. And He will see to it that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to the day of Jesus Christ. He will complete what He started in you. So if you’re tired this morning, you come to Christ and tell Him all about it. Tell Him about the worldliness that’s trying to seep in your heart. Tell Him you’ve been drifting. And ask Him to renew you once again. And then get in the Word and see Him in the Gospels showing grace and mercy to wicked, undeserving sinners. So much grace, so much mercy. And remember that the throne that you come to is not an exacting throne. It says there is a throne of grace and mercy for help in times of need. What a time of need! God, help me. I’m drifting. I can feel the pull of worldliness. So, help me. Give me a fresh glimpse. And He says that’s the place you ought to be. Because when you come to the throne, you’re at a place where you find grace, mercy, and help. And that’s what a runner needs. That’s what He offers you this morning. We’re escaping, but we’re escaping with a watching Father and He’ll help you.
These excerpts were taken from the full sermon: “The Christian Life Is an Escape” which Mason Vann preached on May 21, 2017 from Genesis 19:14-17.