Running the marathon route

Hebrews 11:39-40  And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,  since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

John Piper, in a sermon “Running With the Witnesses”

I take verse 39 to mean that when the believers in the Old Testament died, their spirits were made whole and perfect (as 12:23 says), but that they do not receive the full blessing of God’s promise, which is resurrection with new bodies in a glorious new age with all God’s enemies removed and righteousness holding sway and the earth filled with the glory of God. They did not receive that promise yet.

Why not? Why must the saints wait, without their new resurrection bodies? The answer is given in verse 40: “Because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” In other words, God’s purpose is that all his people – all the redeemed – be gathered in before any of them enjoys the fullness of his promise. His purpose is that we all come into the fullness of our inheritance together.

So the motivation is this: when you go away to plan your fall run with Jesus, think on the fact that your life counts to God and to them. Your finishing the race is what history is waiting for. The entire consummation of the plan of the universe waits until every single one of God’s elect are gathered in. All history waits and all those who have lived by faith crowd the marathon route to urge you on, because they will not be perfected without you. Nor you without them.

To read or listen to the rest of the sermon, click here: