In order to "run" in the Christian race, you must be on the team, in other words you must be a Christian. There are many people who posses Christian qualities in their life, but they have never obeyed all the rules set forth by God. They feel that they are "Christians" but their feelings do not make it so. It is like the athlete who tries out for the Olympics, but fails to meet the qualifications set forth by the Olympic Committee. He or she may feel that they are and Olympic Athlete, but they will not be able to be part of the games.
Over the centuries men have taken the rules given by God and have tried to change them. This is not possible, for only obedience to the gospel will save man from his sin.
In the book of Acts we find a man who was a good man, a man who worshipped God, gave to help others, yet he was not a Christian and therefore not in the Christian race. His name was Cornelius. He lived in the time of the beginning of the Church, a time when visions and miracles still occurred. Luke records, "He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do" (Acts 10:3 - 6). We find in the text that Peter comes and teaches Cornelius about Christ, and he is baptized into Christ. Cornelius now was in the Christian race.
When a person decides that they want to be a Christian, they need to study the Bible, in order to know just what it is they must do to become a Christian. Turning again to the book of Acts we see that those who became Christians on the Day of Pentecost had to learn just who Jesus was and what He had done. These people had to get ready to be in the Christian race. They had to change some things in their lives. They were not following God according to His rules, so they had to change that. Many were among those who took part in the crucifixion of Jesus, either by calling for His death or simply remaining silent while the deed was done. They had to willingly give themselves to God.
As Peter preached Christ to the audience they realized that Jesus was the Son of God and desired to know what they would need to do in order to receive forgiveness. Peter told them to "repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins." About 3000 responded to Peter’s sermon and the Lord added them to His church. If you desire to be in the Christian race today, you too must obey the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Minister Riley Nelson