Pressing On Toward the Goal

Philippians 3:10-16 ESV

“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”

The Power of His Resurrection

When we believe in Jesus Christ with childlike faith, a faith which is gifted to us by God, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our old self is crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we will no longer be enslaved to sin but to God and to his righteousness. So we are to no longer let sin reign in our mortal bodies, to make us obey its passions. For if sin is what we obey, it ends in death (Romans 6:1-23; Ephesians 4:17-24).

And this (above) is what it means to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, becoming like him in his death. And this includes sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings, first in dying with him to sin, and then in suffering persecution at the hands of those who are opposed to those of us who are following Jesus Christ with our lives. But we share in his sufferings, too, via experiencing various trials the Lord allows to come into our lives to test our faith, and to train us in godliness, and to teach us perseverance.

[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; Jn 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Jn 17:14; Ac 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 2 Tim 3:12; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12; 1 Jn 3:13]

But notice with me here something Paul said that may seem strange to some people. Paul wanted to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible he might attain the resurrection from the dead. And I believe this goes along with progressive salvation, which is the only salvation message taught in the New Testament. For the Scriptures do not teach “once saved always saved.” They teach that we have to walk in holiness and righteousness, and not in sin, in obedience to our Lord, to the very end, or we don’t have eternal life with God.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

But I Press On

Now if we are truly in Christ, by God-given faith in Jesus Christ, and thus we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and so we have been raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, and so we are walking in holiness and righteousness, and not in sin, in obedience to our Lord, in the power of God’s Spirit, then we are saved (past), we are being saved (present active), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus returns for us, his bride, and he takes us to be with him for eternity, which is when our salvation will be complete.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:31-32; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 8:24; Rom 11:17-24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; Gal 5:16-21; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; 2 Tim 1:8-9; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 1 Jn 1:5-10; 1 Jn 2:3-6;24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

So, while we still live on the face of this earth we are to be growing in our walks of faith in the Lord, daily dying to sin and to self, and following Jesus in obedience to his commands (New Covenant). We are to put out of our lives everything that is sinful and that is displeasing to our Lord, and we are to be walking in his truth and righteousness. Our goal in life should be to please our Lord and to obey him and to walk in his footsteps, and to be becoming more like him every day. But we aren’t perfect people yet.

So, the Christian life is progressive sanctification, always being pruned and disciplined by the Lord so that we can share in his holiness and bear fruit for his eternal kingdom. We should never reach a plateau where we feel we are comfortable and then just remain there. For we still live in flesh bodies, and so there is always going to be something that the Potter needs to do with the clay to mold us more and more into his likeness. And this is what Paul is talking about here. So we should always be listening to our Lord and to those gentle nudges he gives us when we get out of step with him.

So, yes, we are not going to be absolutely perfect until we reach heaven. But I would strongly caution against using “none of us are perfect” as an excuse to continue in known and deliberate and habitual sin. For if we walk in sin, making sin our practice, and if righteousness and holiness and obedience to our Lord are not what we practice, then we are not in true fellowship with Jesus Christ, and if this is the path we continue on, it will end in death, not in life everlasting with God.

And forgetting what lies behind has to do largely with forsaking our sins and our past self-life, but it can also have to do with forgetting those areas where the Lord just pruned us, meaning we should never go backwards, but we should learn from the disciplines of the Lord and then move in a forward direction. And what lies ahead are our walks of holiness and righteousness in obedience to our Lord Jesus, in the power of God’s Spirit, walking in whatever he just taught us and has been teaching us, keeping moving forward toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ.

And again, if this is the life we are living, in walks of obedience to our Lord, always learning, always growing in our walks of faith, then we are going to have enemies who will come against us. So, we should be prepared.

All Through the Night

An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.

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