Monday, November 19, 2012

Pressing on Toward the Goal

In Philippians, Paul wrote of his desire to attain to the resurrection of the dead.  He said, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” (Phi 3:12).  The word for “press on” is diōkō. It is a prolonged (and causative) form of a primary verb (to flee); to pursue (literally or figuratively); by implication to persecute: - ensue, follow (after), given to, (suffer) persecute (-ion), press toward.

The photo to the left shows two young men pursuing the goal with intensity.  It's a great picture of how our race should be as disciples.  Paul had a goal and his goal was to lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of him.  This is not some passive act, as some would like us to think. Paul pursued it with vigor!

The Paul says, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” (Phi 3:13).  The word for “reaching forward” is epekteinomai. Middle voice to stretch (oneself) forward upon: - reach forth. Paul was stretching himself forward, bearing upon the goal of perfection.  

Stretching yourself forward, reaching forward, and pursuing vigorously are strong words connoting deep emotion and effort.  The photo below of Jonathan Harper is a great picture of reaching forward with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Paul's words in this passage express vehement concern.  He talks as though it is possible to miss it.

Jonathan Harper – Carroll H.S.
Like Paul, we must never think we have already become perfect.  We must never become complacent, as though we’ve already reached our goal. 

We must be fitted for heaven through constant repentance and thankfulness, which comes through perseverance, holding to our faith in Christ to the end. We must constantly pursue holiness (Heb 12:14). We must seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Mt 6:33), which is found only in Christ. Paul wanted to be found in Him not having his own righteousness, but the righteousness that comes by faith from God. It’s very important to keep our eye on the goal of heaven, the goal of perfection, the goal of becoming as Christ. But we must always remember that our goal can only ever be attained in Christ, and must come to us through His hand, since He purchased it for us. We reach heaven only by way of Christ. The only way to get to heaven is through Christ and Christ alone.

In this passage, Paul expresses his deep desire to gain Christ, "and [that I] may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith," (Phi 3:9).  Like Paul, we should not seek a legalistic righteousness of our own that comes from the Law.  Paul had already attained that in his lifetime.  He said that as for legalistic righteousness, he was found blameless (3:6).  But now he counted all of that as rubbish. 

That's how we need to view it.  We are not endeavoring to keep up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel of Christ.  Our goal is not to work for a righteousness that comes from the Law.  Rather, we want the very righteousness of God Himself. This kind of righteousness is perfect and it comes only by faith in Christ.

So let's pray as Paul did, "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phi 3:10-11).  Many people want to know the power of Christ, but few want to know the fellowship of His sufferings or to be made like Him in His death.  Paul wanted it all, and God granted his desire!

Paul wanted to know Christ this way for one purpose.  It was in order that he may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  The Greek word here is exanastasis, which means rising up and out of the dead.  It's referring to the physical resurrection of the dead, which will happen very soon.

Let me encourage you today to press on toward the goal. Forget what's behind, whether they are successes or failures, whether good or bad.  Reach forward with everything that is in you.  Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Seek the face of the Lord Jesus with this kind of intensity -- with all your heart.  Give Him what is due His name.

Make it your goal to really know Christ intimately -- to have complete and total union with Him.  Cry out, "Lord, I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead!" Pursue Him, Who is worthy, at all costs. This is how you may attain to the imminent and glorious resurrection of the dead.  Don't miss it for anything in the world!

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Is Obedience Optional?  I also suggest my daughter's poem, Finishing Strong.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Photo credit: Photos used with permission by Indiana Runner.
Reference: Matthew Henry commentary 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.


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