Pursuing the Prize – part 2

Philippians 3:15-21                                                  click here for audio

 

13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Paul –  I’m not there yet;   I have not arrived to the point of perfection.

My prayer life is not where I want it to be;    My commitment is not where I would like it to be;

My devotion to Christ is not all the way as it should be;   My walk with Christ is not all that it should be;    I’m still  “a work in progress”.   I’m not all there  yet.

There is this pull and tug of my unredeemed flesh  that seeks to pull me back into the world.

It’s like the lyrics in that hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

O to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.

I’m not under condemnation.    I’ve been saved by the grace of God.   “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God.”  romans 5:1

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1

There’s no Condemnation.   But I do sense  Conviction.    I’m under conviction of the Holy Spirit to press on.   To keep on pressing toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Conviction is WHAT WE SHOULD FEEL.     That’s the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  John 16:8

And when he (SPEAKING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT)  comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:

Since we HAVE the Holy Spirit abiding in us….  We are people with CONVICTIONS! And instruments in God’s service bringing conviction to those who are unbelievers.

We are missionaries to a lost and dying world.  We bear forth God’s Truth and that brings conviction to those who are not saved.  And it brings conviction to the Christian who is careless in their walk with God.

The Apostle Paul was driven with great passion to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

We continue in the remaining part of this chapter and see what will motivate us to pursue passionately,  enthusisastically for Christ,  to know him more,  and to be more like him in our everyday lives.

First of all, Pursuing Christ… It’s all about  HOW YOU THINK….

  1. How You think Matters
  2. Think this way v.15         what way?    Refers to the way Paul was thinking when he said,  “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own…..(see vv.13-14)

For those of us who are mature—-  think this way,   there’s only one way to think when it comes to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ?    Pursue Christ like an athelete who pursues the goal to win the prize.

  1. Other ways of thinking –         v.15b   “and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.”

We may think otherwise in other things.  That is, we may think differently when it comes to certain things.  And if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

We are not carbon copies thinking alike in all things regarding the ways of God.  We are not all wired up the same way.    We may disagree on minor things, but we should all think the same when it comes to “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”   That we should never differ on.      How we think on that matters greatly.

Now, as far as,  how we think on other things,   it’s important, and as we follow Christ,  God will reveal those things also to you.

 

Paul and Barnabas thought differently

Acts 15:36-41

36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

 

Both Paul and Barnabas  –  champions for Christ…    had disagreements,  yet their thinking was the same when it came to pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Think about two great Servants of the Church – their beliefs in regards to the Grace of God in salvation:

John Calvin

The grace that God extends to human beings to effect their election cannot be refused, since it has been decreed by God.

John Wesley

God’s grace is free and offered without merit; however, human beings have been granted freedom by God and can refuse His grace.

 

Both John Calvin  and John Wesley  –  champions for Christ…    had disagreements,  yet their thinking was the same when it came to pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

In our pursuing to know Christ,  to learn of Him,  to be more like him… God will reveal the truthfulness of such things in time.    It will be in Heaven before we get the full revelation of all things.

  1. Hold to Truth

NASB    however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

NKJV        Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

There is the truth of God’s Word that is clearly revealed to us.  That we know for certain.

We hold true to what we have attained.     HOLD TRUE to WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED IN CHRIST SO FAR.    Hold true to God’s Word.

HERE is What we should think.    Think Biblically!       How we think matters,  because the Bible matters.  The truth of God matters!    The truth of Christ matters!

Jesus said,  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”    FROM that we don not budge!

We hold true to that!

We are not perfect in our understanding.  But we serve a Perfect God who will reveal His truth; and reveal His purposes and ways to us.

We don’t know everything,  but one day it will all be made known to us.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.       1Cor. 12:13

 

It DOES matter what you think.    Later on, in the 4th chapter of Philippians

Phil 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 

PURSUING THE PRIZE –   PRESSING ON… TO KNOW CHRIST MORE FULLY….

IT’S  ABOUT  HOW YOU THINK.

 

Pursuing Christ is  also about  Who You Follow…..

  1. Who You Follow Matters

 

  1. 17-19

Jesus said to his disciples-  follow me.

Matthew 4:19      And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

 

  1. Follow Good Examples

v.17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.    KJV

2 times in 1Cor. –  Paul said  “be followers of me”

1Cor. 4:16     I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

1Cor. 11:1    Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

1Thess. 1:6       And you became imitators of us and of the Lord,

 

The Lord Jesus Christ is the One we follow.   However, Christ has placed in the church his apostles for the purpose of establishing God’s revealed truth.  The Lord has placed in the church pastors, teachers, and evangelist ….

to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.   (Eph. 4:12-14)

We need godly examples,  flesh and blood servants of God who have been tried and tested and can point us in the right direction.

Paul was not being arrogant when he said  “be followers of me,  or be imitaters of me.”   He knew the church at Philippi had to have a fellow comrade, a fellow soldier who has been in the trenches, acquainted with sinful tendencies…

IT is PAUL who SAID….

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (Rom. 7:15)

IT is PAUL who SAID….

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:    (Romans 7:18)

IT is PAUL who SAID….

              For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

             Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  (Romans 7:19-20)

 

Paul would know what it means to sing   “prone to wander, Lord I feel it,  prone to leave the God I love.”

 

That’s not true of the Lord Jesus Christ.   Jesus never felt the tendencies to leave the God He loves.   Jesus never said  “I know that in me dwelleth no good thing.”      Jesus never sinned.  He never even came close to sinning. He did not have a sin nature.

 

That’s why the Lord Jesus puts before us –  someone like Paul…  saved by the grace of God…. filled with the Holy Spirit…. And Paul dominates the New Testament.     When you come to Acts 13 Paul is the main focus for the remaining 15 chapters.  He is used of God to write 13 of the 27 letters in the New Testament.

 

Paul does NOT elevate himself.  He does not put himself on a pedestal.

 

v.17   “keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”   Here Paul is making reference to “us”  which would mean  Timothy and Epaphroditus who are mentioned in this letter.

 

These are humble servants.

 

They are models of  those who put the interest of Christ first.  (see Philippians 2:19-23)

 

I’m always looking for godly men who can feed me, encourage me, and point me in the right direction.

One of my first books to help me was Charles Spurgeon’s book,  “Lectures to my Students”…

A valuable resource for me personally.

Most of the good stuff is from dead preachers.  And some are getting close to the grave.  In my early years as pastor, I benefitted much from  R.C. Sproul’s book,  The Holiness of God.

 

  1. Bad Examples to Avoid

 

Enemies of the cross of Christ

 

Paul is  in tears as he writes of those who are enemies of the cross of Christ.   Paul weeps maybe because these are men who use to preach the Gospel, but have abandon the cross for something more appealing to the flesh.

 

Paul’s tears –  may be due to the great damage and disgrace some were bringing to the Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel of grace.

 

4 descriptions:

 

1-   Their End is destruction    –   What will become of those who are enemies of the Cross of Christ?  for them awaits judgment…. Their end is destruction….

 

2-   Their god is their belly — NASB “god is their appetite” –   Enemies of the cross are not about self-denial,  denying self,  but it’s all about feeding your own selfish appetites.  This is sensual, flesh-appealing….  This describes the direction of the corrupt churches that are man-centered, flesh-catering, man-honoring, rather than exalting the cross of Christ, and God-honoring.

 

Romans 16:18

18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

 

3-   They glory in their shame—    This speaks of  immorality, that which they should be ashamed of, they actually  glory in.     Nothing shames them.   It’s like what John Macarthur calls  the “Vanishing Conscience”.    Nothing is sinful.     Church Discipline is outdated and even considered by many to be immoral.

 

 

4-   Minds set on earthly things —  The Best life is not heaven, but it’s right here,  right now.  This is the focus of the Prosperity Gospel preachers.    Such beliefs are focused on what you can  have now.

 

 

Paul SAID:    For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

 

NOT the ENEMY of the Cross of Christ —   they say you can have   “all things”   and   “still gain Christ”

There are so many people deceived by these false teachers who pump false hopes into their listeners.  People will buy books, DVD’s, attend seminars, conferences  hoping to master the art of becoming wealthy, prosperous,  healthy and successful.    Many who lead such meetings are those who profess to be a gospel preacher.  They preach an earthly message… Be a success in this life…

Don’t follow these false teacher…

Pursuing Christ is about following the Right Examples of the Faith..

 

Also, pursuing Christ is all about where you live…

 

III.     Where you live matters

 

  1. 20-21

 

Paul did NOT say…    our citizenship will be in heaven….  But rather      IS in heaven….

 

We are not citizens of earth, but in heaven.

Colossians 1:113-14

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

 

We’ve been delivered –  from the kingdom of darkness    TO   the kingdom of the Lord Jesus

 

It’s NOT  we WILL be delivered (or Transformed) into the Kingdom of his beloved Son;  It’s a done deal….  We are only waiting for those FINAL ARRANGMENTS to be escorted HEAVENWARD…..

 

Our Citizenship is in heaven

 

If we took a rope and tied it around the leg of the piano…on the tip of the rope paint it red….then extend that rope out the doors and let’s say it long enough to reach Hohenwald…

 

That small tip of red on the rope …..represents our life here on earth….

The remainder part of the rope…..represents eternity…with the exception…it doesn’t stop in Hohenwald….but continues on forever…

 

That small tip of red on the rope….is an example of how short we have in this life….compared with eternity…Most people put all their hopes and dreams into that small tip of the rope.

 

 

We await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…

Where’s Heaven?       Up             how far up?      A long way up

Acts 1:9-11

he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

 

What will Jesus do?

  1. He will return. From heaven     “from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”

 

This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

 

John 14:1-3

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also

 

1Thess 4:16-17

 

16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

 

 

  1. Transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body

 

KJV     “change our vile body”

 

NASB     who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory,

 

 

Americans want to do everything possible to look young…

15.9 million Americans underwent some cosmetic procedure with a total cost of 12.9 billion dollars

 

It’s pointless to spend billions and billions on what Christ will eventually change….

 

 

1Cor. 15:51-53

51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

 

 

OUR BODY  will be LIKE  HIS  GLORIOUS BODY

1John 3:2    Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

 

Jesus in His resurrected body….

  • Fly— one of these days   WE WILL FLY AWAY……(illust.     Sticky note to sec.  “please file away”      She writes   “fly away”    )
  • Go through solid walls— that’s how Jesus came out of the tomb….appeared to his disciples behind closed doors.
  • Transport form one place to another place…. In a split second….
  • Body.. with no more sickness;  no more disease;   no more problems;    no more stress;

No more ailments;  no more eyeglasses;  no more hearing aids;  no more crutches;  no more hospitals;  no more nursing homes;  no more funeral homes; no more bills;   no more prescriptions;  no more pain;  no more heataches and heart attacks;  no more cancer;  no more diabetes;  no more leukemia….  A body with no disease…no restrictions….  Never get tired,  never become weak,

 

 

 

        How will Jesus do this?    How will Jesus make it happen?   

 

  1. By the power that enables Christ to subject all things to himself. –  V.21b

 

 

NASB    by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

 

Colossians 1:16-17

 

16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

 

 

No wonder – we pursue the Prize —  to Pursue Christ   is   to pursue the place of our citizenship…

 

It matters  —

  • How you think
  • Who you follow
  • Where you live

 

If you don’t know Christ…you will spend eternity somewhere…..  I urge you to trust Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior.   Call upon him,  turn from your sins,  turn from your self…. Follow Christ today.