April 5, 2009
We saw in vv. 4-8 that Paul had every good work that would have been expected by a Jew of his day in order to meet God. He was righteous according to Jewish law and tradition. But we see that after the Lord met him, Paul abandoned every hope of righteousness, and changed that hope for the hope of Christ's righteousness.
Human nature continually tugs at the human heart, offering good works for righteousness. Only the Spirit of God can show one the foolishness of trusting in good works, and exchange those good works for Christ's work.
What greater hope is there than to be found in him, not having mine own righteousness..but that which is through the faith of Christ?
It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment. At that day the books will be opened and the grounds for our hope of heaven examined. Will our grounds be Faith In Christ? How many will be found depending on something which they did to merit salvation?
I have used Mat. 21:7 so many times that we will not even turn to it. The message is clear over there. Many in that day will be shown to be depending on their own merit for their hope of heaven, even very good works done in the name of the Saviour.
Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law... The contrast of this context makes it clear that he is talking about righteousness for salvation.
Paul is presenting a contrast: 1) what good an individual can do in hope of heaven. 2) total abandonment of anything he might be able to do, and turn totally to the good Christ has done.
The Lord had shown Paul the utter folly of any kind of hope in any kind of law for righteousness. God had shown him that the only righteousness which will merit eternal life is the righteousness which is of God by faith. He is passing this warning on to all people of all times.
1. God is the author of forgiveness. God is the one who justifies the sinner.
2. God is the one who purposed to treat the sinner as though he had never sinned. Therefore the sinner's righteousness is of God, through the work of Christ.
3. God is the source of all the grace that is given to the soul, even after salvation. God's grace gives the desire to depart from sin, and move toward God, making the soul truly holy.
It is all of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. His righteousness is right and holy, sufficient and good. Any righteousness that man might try to work up will be corrupt and totally insufficient to save the soul.
How much better it is to depend upon Him and what He has done, than to try to depend upon anything we might be able to do.
V. 10. Paul's goal in being found in him, is stated here. That I may know him. There is no higher calling for the child of God than to know Christ that is, be fully acquainted with His character, His work, His nature and His love as revealed in his word.
Eph. 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
We know him from his word.
Remember, when Paul wrote these things, all the people had was the Old Testament Scripture, and maybe some hear-say about the life of Christ in Palestine. Paul had been there to preach to them, but the only written Scripture they had was the Old Testament.
Scripture tells us how to respond to every situation which we come into contact with.
Scripture tells us how to respond to others whom we contact.
Scripture tells us how to show Christ's love toward others.
The righteousness of God by faith in Christ caused Paul to desire to know some things about the One who paid the price for his sins.
What did Paul desire to know?
I. He desired to know the power of his resurrection. He desired to understand and lay claim to the power available to the believer through the resurrection of Christ.
The resurrection proved that He was God incarnate in the flesh.
It proved that the dead will rise to meet Him.
It proved that there is a judgment.
The list is very long as to what was accomplished by the resurrection.
I am afraid that we do not even begin to comprehend the power that is ours through the risen Savior.
Eph.2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
* It was the risen Saviour who gave the command to conquer
the world for Him through the gospel, Mat. 28:19, 20?
* Through his resurrection, we have the hope of raising from the dead to be with him.
1 Cor.15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
* As the power of his resurrection works through us, it gives
us the courage to take our stand in the face of whatever the world,
flesh and the devil can throw at us to try to stop us from serving
Him. It should give us the courage to talk for Him, the courage
to work for Him.
* The resurrection should give us a desire to know Him and His word.
* The resurrection gives us the assurance that our prayers are heard.
Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
* The resurrection assures of forgiveness of sin.
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
* The resurrection assures us that the Lord will see us through any trial or temptation that comes our way
Heb.4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
The knowledge and power of the resurrection should give us the courage to stand for Him, to live for Him, to suffer for Him, to sacrifice for Him. As the song says, IT WILL BE WORTH IT ALL WHEN WE SEE JESUS. Any sacrifice we made in His name will seem so small and insignificant.
* The resurrection assures us He will return and that there is glory waiting for His faithful people
Jn.14: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
We do not realize the full implications of the resurrection means.
Paul's prayer here should be our prayer also that I may know the power of his resurrection.
II. These next two points I would just as soon do without. We enjoy the first point, the power of his resurrection. But the next two points are a different matter.
Fellowship of his suffering. I am almost ashamed to cover this point after meeting Bro Joel and the suffering the saints are going through at the hands of the followers of Mohamed, and the Hindus in India's case.
Paul said that he wanted to know the fellowship of hsi suffering, and to be made conformable unto his death.
As we think back over the Lord's life, it is not hard to recall the suffering that He endured,
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Paul felt that it was an honor to not only live as the Lord did, but it was an honor to suffer and die as the Lord did.
Is it not strange that of the many messages we hear about Paul and the doctrine he preached, we hear very little about this one? We love the word of God when it talks of resurrection power and glory, but when it talks about going out of our way, sacrifice and suffering to stand for Christ in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, we grow strangely silent.
And I use the word WE in the since that I include myself in this. I must be honest and say that I do not desire to be this closely identified with Jesus. Do you? Should we be?
We are willing to reign with Him, but are we willing to suffer
We are willing to ware a crown glory like Him, but are we willing to ware the crown of thorns for Him?
We are willing to put on the robes of splendor which will be worn in heaven, but are we willing to ware the cloak of zeal (Isa.59:17) for Him here? hard work and sacrifice?
We are willing to share in His riches in glory, but are we willing to share in the poverty here that He had? the contempt? the persecution? the shame?
Paul's desire was to be just like Christ, including His suffering.
I am afraid that our desire to be like Him is limited to knowing the power of His resurrection, not the fellowship of his suffering.
This verse is a difficult one to say the least, not to understand, but to obtain to as a goal of our Christian life.
III Then the third area that the righteousness of God through Christ caused Paul to desire to be like the Saviour in: conformably to his death.
Paul's desire to be like Christ included the desire to die like Christ died, and he was fully aware of the manner of death the Christ suffered. He considered it an honor and cause for rejoicing to suffer and die like his Savior did.
Are we willing to suffer and die as our Lord did?
My desire is to pass on quietly in my sleep. If not that, maybe with our friends and family around us. Our desire is that our end be as quite, happy and peaceful as possible.
Paul's desire was that even in his death, he would be conformed to the image of his Lord.
V. 11. If by any means I might attain... The indication here is that he would be willing to do anything that is needed or pay any price, make any sacrifice to obtain his goal.
Unto the resurrection of the dead. Paul was very firm in his teaching that all the dead would be raised from the dead. His desire here is that he would be in the resurrection of the righteous, based on the righteousness of Christ. He was willing to pay any price to be assured that his hope would be on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.
V. 12. This has been preached on many times. The picture here is of the Grecian races, and the pursuit of the prize at the end of the race. Simply put:
Paul was apprehended by Christ, or seized or drafted by Christ to be in this race. The goal he was given was to take the gospel to the unreached Gentiles, to be true to the gospel, and to be perfect even as he is perfect. He has not obtained his goals, but he is not discouraged. He has not nor will he give up reaching those goals.
He clearly admits that though he was considered perfect by the Jews standards, he was not perfect by God's standards, though he is pressing toward that perfection.
A. To use the words, "Well, we are all sinners," or, "No one is perfect," is to flee to a well worn excuse for unconquered sin.
B. To claim to be perfect, as some might try to do, is to be self-deceived. One who says this is saying that they are more godly than was the apostle Paul. It is a lack of knowledge about themselves, a lack of humility (pride) and deception of the worse sort. They are headed for a terrible disaster.
but I follow... He does not give up on the effort as a hopeless cause.
Christ apprehended, or called us with a purpose. We are to find that purpose for our lives, and press toward it without looking back.
V. 13. This is a verse I had to memorize.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended. Paul says that he has not obtained that for which he was apprehended for by the Redeemer, v. 12. But he is still going on.
but this one thing I do.. Paul had one goal, and this he perused with all of his might. His writings clearly present his goal to be like Christ in every area of his life and in everything he did, v. 10.
I must say that my goal could be summed up with, These many things I try to do.
forgetting those things which are behind.. I see this as the key phrase of this passage. This is also a key to the Christian life. If one is going to amount to anything for the Lord, one of the things that must be accomplished is forgetting those things which are behind. Our enemy knows that if he can drag up the past failures and difficulties, and keep our mind dwelling on them, he has us in one of his most effective snares.
The picture here is of a person running a race. That runner can not spend his time looking back. To do so will cost him the race, no matter how good of a runner he might be. He must keep his eyes on the goal that is before him, or he will not make it.
Paul says it like this in Heb.12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Here in Phi.3:13 he is talking about straining every effort to obtain the goal, and keeping his eyes on Jesus.
If we stop to think of the difficulties which we have had to overcome, or the troubles which we have met, we may become so dishearten that we will not be able to do anything now. The past can not interfere with what the Lord has for us now. And one of the most difficult disciplines we have to accomplish is putting the past behind. If it has been made right through Christ, it must be left behind, or it will drag us down.
There are some things we should look back upon:
1) past mercies and grace of God, and how he worked in our lives. But we must not become overconfident nor presumptuous from those past mercies. Nor can we live in past victories. Rather, we must press on to future victories in the Lord.
It is sad when Christians have nothing to look forward to except heaven. We need to be looking forward to the future here on this earth and what God can and will accomplish through us as we try to obey Him.
Each of us has a task to preform in His kingdom, His grace to perform it and the promise of His presence as we do it. We should be looking forward to the day by day opportunity to do His will.
2) past failures. That is, learn from our mistakes, which we seldom do.
And reaching forth as a runner would do in a race.
unto those things which are before. Let us not restrict this to an heavenly hope of the final victory over sin, reward, crown, meeting with the saints of old and loved ones, and the meeting of the Lord face to face.
As Christians there is plenty to reach for in tomorrow. There is work to do for the Lord tomorrow and the next day and the next. The runner is not finished until he is finished. He does not skip from his present place in time and space to where he wants to be. There is a lot of difficult steps between where he is and where he will be some day.
V. 14. (Remember that all of this must be viewed in the light of the Old Testament law and prophets.)
I press toward the mark as one who is running a race would do. His eye is on the goal which is set before him.
The context is talking of salvation and heaven. The goal and motivation of Paul was that heavenly WELL DONE, THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT. Everything he was doing was with this in mind. This would be comparable to the hope of the Old Testament saints as found in the "Roll Call" of the heros of the faith. Hebrews 11.
Paul's every action and decision was based on the eternal effects of that action. He would meet it one day and answer for it:
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
In fact, the next verse is stronger yet: 2 CO 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
Just as a runner is motivated be what lies ahead of him at the finnish line, Paul was motivated by what lay before him. There is judgment ahead: Either crowns and rewards or judgments for sin.
We are not really told what 2 Corinthians 5:10 consists of. We will only know when we get there.
ILLUSTRATION: From about 12 years old to about 15, when I went
to work with my dad in a gravel pit, I worked on a farm. I well
remember the farmers teaching me a couple of things. One of the
main points was preparing the field for planting.
We would lay off the field in 'lands,' or sections to work instead of trying to do it all at once. When laying out the section for working it was very important to set your eye on an object on the other end of the field, then you would drive toward that object.
If you would do that, you could go as straight as a string across a field a half a mile wide, with no problem. If you took your eye off of that object for a moment, you would start going astray just as sure as the world. You could look back and clearly see where you took your eyes off the object that kept you streight.
Paul is saying that he keeps his attention focused on that object off in the distance, heaven and the meeting of the Lord in judgment.
2 Corinthians 5:10 requires our highest effort for the cause of Christ.
Now, an application of this verse would be working hard at whatever He has called us to. What has the Lord called you to? What is the job that He has given to you in His kingdom work? What gifts and abilities has He given to you to accomplish that job with?
Let us keep our eyes on that calling and do it to the best of our abilities.
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