TEXT: PHILIPPIANS 3: 12-14
READING: ISAIAH 43: 1-21
SUBJ: The example of Paul in pursuing Christ with specific aims in mind and with a particular hope and expectation.
AIM: That we might here be inspired by the example of Paul and others in having their focus concentrated on Christ alone and looking forward to fellowship with Him for all eternity.
INTR: Having stated his personal objectives in verses 8 - 11, Paul proceeds to describe the manner of his personal pursuit of these things.
1. We must ever avoid the thought that we know enough, attained enough, have accumulated enough credit or any other such things that would suggest anything contrary to what Paul says here.
2. The objectives Paul described all have a continual application. The Christian life is not one of status quo, it is ever moving as it is living waters ever flowing from within.
3. While we are taught patience, we are never taught complacency. We are directed by precept and example to be actively pursuing these things described here.
THESIS: The pursuit of Christ is the primary occupation of true believers, and such a pursuit will assuredly result in victory and the prize of the High Calling of God shall be enjoyed forever - if indeed it is sought after.
I. Apprehended and Apprehending (v. 12)
1. "Not as though..." That is, just so there is no confusion as to where Paul stood.
1) Consider what Paul knew and had experienced and attained.
2) He would rather enforce that the perfection seen in Christ is the goal.
3) Paul did not claim this perfection despite his Apostleship.
2. He would have us understand the will of God for us in Christ.
1) The plans of men compared to the example of Paul. See James 4:13-17.
2) To apprehend - eagerly take possession, to possess, to comprehend
3) Having been apprehended - We consider God's redemptive purpose for us with Heaven as the divine aim.
4) And that our desire be found in harmony with Him and His purpose.
5) See: Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand. Proverbs 19:20-21.
II. Forgetting and reaching (v. 13)
1. Paul had no thought of "resting on his laurels."
2. From the Old Testament prophet: Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
3. The things behind are to be forgotten and we consider what they are:
1) The life before conversion as in Paul's example and see v. 8
2) But, even his life as a believer and an Apostle did not warrant a backward look (not that we forget what we have learned, but that we do not focus on what we have done).
4. Not just thinking about what is before, but literally reaching or stretching out for it.
1) In pursuit of Christ's person, example, and attainment (especially Heaven).
2) The metaphor here pictures the racer leaning forward at the tape.
III. The mark and the prize (v. 14)
1. The racer sees a mark - we see Jesus and fully desire to fully attain to His holiness and acceptance with God.
2. The racer sees trophies and prizes - we see Heaven with Jesus there - the true prize and see:
1) 2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
2) Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
3) 1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
3. This prize is of the "high calling of God." It is an upward call to a place of honor and distinction with Christ - 2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue...