Jerry A. Collins
Payne Stewarts eulogy from Paul Azinger.
In Philippians 3:12-16 we learn of anotherís pursuit of Christ. The Apostle Paul lived in the Now/Not Yet. And this forms the basis of the reflections and challenge I am giving you.
What is it that he considers himself not attaining already? He is referring to gaining Christ vss 9 in such a way as to knowing him perfectly. In other words, referring to knowing Christ to such a degree that he is fully participating in Christís resurrection power and sufferings. He says he has not yet attained this kind of intimacy.
The use of already stresses the not-yet aspect of salvation in this present age. Even tho we already are new creations in Christ, possess Gods Spirit, delivered from this present evil age, he knows that there is still more to come in the future when all things are consummated in Christ and we are glorified and transformed. While we have received salvation already, the now, the rest will come later, the not-yet!
Even tho this is considered a monumental goal, that is to know Christ in this way, he did not quit but pressed on and striven completely overcome every obstacle and sin that would compromise and hinder this knowledge of Christ in his life. The idea of pressing on is strenuous effort and focus in this direction. To comprehend and grasp this intimate knowledge of Christ in his life, to fathom the mysteries and depth of Christ, involved his whole being. Intellect, emotion and will. Everything set in motion and driven by this pursuit!
Christ laid hold of Paul for purpose of Paul pursuing him. The reason
he is saying Christ took hold of him--referring most likely back to his
NB: The Xian life is the life of Christ reproduced in the life of the believer by the power of the HS in obedience to the Word of God.
NB: Realize that in the midst of your struggles that it was Christ who laid hold of you so that you might know him. He is on your side of this fight so do not give up, become weary in well doing or feint in your walk. But humbly come to him for the strength you need
The emphasis is on the fact of not achieving his personal ambition of knowing Christ perfectly. He was not yet perfect in an absolute sense. Nobody had achieved a state of Christian perfection in which there is no more need to know Christ or overcome sin and the obstacles that can hinder me from this. We are saved from the penalty of sin and are being saved from its power. Someday we will be completely delivered from sin even its very presence. So all of us can say in that sense we have not yet arrived!
However, until he returns we do not live in a vacuum but are governed by a new paradigm for living. It is single-mindedness, being focused on a single goal. No room for doubleminedness here. To do this requires leaving things behind, meaning anything you used to trust in. Let it go! It is over and you can no longer trust in that for anything. All of it must be abandoned and forgotten. A new paradigm for living must emerge!
That includes reaching out for the things ahead now. Straining ones energy and stretching out like a runner over the finish line in a race. Not allowing ourselves to become distracted in any way or by anything! What is it that lies ahead that we must be striving for like this every day of our lives here on earth?
It is the prize qualified as the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. This refers to final and complete salvation in the eternal state defined as knowing Christ perfectly and intimately without any hindrances and obstacles or sin any longer! This is what our eyes are to be fixed upon. Our gaze must be focused on! That fort which we run with discipline and devotion!
NB: There must be no other competing passion in your life. There is only one side of the grave to live for and it requires our devotion and dedication. The distractions of money, power, pleasure are powerful but must not deter us!
The idea of perfect here refers to being mature, complete or whole. Not perfection in sense of free from sin here on earth. The one who is perfect realizes the initial character of our present salvation offered in Christ and also knows that there is still much more to come in the future. In the meantime, this one who is perfect in the sense of complete, mature and whole, recognizes the strenuous nature of the Xian life, the necessity to go to war with sin and utterly defeat at every turn, and exerts all energies to work out his salvation like this Phil 2:13.
All of us are guilty of pursuing things on this side of the grave and can get caught up in a love affair with this world and its passions. We are assured that God will make known to us the nature of our misplaced passions or priorities or lifestyles. We are not told here how He will do that but told that he will. Other passages teach us about Gods discipline and convicting work but this is our Fatherís part ensuring that we pursue this goal in Christ. While we are to do our job, God will do His.
So the appeal is made to all of us to live up to the standard of teaching and ethics already given to us in the scriptures! We are not to depart from this while in the process of working through this life even tho we may be tempted to do so by circumstances, relationships, passions or opportunities that motivate us to sin!
(1)† Sinlessness in our present experience is not possible. While out lives here are to be marked by love for one another and intimacy with God, on this side of the grave we will never be free from sin. This should not be our goal but striving to know Christ must be.
(2) The prize for our pursuit is Christ himself at the end of the race. With our gaze fixed on him we ferret out sinfulness and replace this with Christlikeness!