Philippians 3:12-16 Press Toward the Goal WC McCarter
Moses was a man that knew God but wanted to know more. Some of my favorite passages in all of the Old Testament are the narratives following the golden calf incident. Look with me to Exod 33. Verse 13 says, “Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.” This was not the first time Moses spoke with the LORD and surely he had already found grace, yet he wanted more. Furthermore, in verse 18 Moses says, “Please, show me Your glory.” We must be people that have walked with the LORD for many years, seen marvelous things, known Christ, experienced His faithfulness, and still desire MORE of Him! What we need is a longing for more, for greater, for something higher . . . for God in Christ Jesus.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Frustration and Hope (12-14)
The Apostle had gained the knowledge of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the power of Christ, the fellowship of Christ and the glory of Christ, but says that he was not finished. There are great blessings given to us when we first are united with Christ, but that is only the beginning of what is life eternal studying, loving, worshipping, and treasuring Him. To become a Christian is a wonderful thing, there would be nothing better than to see some of you commit to Christ today, but that is only the beginning.
(v8) shows that the Apostle deliberately chose one phrase over another. Instead of saying “these things” he used “all things.” All things that could rival the surpassing greatness of Christ, including what has previously been named, can in no way be put in the same category. All things are rubbish in comparison to Christ. In verse 10 he says that he wants to know Christ. Well, Christ has already been made known to him. What does he want now? He wants to know more of Him, he wants to know Him better, more fully, all of the power of His resurrection and His death and His life.
The future belongs to those who persevere! And so we reach out for the future knowing that Christ has already reached out to us! You see, Paul may have been correcting a perfectionist idea in Philippi. It may be that the Philippians were defending themselves against the Judaizers by claiming that they needed no works because they had already gained perfection. They needed to defend themselves, but not with that claim.
(v14) The question is, what are we reaching forward for? What is the prize? What is at the end of the race? The answer is Christ Jesus! He is the goal and the prize, He is at the end of the race. He offers salvation, life, love, blessings; all of the treasures of God are hidden in Him. Paul, and all of Scripture, views Jesus as having riches bound up in Him that are endless (Col 2:3). We will spend all of eternity getting to know Him better and the better we know Him, the better we know God. The upward call of God is possibly the picture of a winner being invited to the elevated stage to receive the prize. God stands in the person of Jesus and ushers us into His presence—into the winner’s circle, onto the champion’s platform. I have always been one of the most avid sports fans, but I haven’t kept up with any of them over the last couple of years. Yet, I did watch the NBA Finals (I love basketball), and I was thrilled to see that standing on the podium were several bold Christian men. The most notable player, a North Carolina native, was the regular season MVP and made clear that Christ is his Savior and Lord. The Finals MVP was another man who knows Christ as Lord. How awesome it was to see them stand on that podium as champions. Yet, there is another podium that we all can stand on and that far exceeds any victories on earth.
We all have a past that is filled with both short-comings and accomplishments, but we should not let either control us. If we are constantly revisiting our faults we will never progress into the future with any sort of joyfulness. If we exult in the successes of the past and never work into the future, we will never know that there are greater victories ahead. Now, does this mean that we blot out our pasts? Certainly not! We should let our past mistakes teach us and our past successes encourage us, yet we are fully aware that there are better triumphs ahead. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
2. Growth through Obedience (15-16)
Those who are mature should be in harmony with what Paul has just said. We have to leave our minds open to God’s leading through His word. How many do you think come here on Sunday morning open to the instruction of the Lord? Maybe not as many as we would like to think!
We must all live up to what we already know. If you don’t fully understand the treasures of Christ now, continue to seek knowledge of Him, continue to seek the power of His resurrection, continue to seek to fellowship with His sufferings, and the Scripture says that God will clearly reveal to you the beauty of His Son, the splendor, wonder, and riches that are only found in Him.
Conclusion and Christian Application
It is a mistake to think that once Christ has been made known to you and that you have responded appropriately that you have been made perfect instantaneously. With this mind you will not hunger or thirst for anything. Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” The apostle says in our text, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected,” and then “I do not count myself to have apprehended.” Something more is needed. A hunger and thirst for something more . . . a righteousness beyond ourselves.
There are loads of anxious activities that fill gaps of time and steal our attention, but these things can never satisfy our souls. What we need something different, something better. We need to cultivate our relationship with Almighty God.
In a day and age when people know less and less about the Bible and the things of Christ, we do not need less of the Word of God; we need more. How well do you know the Bible? Listen, we have three services on Sundays, which are our only services for the week, and I am not willing to have less than three. Still, most of you are not taking advantage of the opportunities that you have to be in these services and to have your kids in church. Is one hour a week doing the job? Are you saturated with the Word of God? You know that we live at a point in American history when we are under attack. There are pressures, persecutions, and enemies at every turn. I’m telling you now, you need to gear up for what is to come. You need to forget what is behind and strive for what is ahead. The best way to do that, really the only way, is to spend more time in the assembly of the saints, not less time; more time in the Word, more time in prayer, more time strengthening one another in the church.
Some of you think that you are spiritually above and beyond everyone else and that you do not need to strengthen your faith. Let me encourage you to follow Paul’s example and strive ahead not thinking that you have already arrived. Others of you have allowed one thing after another to distract you from the things of Christ. Family is good, but it must not come before God, especially some of the petty things we find ourselves doing. Work is good, but it is not more important that God. Recreation is cool, but what about your faith? Do not let anything get in the way of worshipping the Lord, getting to know Him better, trusting in Him, treasuring Him, being held accountable by other Christians, and, in turn, supporting and encouraging your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Let us. . .
1. Commit ourselves to Christ, His cause, and His church.
2. Have a willingness to take risks (faith adventures).
3. Develop our spiritual gifts so that we can serve better.
4. Dream out into the future of how we can use our lives to glorify God.
5. Have a willingness to sacrifice in the present for a prize in the future.
6. Be satisfied and yet not satisfied at the same time.