Philippians 3:12-16 (NKJV) says, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind."
In this text the Apostle Paul is talking about forward progress. He is speaking to the importance of growing in Christ. What is so awesome to me about this text is Paul’s radical statement of faith in verse 13, where he speaks of a willingness to forget his yesterdays. Understand that this statement he is making includes both his life prior to Christ and all he had seen and done in Christ. To truly appreciate the breadth and width of his statement of faith all you have to do is take a moment and reflect on Paul’s yesterdays. He was called the ‘Pharisee of Pharisees’, he breathed in and out persecution on the church, he had a conversion in Christ like few others we read about, he was miraculously healed, had a vision of Heaven so intense he said it was unlawful to talk about, he wrote most of the New Testament which includes this letter written to the church in Philippi while he was under house arrest in Rome. We could go on and on living in Paul’s testimony, yet he was willing to forget it all to gain the next thing in Christ. Paul was sold out and continually seeking the next thing all of Heaven had stored up for him. Like the Apostle Paul are you willing to let go, forgetting your yesterdays and pressing on to the next thing in Christ? As we journey through the rest of this passage my hope and my prayer is that the Spirit of the Living God would release unto you a supernatural courage and a willingness to let go of your yesterdays and press on to lay hold of all that the Spirit has made available.
Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit paints a beautiful picture in this passage of what salvation in Jesus Christ is all about. We have to understand that the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross opened the door for you and me and all who will call on His name to have life more abundantly on this earth as it is in Heaven. In Philippians 2, Paul’s instruction to the believer is to “work out your own salvation with fear trembling.” We are commanded in the book of James to be" doers of the word not hearers only", so that we will not be deceived. Praying a prayer, making a confession of faith in Jesus Christ is the starting point to a lifelong marathon to a finish line which is called salvation.
In our text Paul uses two phrases that express what salvation looks like. The first phrase he uses is “I PRESS ON” which is used twice in the text and its meaning refers to the action of chasing or pursuing. The second phrase he uses is “LAY HOLD OF” which literally means possess. When we put these two words together we see that our salvation is a life filled with pursuing and possessing. So the questions now become what are we pursuing and Who are we possessing?
Paul answers both of these questions in verse 12 when he writes, “that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” Jesus spent His entire life pursuing the cross and He did it with joy in His heart and a vision of you and me in His eyes. In the garden when everything heated up and swords were drawn Jesus said, “put the sword away” and then declared that He had the power to pray and the Father would release twelve legions of angels and stop it all. My friends, we are called in salvation to a life of pursuing, chasing and possessing everything that is available in Christ Jesus as the Holy Spirit reveals it to us.
There are three things the Apostle Paul speaks to that I believe must be at work continually in the life of every believer and follower of Christ:
1. We must live in a Continual State of Growth
In verse 12 Paul starts off by saying, "not that I have already attained or perfected, I press on that I may lay hold of." As followers, we like Paul must realize there is always room to grow. We have to remain like students always being teachable and receptive to what the Holy Spirit is illuminating through the Word of God. In the book of Romans it says that we are not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may prove what that good and perfect will of God is for our lives.
Jesus gave a gift to the Church in Ephesians 4 that we refer to as the fivefold ministry and in verses 12-16 He identifies the purpose of this gift “for the equipping, for the edifying, unity of faith, knowledge, maturing, effectiveness till we ALL come to the truth and knowledge of Jesus Christ”. Please understand there is and always has to be room in our hearts to grow and receive all that the Spirit of the Living God is revealing.
2. We must live in a Continual State of Hunger
In verses 13 and 14 the Apostle Paul speaks to a desire to not rest in yesterday but to reach forward and press into the vision that Jesus Christ had for him. When I think of living in a state of constant hunger I immediately think of the conversation Moses had with God in Exodus 33 where he cries out to the Father for more of His Glory. What is awesome about this conversation is the heart of the Father in response to the cry of His servant, “I will make all of My GOODNESS pass before you” and then He lifts him up to the cleft of the rock and releases His Glory. Nothing has changed if we want more - He is always willing to take us up to the cleft of the rock and release His GOODNESS! Jesus said it this way, “Ask and it will be answered, seek and you will find and knock and the door will be opened.”
There is only one thing that can fulfill you and I from the inside out and that is the greater revelation of the GOODNESS OF GOD. It is how He created us.
3. We must live in a Continual State of Demonstration
In verse 16 Paul says, “Nevertheless to the degree that we have already attained let us walk of the same rule and the same mind.” You have enough; the Word declares over you that all the fullness dwells in you. We have to take all that we have learned and received by grace through our faith in Jesus Christ and demonstrate it outwardly so that the whole world can see it, be touched by it and receive it just like we did! We have this promise in Christ that greater things will we do. As said in Philippians 3:16, it’s time that to the measure you have already received, walk in it. You have the “such as I have” living in you just like it was living in Peter and John at the Gate Beautiful.
Our walk with Jesus is a journey that has to be filled with a desire to: always grow, remaining hungry and live in the constant demonstration of it all. All of creation is groaning and waiting for the sons of God to rise up and reveal the GOODNESS of God that dwells in us.
Stay hungry, grow continually and demonstrate it to the world! Until next time enjoy the Journey!