Pressing on Toward the Goal

MEMORY VERSE: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 3:14


MUCH of the difficulty in the Early Church resulted from the fact that there was a change of dispensation in the time features of the Lord’s plan. The transition—from the Jewish Age and the Law Covenant to the Gospel Age and the covenant of grace—was very difficult for some of the Jewish brethren.

As a consequence there were Judaizers who went among the brethren teaching that it was necessary to conform to the Law Covenant as well as the covenant of grace. This was disrupting as well as divisive. And in our lesson today the apostle points out to the Philippian brethren, and to us, that salvation is not attained through the law or works of the flesh, but through the blood of Jesus Christ.

The apostle expresses the thought, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”—Phil. 3:8,9

The apostle states that righteousness is the gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ. And as for Paul, the glorious objective that is made possible only in this way is, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”—vss. 10,11

This is the Christian’s goal—to attain to the resurrection of the dead; that is, the first resurrection. The Revelator expresses this glorious goal thus: ‘Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”—Rev. 20:6

But to attain to this goal, the apostle states that he must be made conformable to Christ’s death. This does not mean that Paul, or we, must die on the cross as Jesus died, but rather that we must yield our lives in sacrifice as he did, surrendering our own wills and accepting only the will of the Heavenly Father, to serve him and his cause faithfully even unto death. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Paul said, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”—II Tim. 2:12

Of Jesus, the Apostle Paul said, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and lacing made perfect [mature], he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”—Heb. 5:8,9

And so with us. In the process of laying down our lives, of suffering, we learn to obey the will of God under difficult and trying circumstances. These experiences, in addition to teaching obedience, are the means by which we develop the fruits and graces of the spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.—Gal. 5:22,23

And these things are the mark of maturity in Christ. This is the goal toward which we press, knowing that if successful in this, we shall have the glorious reward of sharing in “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 3:14

“What shall we than say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”—Rom. 8:31-34

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