Friday, September 08, 2017

Philippians 3:12

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Philippians 3:12, ESV)
Paul hasn't arrived.

It is quite possible that Paul has been in the Gospel Ministry for nearly 30 years at this point. And yet he still isn't there yet. He still isn't finished. God isn't done working on him. He has not attained a measure of "done-ness."

If Paul the Apostle takes this attitude to knowing Christ more... if 30-years-in-ministry-Paul takes this attitude to ongoing growth in the knowledge of Jesus Christ... How much more ought we?

So, what does Paul do? He presses on. He keeps at it. He keeps going forward.

D.A. Carson, in his commentary on Philippians, titled Basics for Believers, discusses Paul's continual pressing forward in his knowledge of Jesus by saying,
“Christians should never be satisfied with yesterday’s grace. It is a shocking thing for Christians to have to admit that they have grown little in their knowledge of Jesus Christ.” 
Notice that as Paul is continuing to press on to make Christ his own, it still isn't because he is seeking to earn or obtain a righteousness. In fact, he acknowledges that Christ has already handled that: Paul belongs to Christ.

You might say that his endeavors are now all about expanding his own understanding of what has already been done for him.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Philippians 3:11

that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11, ESV)
"that by any means possible" does not mean that Paul is unsure what will bring him to the resurrection, it just means that Paul does not know how he will get there. Maybe he will attain the resurrection of the dead after he has died. Maybe he will be killed for his faith. But Paul doesn't know whether or not Christ will return before his own end. Maybe he will attain the resurrection of the dead when he is "taken up" like he talks about with the Thessalonian Christians.

What Paul is sure of is that he will make it to the end. He will endure. And what his end looks like is less important to Paul than the surety that he will keep at it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Philippians 3:10

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:10, ESV)
This verse captures the essence of Paul's life.

Paul wants to know Christ. He wants to know what it is like to be filled with the same power that raised Christ from the dead and is now working in him. He wants to participate in the sufferings of Christ. And he ultimately wants to die in obedience to God the Father, the way Christ did.

One way to define Spiritual Growth is to define it as increasing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Living a more righteous life simply flows from this: it is a result of spiritual growth, not the growth itself.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Philippians 3:9

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (Philippians 3:9, ESV)
This was truly how it always was. Righteousness had always come through faith. Paul evidences this in Romans when he discusses how Abraham... who, before the Law and before he was circumcised, had righteousness credited to him because he simply believed God. (Romans 4:3; Genesis 15:6)

Paul wants nothing more than to have this righteousness and to help other to see this. He wants to liberate them from the bondage of attempting to earn our own righteousness. He desires to teach and preach the good news of the gospel to the world.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Philippians 3:8

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8, ESV)
Here we find the essence of genuine salvation: "knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."

For the opportunity to know Christ, Paul suffers loss. He doesn't just want to know who Christ is, he wants to enter into Christ's life. He wants to experience what Christ experienced. All of those things that Paul would have, at one time, considered to be of value, he now considers them to be rubbish (or dung). He does this to gain Christ.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Philippians 3:7

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 3:7, ESV)
All of those things, all of that effort, all of that sacrifice, all of that diligence, all of that zeal... not simply worthless, but an actual negative when it comes to the cross.

It isn't that the things Paul had done were bad things, though some of them were, it is that this righteousness by the Law actually worked against Paul's faith in the true messiah. That confidence in the life he had lived did no good, but only harm, in the ways of the Cross.

This is quite possibly because the way of the Cross is a way that realizes that we have nothing in and of ourselves to offer to Christ. The way of the Cross is a way that realizes that we cannot obtain, we cannot reach the righteousness that truly saves.