Philippians 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
There are many things going on in our world at this present time that need to be addressed. We have the continued situation in Ukraine. We have the change in direction of the Russian military to this situation. We also have the ignorance of the West to this event. Then there is also the Iranian unrest that is taking place. There are big and powerful governments that are involved in these various issues. It is all continuing to move things forward to the arrival of the antichrist. Just prior to his arrival, all true Christians will be removed from this earth. I believe there will be some shock as there are many today who believe they are saved, but they have no Biblical testimony of salvation. At this point, they are stubbornly insisting that all is well.
It has always been important to listen to what God says. That will never change. The apostle Paul learned the importance of this. After he was saved, he desired to know the true God better. He wanted to understand what the Christian life was all about. He was not interested in this as an historian or an investigative journalist. He was a true child of God and he understood that he needed to be much more aware of what that meant.
In verse 12 we see that Paul did not assume he had already arrived. There is much more that any child of God can learn. Having the knowledge of something is different than actually applying that knowledge to the life. Paul was motivated by the love of God that was in him, to grow in the Lord.
Paul desired to apprehend Christ Jesus. The word translated as “apprehend” means to “lay hold on”. The apostle Paul wanted a firmer grip of the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not want a firmer external grip. He wanted his life to be more Christlike. He did not believe he had arrived. He wanted to be challenged to grow deeper in Christ. His challenges that he faced were helping him to do that. God is good. There are people who face the same challenges but they take a different approach to the challenges. Few have the attitude of the apostle Paul.
I remember as a much younger pastor, facing some intense challenges in my ministry. I sought help from men that were older and I thought wiser than I was. I found their answers to be less than helpful. One group of men suggested that I would end up hanging myself with the KJV yet, because I was so convinced that It is our only and final authority. They did not mean I would take my own life, but that my stand on the Book would lead me to much greater trouble.
I cannot take any credit, but God showed me that the way forward was not through compromise. He showed me that I needed to get into His Word more and I needed to trust His Word in all things. I was resolved to do that and He blessed me with some good conferences that we could attend where I was challenged to grow closer to the true God and Saviour of my soul. Every man of God is given the same opportunity to grow. The challenge is whether we will take the mind of Christ and follow the example of men like the apostle Paul.
The apostle Paul did not align himself with compromisers. He wanted to apprehend Christ Jesus. Compromise will never get the job done.
In verse 13, he addressed his readers as “brethren”. Brethren are those that are related. Paul was related to the saints in Philippi through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what brings us into that One and true family. I was speaking with some cult members recently and they wanted to call me brother. I told them I was not their brother and did not want them referring to me that way. True saints are those who put their trust and confidence in the true God.
Paul knew he had not arrived yet. He needed to learn more. This was a man that was chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. Jesus Christ taught the apostle Paul for three years. Paul had now been in the ministry for a time as well. However, he was still alive and thus he needed to spend his time in seeking to know the Lord in a deeper way. He knew he had not arrived yet.
We see in verse 13 that Paul had one thing in mind here. He knew that everything he needed was found in following a very narrow path. That one thing was forgetting those things which were behind. He had learned some things already. He was not going to rest on those things. He was going to reach forth to those things which are before. He was not going to wait for them to fall into his lap. He was going to reach forward for them.
That is what we need to do as well. That is what the true local church is for. Church is not the place to go and relax. It is a place of fellowship. Fellowship is not just coasting. Fellowship is being challenged where we maybe did not think we needed to be challenged. We need the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts through the Word of God to cause us to reach for things which are before. Paul knew there was more he needed to learn. The true child of God knows he has not arrived. He cannot be content to just coast or idle.
In the Christian life, there is no room for coasting. Those who want to get out of the spiritual warfare while still alive, are compromisers. God shows His children that there is much for them to learn. There is a great need to move forward from where we are at. There is a great need to be challenged more from the Word of God.
In verse 14 the apostle Paul stated that he was pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Paul was not going to allow persecution to keep him from growing. He was going to continue to serve the Lord and learn how to do so more faithfully. Even though he was presently in prison, he was not going to try to figure out how to stay out of prison. He was going to spend his time learning how to be more effective for the Lord in his short life time.
Notice that he saw his calling as a high calling. There is no greater calling for any saint than to identify more fully with the Lord Jesus Christ. This calling comes from God. We do not need pep rallies. We need to hear from God. We need to be challenged to walk more obediently with the true God.
We mentioned the observation the enemies of God had made regarding Peter and John. The Judaizers did not like what Peter and John were doing and saying. However, they could see they had been with Jesus. That is what we need. That is the goal and that is the challenge put before us.
Today is the Lord’s Day. Every true child of God should be getting ready to go to a true Bible-believing church. No true child of God should be content with sitting at home and listening to a live-stream, unless you are sick. We need the fellowship of the saints. We need the direct challenge from God’s Word by being physically present in a good church. Our children need to see the importance of the Word of God in their lives.
We have some children in our church that take notes during the service. They are not doodling. They have a pen and paper and they take notes. I see them asking their Dad what the reference was that I gave if they missed it. They need to be paying attention and they need to be listening. They are not saved yet, but the more intense exposure they get to the truth, the more it can help them to see the importance of being saved. They need to learn to listen to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. We continue to pray for them to be saved. There will be rejoicing in heaven when that happens.