A sermon for the Watford church of Christ

‘One Thing I Do’
Last week’s lesson was on Philippians 3:13-14. Below are a few extra notes.

‘Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal’
We never get to the point where we have fully obtained all that God has in mind for our growth. Paul does not want his readers to get the impression he has ‘arrived’, nor that he is in despair at the gap between himself and Christ. He optimistically and faithfully continues to press on. What is the ‘all this’? Righteousness, resurrection from the dead, something else? ‘Paul means to say that he does not lay claim to having fully grasped the meaning of Christ at this point in his experience.’ WBC

‘but I press on’
Imagine movement, leaning forward and stretching. The word is used of the hunter going after their prey.

‘Jesus took hold’
Jesus took hold of Paul on the Damascus road. Since then he has continued to press on towards greater Christ-likeness. He has not fully grasped this, but he presses on to grasp what is his to grasp because Jesus grasped him.

‘I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.’
He may not be there yet, but that does not diminish his motivation. Rather, it increases it.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
He has tasted Christ and found him delightful. He wants more!

‘forgetting’ is in the present tense. Not, ‘having forgotten’, but deliberately continuing to forget. Sometimes we are reminded of things we would rather forget. By faith we ‘forget’ the failures and the victories to avoid the traps of guilt and pride.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
He keeps on running – the already but not yet of the Christian life. We are already saved, but not yet in glory. We live in this tension. Things go more smoothly when we accept this tension instead of fighting it.

‘goal’ means ‘goal-marker’. What is this goal marker? ‘anything or anyone that kept the believer from straying from the course of the Christian life or from slackening in the believer’s moral strivings.’ WBC

‘the prize’. ‘To know Christ fully and completely was the prize for which he had been striving ever since his encounter with Christ on the Damascus road.’ WBC

‘called’ – “He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thess 2:14; “those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Romans 8:30

Are there mistakes you have made that you find hard to ‘forget’ and hold you back from pressing on? If so, what one action could you take this week to make progress?
Similarly, are there victories you have enjoyed that cause you to be complacent and hold you back from pressing on? If so, what one action could you take this week to make progress?
Is the ‘prize’ clear to you? If not, what would make it clearer and more inspiring?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm