Living Up to What We Are in Christ
10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
In the past two weeks we have examined Paul’s foundational goal and desire in life. Paul wants to know Christ. He wants to know His Resurrection power. He wants to share in fellowship with Christ through life’s suffering. He wants to follow Christ’s pattern of dying to self in order that God’s will and glory might be manifested in his life.
From what you know of Paul, how well do you think he is doing? Paul’s salvation experience is described in Acts 9. From there to Acts 11 at the end covers seventeen years. Acts 13 covers Paul’s first missionary journey, Acts 16-18:22 covers Paul’s second and greatest missionary journey. We might should call them meanderings, because He moves from place to place and stays in Corinth for at least a year and a half. It is during the second journey that Paul plants the church at Philippi. And by the time Paul writes to them, several years have passed. He has been all over Greece and Turkey sharing the gospel to people and helping them to follow Jesus Christ. By the time he writes here the letter to the Philippians, he is older, physically beat up, he has accomplished more than any other Apostle that we know of. We might think it is time for him to retire!
And this is why Paul’s attitude in our passage here today is so amazing. When did Paul’s time of service to Jesus end? Most folks say around 64 AD. Jesus is Crucified in either 30 or 33 AD. Paul is saved three or four years later. Let’s say 30 AD for Jesus, add three for Paul’s conversion and 17 for preparation, he begins his missionary work around 50 AD. This gives him 14 years until he dies. His life is packed in full of working for Christ! And Paul says, “not that I have alredy attained it!”
We can see from the life of Paul and from what he says in this passage that in our relationship with God,
- Salvation is the Beginning
In Paul’s life: Acts 9: 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Paul’s salvation is only the beginning!
And so also we, when we are saved, when we decide to believe in Jesus,
- We have not arrived
“Let’s get ‘em saved! And the goal here is to get people to raise a hand, repeat a prayer and then be baptized. Those are all good things. But, other than baptism, there is none of the rest of that stuff in Scripture.
If you want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are gonna have to realize that He is going to demand to have first place in your life. We have to wrestle with that. And you can’t be safe by looking at other people and comparing to them!
We are saved to follow. We are saved to serve. We are saved to demonstrate the love of God. We are saved to fit into God’s created order. Let your light shine. You are the salt of the earth.
- Be humble about what you are
If you have had some success in finding a place to serve, in serving well at home and at work. If you are serving in the community and are enduring hardship with a mature attitude, that is awesome. Don’t assume that you are done with what God wants from you! There is another chapter in your book that is yet to be written. Plant a tree! Take a class, start working out. Invest in the future! And if you have to make changes in your life that make you more able to pursue the future, then do that.
- Be excited about what you can be
Let your light so shine before men that they see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. What men? Family members, co-workers, friends, people in the community etc.
- Press On for Christ’s Purposes for You
- Who are you
Use Ephesians 5-6 as a guide.
Ephesians 5:15 Be careful how you live, not as unwise, but as wise people because the days are evil. You are not guaranteed that you will live in a manner that is good!
Ephesians 5:18 be filled with the Holy Spirit
Husbands and Wives, Parents and Children, Working relationships.
Think about Matthew 5:
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25: 14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
The context of this parable is in being ready for Jesus to return. And the next parable talks about what using what God has given you looks like: Sheep and the Goats:
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
- Who or what can you be?
What is Christ’s calling on your life?
What are your gifts?
What are your unique life experiences?
What are the needs that you see in all of God’s created order that you can help make right?
- How can we help others follow Jesus?
How can we define the win here?
- Anything that we can do to help people move toward God is a win.
- This means that anything that we do to improve a person’s attitude toward God, acts of service, love, caring etc. is a win.
- Anything that we can do to increase people’s knowledge of the truth. We need to be able to quickly explain who Jesus is and the necessity of Jesus’ death for our sins and what it means to believe.
- Every person who is following Jesus Christ has a testimony. There is a reason that you have decided to trust in Christ for your life. That is your testimony. Your testimony changes over time. What is the benefit for you in trusting Christ? It is very important that the testimony that you share is YOURS!
- Be able to explain why Jesus died, and what it means to believe in Him.
III. Practical Ways to Pursue A Righteous Life
So, what lies ahead for you? How can you know?
- Spend time studying Scripture
This is where we will find the standards for how we are meant to live. This is also where we will find other standards exposed and corrected.
- Be prayerful about your life
If you have not arrived, then you have a destination in mind. God wants to manage that destination! Does it matter how well you are doing at loving your spouse? Are you kidding?
- Make sure you are denying self to live
If we are continuing to grow, then there should always be areas of our lives where we can see that we are dying to self in order to live to Christ. If there are none of these areas, then we need to ask God why. This is the knowing Christ, and the power of His Resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings becoming conformed to His death, in order that we might somehow attain the Resurrection of the dead.