Faith Bible Church of Lake Charles
Don't Stop Now
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  • Don’t Stop Now

    Most people read biographies to satisfy their curiosity about great people. Often in hopes to discover the “secret” that made them great.
    Dr. Warren Wiersbe tells of a grade school assembly he was in many years ago as a kid. They were listening to an aged doctor who promised to tell them the secret of his long, healthy life. (Supposedly, he was a physician to the President of the United States at one time).
    He said they all sat there waiting to hear his “secret” to a long, healthy life. At the end of his address, the doctor told them, “Drink eight glasses of water a day!”
    Kind of a big let down, huh?
    In Philippians 3, Paul is giving us his spiritual biography, his past (Phil. 3:1–11), his present (Phil. 3:12–16), and his future (Phil. 3:17–21). We have already met Paul “the accountant” who discovered new values when he met Jesus Christ. In this section we meet Paul “the athlete” with his spiritual vigor, pressing toward the finish line in the Christian race. In the final section we will see Paul “the alien,” having his citizenship in heaven and looking for the coming of Jesus Christ. In each of these experiences, Paul is exercising the spiritual mind; he is looking at things on earth from God’s point of view. As a result, he is not upset by things behind him, around him, or before him—things do not rob him of his joy!
    In his letters, Paul uses many illustrations from the world to communicate truth about the Christian life. Four are prominent: the military (“Put on the whole armor of God”), architecture (“You are the temple of God”), agriculture (“Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap”), and athletics. In this paragraph, it is Paul the athlete. Bible students are not agreed as to the exact sport Paul is describing, whether the footrace or the chariot race. Either one will do, but my own preference is the chariot race. The Greek chariot, used in the Olympic Games and other events, was really only a small platform with a wheel on each side. The driver had very little to hold on to as he raced around the course. He had to lean forward and strain every nerve and muscle to maintain balance and control the horses. The verb “reaching forth” in Philippians 3:13 literally means “stretching as in a race.”
    It is important to note that Paul is not telling us how to be saved. If he were, it would be a picture of salvation by works or self-effort, and this would contradict what he wrote in the first eleven verses of Philippians 3. In order to participate in the Greek games, the athlete had to be a citizen. He did not run the race to gain his citizenship. In Philippians 3:20, Paul reminds us that “our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven.” Because we are already the children of God through faith in Christ, we have the responsibility of “running the race” and achieving the goals God has set for us. This is a graphic picture of Philippians 2:12–13: “Work out your own salvation … for it is God which worketh in you.” Each believer is on the track; each has a special lane in which to run; and each has a goal to achieve. If we reach the goal the way God has planned, then we receive a reward. If we fail, we lose the reward, but we do not lose our citizenship. (Read 1 Cor. 3:11–15 for the same idea, only using architecture as the symbol.)
    All of us want to be “winning Christians” and fulfill the purposes for which we have been saved. What are the essentials for winning the race and one day receiving the reward that is promised?
    We’re going to cover one of those essentials this morning. Let’s read.
    Philippians 3:12–13 NKJV
    12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
    “Not as though I had already attained!” This is the statement of a great Christian who never permitted himself to be satisfied with his spiritual attainments. Obviously, Paul was satisfied with Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:10), but he was not satisfied with his Christian life. The first essential to be a “winning Christian” is...

    Don’t Be Satisfied With How Far You’ve Come

    A sanctified dissatisfaction is the first essential to progress in the Christian race. Let’s look again...
    Philippians 3:12–13 NKJV
    12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
    Harry came out of the manager’s office with a look on his face dismal enough to wilt the roses on the secretary’s desk.
    “You didn’t get fired?” she asked.
    “No, it’s not that bad. But he sure did lay into me about my sales record. I can’t figure it out; for the past month I’ve been bringing in plenty of orders. I thought he’d compliment me, but instead he told me to get with it.”
    Later in the day, the secretary talked to her boss about Harry. The boss chuckled. “Harry is one of our best salesmen and I’d hate to lose him. But he has a tendency to rest on his laurels and be satisfied with his performance. If I didn’t get him mad at me once a month, he’d never produce!”
    Many Christians are self-satisfied because they compare their “running” with that of other Christians, usually those who are not making much progress. Had Paul compared himself with others, he would have been tempted to be proud and perhaps to let up a bit. After all, there were not too many believers in Paul’s day who had experienced all that he had! But Paul did not compare himself with others; he compared himself with himself and with Jesus Christ! The dual use of the word “perfect” in Philippians 3:12 and 15 explains his thinking. He has not arrived yet at perfection (Phil. 3:12), but he is “perfect” [mature] (Phil. 3:15), and one mark of this maturity is the knowledge that he is not perfect! The mature Christian honestly evaluates himself and strives to do better.
    Often in the Bible we are warned against a false estimate of our spiritual condition. The church at Sardis had “a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Rev. 3:1). They had reputation without reality. The church at Laodicea boasted that it was rich, when in God’s sight it was “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17). In contrast to the Laodicean church, the believers at Smyrna thought they were poor when they were really rich! (Rev. 2:9) Samson thought he still had his old power, but in reality it had departed from him (Judg. 16:20).
    Self-evaluation can be a dangerous thing, because we can err in two directions: (1) making ourselves better than we are, or (2) making ourselves worse than we really are. Paul had no illusions about himself; he still had to keep “pressing forward” in order to “lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold” of him. A divine dissatisfaction is essential for spiritual progress. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:1–2).
    Conclusion:
    So what does this mean?
    The knowledge that we will never attain “perfection” in this life shouldn’t stop us from moving in that direction.
    Also, let’s not be comfortable in our ignorance, thinking we know it all and are mature enough. We’re not there yet.
      • Philippians 3:12–13NKJV

      • Philippians 3:12–13NKJV

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