Summary: People will let you down. You will fail. So determine now to be people who PRESS ON to the end.
In this series, I’ve been telling you stories of four heroes of the faith. My hope is that these heroes would stir your soul to follow Jesus more closely, and you’d have new stories of the faith to tell your children, and your children’s children. (Phil 3-typically go thru bible).
Each of these stories is rooted in a biblical truth, but today’s story has less to do with a particular doctrine, and more to do with a biblical attitude we desperately need to hear and embrace. It can be summarized in these 2 words…Press On Phil 3:7-16
7-11…knowing and following Christ, even into suffering for the sake of the gospel was the driving passion of the apostle Paul. Compared to the surpassing value of knowing and following Christ, everything else was garbage. In other words, if you could imagine a giant pan scale, and if you put in the one pan the value of knowing Christ and following him, and then if you put in the other pan, everything else you can pursue in this life…money, sex, power, position, fame, fortune, bigger house, cooler car, nicer clothes…Knowing Christ and following Christ would be of such greater value than all those other things combined, that stuff would seem like a pile of garbage in comparison. He says, ‘I would gladly lose all that stuff, to gain more of Christ.’
And this wasn’t just an academic exercise for Paul. He didn’t just consider all things loss, he actually lost them (8b). Paul wrote this letter from prison because he had gave up everything in the pursuit of his calling in Christ.
12a…Paul doesn’t think he’s reached perfection yet. When we come to faith in Christ we’re made perfect in the sense of being justified and forgiven in full for all sin, but it just begins the process of sanctification where we live out our new faith in these flawed bodies, seeking to follow Christ more and more closely with every passing year, becoming more and more Christlike. And in this life, none of us will ever be done with the sanctification process. Not even the apostle Paul, who wrote and influenced a huge portion of the New Testament, and gave his life for the gospel. Even Paul, was like, ‘hey, I have a long way to go.’ But, here’s the key for the apostle Paul, the key for every hero of the faith that ever lived, and the key for every person in this room seeking to live out their calling in Christ…It’s summarized in 2 words…PRESS ON!
12b-14…Here’s what I do…I don’t give up…I PRESS ON. I believe Christ has taken hold of my life for a reason. He wants me to be in relationship with him, and he wants to use me for his kingdom purposes. Christ took hold of me for a purpose, and I’m going to tenaciously press on in the pursuit of what Christ has called me to. I’m not going to let past failures define me or slow me down. Forgetting was is behind, I’m going to strain ahead with all my might toward what God has ahead for me. (That doesn’t mean you don’t seek to correct past wrongs or reconcile broken relationships, but those things don’t own you).
There were a lot of things in Paul’s past that could have owned him. He was a murderer of Christians prior to coming to faith. He destroyed families and left orphans in his wake. He was a cruel man. But he’s not letting his past slow him down from what Christ now called him to do. Mature people are not perfect, but here’s what they do…they PRESS ON in the faith and their calling.
Then Paul goes on to say, ‘this tenacious attitude of pressing on should be true of every Christ follower,’
v.15-16. All of us in Christ, have been taken hold by him, for a purpose. He wants you to ever pursue your relationship with Christ and you’re obedience to your unique calling to make Christ known to the world. Everything else you’re pursuing in this life should be considered garbage by comparison. Christ did not take hold of your life to simply have you fill a seat on Sunday. He has a divine grip and calling on your life, and that relationship and that calling should be your lifelong pursuit.
And oh is that a message we need to hear in the church today. Can I just speak plainly to you…the church has way too many whinners and quitters. “We used to go to church, then someone did this thing that made us mad, so we don’t go much anymore.” “We were really involved, but then the church grew, and it just doesn’t feel like the same church anymore, so we come to church, but we’re not really involved anymore.” “I used to follow Jesus, but then this painful thing happened in my life, and I just can’t follow him anymore, since he let that things happen.” “I put my name on a card to volunteer, but nobody followed up with me, so I guess I just won’t serve.” “I used to serve in this ministry, but somebody did something that hurt me, so I don’t serve anymore.”