Summary: As believers we are in a running race. Every race has a finish line & a prize. This sermon focuses on how reaching for the prize in Christ should be the priority for a believer. A powerful & encouraging sermon to start the New Year with Jesus as the goal.
Complete list of New Year sermons at http://www.cityharvestagchurch.org/category/sermons-and-sermon-series/new-year-sermons/
Philippians 3:13-14 13But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
The theme here is reaching for the prize. I think Apostle Paul must have loved athletics and he uses it in his writings. The analogy is that of a runner who is running to win in order that he might gain the prize. Paul is talking about Christian effort toward growth. Many believers live stagnant spiritual life because all their focus every year is worldly gain, wealth and prosperity and then people think once they come to Christ, saved and baptized, all their work is over.
Earlier in this chapter, Paul gives his credentials in before coming to Christ. Philippians 3:5-6 5Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. He was a God-fearing, law-abiding Jew. So he assumed that all of these things made him right with God. Then on the Damascus Road he was confronted with the living Christ. And he saw that all of those works and achievements hindered him from being right with God. Then he abandoned everything and received Christ. Philippians 3:7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
In verses 8 through 11 then he began to recite what he gained in Christ when he was saved.
I. What do we gain when we receive Christ.
1. The knowledge of Christ.
Philippians 3:8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.
2. The righteousness of Christ.
Philippians 3:9 Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
3. The power of Christ.
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection…
4. The fellowship of Christ.
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
5. The glory of Christ.
Philippians 3:11 …and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Now, when Paul says he gained all these things in Christ, we may assume that Paul had reached spiritual perfection being just saved. So, to answer anybody who feels that because we are in Christ therefore we are perfect, Paul quickly launches into a passage which is a total disclaimer of any spiritual perfection. Philippians 3:12 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. He is not reached perfection. He is still temptable. He still has the flesh.
When God looks at us, he looks at us with the covering of the perfect Christ. But when we look at God we must recognize that we don’t have it yet, we have to grow. We have to mature.
Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There’s a growing process. When you’re saved yes you receive everything Christ has offered you, but not in perfection. And so there must be growth. There must be the running of the race in pursuit of the goal. That’s his point. The pressing forward toward the mark.
Some of you may say, “Why bother to grow?” If you need to reach heaven there should be growth. There should be a hunger and thirst for righteousness. But apart from that there reasons why you should pursue the prize and run the race.
II. Why reach out to the prize?
1. Glorifies God. When you grow, your life brings glory to God.
2. Verifies regeneration. It makes demonstrable the fact that you are truly changed.
3. Adorns the truth. It lets you literally wear the truth of God so others can see it.
4. Grants you assurance. When there is spiritual progress in your life there is the sense that you belong to God because you can see His work and your calling and election become sure.
5. Preserves you. It preserves you from the sorrows and the tragedies of spiritual weakness.
6. Protects the cause of Christ from reproach. When you live a godly life and you pursue the goal, your life is consistent with the character of Christ and the Scripture and thus you’re not a reproach to Him.