Saturday, July 08, 2006

Paul's Desire: "Resurrection From the Dead"

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- 10that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16Only let us hold true to what we have attained. - Phil. 3:8-16

Paul’s Desires

Knowing and embracing Christ is everything for Paul, so much so, that everything is considered "rubbish" compared to his relationship with him (Phil 3:8). Even though Paul is presently united with Christ, he understands that this relationship is not at its consummated and final state. So what is the futuristic (eschatological) state that Paul longs for? Is it being with Christ in a spiritual heavenly realm (Phil.1:21)? Or is it something else?

Paul's ultimate goal isn't just to be with Christ in the present or in heaven when he dies, but "for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (v.14), that is, to "attain the resurrection from the dead, which will happen when Christ comes back to fully establish his kingdom on a physical new earth and heaven (1 Corinthians 15).

Even though Paul knows that Christ will come back, he doesn't sit back and just “chill”, but he strives and presses forward to obtain “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:12-14). Just like Paul, we should also strive to obtain the "resurrection from the dead", so that we can fully enjoy Christ's presence. But how should we strive to obtain this prize?

How Should We Strive To Obtain the Prize?

First, we should know that God in his sovereign love in Christ is the one who provides the ultimate power in our striving and promises to one day complete it.

6And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6)

12Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil 2:12-13)

20But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself (Phil 3:20)

Second, we should strive for in humility and love for others

3Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phil 2:3)

Third, we should hold fast to God's word

16holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Phil.2:16)

Fourth, we should be partners for the gospel, the message that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of the universe

3I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:3-6)

2I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil 5:2-3)

Fifth, we should pray, especially when anxious

6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)

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