Elder Vernon Johnson

   
 

Philippians 3:10-16

10  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

That I may know him…  Paul is not saying that he did not already know who Christ is.  Paul had the Damascus road experience in which the Lord revealed himself to Paul.  He knew him from that experience.  He also knew him from the experience of the new or spiritual birth: Heb. 8:10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest."  Paul also knew Christ from the leadership of the Holy Spirit; from his personal experiences of discipleship; from divine revelation; from the operation of the spiritual gifts within him; etc.  Now, Paul desired to know Christ in perfection by walking in his footsteps and by having his life conformed to the life of Christ.         

And the power of his resurrection…  All of the elect will experience the power of the resurrection in the morning of the resurrection of these vile bodies from the grave.  However, this is not what Paul is alluding to when he expresses the desire to know the power of Christ's resurrection.  Christ was indeed risen from the grave by the mighty power of God.  Paul was desirous to obtain to that state of perfection while he walked here in this life.  He desired to be perfect in his life walk and to live a life of perfect obedience to the praise, honor, and glory of God.           

And the fellowship of his sufferings…  The sufferings of Christ on the cross suffering the eternal punishment of God for the sins of the elect cannot be duplicated by the elect.  However, Christ also suffered many other things as he fulfilled the law to a jot and a tittle.  He suffered numerous persecutions.  He suffered beatings by the Jews and the Roman soldiers.  He was despised and rejected of man.  He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with our griefs.  Paul had already at the time of the writing of the book of Philippians suffered many things at the hands of men:  

2 Cor. 11:23 "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities."       

 One thing that Paul had not yet suffered was dying for the cause of Christ.  This he would later do at the hands of the wicked Roman emperor Nero: "being made conformable to his death."  Paul died for righteousness sake. 

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead… As one of the elect, the body of Paul will be raised in the resurrection of the dead at the last day.  Further, Paul was assured of being one of those whom Christ had died for and who would be raised in that great day.  Further, Paul knew that nothing he could do in this life would affect his being one of the elect and attaining to that resurrection in the last day.  This, however, is not what Paul was speaking about.  Paul was speaking of trying to live the same life of perfection in this life that he will live after the resurrection of the body unto perfection.       

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  In other words, Paul is stating that he had not yet attained to a state of perfect obedience of discipleship in this life that he will have after the resurrection.  However, he states his desire to follow after in an effort to attain to that state of perfection in his daily walk as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  The word, apprehend, comes from a Greek word meaning to eagerly attain, seize, or possess.  Jesus Christ has eagerly attained, seized, and possessed us as the elect of God.  He paid the redemption price.  He quickened us by the Spirit.  He will raise us up at the last day.  Likewise, we, along with Paul, should be eager to attained a perfect walk of righteousness in our daily living.  We should follow after the word of God with zeal to attain a perfect walk with Christ.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Let us all acknowledge that we have not yet apprehended to a state of perfection in our daily walk with Christ, but at the same time forgetting those things which are behind, let us reach forth to those things that are before and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.        

Let us daily walk a little closer with God.  Let us daily put away troubling sin in our lives.  Let us strive to walk as near perfection in our daily lives as we can attain unto.  There are many things behind in our past that we cannot do anything about.  We cannot relive our past life.  However, we can strive to live the rest of our days so as to honor and glorify the one who has loved us with an everlasting love and who died on the cross to redeem us from our sins.  Let us have a mark or standard of perfection to which we are striving and then let us press daily toward that mark.  We attain this prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus when we attain to the resurrection of the dead in our daily walk of discipleship as we will be when we are resurrected at the last day.           

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.  There is a sense in which we are already perfect.  We are perfect in the sense that we have no charge against us before a just and holy God: Rom. 8:33 "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."  Christ has made us perfect in righteousness before God.  As we are perfect in righteousness in judgement before God, now let us strive to become perfect in our daily walk as the disciples of Jesus Christ.           

Further, if we should deviate from in our mind from striving for perfection in our daily walk, we are told that God will reveal this unto us as well.          

Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.  For each of us that are striving to be the disciples of Jesus Christ we have attained to various degrees of success in our walk as disciples.  We should not be satisfied that we are further down the road than when we first began, but continue to strive to attain to a state of perfection in our walk as disciples that we may more glorify God in our actions.