Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
Philippians 3:13 (NASB)
Not laid hold – I’m often asked by other Christians an interesting question. It goes something like this, “If an accident were to happen right now, and you died, are you secure in your salvation? Would you be saved?” And in my former years I always responded emphatically, “Yes!” But I’ve been raised under the influence of main stream Christianity – Paul was not. Paul admits that he himself is not even sure he’s obtained salvation through the resurrection of the dead (Phil. 3:11). How is this possible? Paul is much more inline with the teachings of Christ than I am. Paul’s earnest desire is to be found in Christ, to receive the righteousness of Him by God through faith, to know Him and the power of His resurrection. Me, on the other hand… well I’m just trying to balance my family and work. My battles are much smaller than Paul’s, my trials aren’t life threatening, and because of this, my conviction is quite insignificant compared to Paul’s. Yeshua is the complete center of Paul’s life, and don’t get me wrong, He’s the center of my life too when I’m not completely focused on work, or putting the kids down for bed, or helping around the house. So why am I so sure of my salvation when Paul isn’t?
I understand that Yeshua did the work for us. I know that He’s the Son of YHWH, and our Messiah, and that only through Him do we have salvation. And I think this is Paul’s point. Just previously in this chapter he explains how he puts more confidence in the flesh than anyone else because of his upbringing as a Jew, as a Pharisee. He’s got more reason than any other to rely on his own righteousness… but he doesn’t. It all fails in comparison to Yeshua.
I think I’m on the opposite end of that spectrum. In my upbringing, I’ve learned from many that I’m really quite insignificant in this world. My works are like filthy rags before YHWH. I’m a sinner and therefore have no way to please the Father. And so the natural progression would be… why try? Yeshua did it all for me, why do I need to bother with righteousness myself? As long as I just believe cognitively in Yeshua, then I’m good to go.
Or maybe… Paul and I need to meet in the middle.
Maybe I, like Paul, can count it all a loss for Christ (Phil 3:7) and forget what’s behind and reach forward. Maybe I need to concern myself more with righteousness and apply myself more as a tool for YHWH. I should commit myself in obedience to His law, His will. Maybe I can understand that the work I do in His name is no longer ‘my work’, but rather ‘His work’. Maybe I should lift myself up by grabbing hold of the hand of Yeshua and perform the work wherein God gives me to do. You see, I am significant in this world. I am an active member of the body of Christ, and when God chooses to perform His will… I’m ready to be that vessel through which it is performed. And in all this, I will know Yeshua and the power of His resurrection. In all this, I will reach for what is to come.
But ultimately, in everything I know, or think I know… one thing is sure. Whom He will save is His choice. Am I saved? Well, I sure hope so. I trust in God’s Word. But do I know for sure? After all, Yeshua warns us of many who knew Christ, did miracles in His name, and even prophesied in His name, and yet He didn’t know them because they were lawless (Matt. 7:21-23). As soon as I hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” – then I will know for sure. But until then I, like Paul, will continue to push forward daily and place Yeshua as my focus as I abide in Him.