The apostle Paul thought it was the grown up way to think. To count all things loss for the sake of Christ. And not just reckon them as lost, but to actually lose all things in order to “gain Christ” (Php. 3:8). To be driven by a desire to know the reality of the power of Christ’s resurrection, even if it meant sharing in His sufferings and becoming like Him in His death (Php. 3:10). Paul believed it was the adult way of internalizing core Christian motivation. So it compelled him to keep on pressing on. To strain forward with eyes fixed on the prize. To relentlessly pursue “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Php. 3:14).
Such a view is what drove Paul to have what I referred to yesterday as a divine discontentment. And, it would seem, Paul believed that to have such a view was to have the right view.
But what grabs me this morning as I continue in Philippians is what God says through the driven apostle about those who don’t yet see it the same way.
Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
(Philippians 3:15-16 ESV)
What hits me first is that while we can teach truth, and though we are told to encourage, exhort, and even rebuke one another in truth, when all is said and done, it is God who reveals truth.
That’s one of the dynamics of the active agency of the Spirit within us, to lead believers into truth (Jn. 16:13). But more than just a theological statement to assert concerning the Third Person of the Trinity, it must be a way of the kingdom I actually believe. It’s a faith statement. To believe, really believe, that it is only God who can, and will, reveal truth to His children. I can be a spokesman. I can advertise truth. I can lead a horse to water, as it were. But it is God the Spirit who will sanctify the hearer by leading them to drink deep. To buy in. To make advertised truth their own.
I can exhort strongly. I can seek to teach persistently. I can even argue my Biblical case passionately. But, to quote a wise songwriter, “unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1). Said another way, I can teach, others can affirm, but when all is said and done, it is God, through His Spirit, who gives the increase (1Cor. 3:6) — who causes believers to grow up and mature in the faith.
But what I’m hovering over this morning is that, in contrast to his exhortation to press on, Paul also exhorts his readers to hold on.
Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
While Paul is pressing his children in the faith to take two steps forward, he is also careful to exhort them not to take one step back. That while there was more light to be seen, they should live according to the light they had already received. That though the implications of the cross were yet to be fully realized, they should obey whatever degree of truth they had already attained.
Kind of the “faithful with little, faithful with much” principle at play (Mt. 25:21). I can’t walk, neither can I expect others to walk, in the light of what I haven’t yet seen. But the light I have received — what I do know to be true of the way of the cross, and the way of the kingdom, and the calling of my King — is the light I’m to hold true to and walk in.
I am to hold on even as I press on. Walking in the light I have while pursuing the light I still need to receive.
Confident God will reveal that to me also.
By His grace. For His glory.