THE FINISH LINE

Paul points to perfection as the mark toward which he is running (Phil. 3:12).  Some are running for heaven or the crown of life.  If we run directly for the crown on the judge’s stand, we will surely be disqualified.  He says that those who run must run according to the rules or they will not get the crown (2 Tim. 2:5).  We can not run directly ‘to’ the crown – eternal life.  The prize is not the finish line. Paul said he was running “toward the mark for the prize.”  When he crossed the finish line, only at that time did he win the crown.  He did not earn it, nor was it free.  He had to run hard to win it.  When Paul was writing to the Corinthians about 54 AD, he had not ‘apprehended’ the crown (1 Cor. 9:24-26).  Even about nine or ten years later, in 62 AD, he wrote to the Philippians stating:

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.  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 (Phil 3:12,13)

Paul had not apprehended the crown six years before he died.  He had been apprehended so that he could apprehend the crown, but he had not won it at that time.  He was still running hard.  He was forgetting everything behind and pressing toward the mark for the prize, which is the crown (Phil. 3:14).

Paul used an interesting expression for what he was running toward.  First, he says he had not attained the resurrection of the dead (Phil. 3:12,13).  We understand that “the resurrection of the dead” and “the crown of life” go hand in hand.  He was aiming to ‘attain’ to the resurrection of the dead.  At the same time that he is running in order to attain the resurrection of the dead, he states that he is not yet perfect.  This time he uses the verb form of the word complete (teleios).

“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” (Phil 3:12).

He said that he had not been perfected, but was obviously running in that direction.  This testifies that Paul is not a hypocrite!   He was seeking to present every man perfect (teleios) but he was seeking for the same thing himself (Col. 1:28).  We note what it takes to present every man perfect.  He says that it takes preaching and warning each one in ‘all’ wisdom (Col. 1:28).  This is not a simple process.  God himself was working mightily in Paul to accomplish that task in all of his children.  Should we also not be aiming to present every man perfect in Christ like Paul and God (Col. 1:29)?

The word ‘wisdom’ is, at times, not understood in it’s immediate context in James 1:5.  Many talk about receiving wisdom from God, but what is the context?  What wisdom does our Lord offer us?  The context is the subject he gives in the three verses before.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect andentice, wanting nothing  (James 1:2-4).

The Lord has a pathway for growing to be ‘perfect and entire, wanting nothing.’  We need wisdom to accomplish the Lord’s eternal purpose.  This is not wisdom for our own purposes and goals – but God’s.  Paul mentioned the same goal many times (2 Cor. 13:9, Gal. 3:3, Col. 4:12, etc.).  Peter was also aiming for the same mark for the Christians (1 Pet. 5:10): as was Luke (Luke 6:40), John (1 John 4:17,18), James (James 1:2-4), and the Hebrew writer (Heb. 2:10, 6:1-3).  If we are faithful and are preaching the whole truth, the whole counsel of God, we will be free of the blood of all men (Acts 20:26).  If we preach the whole truth, we will surely have the same purpose and goal in mind that Paul had.

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