Goals And The Upward Calling


I listened to a great message by John MacArthur the other day. It encouraged me greatly; so much so, that I listened to it a second time, taking notes.  Later, I shared it with my kids.

Here are my notes to share with you today:

Pursuing the prize Phil. 3

1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,

4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. 7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

The goal is to be like Christ Jesus. vs. 8. Everything else to be lost v. 13…one thing I do… forgetting the other things, I press on toward the goal

Life focus

Paul was pressing on towards the goal so deeply that he was becoming like Christ. Everything else in our life spins off of being like Christ. I will worship and serve like He wants me to … I will relate to people like He wants me to. That is why I must let the word dwell in me richly.

Dwell on glory to be changed into his image. Fully formed in me. If I abide in Him, I will walk the way He walked. Make that the goal of my life. It’s outside of me…not in me. It’s beyond me, only the Holy Spirit can do this work.

I am not preoccupied with myself. If I focus on Him He transforms me.

I do not exist for my own needs to be met, but to serve Christ. Not to have my desires met. I cannot be content when my longings or needs are met and never will be.

Wrong preoccupations: There is no goodness in my happiness. If I have a problem in my life, I have to fix it. Somehow I will never be fulfilled until all my perceived needs are met.

This is false. This is a focus on self. We now hear all the time that Jesus will meet your every need. He is not here to serve us.

The satisfaction of human need is not the goal of salvation. You need to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. Sanctification is not that I am satisfied, but that HE is satisfied. See the man-centeredness instead of Christ?

“Faith looks out instead of in and the whole of life falls in.”

It’s not assessing needs, but knowing Him, focusing on Him and communing in Him, I become more conformed. If I focus on me, I get distracted. The goal is not my own needs or greater significance. The goal is to be like Christ.

Those who are successful seek after goals. They do uncomfortable things and give of themselves to meet those goals. They are not consumed with their own comfort.

Spiritual goals…equally so. Little thought of their own human conditions. I consider it all lost…I only want the prize.

Totally focused

We all are called to pursue the goal to be conformed. The whole Christian life… pursuing Christ-likeness.

To do that…

vs. 17. what will help us?

1. Must follow after examples…godly leadership. Get some models and follow them! Discipleship. It’s not just speech…it’s living it. This is why leaders are called to be above reproach. They set the pattern to become more like Christ. If the pastor fails to be the pattern, he shouldn’t be the preacher. Paul says.. follow the proper example.

2. Flee enemies. For many walk for whom I told you. They are enemies. Follow my example and the people who live the way I live in pursuit of the prize. You follow us because so many others are the enemies of Christ. Watch out! Some to follow…many to be avoided. These people do not announce they are enemies. They are subtle. They are among us. It takes discernment. They say they identify with Christ. They say they believe in faith in Christ, etc. but they are enemies. Matthew 12, 24, all through acts… false, as against the true… false claiming in the name of God. Paul’s’ epistles…endless genealogies, false teachers, no false doctrines, avoid not true teachers…2 Peter. Jude is concerned about this, as well as John in his three epistles. We must beware of the enemies who masquerade as friends… He has to tell them they are enemies because they are very subtle.

Be discerning!!! If we have a lack of precise, clear doctrine and teaching, as we do today, you have a lack of clear thinking…then you cannot have discernment. People become victimized with those who are enemies with the cross of Christ.

v. 18…many walk (daily conduct) of whom I often told you. Know God’s Word.


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