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Reaching for the Prize A

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
January 22, 2020 3:00 am

Reaching for the Prize A

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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January 22, 2020 3:00 am

Grace To You
John MacArthur
Lighting Your Way
Lighthouse Baptist
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
The Daily Platform
Bob Jones University
The Voice of Sovereign Grace
Doug Agnew

You say why did God choose you, and then save you in order to make you like what is and what is the goal of your Christian life. That is the same thing for which you were saying the same make you like the sun and that purpose for which the Savior becomes a purpose for which eyes on the prize. What about you as you are living the Christian life. Are you pursuing the right prize. Are you focused on what truly matters. Consider that today on grace to you as John MacArthur begins a study titled reaching for the prize John with the idea of reaching for the prize in mind, I want you to share a story that I've heard you tell from your days as a college athlete and I'd love for you to share that I think it's the perfect introduction to this study yelled. I noticed her here talking about idea. I was a sprinter in college and I ran the hundred in the 200 and occasionally the 400 but I also ran in the what would be the 4 x 400 relay with three other guys and we were in we were in a big, medium, multi-university meet and we we came to that race it's using for the end of the day and we had a good lead leg and I ran second man, but I wasn't the fastest at that distance so give you two guys to make up whatever I might lose so will never forget a ran really good leg got a good hand off of the baton after the first leg and I ran probably the best leg I'd run and I came in holding first place and we had really a strong third and been a real blur for 1/4 so we were.

We were thinking we were in great shape. So remember hand the baton to the third leg and I watched him go down around the curve and got to the other side of the track and stop and walk off the track while and sit down and that was it. Obviously everybody get running. We were done. Our anchor never ever got the baton because he was to sit in on the other side of the track in the grass and I thought he must've pulled hamstring their tour is Achilles or something to to do that. So I ran across the grass and I said what happened what happened. He said Hodgson feel like running I was. I was incredulous. What what are you doing you're not in this alone. There's there's a lot at stake.

What about all the rest of us. You can't do that.

Of all the experiences I had in college athletics in my lot of them and you don't football and baseball and track and all that none is as vivid as that one in my memory, you're still frustrated about if I saw him today, I'd have a hard to because it was such a terrible thing to do, but at the same time was a great lesson oh what a profound lesson. You don't do that I think about what the apostle Paul said the things you've heard from me, the same commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

So that's really Paul to Timothy to faithful men to others also right that that's for generations. You pass the baton to the next one. I thought about that so often none of us as believers can step off the track.

We have to continue to run. We have to run to win. We have to run to reach the prize and that that's what I believe the apostle Paul is talking about in Philippians chapter 3 and this is going to be a tremendous study for all of us over the next week and 1/2. I'm going to help you see clearly your God-given goal in life and how he has designed for you to pursue it.

The studies to make a difference in your life. So stay with us. Yes, do stay with us. This series will pinpoint the main goal of the Christian life and it will also get very practical and show you what you need to do to reach that goal.

With that, let's get to the study hears John kicking off you series titled reaching for the prize.

Let's open our Bibles now as we come to the study of God's word to Philippians chapter 3 Philippians chapter 3 were going to be looking at a great great portion of Scripture verses 12 through 16. I am sure in many ways the most familiar portion in this whole epistle. Now obviously the heart of this passage is the very familiar 14th verse I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. The theme here then is pursuing the prize, the analogy is that of a runner who is running to win in order that he might gain the prize. The spiritual point here is the matter of pursuing the spiritual prize if you will.

Paul is talking about Christian efforts toward growth. Now he is just given his personal testimony of the experience of his own conversion from his viewpoint from verses four through 11.

He says when I saw the value of Christ's, and when I saw that salvation was only in Christ.

I took everything that once was gain and counted loss and I abandon it all for Christ. And so you had.

Then in verses four through 11 inside into the heart attitude of Paul at the time of his conversion when he discounted all of those things once precious put them all aside to embrace Christ in verses eight through 11. Then he began to recite what he gained in Christ.

Verses four through seven.

What was lost. Verses eight through 11. What was gain. And what did he gain in Christ. The knowledge of Christ, the righteousness of Christ. The power of Christ the Fellowship of Christ and the glory of Christ. Frankly, a quite amazing list of spiritual benedictions now saying that I sent all of this aside receive Christ and in Christ. I gained all of this might lead someone to assume that Paul had reached spiritual perfection. It might lead someone to assume that the beginning for him was also the end, or that the start was also the finish that having come to Christ.

He was instantaneously made perfect nothing more to become nothing more to seek nothing more to pursue. He had arrived. It is also quite possible that the Judaizers, the Jewish teachers who were plaguing the Philippian church were telling the Philippians that spiritual perfection was available if they would be circumcised and keep the law is also true that there were heretics floating around at that time who believed you could reach a certain level of knowledge in which you attain perfection.

So to answer the Gnostics who thought they had reached that level. To answer the Judaizers who thought they had reached that level through circumcision and law keeping. And to answer anybody else who might assume that because he had the knowledge the righteousness the power the Fellowship in the glory of Christ. He was therefore perfect. He quickly in verse 12 launches into a passage which is a total disclaimer of any spiritual perfection.

That's his intent in this passage, he has not arrived. He is not perfect.

He is still comfortable. He is still the possessor of his unredeemed flesh. He is still a sinner. Thus any thought of perfection must be set aside in favor of pursuing the perfection that every believer must recognize he doesn't have that support, Peter understood it when Peter wrote in second Peter 318 grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was saying the same thing.

Paul is saying here.

There is a growing process when you are saved. Yes, you receive the knowledge of Christ. Yes, you receive the righteousness of Christ positionally imputed to your account. Yes, you receive the power of Christ in your life.

Yes, you receive the Fellowship of Christ in communion with him.

Yes, you receive the glory of Christ, but not in perfection.

And so there must be growth. There must be the pursuit of the goal.

There must be the running of the race. That's his point, the pressing toward the mark you say will why why should I bother. I mean if I'm already entitled to have and I already have these things guaranteed to me and promised to me and I will someday enter into the fullness of them in the presence of God. Why bother to grow while in one sense it's kind of a moot point because if you're a new creation in Jesus Christ. You will desire to grow, so it's not as if you're going to stand there and say will not. I'm a Christian. I think I'll have to debate whether I want to grow or not having been born into the family of God, you are born with a hunger. In fact, in many cases, an almost insatiable hunger.

There is a built-in desire and drive and longing for growth, but apart from that there are some very important reasons why you should grow reasons why you should pursue the prize and run the race. First of all, it glorifies God and that's what a Christian is supposed to do with his life is bring glory to God. Secondly, it verifies regeneration.

It makes demonstrable the fact that you are truly changed because you are in the progress of making it visible that your life is being changed.

Thirdly, it adorns the truth. It lets you literally where the truth of God, so others can see it. Fourthly, it grants you assurance when there is spiritual progress in your life.

There is the sense that you belong to God because you can see his work and your calling and election becomes sure. Not only that it preserves you from the sorrows and the tragedies of spiritual weakness, which are not enjoyable to any believer any time.

Furthermore, pursuing the prize running the race seeking.

The goal protects the cause of Christ from reproach because when you live a godly life and you pursue the goal.

Your life is consistent with the character of Christ in the character he upholds in Scripture and thus are not a reproach to him seventh.

When you pursue the prize and run the race and grow spiritually. It produces joy and usefulness in your life and thus, you can minister capably to the church and finally it enhances your witness to the lost world. There are myriad reasons why, then, to run the race pursuing the prize. So Paul like a runner in a race is doing just that. Now let me add another footnote here the apostle Paul is trying to show the readers in Philippi that because he is a Christian does not mean he is attain perfection, but beyond that, I believe he is trying to teach all of us and all generations that perfection in this life is a goal, not an achievement. It is something you pursue, but never reach. I think this attacks effectively. The false doctrine of perfectionism or as it was called total sanctification or complete sanctification that is that a believer in this life on this earth before death can reach a place of spiritual moral perfection, and in fact some of gone so far as to say it encompasses the eradication of the sin nature that's perfectionism.

It basically goes back to Pelagianism to Arminianism, was crystallized in more modern times by John Wesley and became a very important part of Wesley and tradition Wesley and theology. The apostle Paul deals a devastating blow to this doctrine of perfectionism. Now verse 12 launches his thought. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

There is an instantaneous disclaimer ball is saying I have knowledge of Christ, the righteousness, power, fellowship glory of Christ. I have all the great benedictions that God can give. In Christ, but I have not attained moral, spiritual perfection in my own life. That's the disclaimer and then he goes on in verses 13 through 16. The talk about how we must pursue that now that basic thrust of the passage then is a call to pursue the prize. It's a call to pursue the goal the prize which is spiritual perfection.

We are to give our whole life to this. That's what he saying in verse 14 I press toward that the word press. Meaning I pursue. I chase it I run after now in this passage we have six principles for pursuing the prize and I want to share them with you. Six necessary elements. If we are to effectively pursue the prize number one and awareness of the need to pursue a better condition. Please note I didn't say a better position, your position in Christ is fixed by God's grace through Christ, but your condition must be improved.

You are not what you should be. You are not what you can be you are not what you will be someday when you see the Lord. So there must be beginning only an awareness of the need to pursue a better condition. It all starts with at dissatisfaction. Please note verse 12 not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect and that's where he starts an awareness that he hasn't arrived. Paul the apostle 30 years after his conversion is saying I'm not what I ought to be. I'm not what I am to be. I can stand here and echo that testimony after all the years of walking with the Lord in all the years of ministry. I am not what I ought to be.

I haven't arrived. I'm not spiritually perfect. I'm not morally perfect. I haven't reached Christ likeness. I have not reached God's perfect standard. I am not what I ought to be. I am still in process. There is still a pursuit in my life as there is in the life of every believer and his FB Meyer said self dissatisfaction lies at the root of our noblest achievements.

Whatever we achieve spiritually begins with dissatisfaction. I am not pleased with where I am in my spiritual life. I am not content with my spiritual condition. If you are content you have reached a very dangerous point is a point at which you will find yourself insensitive to sin and defending yourself when you are to be admitting your weakness in pursuing spiritual strength, so spiritual growth is whole pursuing starts with the recognition that you're not where you want to be. It's a runner at the beginning of the race saying the whole idea is to get to the end of this thing I'm not there I got a run this course. So Paul sought right. He knew what he had in Christ, but he knew also that he wasn't perfect so he says knows the first two words in verse 12. Not that that's an instant disclaimer to correct any erroneous impression that may have come from his words when he recited everything he had in Christ. He says not that I have already obtained it. The word here means to receive to grasp the seas to acquire to attain to obtain. I don't have it is what he saying I don't have it yet. What is it keep reading or have already become perfect. That's what it is I haven't become perfect.

I have not already perfect passive with continuing present results become perfect become complete become morally spiritually like Christ uses the word already twice and he's emphasizing that now. That's what already means now I have attained it.

I haven't attained it yet it still future. I'm not yet perfect. You say Paul, but you have the knowledge of Christ, yes, but first Corinthians 13. He says now we know in what, in part, then someday.

Shall we be known as we are known, but Paul don't you have the complete righteousness of Christ. Yes, put to my account. I do because I put my faith in Christ. But practically 771, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh, perfecting holiness in the fear of God and he includes himself with the sinful, Corinthians, as one who needs to perfect his flesh. Yes, he had righteousness, but not perfect practical outworking of that you say.

But Paul, don't you have the perfect power of Christ. Yes, I have the power of Christ.

But I don't have it so perfectly in my life that I never seem to never fail, and that's why God's ingredients well has been a thorn in my flesh and allowed me to be deep debilitated to keep my ego in check because if I didn't have this my Eagle would run away with me because of my many revelations. So I do not yet know in my flesh how to perfectly work with the power of Christ will Paul, don't you have the fellowship of Christ, yes, but it isn't a perfect fellowship.

I don't even know how to pray as I ought to pray, so the spirit has to make intercession for me with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Because of my ignorance.

So how can my fellowship be perfect if I can understand the things that the Lord understand, but Paul don't you have the glory of Christ.

Yes, in me is the indwelling spirit, but I am waiting verse 20 of Philippians 3. I am waiting for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of his glory.

I haven't yet attained that full glory.

That's yet to come. Choices like I have all these things, but not imperfection in my own life I must grow.

I must pursue the prize. Beloved. That's where it starts with an awareness that you're not there and awareness that you haven't arrived that you got a lot to learn and a lot to perfecting your life and a lot to yield over the power of the spirit of God and a lot more to know that you already know. And if you've gotten to the place where you feel satisfied. That's a very dangerous place to be very dangerous if you had enough prayer and enough church and enough teaching of the word of God and enough of the Bible and enough of Christian fellowship to satisfy you. You are in a very dangerous condition. For if not theological perfectionism. You have arrived at a sort of pragmatic perfectionism where you're as perfect as you care to be and that assumes that you're as perfect as God cares you to be when the truth is if you are not pursuing the prize with all your might miss judging your present condition.

Awareness of the need to pursue a better condition is where all spiritual progress starts you start out of blessed discontent, blessed dissatisfaction, a recognition you're not what you ought to be number two principal. If you are going to pursue the prize effectively, you must give maximum effort to pursue that better condition first to know you needed. Secondly, to pursue it. There must be maximum effort to pursue that better condition. Look at verse 12. Again, so he says I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold up by Christ Jesus, I press on deal Co. I run I follow after I pursue. I chase the Jews of a sprinter and the word means aggressive energetic endeavor. He says I'm running after this thing with all my might. There's no quiet is in here there is no crucified yourself. Let go and let God kind of theology here. This is the straining of every spiritual muscle. This is running to win. First Corinthians 9.

This is pursuing the prize with all your might.

This is fighting the good fight. First Timothy 612 second Timothy 47. This is running the race to win. Hebrews 12 one and two laying aside every weight in the sin that does so easily beset us, and looking at a Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who is the one before us. Paul say not run.

I pursue my chase. I haven't arrived maximum effort. Beloved. That's what it takes. It takes maximum effort using the means of grace provided to you by God to pursue spiritual perfection say what she after not follow marvelous verse 12.

I am pursuing in order that I may lay hold and always after a prize is after something specific that's right he wants to get a hold of something. The verb means to Caesar grass come after something what you running after Paul. Well, here it is.

I'm after that for which also I was laid hold up by Christ Jesus.

Know that is an fascinating state you see what he saying he saying I am pursuing the prize so that I may lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of my crises what you mean by Apple. I mean that I am pursuing the very thing that was the reason Christ pursued me to get that.

In other words, my goal in life is consistent with Christ goal for my salvation.

He saved me for a purpose. That purpose of his in saving me has become my purpose in my spiritual progress is a that's of very very significant truth, the reason Christ redeemed me has become the goal of my life. My will is now his well I want for me what he wanted for me and save me to accomplish say what was it what is it look at Romans eight Romans chapter 8 verse 28 and we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. Talk about Christians now follow this for whom he foreknew or chose. That's all believers. He also predestined to become conformed to the image of who the son know where you saved why did God choose you, and then save you in order to make you like what his son was the goal of your Christian life that it's the same thing for which you were say he saved you to make you like his son and that purpose for which he saves you becomes a purpose for which you live to see that's what were all about were all in a lifelong pursuit of Christ likeness and you may think that you have arrived at some point of spiritual perfection, but I think if you put yourself against Christ are going to be a little more realistic. Christ likeness is the goal Christ likeness is the issue here and it is that for which we were redeemed, then we might be made like his son. That's the point. Beloved is at a marvelous truth and fact and second Thessalonians 214 it says we been saved in order to gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What a statement. So Paul says look I make a maximum effort I make a maximum effort.

I am pursuing with all my might. That very thing for which Christ pursued me.

Why did Christ pursue Paul Simon, into the dirt on the Damascus road and redeem them in order to make them like Christ, he says that goal of Christ is become my goal. Michael is a worthy goal. Would you say does it require a life's commitment is it worthy of that. Of course, of course, so he says I run. I run to win that run with all my might I pursue hard after this goal, for which I was saying what is necessary that in pursuing the prize number one is the awareness that there is a better condition number two is the maximum effort required in moving toward that better condition. It demands all of me. All I have to give. This is grace to you with John MacArthur thanks for tuning in today. John's current study is showing you how to strive for Christ likeness and avoid anything that could keep you from reaching for the prize that is the title John study reaching for the prize. Keep in mind if you'd like a copy of this series for personal review or to give to a friend.

It's available in a four CD album you can also download these messages free at our website to get reaching for the prize. Contact us today to purchase the four CD album call 855 grace or go to our website TTY.and as I mentioned, you can also listen to reaching for the prize free of and our website also has John's sermons from 50 years in ministry.

All 3500 of those sermons free to download at TTY.and when you visit the website Make sure you take advantage of all the other free resources that you're going to find that includes daily devotions from John our blog grace stream which is a continuous broadcast of John's preaching beginning in Matthew and going. Verse by verse through the entire New Testament. Again, all of those free Bible study tools are available at TTY.that's our website for John MacArthur until Johnson. Keep in mind watch grace to you television Sunday's DirecTV channel 378. Check your local listings for cattle and times and then make sure you're here tomorrow.

John's going to look at one truth every Christian needs to embrace if they want to become more like Christ. That's Thursday when John continues to study, reaching for the prize. It's another 30 minutes unleashing God's truth one verse at a time recently

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