Philippians #8 - Pressing Forward
Text: Phil. 3:12-21
Thesis: To encourage Christians to press on with a single-minded focus of achieving Heaven.
(1) In the movie “City Slickers,” Billy Crystal plays a confused, dissatisfied thirty-something character with a vague sense that life is passing him by. Jack Palance- ancient, leathery, wise to the ways of the world (“a saddlebag with eyes”) – asks Crystal if he would like to know the secret of life. “It’s this,” Palance says, holding up a single finger. “The secret of life is your finger?” asks Crystal. “It’s one thing,” Palance replies. “The secret of life is pursuing one thing.” Somehow this resonates deeply with Billy Crystal’s character. His life is scattered. He is torn between his obligation to his family and his desire for career advancement; between his need for security and his appetite for excitement. He is divided somehow. His life is about many things, and so, he senses, it is about nothing. (quoted from The Life You’ve Always Wanted, by John Ortberg, pg. 175).
(2) After describing his past and his decision to leave it all behind in order to gain Christ, Paul now stresses the need to remain focused on his ultimate goal and to do everything possible to achieve it.
I. First, we must acknowledge that we are not there yet (vv 12-13a.).
A. Although Paul was a Christian and stood to gain everything that Christ will give to the faithful, he realized that he was still running the race and had not yet crossed the finish line.
B. The point is that all Christians must always “keep at it” so that they will cross the finish line and receive their crowns.
II. Second, we must let go of the past (v. 13b.)
A. “‘Forgetting’ did not mean obliterating the memory of the past (Paul has just recalled some of these things in vv. 5-7), but a conscious refusal to let them absorb his attention and impede his progress. He never allowed his Jewish heritage (vv. 5-7) nor his previous Christian attainments (vv. 9-12) to obstruct his running of the race” (EBC).
B. In running a race, a runner must keep his/her eyes focused on what it ahead if he/she is to finish the race.
III. Third, we must press forward toward Heaven (vv. 13c.-21).
A. Obviously, this will require our best effort every day.
B. Further, to get our actions on track, we must get out attitude right with our focus being on spiritual things.
- Are you pressing forward toward Heaven?