Updated: Apr 27, 2020
The High Calling of God
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. 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any think ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Lets puts some context into this message: Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ had a background as a man called Saul that some of us can relate to:
He thought he was right when he was persecuting people (for believing in Christ Jesus); but Christ showed him otherwise that as he persecuted God’s people he was persecuting Him
He thought that he was righteous in his actions (against the followers of Christ) but he soon found out that it was Christ’s righteousness he needed to seek out
He was lost in Pharisaical practices types and shadows but thank God that on the road to Damascus he found Jesus the author and finisher of His faith. He enthusiastically and zealously turned his life around towards Christ and became a successful leader in the cause of Christ
There are so many examples in the bible whereby God's people took the charge or commands of God and faithfully executed them and we see how the hand of God was magnificent in and around their lives. We see how men of faith used the tools of faith and added obedience and works which resulted in “Freedom” from slavery “Prosperity” from poverty and “Great Success” from failure.
In these last days when we as a people should be making Disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are generally in decline, our efforts can be classed as luke warm, our general rate of growth can be best classed as poor. If we were a business our investors would pull out all their money and re-invest on the on the Muslim religion who are now one of the fastest growing religious groups in the world.
Revelations 3:14-22 reminds us that we need to move with urgency from being lukewarm towards God, being nominal low effort Christians to being Hot for God. When I mean hot for God I mean Zealous. When I say Zealous it is to be enthusiastic in repentance, consecration and devotion to Christ. The fruits of being Zealous for Christ is explored throughout the bible.
Christ, showed through the journey of the Israelites through Moses all the way to the crossing of Jordan through Joshua into the Promised land what the fruits of being obedient and faithful produces. Even within the history of disobedience amongst Gods people there was always a remnant, a special people who stayed the course once their hearts were devoted to God. We see examples in David and initially through Solomon. We see Daniel and his faithfulness produces fruit and prosperity through to Nehemiah and the rebuilding of Jerusalem right up to the “Voice in the Wilderness” namely John the Baptist and finally through to the conversion of Saul into Paul. Tearing down strongholds after strong holds. Being successful in all areas of faith and life. Exactly as God ordered living according to Gods will.
But for too long now God’s people are living up to their Laodicean condition; this is not something for us to live up to. It is something we should tear down. The bible stated fact about the church of the end times but we are to rise above the condition of lukewarm in every aspect of our lives, and embrace the solution that results in us being overcomers who receive eternal life on a throne as co-heirs next to Christ.
So let us look back at what Paul was saying to the Philippians and see what he describes as being the High Calling of God. I pray that the Holy Spirit will plant a seed in our heart that matures so that we can live the fruitful lives God has called us to lead in these last days. For we have a message, a 3 point message, found in Revelations 14 that needs to be taught, preached, lived, practiced by people who intend on being sealed for the Kingdom of God.
Lets walk through this passage line by line but before we do that there is some context to the previous verses that will be useful to understand.. Paul has come out and clearly stated that he was a Jew of Jews. Meaning, he was a top politician / scholar in the ways of the Pharisee. However, he found Christ and then considered all his past conquests, positions, honours as dung, as rubbish of no consequence as he did not know Christ. But now knowing Christ he seeks to be fully grown up in harmony with Him. He makes it clear that he has not attained perfection in Christ, he desires to be mature and fulfil the purpose that Christ laid upon him at his conversion.
EGW States that Paul ..“He trembled for the result of his ministry. He felt that even his own salvation might be imperiled if he should fail of fulfilling his duty and the church should fail of co - operating with him in the work of saving souls. He knew that preaching alone would not suffice to educate the believers to hold forth the word of life. He knew that line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, they must be taught to advance in the work of Christ. AA 206.1 AA 206.1
As we begin at v13 it reads:
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
This is recognition that we all fall short and must recognise that no one is above the other for all have sinned. We must emulate such humility as we see in Paul and realise that when we are trying to reach people for God we must not come across like we have already arrived, eternally saved and we never sinned. We can and should call out a ”thus saith the Lord” but concede to that fact that we are not the Lord, however we are being sanctified daily and desire to grow up through the Spirit of God and be mature in Christ.
I like how Paul affirms that in order to take hold of our calling we must not depend upon the successes of yesterday to carry us through today or tomorrow. Yesterday is over, it may have been great but its over. We are to remember God’s faithfulness that what he done in the past can be done in the future. Our efforts in Christ for the Gospel, or our victories over sin yesterday, cannot sustain us for today much less for tomorrow. For the battle over our lives rages on, Satan comes “Like a roaring lion” with a new attack on our lives, trials come with new approaches and challenges. This is why we are compelled to pray without ceasing there is not a time when we will not need the power of God in our lives Eph 6:18
We must reach forward, looking for a new thing, when you consider what Paul means, it brings to mind advancing onto new territory, asking God for a fresh blessing for that day, asking God for a fresh outpouring of His Spirit. Looking forward, is to ask God how and what he wants you to do in all aspects of your trials.
When I say advancing onto new territory I mean continuing to breakdown spiritual strongholds in your life, interceding for others in their life, by believing and doing what is right according to the word of God. I mean not being comfortable with your Christian experience but seeking God out to show you how to be victorious in this life. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
When Paul says reaching forward to the things which are before, He refers to the opportunities of the abundant life that Christ presents us with that is in Him He refers to reaching forward with arms stretched out and foot lunged forward towards that goal, that crossing line, just as you would see the men and women racing their hearts out in the 100 and 200 m Olympic dash. Some athletes reach forward so much that they dive over the line with such intensity as they want the prize of 1st 2nd 3rd place.
In the three Angels message for our time there is the action to lead the lost to God, to warn others of the crisis before us and to Live for Christ with the goal of being Sealed as commandment keeping Christians holding up the faith/testimony of Jesus Christ
Do we want the ultimate prize of seeing, embracing and living with our Saviour Jesus Christ? Are we willing to be single-minded and dedicated to the course laid out by Christ for us?
V 14 -I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
So knowing what we are racing for, striving for, living for, we ought to make a concerted effort, keeping our eyes fixed on the mission and the goal. Practicing to be unwavering in our commitment to Mathew 28:18-20, to move and press towards the life that binds us to Christ, in both faith and works.
I say faith because it is written “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” God both deals in temporary and eternal rewards, his speciality is giving eternal life to those in Christ.
I say works because we partner in Christ in the salvation of mankind and it is written that those who abide in Christ, those who stay close to Him through prayer and studying of His word, and sharing of the Gospel will bear much fruit. Besides that the word also says that Faith without works is dead. The scriptures state in : James 2:18 “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”
EGW Says : Those who labor for souls (preaching good news to the lost)must attain to a deeper, fuller, clearer knowledge of God than can be gained by ordinary effort. They must throw all their energies into the work of the Master. They are engaged in a high and holy calling, and if they gain souls for their hire they must lay firm hold upon God, daily receiving grace and power from the Source of all blessing. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:11 - 14. AA 205.3 AA 205.3
I like how the Adventist commentary put it with regards to Pressing forward It states that, “The contestant must not be turned aside by applause or insult, he must not relax, he must not stumble, he must not stop; he must continually press forward until the goal is gained”
EGW states regarding pressing forward in the Christian life
“The great purpose that constrained Paul to press forward in the face of hardship and difficulty should lead every Christian worker to consecrate himself wholly to God’s service. Worldly attractions will be presented to draw his attentions from the Saviour, but he is to press on toward the goal, showing to the world, to angels, and to men that the hope of seeing the face of God is worth all the effort and sacrifice that the attainment of this hope demands AA 484.1”
When we consider the Olympic games for each contest their can only be one Victor there is only one Gold. However, I like how the bible draws the parallel for the Christian. If you consider the race that only one can receive the prize than you should run this Christian life as one who must and will obtain it, through Christ who gives you strength. Thank God that all of us can receive the crown of life, all of us have access to the ultimate reward for our efforts in faith and our Love offerings that is manifested in works. This is aptly described in Matthew 25: 34-40, where our faith lead us to naturally and lovingly support our sick, poor, imprisoned, or down and our family, friends or neighbours. What we do for them we do for Christ!
This is our High Calling; we should have no ties to this earth that will prevent us to going to our eternal home. This earth is not our final home and our home is with Christ, in the New Jerusalem in Heaven. This helmet of salvation, this calling heavenward is a constant theme issued from God to all His children. Christ promises that when he returns he comes to reward some to eternal life and others to eternal destruction. Pain and suffering and sin will be wiped form this world. There is a song that says... ““Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me; At the hearts portal He’s waiting and watching, watching for you and for me… Come home, Come Home, Ye who are weary Come home; Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling, calling, O Sinner, come home!””
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
The perfection that we should seek after is a maturing of our faith and relationship with God, this maturing with manifest itself through you being led no longer by your own impulses and worldly ambitions but by the Spirit of God and the purpose he has laid out for you. We are counselled to “ Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind” so we as a rule of faith seek out what is pleasing unto God in all areas of our lives. Dropping the evil practices, dropping the worldliness, dropping the self centred thinking. We cannot always be children in our faith but we must strive to Love perfectly, to be the best we can be, for we have been called for a special purpose. For Christ came for that reason and he put it nicely when he said, …”I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. The life he speaks of is a life that stays close to Him.
So let us come together as one people, as a remnant under God to help this church to grow from being Luke Warm to being Hot Church actively seeking the Lost, preserving in Prayer so we through Christ can reach their hearts for the Kingdom of God. . Jesus said that people will know that we are His disciples by “how we love one another” and demonstrate unwavering faith and commitment to the preaching, teaching and sharing the Gospel.
At the birth of the church, God people were in one accord after a time of prayer and consecration. The Holy Spirit fell upon them and they preached in season, spoke in tongues healed the sick and cast out demons. As a result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, 3000 proselytes, and Jews were baptised.
In the book of Joel, there promises to be an outpouring of His Spirit in these last days, representing his last attempt at the close of the Gospel, to draw humanity to him. It promises to be the greatest manifestation of his spirit upon the Earth. We need to be ready to receive His spirit in abundance and not be a spectator, a judge, or moderator but to be working for the master in the field of life. Ephesians 4:30 states that we are sealed by the Spirit of God. So let us move and press, to attain the purpose, the calling God has for each of us. Recognising that as long as we have breath and have not rejected God that he can use us effectively in His service. Let us be united under the banner of God.
So I ask you again
Do you want the ultimate prize of seeing, embracing and living with our Saviour Jesus Christ?
Are you willing to let go of worldliness and it s lusts and be single-minded and dedicated to the course laid out by Christ for us?
Are you willing to take one day at a time with Jesus and experience a revival and reformation?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to the above, let us make a commitment today to make the necessary changes in our lives, through prayer, studying of His word and sharing of our faith. Allowing Christ to occupy our hearts and lead us up the path to everlasting life.
Sing with me the song ‘Softly and tenderly’ hymn 287 and come forward to make that special commitment. Send a message to the Pastor or Elders today Even if you have not been baptised come forward. If you have been baptised but you see merit in recommitment to the cause of Christ, come forward and request a prayer to seal this commitment with the Lord. Today is a new day; let us make a new start.