For my first post, I thought that I would write on something that would encourage you as we enter this time of isolation, or as I will refer to it: the ‘Covid-19 era’.
In my daily reading, I was reading from the epistle to the church at Philippi. In Chapter 3 in verse 13-14 Paul writes 13 ‘Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’
What is Paul saying to those at Philippi, and what does it say to us? Let’s get some context. The first 11 verses talk about righteousness, a true righteousness that comes only through faith in Christ, not in who we are or what we have done. Paul shows us that as a true Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin and trained in the law, he should have righteousness running off from him, oozing from every pore of his being, if it was dependent on himself and what he knew and/or did. But he counted all this as loss, His righteousness could only be found in the atoning death of Christ.
Paul then in verses 12- 14 talks about straining toward the goal, which is salvation. But wait? Aren’t we already saved? If we have called on Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, yes, but Paul is talking about the realisation of it at the end. He said that he is not already perfect. So what does he mean? We are already perfect in Christ, His death and resurrection purchased for us redemption and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us because of our trust and faith in Him. We are imperfect, but we are continually being ‘perfected’ as we journey with Christ. In theological language this is called progressive sanctification, or simply being changed day by day, to be more like Christ, becoming more mature in Him as we rely on Him in every circumstance.
Now we come to the heart of the matter, in the two verses that we want to look at. We cannot make it on our own, there is no way that we can become perfect by ourselves. It is only through Christ. Any righteousness that we possess is like ‘filthy rags’ ( Isaiah 64:6), and that not one of us is righteous (Romans 3:10). We need Christ. In Him, our old life has been put to death. Let us not look at what we did or were before, let us learn from our mistakes, take on the righteousness of Christ and look forward as we grow in Him.
In our current situation, this is relevant, we can’t meet in the normal way we would; gatherings are not allowed. So what do we do? We pray for each other, we text each other, we call each other on the phone and offer fellowship and encouragement in these ways. We must press forward in Christ, asking Him how He wants us to do the great commission and the great commandment in our context. Be encouraged; God is on our side, He is for us, not against us. Press into Him, listen to His voice and in obedience do what He has commissioned you to do; to spread the love of Christ and see others touched by Him and come to know Him as Lord and Saviour.
I hope that this first post is encouraging to you and will find it of profit as you serve our Great and Mighty King, be blessed as you serve Him.
In Christ our Redeemer, Ps Jeff