Prayer Day 5 Kingdom Coming; Kingdom Now: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Today is 2-for-1 Friday!
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The Questions

1) Who is speaking and what “goal” is he speaking of that he hasn’t yet reached?

2) What is “behind” and what is “ahead”?

3) What does it mean to “live up to the truth we have attained”?

4) What does it mean to “live as enemies of the cross”?

Philippians 3:12-18

12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.15 Therefore, let all of us who are mature think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. 16 In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. 17 Join in imitating me, brothers and sisters, and pay careful attention to those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

Original Intent

1) Who is speaking and what “goal” is he speaking of that he hasn’t yet reached?
The speaker here is every believer’s brother in Christ. He is the disciple of Christ writing this letter while sitting in chains behind bars for declaring the radical love of a Savior who died to set him truly free. This is the man who is discovering deeper and deeper with every day, every breath, what it means to die to the “old man” he was before Jesus and wake up to the “new man” who is fully alive in Jesus Christ. This is Paul. In verse 12, he writes “not that I have already obtained this…but I press on to make it my own.” To understand “this”, we go back to verse 11 where he finishes his passionate speech about “attain(ing) the resurrection from the dead.” Our first inclination is to think Paul is speaking about salvation and our final, glorified resurrection, but that would be incorrect. Scripture, including Paul’s other letters, make it clear that there is absolutely nothing we can possibly do to “attain” our final resurrection or salvation. When we slow down for context, we see that Paul is speaking of attaining a daily “resurrection” of walking moment-by-moment in the new life that Christ invites every believer into. Paul is writing about the same truths he wrote about in his letter to the Romans (Romans 7:7-25) when he described the struggle of every believer between following Sin or living for Christ. “This” is the resurrected goal Paul is speaking of to the Philippian believers.

2) What is “behind” and what is “ahead”?
Relying on Paul’s teachings right before these verses, what is “behind” is everything Paul had previously viewed as a “gain” in life. (verse 7) All of his good deeds, everything he could point to and say “I’m a good person”, he now, because he is comparing it to the vast richness of knowing Christ (verse 8), sees all those self-righteous attempts as the scum that they are. Instead, Paul wants nothing more than knowing Christ. Here is Paul’s life ambition. It’s not preaching the gospel, it’s not growing the kingdom, it’s not building churches, or correcting false doctrine, it’s one thing: knowing Christ. Every day, every action, every motivation, every thought, he realizes that because of Christ’s passionate, relentless pursuit of an ever-deepening relationship with him (and each of us), the real goal in life is to know Christ. 

3) What does it mean to “live up to the truth we have attained”?
This “becoming more like Jesus” by daily waking up to all He has for us, opens up our hearts and minds to ever-deepening truths about God and His character revealed to us as we read His word, pray, live in community, and are active in our local church body. These truths that we take in, are deposited in our lives through the Holy Spirit, and Paul urges us to “live up to the truths we have attained.” Paul’s example of no longer seeing as valuable his acts of righteousness or “confidence in the flesh” (verses 4-6), instead trusting in Christ’s sacrifice and His perfect righteousness is just one example of how Paul was daily choosing to “live up to the truth (he) had attained”. (verse 16) Paul would ‘live up to the truth he had attained’, by choosing to trust Christ’s work instead of his own on an everyday basis.

4) What does it mean to “live as enemies of the cross”?
Paul has just finished imploring those listening to his letter being read aloud to please, choose to imitate Christ in your everything, making it your aim to count knowing Christ deeper as the only thing of value. He encourages his listeners to look at the examples of believers around them who are actively living out this solitary focus as they are “forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead”. (verse 13) Paul then contrasts this lifestyle of chasing after Jesus with those who “live as enemies of the cross”, that is, those who actively refuse the offer of real life through the sacrifice Jesus Christ offered on the cross. Note that Paul did not say these people are enemies of the believer; these precious souls are enemies of the cross. They reject all that the hope of the gospel offers, they are trapped in the hopeless cycle of depending on themselves to achieve right standing before God, an impossible endeavor. Paul’s heart-felt response on thinking of these people is sudden, broken, aching tears. He knows their eternal end is separation from God because they hold fast to their ability to be their own god, which he describes as “glorying in their shame”. (verse 19)

Everyday Application

1) Who is speaking and what “goal” is he speaking of that he hasn’t yet reached?
When we cross the line of faith, asking Jesus to save us from the consequences of sin and death, giving us His Own Righteousness in place of our sinfulness, we are saved for eternity. Nothing can take us out of His sovereign grasp on our souls. (John 10:28-30) But how we grow from there, how much we conform to the likeness of Christ, is a joint movement of working with the Holy Spirit as He moves and directs and guides us in our everyday life. Jesus doesn’t simply want to be our Savior, He wants a relationship with us where He takes us continually deeper into truth, waking us up to real life, deeply satisfying resurrected living. How to we “attain” this? It’s the “simple” disciplines of the faith: regular intake of God’s Word, prayer, biblical community and accountability, and serving alongside other believers in the local church. If you want a relationship with the God of the Universe, invest in it, surrender your life to Him, and wake up to His fullness unleashed in and through you!

2) What is “behind” and what is “ahead”?
Every moment is pregnant with diving ever-deeper into intimately knowing the God of the Universe who sacrificed everything in order to draw us near. Every. Moment. Slow down and take that in. What feelings does that bring up in you? What walls do you naturally put up? Yes, the ones where you are fighting with your spouse. The moments when you feel as if you’re at the very end of your rope. The ones where financial strain feels like it will strangle you. The ones where your lack, whatever it is, seems to forever be un-fulfilled. All the days you are excited and thankful and rejoicing and all those weary moments in between; every single one is embedded with a deep invitation to know Christ. The Lord God is less interested in the work of your hands and all that you could do for Him, and much more focused on building and growing the mutual relationship between you and Himself. He longs for you to know Him, trust Him, see Him, and rely on His permanent presence for it is through this knowing, His Spirit will shape you to become more like Himself. It is in the bedrock of knowing Christ that His kingdom is built, that the gospel is preached, and the world hears of the Savior; not by our hands, but by knowing the God who loves us!

3) What does it mean to “live up to the truth we have attained”?
Think of biblical truths that have been deposited in you through the work of the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and stop reading now; make a list of 3 truths you’ve learned recently about God. Continue your pause and consider how you are living up to those truths in your day right now. Here’s my list in this moment: God is the healer, His presence is here in this moment, His desire is for me to know Him more. My application is that, I don’t have to live in fear about strained relationships because the Lord is the healer. I don’t have to live trapped by fear of “what-if” because the Lord of the Universe is present, here, in this moment. I can stop insisting that the work I feel called to rises and falls based on my ability and creativity because Christ has called me to know Him, not to do stuff on my own strength. What’s your list?!

4) What does it mean to “live as enemies of the cross”?
Paul celebrates the incredible freedom and rich depth of intimacy that comes from deeply knowing Christ, but his heart breaks at the thought of those who choose rejection of this beautiful, radical grace. Those apart from Christ know nothing of this sweetness. Paul sets up this stark contrast to help his hearers clearly distinguish between whose example they should follow as they pursue intimacy with Christ. Our closest human relationships, friends, and mentors should demonstrate an active pursuit of knowing Jesus in their everyday moments. At the same time, this doesn’t mean shunning those who don’t follow Jesus; quite the opposite! Our hearts should break as Paul’s did for those who live as enemies of the cross. We are called to be the example of knowing Christ for them, holding out the hope of the gospel that they too might choose Him and know Him! Consider carefully who you are modeling after, then evaluate the kind of example you are setting for those around you as you consider the choices you make to know Christ!

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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