Bible Study—November 7, 2013

Philippians 3:12-21

“Not that I have already obtained or am already perfected, but I pursue, if also I may lay hold of that for which I also have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:12

The Greek word rendered perfected also means “completed or matured in life.” Paul’s meaning here is that he was still growing, for he did not regard himself as one who had reached maturity. If Paul needed to say that he had not already obtained or was not already perfected, even though he had so much growth in life and so much experience of Christ, how much more should we have such an attitude about ourselves!

We need to realize that Christ has gained us that we might gain Him. The Greek word translated “lay hold of” may also be rendered “gain, grasp, or get possession of.” It may even be rendered “seize.” Paul aspired to gain that for which he had been gained by Christ Jesus. At the time of his conversion, Paul was gained by Christ. Christ had gained Paul with the intention that Paul would gain Him. Christ gained us not merely for the sake of forgiveness, redemption, salvation, or heaven. He gained us for the definite purpose that we might gain Him.

Christ has laid hold of us that we might lay hold of Him. He has gained us that we might gain Him. Not even when Paul was writing to the Philippians did he regard himself as having gained Christ in a full way. Rather, he was still pursuing Christ in order to gain Him. Thus, the Christian life is a life of gaining Christ. How much have you gained of Christ? This is a crucial question. We grow in life by gaining Christ. The degree to which we have gained Christ is the degree to which we have grown with Christ. We all need to gain Christ in order to grow in life. Spiritual growth is measured by how much we have gained of Christ.

Even though Paul had experienced and gained Christ tremendously, he did not consider that he had experienced Him in full or gained Him to the uttermost. Paul knew that Christ is unsearchably rich, that there is a vast territory of His riches to be possessed. He pursued continually to gain these riches and to advance further into this territory. For this reason he said, “one thing I do: Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I pursue toward the goal” (vv. 13b-14a). He was still advancing toward the goal—the gaining of Christ to the fullest extent.

 Download the reading: Pursuing Christ

Reading: Life-study of Philippians, Message 23
Download the LSM Radio: Podcast 1

Hymn (Tune)

1. Pursue Him and know Him; be found in Him.
Count all things loss for Him.
Just gain Him, obtain Him; lay hold of Him.
It’s Christ the central vision.

Forgetting the things which are behind,
Press on, pursue with this mind.
By any means each hour now redeem;
Stretch forth, lay hold of Him.

2. Pursue Him and seize Him, Christ the supreme.
Just love this precious Person.
Forgetting and leaving all other things,
Love Him with your whole being.

3. Christ now is my center and reality,
My life for eternity.
All things are just dung compared to Him,
So love and just gain Him!

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