Pressing Toward the High Calling
Pressing Toward the High Calling
By Paul R. Blake
“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” (Phil. 3:13-14). The apostle Paul remained faithful to Christ laboring diligently until his life came to a close. The word of God is silent in the matter of his passing, but to this author it seems appropriate that the scriptures leave us with Paul in bonds for preaching Christ, but taking advantage of his limited opportunities to continue to spread the gospel (Phil. 1:12-14, 4:22; Acts 28:30-31). He serves as the best Biblical illustration of perseverance in Christ
Perseverance comes from hupomone which literally means, “an abiding under,” and is best defined as “cheerful or hopeful endurance, constancy” (Strongs - 5281). It implies suffering, enduring, or waiting, as a determination of the will and not simply under necessity (ISBE). It is more than just a passive quality whereby one simply sits about patiently enduring hardship, like a ship anchored in a storm holding out against harsh wind and high waves. Rather it is an active quality more like a ship sailing on in spite of the storm moving forward into the teeth of the wind and plying through the crashing waves. Perseverance is not just bearing with trials, but bearing up under trials (Heb. 12:1-3; 2Tim. 3:10-11).
Demands of Perseverance
Perseverance is essential to growth toward maturity in Christ. One must allow patience to develop the kind of mature character that manifests the servant’s heart, not selfishness; that come to anticipate being with Christ, not fearfully grasping on to life in this world; that finds joy in the midst of burdens, rather than whining over every perceived difficulty and slight (Rom. 5:4; James 1:4; Luke 8:15). Perseverance is a vital ingredient in enduring trials (2Thes. 1:4; James 5:11). And, it is necessary to reach eternal life (Rom. 2:7; Heb. 10:36).
There are things that one can cultivate in life which will help him to strengthen his hands for labor and develop a resolute countenance against opposition.
The right elements: 1) a daily examination of the Word of God (Rom. 15:4; Acts 5:42; Heb. 3:13), 2) a strong hope in the resurrection (Rom. 8:25, 1Cor. 15:20), 3) constancy in prayer (Col. 1:11, 4:2), and even successfully handled tribulations (Rom. 5:3; James 1:3).
The right perspective: 1) Looking to Jesus (Heb. 12:1-4). By considering the Lord who endured such hostility, one will be less likely to grumble and give up. 2) Looking to the ancient prophets (James 5:10-11). Their examples of devout service in the face of death should motivate the faint of heart. In view of what they patiently endured, one’s own excuses for lack of perseverance or failures to bear up under trials seem self-indulgent and foolish (Heb. 11:32-38). 3) Looking to each other (Heb. 3:12-14, 10:22-25). Encouragement from fellow Christians is a powerful aid to persisting against temptation and despair. By continual exhortations and frequent assemblies, one is more likely to be faithful until death. 4) Looking at burdens as opportunities (James 1:2-3). Trials in life are designed by God for one’s own betterment; they mold and make him what God would have him be. Instead of grieving under trial, rejoice and glory in tribulations (Rom. 5:3-5). 5) Looking to the future (2Cor. 4:16-18). Burdens are brief and light compared to the eternal weight of glory. For those who persevere until the end, glory awaits (Rev. 2:25-29, 3:1).
Remaining active in service to the Lord is difficult during lingering illnesses, deep abiding grief, and long term financial difficulties. Occasionally, Christians will make some disappointment, loss, or grief an excuse for shirking their duties to the Lord. But to truly demonstrate perseverance, they must continue to press on in doing good regardless of the circumstances of their lives. Perseverance is also needed when faced with earthly delights, pleasures, and seductions. Such distractions are just as dangerous as tribulation in rendering one unfruitful in Christ (Luke 8:14). “Just as the dark clouds of trial may render us inactive, so may the dazzling brightness of temptations blind us and render us useless” (Alexander MacLaren). Perseverance is an extended version of self-control. Self-control is a daily exercise. Therefore, perseverance is self-control exercised today, tomorrow, the next day, and the rest of one’s life. It is reasonable to believe that Paul persevered as a teacher of truth for the rest of his life. He did so one day at a time. The kingdom of the Lord needs such teachers of truth who will remain steadfast until the end moved by the servant’s heart to share the gospel with others.
Test Your Knowledge of Bible Numbers
How many days did it take for God to create all things?________________
How many children did Abraham and Sarah have? _____________
How many tribes of Israel were there? ___________
How many days did Jesus fast before He was tempted by Satan? _________
How many disciples did Jesus take to the Mount of Transfiguration? ________
How many people obeyed the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost? ___________