That at the end I may be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in the Messiah, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Here we have the walk of faith.
Faith in or of? In this passage the translation is normally “by faith in Christ”. But we need to remember something. One of the major things my father taught me was what he saw in the grammar of Galatians 2:20
…the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God…
I don’t live by my faith in Jesus, I live by His faith and what He did. Yes, I need faith, but even that is a gift. I can’t produce this powerful faith. All I can do is receive it as it is given to me. It’s a small quibble, but the attitude behind it is important. All we have is given. By grace we are saved by God.
Paul gives us a glimpse of his priorities in the context of his obvious lack of certainty—at least in most translations. However, Vine’s gives us a glimpse of something more. He believes that the words used (a different form of the word resurrection coupled with the word used for attain) suggest that Paul is talking about experiencing oneness with Jesus’ resurrection life and its power.
This goes back to something I’ll cover more in the Romans book—the idea that we literally die and are resurrected into the body of Jesus when we believe. That we experience His life lived out through us. Whatever Paul is precisely talking about here, it is obvious that his top priority is getting closer to, becoming one with, entering into the fullness of life in the Messiah—living in the Kingdom now.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect. But I keep pushing to make it my own, because Jesus the Messiah has made me His own.
In this life we never completely attain this maturity, this walk of faith, this knowledge of the Lord. In the flesh we will always “see in a glass darkly”. But we persevere, press on, continuously strive, knowing that our striving isn’t what matters. What matters is the One we desire to be one with. He promised it will happen. Our job is to keep focused on the prize, always remembering the goal—oneness with the Lord Jesus Himself as His joyful obedient slave.
When we finally get to go home this will be our reality. We focus on making that as real as possible here.
Brother & sisters, I do not consider that I have achieved this. But one thing I do: forgetting what’s behind and straining toward to what’s ahead, I press on toward the goal—the upward call of God in Jesus.
The prize is the upward calling, the invitation to heaven, being part of the resurrection, joining the marriage feast of the Lamb. As this is a walk of faith, this is never a sure thing—or it would not take faith.
But as we see Paul’s straining to attain we realize that nothing else matters. The short time we are on this planet does not even begin to compare to being called to join the Kingdom in the new creation where He will be with us and among us face to face. Our goal is to please Jesus—that he will testify that he knows us and that we have been thankful, obedient slaves.