Pressing Towards the Mark
This week’s sermon focuses on the new mark (goal) set by Christ – gaining salvation. Let’s look at our walk and how our walk should grow to being more Christ like
Click play to listen to this sermon
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, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (v.13, 14) KJV
It is Resurrection Sunday, the day in which Christ rose from death and stepped out of His tomb. At the cross, in His final words, our Savior proclaimed “it is finished”. It is finished. The task that the Son was given from the Father had been completed. The mission, the order, that Christ had received from His Father had successfully been completed. The Lamb of God, our sacrificial offering, had been offered up to the Father and that offering pleased the Lord. Jesus died on that cross, sacrificing Himself, to save all people from His Father’s wrath. Through His death and resurrection a new day had arrived for all of mankind, a new mark had been set. There is a mark that we must all choose, for ourselves, to choose to move towards. Are you pressing towards the mark?
What is the mark?
In life we all have goals that we set and want to achieve, right? What is the ultimate goal we all wish to reach in our lives? What is your ultimate goal? What is the one thing you want to accomplish in your life? These are questions we are taught to ask ourselves from the time we’re in elementary school until the moment we get our high school diploma. We are taught that we should think about our lives and where we want to be in life. What is the ultimate goal to reach in life? What would you say it is?
I believe, this is my own personal opinion, that at least 95.6% of people would answer that question with something in regards to wealth, money, and happiness. I’ve said it before, we’re programmed to think money is everything from the time we’re just little kids and can barely talk. I remember when I was a very little boy that I would have been happy with getting a few quarters to get a snack out the vending machine, but kids now be looking for $5 to $10! We want all of the money! In the end, when all is said and done, what does having a ton of money get you when you’re laying on your death bed? I suppose you’ll have a really nice funeral, and your kids and grandchildren will definitely have something to fight over once you’re gone.
There has to be something more to life than our drive to make money; I can’t be the only one that feels that way. There has to be something more to this life we live than being judged by how big of a house we live in, the shoes we wear on our feet, the watches we wear on our arms, the car we drive, or how many pennies I have sitting in a bank. There has to be more to this life! There has to be a higher calling, a higher mark, a higher goal that we can strive to reach and attain in this life. There’s more to this world than money and wealth.
On the first day of the week, after Jesus was crucified, He rose from the grave – this is gospel and the foundation of our faith. From that point forward we find that Jesus spent another 40 days with His disciples teaching them about a new mark, a new goal to reach in this life. This new mark and goal is what the apostles began to spread throughout the land and eventually into the world. What was that mark you ask? The mark, the goal, was salvation and obtaining it. We want to know and feel genuine happiness, but that genuine happiness cannot be supplied by this world – real happiness should not be temporary. How does one reach that goal? How does one reach that mark?
It starts with Jesus
In John 14:6, Jesus told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: No man comes to the Father but by me.” The ultimate goal for all of us should be to join God in His kingdom on that day He chooses to call us all home. However, there is only one way for us to make it to the Father and that way is by Christ – we must come to know Christ. Think about this, the only way you can enter into another man/woman’s house is if you know them; if you are known by them they will welcome you in with open arms, hopefully! For us to enter into the Lord’s house the Son must know us and we must know Him.
Salvation, genuine happiness, is only obtained when we come to know Christ. Typically when we use that word, know, we usually use it in reference of knowing of somebody. There was a lot of people I knew of in high school but I didn’t know them. There was a handful of people that I knew of in college, but I didn’t know them. There was a handful of people I knew in the workplace but I didn’t know them. Did you get what I am getting at here?
To really know somebody you have to have some kind of relationship with that person, right? You would have had to have talked to them, gotten to know them personally. For you to know Christ, you must develop a personal relationship with Him – a relationship that requires trust and faith. To press towards the mark, salvation, we must strive to have that relationship and to also grow (mature) spiritually. Understand, when you’re walking in the way of Christ, He wants you to grow into being a better person. When we enter into relationships we all look to build our mate up and see them grow to be their best, right? Christ wants you to reach the mark of being the absolute best YOU that you can be. For us to grow, we must continue to press towards the higher calling of Christ!
Understand the power in Christ’s resurrection
The Apostle Paul, in the context of our scriptures for today’s sermon, said he wanted to be found in Christ (v.9); this, once again, should be one of our goals in life – to be found and known by Christ – to join in fellowship with Him. Paul said he needed to know Christ, but that he also needed to know the power of Christ’s resurrection (v.10). To continue pressing towards the mark, growing in our faith, we should look to mature in our understanding of the crucifixion and the resurrection – we must understand the power of both so that we can understand the purpose of our Savior. We must understand the reason why Christ had to be born and why He needed to die.
Good Friday comes and every year I wound up coming across people that do not truly understand why Jesus had to die; they wish everything in their power that Jesus had lived a long life. Taking Jesus off the cross is to take the Lamb off the altar which means there’s no sacrifice to the Lord. If there is no sacrifice to the Lord then the guilt of sin would still reign over this world. If you’re pressing towards the mark you must take a deeper look at the crucifixion so that you can truly understand not only the power but the love that God has for this world. The power in the crucifixion is that Christ covered all of those that believe in Him from the guilt of sin. The power of the resurrection is to show that God not only has power over all things, but all things that Christ taught were true – that we will one day gain salvation and join Him in the Father’s house (John 14:1-3).
Fellowship in His suffering
This knowledge should cause us to rejoice and make us run to be in fellowship with our Savior; rejoicing in Christ’s victory because in His victory we have victory. In His suffering we find that we now live a new life in which we have been born again, saved and sanctified, and filled with the Holy Spirit. We fellowship in His suffering and are comfortable with His crucifixion because we know that He rose with all power in His hands. There is no greater joy (happiness) than knowing you are loved so much by your Creator that He sent His Son so that you can live on with Him for all eternity.
Pressing towards the mark
We must look to continue to grow and move forwards – not being content, stagnate, or regressive. Christ did not die and defeat death for you to just be content with where you are. For whatever reason, when we accept Christ as our Savior, some of us believe that’s the end of the story and we stop pressing towards the goal of becoming more like Him.
In verses 12-13 Paul says:
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead
Paul had the right idea in mind, one that we believers should look to adopt – keep growing. Paul wanted to press on and become the best person he could become, spiritually. Paul’s goal was to walk as close as he possibly could to Christ – he wanted to become more like Him (as we all should). We should want to walk in the same manner of love that Christ walked with. We should want to walk in the same manner of talk as Christ did. Our walk should be as close as it can to Christ! The people would say, well Paul, aren’t you a preacher? Haven’t you already attained the mark? Haven’t you already reached the goal? Paul said that he had not attained anything nor thought of himself as already being perfect.
What happens when you believe yourself to already be perfect? You stop learning, and then you stop growing. There are many believers today who feel that they have reached the level of perfectness and don’t even realize that they aren’t even close to walking in Christ’s way. Just because we’re Christians it does not mean that we are perfect and no longer need to grow as a person and in the spirit – we must continue to grow. We must continue to press and move forward in our walk towards Christ (salvation). The reason we see such a struggle in the body of Christ is because so many believers think they know everything they need to know. There is always room to grow.
The more we grow, the better we not only come but the better we can help others strive for a better goal in this life. There is a higher calling in the life we live and that calling has absolutely nothing to do with how much you have in a bank or the clothes that’s on your back. We must continue to learn and study the way of Christ so that we can come closer in walking in His manner and in His love – imagine what that would be like.
I truly believe that the day God calls our name we will answer that higher calling, and all of our work of pressing towards the mark will be rewarded – we will receive our prize! We will attain that happiness that we have never known but wanted to know. We will know a peace that we have never known. We will understand what real love is all about; we will have received our higher calling of being home with the Lord, and in that day we will rejoice and be happy and glad. In that day we will become like Christ when we put on our glorified body and the corruptible will become incorruptible.