NEVER ARRIVE ALWAYS BE ARRIVING
Philippians 3:10-13, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 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,”
Paul is not saying here that he wants to rise from the dead someday. Paul is saying I’m going to live the resurrected life now. In other words he is admonishing the redeemed to never arrive always be arriving! This man is the greatest Christian who has ever lived and he said I have not yet apprehended. He is telling us that he has a lot to learn yet.
I am pressing on the upward way
New heights I’m gaining everyday
Still praying as I onward bound
Lord plant my feet on higher ground
Lord lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heavens table land
A higher plain than I have found
Lord plant my feet on higher ground
Our church, Longview Baptist Temple of Longview, Texas, hosted a NATIONAL SOUL WINNING CLINIC for 29 years and every year we would ask ourselves how in world could we top last years’ CLINIC, yet God would come through every time. I do not understand folks who do not desire to do more.
This thought is not for those who have arrived, those who know it all, those who are grown in grace, or those who are experts, but this thought is for us mortals to whom the finish line keeps moving back! This thought is for those of us who the more we try the more we seem to shrink in our growth. This thought is for those who the more you do the more you see that you have not done. This thought is for those that the more you learn the more you see that you do not know. This thought is for those that the more you grow the smaller you seem to be to yourself. This thought is for those who the more righteous you become the more you see your own sins.
The Apostle Paul said he was the chief of sinners. He said, “Oh, wretched man that I am…” He did not say, “Oh, accomplished man that I am” or “Oh, arrived man that I am” or “Oh, perfect man that I am.” This man was the greatest Christian who ever lived probably and said, “Oh, wretched man that I am!”
An artist one day finished his painting and began to weep. As he was standing there weeping look at his painting somebody asked him why he was crying. He said, “Because I’m satisfied with my painting and I should not be so!” When you become satisfied with your Christian life it is time to cry! When you have learned all of the Bible you plan to learn it is time to cry. When you have prayed all you are going to pray it is time to cry. When you have won all the souls you are going to win it is time to cry. When you have walked with God all you intend too it is time to cry.
Alexander the Great conquered India and wept. He had filled in the out line for which he had made for himself. He said, “I have no more worlds to conquer.”
The Apostle Paul said, “I have not yet apprehended!” Ladies and gentlemen this is not some freshman in college saying, “I have not yet apprehended!” This is not a new pastor of a church who is just starting out in the pastorate saying, “I have not yet apprehended!” This is the greatest Christian that ever walked the face of the earth who said, “I have not yet apprehended.”
The word “apprehend” may be defined as “arrive.” Paul is saying I have not yet arrived. The word may be defined as “overtake.’ Paul is saying I have not yet overtaken that which I want to be. It could mean to catch or to catch up. He could be saying, “I have not yet caught up with the plans I have for myself” or the “goals I have for myself.” It could be defined as to take “possession of.”
Paul is saying I have not yet arrived. I count not myself to have overtaken. I count not myself to have caught up. I count not myself to have taken possession of all the territory I want to take. Paul said, “I have not yet apprehended!”
LOOK AT WHERE PAUL WAS
Look at where Paul was when he penned these words? He was in jail and never to leave jail again! Get the picture please? Paul was in jail and said, “I still have something’s I am supposed to do and I have to do them.” Paul was in jail and said, “I count not myself to have apprehended.” He is saying he had some growing in grace he had to do yet.
Some of you reading this will be as good a Christian as you will ever be and that is tragic! You read your Bible as much as you ever will read your Bible. You pray as much as you ever will pray. You have reached the pinnacle! You have arrived! You have apprehended and you sit there at ease in Zion.
The purpose of this article is to cause you to become dissatisfied with yourself. You must realize there is a lot of territory between what you are and what you should be. You and I must become dissatisfied with where we are in life.
Look at where Paul was? He was in prison but Paul could still write books of the Bible in jail. Paul could still grow in grace in jail. Paul could still win Onesimus to Christ while in jail. Paul in jail could still praise God. Paul in jail said I am an ambassador in bonds.
He was still a witness in jail. Paul still could win the jailor to Christ while in jail. Paul in jail could still preach to his guards the Gospel. Paul is saying I can preach to those who guard me. I can preach to those who visit me. I can preach to those who are in jail with me.
Paul is in jail but he is saying "I’ve got more to do!" He is about to say, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course and I have kept the faith” but here he says, “I have not yet apprehended.”
LOOK AT WHAT PAUL HAD DONE
Not only look at where he was, but look at what he had done. Paul had preached in Jerusalem, Antioch, Cyprus, Pyrga, Pamphylia, Antioch of Pysida, Derbe, Iconium, Lystra, Galatia, Mysia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, Troas, Rome, and carried the Gospel to the Western world and yet Paul said, “I have not yet apprehended.” Amazing!
Think about yourself for a second? Have you grown in the last ten years? Oh, yes you love your pastor, enjoy your church, love your church, but you are not involved! You never bring a visitor, never bring a convert, never build a Sunday school class, never work a bus route, and you just sit and soak it all in! The truth is your pastor is glad you are there, but it is time for you to get up off of your blessed assurance and do something big for God.
It is a shame that God’s people are no more today for God than they were last year. It is a shame for God’s people to become complacent and satisfied with where they are in their Christian life.
Look at where Paul was and what Paul had done yet he still said, “I count not myself to have apprehended.”
LOOK AT PAUL’S AGE
He wrote to Philemon in from the same place he is writing this and says, “Paul the aged.” I do not know how old Paul was? Was he 70? I know he was at least 70! Paul was a senior citizen. I hate it when they hand me a Senior Citizen Menu at a restaurant.
Paul was a Senior Citizen but in spite of that fact he said, “I count not myself to have apprehended.” I am 69 as of the writing of this and I count not myself to have apprehended. I am still pressing on the upward way. I have still some higher ground I want to reach. I still have some battles I want to win and goals I want to reach.
I feel sorry for those who have folded their tent. I feel sorry for those who have arrived and these youthful and young college students always wanting a day off: how about a day on? “We’re tired!” I would be ashamed of myself if I were 18, 19, 20, or 21 and worn out! I would hate to think that 69-year-old man could out work a 20 year old. This is no time to quit going forward. Get off of you duff and do something big for God!
Dr. Ford Porter was in his 80’s and still planning to build some more buildings. Dr. Jack Hyles was 74 and still planning big building projects. My heart goes out to Christian people who are satisfied. God said, “Woe unto you who are at ease in Zion.”
· Look where Paul was
· Look what Paul had done
· Look at Paul’s age
LOOK A WHAT PAUL HAD ENDURED
Five times he was beaten with a cat of nine tails. A whip that had one hand and nine whips on that handle with hunks of metal all up and down each one of those whips. Five times he was beaten 39 times with the cat of nine tails.
Three times he was beaten with rods. Once he was stoned. Three times he suffered shipwrecks. He was left for dead in Lystra. He was often robbed. He said his own countryman set him in peril. The heathen imperiled him. He said he was in peril it the city, in the wilderness, and on the sea. The Bible says he was in weariness, painfulness, hungry, thirsty, cold, and naked.
Paul, I ask, haven’t you suffered enough? I hear his reply, “No sir” I can hear him say, “I count not myself to have apprehended.” These beatings will not stop him. These stonings will not stop him. These prison chains will not stop him. The perils will not stop him for he says, “I count not myself to have apprehended.”
Paul is saying I have not arrived, not overcome, not over taken, and not reached my goal. I have ground to conquer, goals to hit, battles to fight, wars to win, and souls to win to Christ! I have churches I want to start and God’s work I want to do.
I would love to use this article to shake us all up again out of our complacency. We have an awesome responsibility as Christians. Whether we like it or not a nation is at stake as well as the cause of Christ. This liberal nation of ours is about to spend us into bankruptcy not only monetarily but also morally. We dare not remain complacent.
· Look at where Paul was
· Look at what Paul had done
· Look at Paul’s age
· Look at what Paul had to endure
LOOK AT WHAT PAUL DESIRED
The greatest Christian in the entire world said, “I have not yet arrived. I have more worlds to conquer.” Do not miss this! The greatest missionary who ever lived who had already started more churches than any man in history said, “I’ve got more churches to start. I’ve got more ground to cover.” The greatest soul winner who had ever lived in history said, “I have not yet apprehended.”
His mind was a depository of truth! His life was the biography of the New Testament Church. His feet were the transportation of the Gospel. His heart was the furnace of warmth. His tongue was the sinner’s declaration of independence. His message was the hope of the world. His zeal was the speed of the truth. His body was the world’s temple of hope. His hands were the strength of the saints. His eyes were sight to the blind. His ears were the hearing of the deaf. His presence was a clinic of hope.
He did all of this with no plane, no bus, no car, no motorcycle, and no bicycle. His love transported him the Gospel close enough where it over flowed on you and on me in the United States of America.
If Paul were like most of us the Western world would be on their way to Hell. If Paul were like most of us we would all be lost without hope. Paul said, “I have not yet apprehended.” Paul was saying I have some ground to conquer and America is enjoying the benefits of Paul’s tenacity this very day.
I wonder how many will go to Hell because God’s people have arrived? I wonder how many will be screaming in Hell because God’s people cannot muster enough character to go soul winning.
Paul was a squeaky voice that was heard around the world. His were near blinded eyes that could see the needs of a dying world. His was a weak body strong enough to carry the burden of a lost world. His was a broken heart to mend the hearts of a troubled world. Paul said I have more to do!
The joy of the human soul is inseparably connected with the effort to reach that, which is above it. You are as happy as your dreams are. You are as happy as your goals are. You are as happy as the brightness of your future.
The Christian need not be like the artist who says, “I’m satisfied with my painting thus I weep!” The Christian need not be like Alexander the Great and say, “I have no more worlds to conquer.”
Jesus is our model, our goal, our hero, our example, and He is the one we are to be like. Since you cannot ever attain that you must always be arriving and never arrive. As long as you respond to the challenges of life you can be happy. Our goal is to be like Jesus so why have any of us become complacent. I do not care who you are for you are miserable if you do not have more ground to conquer.
Our goal ought to be, “As he is so are we in this world.” Our goal ought to be to forgive like He forgave and since we will never be like Jesus there is always more ground to gain in forgiveness. Our goal is to pray like He prayed in Gethsemane, forgive like He forgave on Calvary, to love like He loved Lazarus, and to have His mind in us. Please do not miss this thought for we will never arrive but we will always be arriving!
Even our Saviour was not satisfied until He reached the purpose of His life. Isaiah 53:11, “He shall see the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied.” Isaiah 50:7, “He set his face like a flint…” The arrow was launched before the foundation of the world. It flew straight toward Calvary through all of the 39 books of the Old Testament. It sped through the Old Testament with wavering. The arrow was in Bethlehem but Jesus was not satisfied in Bethlehem. The arrow sped on as He went about doing good for 33 years but Jesus was not satisfied.
The arrow passed by a well in Sychar and won a fallen woman. It passed by and affected a ruler named Nicodemus, a tax collector named Matthew, a fisherman named Peter, a blind man, a fallen Magdalene, a Publican named Zacchaeus, and it sped its way to Gethsemane, but Jesus was not satisfied yet for there was more ground to cover.
The arrow came to Caiaphas’ court; Anna’s judgment, Pilate’s Hall, Herod’s seat, and it sped its way through the air of eternity till it came to the trial of Jesus: then the indictment, the trail, the conviction, and on to a cross with a crown of thorns. Then, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus was to pay the penalty for our sins and He cried, “It is finished!” He saw the travail of His soul and was satisfied.
Do not be satisfied until you fulfill the purpose for your life! Unfortunately there are Christians who have arrived. Paul did not but some Christians have! Amazing isn’t it!