As Bill Johnson has said, the only safe place for a believer is in the realm of advancement. Occupation of territory, by itself, will eventually destroy you. Where you were in your experience in Christ five years ago is not a safe place for you today. And Christianity without experiential reality only makes us religious and critical.
Here is where Paul said these three transformational words. Three words that speak of discovery, destiny, the “more” of God–the treasury of heaven for us waiting to be illuminated in us.
“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.” (Phil.3:12 NKJV)
Before we get to the three words, it’s somehow comforting to me to hear Paul say, “not that I have already attained.” Here was a man who God used to write much of our New Testament, who laid the foundation for our understanding of the New Covenant, who did great miracles, had third heaven visions and fathered most of the first century Gentile church. And yet, he said there was more for him. Can you imagine the more for us!
The context of that for which is found embedded in Paul’s warning to the Philippians not to think they are anything by human effort, even well-meaning religious human effort. Throughout his writings, he continually repudiated this insidious and poisonous mixed gospel message that says we are saved by grace through faith but then we have to maintain it by works. This, to Paul, was a bewitching doctrine of demons.
“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers,
beware of the mutilation!
For we are the circumcision,
who worship God in the Spirit,
rejoice in Christ Jesus,
and have no confidence in the flesh.” (Phil.3:2-3 NKJV)
What then is the work? Our work is to be diligent to enter into His rest (Heb.4:11). For God completed us in Christ before He began His work in us (Col.2:10; Phil.1:6). God lives in the realm of the seventh day, and our life is hidden in Christ (Col.3:3).
Our circumcision is the new creation (Gal.6:15)–we worship God in the Spirit. We work from a place of rest in His embrace, from the position as fully-affirmed and authorized sons and daughters of the Beloved–by the grace of God working mightily in us (1 Cor.15:10).
The “that for which” is your inheritance.
An inheritance is something that you never worked for or did anything to deserve. If you had a rich relative who left you a fortune, you did nothing to deserve his or her favor.
What you received, you received through relationship.
What is this fellowship in the gospel?
John records that this is the same other-centered, joy-filled fellowship the Father has had with the Son from eternity (John 17:24; 1 John 1:3-4). In this place, you were saved before you were ever lost (Eph.1:4-6).
But there is a cost to receiving all that God has intended for you, although it’s probably not what you’re thinking. It’s not in your trying harder to please Him next time…it’s found in living in the letting go and laying hold.
Paul continues (bold-type added)…
“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,
I press toward the goal for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil.3:13-14 NKJV)
You do need to let go of your past–all your failures, your anger, your regrets, your disappointments…all the shame and guilt you try to cover with the fig leaves of your religion. It’s letting go of the futility of trying to control every circumstance of your life, including keeping God on your own terms.
You do need to stop trying to save yourself…your subtle but continual striving to become someone.
You must learn to rest.
And it requires laying hold of what you already possess in Christ. This pressing in is a state of believing what you cannot see–a state of faith. It’s staying where you’ve already been put and then sojourning in that wide-open space of God. It’s living where Christ’s life, His joy, His strength, His mighty power, His unfathomable love…permeates all that you are and diffuses the fragrance of His revelation knowledge wherever you go (2 Cor.2:14).
As Jesus would say, to him who has ears to hear. And I hear the Spirit saying these words: Don’t stop! Keep moving forward into Me… There’s so much more for you than you could ever imagine…please don’t miss a single thing I have for you…I will show you what you’re missing in your experience in Me.
Beloved of God, dare to believe this. You have an infinitely greater inheritance available to you right now than any wealth this world could ever give. You have everything that fills God waiting to be discovered in you (Eph.3:19-20). It’s time to press into the that for which God has laid hold of you.