Suffering # 5
PAUL’S MENTAL ATTITUDE: CURSING TURNED TO BLESSING
When a believer suffers momentum testing, he is closing in on the objective of the Christian way of life! Spiritual maturity is the next step! In people testing, thought testing, system testing or disaster testing, the Christian’s mental attitude can be characterized by eager anticipation and stimulation despite the pain he suffers! Metabolized Truth enables him to see how close he is to achieving maturity. Paul himself is an example of the believer's attitude when beset by momentum testing after a major personal failure. He had reached Spiritual self-esteem, (Which is vulnerable to arrogance) (2Co 12:7) and had successfully faced providential preventive suffering so that he gained Spiritual autonomy. Then, in a resurgence of sentimentality, and in defiance of the Truth he knew, (Rom 11:2-5; Gal 2:7) and the warnings of the Holy Spirit, and through others, (Acts 21:10-14) and his own Spiritual common sense, Paul abandoned his thriving ministry to the Gentiles in the Aegean Quadrangle and returned to Jerusalem. Paul blended sincerity, arrogance, and sentimentality producing a disastrous result! His unbelieving countrymen were adamantly negative to the Gospel, as they had previously opposed Christ, and the legalistic Jewish Christians were negative to Truth. To gain an audience with the Jews, Paul went so far as to compromise his integrity, taking a blasphemous religious vow in the Temple. (Acts 21:21-24) Beginning with a riot in the Temple and an assassination plot against him, a two-year imprisonment ensued, which carried Paul to Rome. Paul quickly recognized his failure and rebounded, (1Jn 1:9) so that the purpose of this long period of suffering changed from cursing to blessing. Paul had initiated a sequence of suffering with his own decisions, but God converted cursing into blessing as soon as Paul used rebound and reentered his Spiritual life. The apostle did not languish in his failure. He evaluated his situation long enough to learn his lesson, then gratefully pressed forward in the plan of God.
MOMENTUM TESTING IN PHILIPPIANS CHAPTER 3
Leaving False Confidence Behind: Paul opens Philippians 3 by repeating a warning that he himself had disregarded in his Jerusalem fiasco. Believers must beware of religion with all its emotional appeal, self-righteousness, coercion, and potential violence. (Acts 14:11-19) In particular, Paul cites his own aristocratic background, zeal, and fame in Judaism. Religion had channeled his intellect and energy, had flattered and promoted him, had given him tremendous “confidence in the flesh.” (Php 3:4) Through his personal faith in Christ and inculcation with Truth, Paul had renounced his misplaced confidence in his old sin nature. (Php 3:3) Instead of self, Christ was now the focus of his attention. Personal love for God had superseded arrogance as the foundation of his attitude toward himself.
But whatever things were gain [Profit] to me, those things [His status symbols in Israel] I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I conclude all things to be loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for the sake of whom I have suffered the loss of all things [His Jewish celebrity, will, and desires] (John 12:25) and conclude them [To be] human excrement, that I may gain Christ. (Php 3:7-8)
“Gaining Christ” is a synonym for fulfilling the protocol plan of God. (Php 1:20-21) Paul expresses his desire to advance in the operational Spiritual life all the way to Gate 8, Spiritual maturity, just as the humanity of Christ set the precedent for the royal family by attaining Spiritual maturity in the prototype Spiritual life!
That I may be found in Him [As a member of the royal family, in union with Christ] not having a righteousness of my own from the Law [Self-righteousness] but that [Divine righteousness] acquired through faith in Christ, that righteousness from God on the basis of faith. (Php 3:9)
To “gain Christ” a person must first believe in Christ. At the moment of faith alone in Christ alone, God permanently imputes His own absolute righteousness to every believer, eliminating any need to earn God's approbation, with the human righteousness of religion or of good deeds. Man appropriates Salvation only according to Divine protocol: “by grace are you saved through faith; [In Christ] . . . not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9) After Salvation the believer must continue to follow Divine protocol. Human works cannot earn Salvation, (Positional righteousness) nor can human production, “Works” earn Spiritual maturity, (Experiential righteousness) or blessings after Salvation. (Gal 3:2-3) God's grace policy is consistent. The believer lives the Christian way of life by following God's Commands. As a teaching aid, the Spiritual life consolidates God's Commands, making His grace policy understandable, systematically presenting the means by which we “grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2Pe 3:18)
That I may know Him [Spiritual Maturity] and the power of His resurrection [The resurrection Spiritual life] and the fellowship of His sufferings, [Thought, people, system and disaster testing] being conformed to His death; [Experiential death, (John 12:24-26) to His [Christ's] human nature's will and desires] (Matt 26:39; (1Pe 4:1; Php 3:3-10)
In Philippians 3:10 Paul emphasizes suffering, but he begins by stating the importance of post-Salvation Epistemological rehabilitation (With the Word of God) related to Spiritual self-esteem. Although Paul is in Spiritual maturity as he writes, he is giving us the benefit of his experience in Spiritual self-esteem. Therefore, he begins verse 10 with the infinitive of purpose of the verb, (Ginosko) “to know.” The infinitive of purpose indicates the objective or purpose of the action of the main verb, which is found in verse 8, “I conclude all things to be loss.., that I may know Him.” Paul reached this conclusion through understanding Truth. Knowing Christ, or Occupation with Christ, is one of the characteristics of Spiritual self-esteem. From the Viewpoint of Spiritual self-esteem, Paul now turns his attention to the power of God, in the resurrection Spiritual life.
The Great Power Demonstration
Jesus Christ experienced two unique deaths on the Cross. The substitutionary Spiritual death of Christ provides eternal Salvation for the human race. The physical death of Christ involved our Lord's body going into the grave, (Luk 23:50-53) And His soul and spirit, were taken by the Holy Spirit into Paradise, (Luk 23:43; Luk 23:46; John 19:30) and the Abyss, which is one of the compartments of Hades in the heart of the earth. (Rom 10:7; (1Pe 3:18-19) In the resurrection of Christ, from His unique physical death, three categories of Divine power were displayed. The omnipotence of God the Father became an agent of the resurrection of Christ. (Acts 2:27; Acts 2:24; Rom 6:4; Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; (1Th 1:10; (1Pe 1:21) The omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit also became an agent of Christ's resurrection. (Rom 1:4; Rom 8:11) And Christ also had His part in His own resurrection. (John 10:17-18) The power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is now available to every member of the royal family for the execution of the protocol plan of God. This magnificent grace provision is unknown to the believer until discovered in the New Testament, and communicated by the pastor under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. The Church Age is a tangible result of policy, the unique Divine policy of making the Spiritual life totally and equally available to every member of the royal family. (Gal 3:28) One of the results of the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Salvation is the creation of a new Spiritual species, the royal family of God. (2Co 5:17) The purpose of creating this new Spiritual species is to enable the Church Age believer to utilize Divine power, which is made available in three categories:
1. The OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD THE FATHER related to providing our portfolio of invisible assets,
2. The OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD THE SON related to sustaining the universe and perpetuating human history,
3. The OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT related to empowering the Spiritual life.
Never before in human history has so much Divine power been made available to so many believers as in the great power demonstration of the Church Age. The utilization of the Spiritual life is the basis for the believer having invisible impact during the Church Age. There are three categories of impact:
1. PERSONAL IMPACT from blessing by association with the mature believer,
2. HISTORICAL IMPACT from blessing by association with the pivot of mature believers in a client nation to God,
3. INTERNATIONAL IMPACT from blessing by association for non-client nations through Spiritually mature missionaries sent out from a client nation.
This briefly explains what Paul means when he declares that his purpose is to “know Him and the power of His resurrection.” Paul now addresses the subject of suffering as he continues to describe his purpose in life: “and [That I may know] the fellowship of His sufferings,” (Php 3:10) referring to our Lord's suffering for blessing, during His first advent. (Heb 5:8; (1Pe 4:1-2)
The Fellowship of Christ's Sufferings: As the way of growing the believer in the Spiritual life. Three categories of suffering for blessing are available to every believer who reaches Spiritual adulthood.
1. PROVIDENTIAL PREVENTIVE SUFFERING challenges the believer's Spiritual self-esteem, hinders arrogance, and serves as a warm-up for momentum testing.
2. MOMENTUM TESTING exercises the believer's Spiritual autonomy through people testing, thought testing, organization testing, and disaster testing.
3. EVIDENCE TESTING demonstrates the Divine dynamics of Spiritual maturity and glorifies God to the maximum.
These unique systems of suffering for blessing were first experienced by the humanity of Christ in the prototype Spiritual life. These same systems of suffering for blessing are now available to accelerate the momentum of every Spiritually adult believer as he advances inside the operational Spiritual life. “The fellowship of His sufferings” describes the Church Age believer's utilization of Spiritually adult problem-solving devices. The consistent application of these problem-solving devices equates adversity and prosperity, living and dying. (Gal 2:20; Php 1:21) Paul cites the supreme example of our Lord's suffering when he speaks of “having become like [Christ] with reference to His death.” (Experiential death) The Greek compound verb, (Summorphizo) in the passive voice, means “growing into conformity” indicating the practical apprehension of the death of the human nature, in will, word, and thought, (Luk 22:42; John 8:28; John 12:49; John 14:10) and fulfilling his share of the sufferings to die to his own life, will, and word, following upon the example of Christ. (John 12:24-26; Rom 6:5; Rom 8:10-13; (2Co 4:10-11)
Our Lord shows the maximum example, of positive volition: In His mind, soul, spirit, and body: In the mentality (Spiritual Thinking) of His humanity, of experiential death, to His will, desire and self-preservation. (Luk 12:50; Luk 22:44; Matt 26:38; Matt 26:53-54) In His spirit: He also died Spiritually on the cross when His soul was judged for our sins. (Isa 53:10-11; Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34; Luk 23:44; (2Co 5:21) In His body: He also was tortured, rejected, betrayed, and died physically. (Isa 53:3-9; Mark 15:15-20; John 18:2; John 19:33-34) We have nothing to complain about! (Heb 12:3-4) Blood, (Heb 9:18; Heb 10:29; Heb 12:24; Heb 13:20) sweat, (Luk 22:44) and tears; (Heb 5:7) and not a bone was broken, (Num 9:12; John 19:36) in the Old Testament the lamb was symbolically judged for sins, (Exo 29:15) but literally bled to death! (Exo 29:16) Christ was literally judged for our sins, (Rom 8:3) but did not bleed to death! (John 19:30) All in a days work! This is Amazing Grace! So the blood of Christ, in the New Testament represents: Spiritual death, Judgment, Salvation, Propitiation, Sanctification, Atonement, Justification Redemption, or all the above depending on the context. (Rev 1:5; (1Pe 1:2; Heb 13:12) Etc.
The same power that sustained Jesus on the Cross is now available to every member of the royal family. As a result of Christ's strategic victory on the cross, four dynamic problem-solving devices were made available to every Church Age believer who achieves Spiritual adulthood through residence, function, and momentum inside the Spiritual life.
1. TOWARD GOD: Personal love for God as the motivational Virtue of Spiritual self-esteem.
2. TOWARD PEOPLE: Impersonal love for all mankind as the functional Virtue of Spiritual autonomy.
3. TOWARD TRUTH: hope as the goal orientation of Spiritual adulthood.
4. TOWARD SELF: sharing the happiness of God.
While all four of these problem-solving devices were used by the humanity of Christ on the cross, sharing the happiness of God is emphasized in (Heb 12:2). When we utilize these Divine problem-solving devices, we are using the resources that sustained our Lord's humanity in purchasing our so great Salvation. (Heb 9:14)
God was glorified by Christ's strategic victory in the angelic conflict. God is also glorified when members of the royal family win tactical victories as they utilize Divine assets under pressure en route to Spiritual maturity. (John 15:8) At Spiritual maturity the believer acquires capacity to receive special blessings and to pass evidence testing, both of which glorify God to the maximum. (2Ti 4:7) Confidence from the fact of the Resurrection life: The pattern of maximum glorification of God continues in every generation of the New Covenant Age, until the end of the millennium when the royal family is completely formed. (Rev 21:3)
In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Rom 8:10-11) Not that I have already obtained it [Fully] or have already become perfect, [Maximum Spiritual maturity] but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. [To receive full reward] Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind [The victories and the failures] and reaching forward to what lies ahead, [Full Spiritual maturity] I press on toward the goal for the prize, [Full Reward] of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, [Mature believers] have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same Standard [The amount of the Thinking of Christ] to which we have attained. Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, [Carnal believers] of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, [No reward] whose god is their appetite, [Living by the lust of the flesh] and whose glory is in their shame, [Living for the pride of life] who set their minds on earthly things. [Living for the lust of the eyes, what they think is important] For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. [At the Second Advent, and at the end of the Millennium] (Php 3:13-21)
In Spiritual adulthood, suffering for blessing accelerates growth. This does not exclude prosperity from the believer's life. Overt prosperity poses difficulties of its own and is actually a form of momentum testing. The Spiritual adult will face distractions in prosperity and in adversity, just as he will share the happiness of God through the utilization of God's Thoughts, in prosperity or in adversity. The Principle is that periodic suffering for blessing is a means of Spiritual momentum: Inner prosperity, regardless of circumstances, is a result of momentum, so keep moving!
Sanctification is the work of God in making each member of the royal family like Jesus Christ. Paul expressed this initial stage of Positional sanctification in, (Php 3:9) “the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” Experiential sanctification is the execution of the protocol plan of God on earth, as we follow our Lord's precedent in the prototype Spiritual life through our residence in the operational Spiritual life. This second stage of sanctification is described in, (Php 3:10) “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.” Ultimate sanctification is the possession of a resurrection body like the resurrection body of Jesus Christ. This final stage of sanctification is anticipated in, (Php 3:21) “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.”
According to Paul's autobiographical retrospection, when he attained Spiritual autonomy his mental attitude was genuine humility. The great apostle did not rest on his laurels or become arrogant about his Spiritual stature. Instead, he recognized that he had not reached the final objective. He had not yet fulfilled the protocol plan of God by advancing to full Spiritual maturity. No believer attains Spiritual maturity (Maximum maturity) until in the status of Spiritual autonomy, he passes the four parts of momentum testing: people testing, system testing, thought testing, and disaster testing!
Losing and Regaining Spiritual Momentum
Many years earlier, Paul had passed the first category of suffering for blessing: Providential preventive suffering, which is a warm-up for momentum testing. With arrogance effectively checked, Spiritual autonomy gave him the ability to accurately evaluate his own Spiritual status. Objective self-evaluation is necessary to avoid the hazard of living in the past and bogging down before achieving the goal. The danger of losing Spiritual momentum was familiar to Paul. In fact, he is describing his second attainment of Spiritual autonomy. The first time he reached Spiritual autonomy; he lost his Spiritual momentum and retrogressed in the plan of God. By learning the hard way, Paul came to understand the wisdom of the Roman maxim: Qui non proficit deficit. “He who does not go forward, goes backward!”
Paul's failure began when he ignored the will of God and assuaged his own sentimentality by returning to Jerusalem. He compromised his integrity, incited the fanatical hatred of the religious Jews, and endured two years of incarceration in Caesarea before being transported as a prisoner to Rome. Paul suffered intensely. Initially, Divine discipline motivated rebound, followed by momentum testing which accelerated Paul's renewed Spiritual advance. As a result of suffering for blessing, Paul arrived in Rome as a Spiritually mature believer. During the two years in Caesarea and in the shipwreck on the coast of Malta, Paul passed all four parts of momentum testing. We can trace his momentum testing. People testing included the vicious attitude of Ananias, the high priest, (Acts 23:1-5) Disaster testing threatened Paul's life in the assassination plot against him in Jerusalem (Acts 23:12-14) and the rejection of the Gospel by King Herod Agrippa II, his sister Bernice, and the court that attended them. (Acts 26:1-32) System testing frustrated Paul through the malfunction of Roman justice under Felix and Festus, the two successive procurators of the Roman province of Judea. (Acts 24:22-25; Acts 26:32) Thought testing challenged Paul's mental attitude when he had to face the unthinking panic of passengers and crew during the storm at sea, (Acts 27:31-44) when he was bitten by the poisonous snake after saving everyone's life in the shipwreck, (Acts 28:3-6) and when he was rejected by the Jews upon finally reaching Rome. (Acts 28:23-31) These tests come all at the same time, and at all times! It all comes down to this, are we going to Think with God's Thoughts and Reality, or Satan's!
Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way [Of unbelief and or religion] And the unrighteous man [Carnal believer] his thoughts; [Satanic and human] And let him return to the LORD, [Rebound] And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. [Back in fellowship] For My Thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways [Human realities] My Ways, [God's ONE REALITY] declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My Ways higher than your ways And My Thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa 55:6-9)
While still a prisoner in Rome, Paul wrote Philippians in the status of Spiritual maturity. This fact is implied in the increments of momentum testing that he passed prior to reaching Rome. His Spiritual status is confirmed by comparing the Greek verb, (Teleioo) translated “or have already accomplished [Spiritual Maturity]” in verse, (Php 3:12) with its cognate noun, (Teleios) translated “as many as are Spiritually mature” in, (Php 3:15). Paul had completely recovered from his failure. As a Spiritually mature believer living entirely within the will of God, he embarked on his fourth missionary journey, after his acquittal by Caesar. Paul's evidence testing began during his first Roman imprisonment and probably continued during part of the fourth missionary journey through the Roman provinces of Asia, Gaul, and Spain. (Php 2:23-24; Phm 1:22; Rom 15:24) In looking back over his recent recovery, Paul remembered that when he was still in Spiritual autonomy he knew he had not “already achieved” Spiritual maturity. He also recalled being keenly aware that he was closing in on the goal. Consequently, he took the offensive in his advance to the high ground of Spiritual maturity. “I keep on pursuing [The objective].” Refusing to be discouraged, Paul would not be hindered by past failure! He had learned to rebound and keep moving! His aggressive action in Spiritual autonomy took the form of persistence in positive volition, the accumulation of metabolized Truth, the utilization of the Spiritual life, and the use of problem-solving devices in momentum testing. He thus followed the example that the humanity of Christ had established during the Incarnation for every Church Age believer. (Heb 12:1-4)
Steadiness of Purpose
Paul interjects a classical Greek grammatical construction as an expression of purpose and expectation. His purpose is “to overtake, to seize, to attain” the objective of Spiritual maturity, and he confidently expects to fulfill that purpose! He anticipates his advance to Spiritual maturity through the valley of momentum testing. In other words, Paul in Spiritual autonomy knows that suffering is coming. He knows the pattern! Just as Spiritual self-esteem plus providential preventive suffering equals Spiritual autonomy, so also Spiritual autonomy plus momentum testing equals Spiritual maturity. Rather than be caught off guard and victimized by suffering, he takes an aggressive approach to adversity! When Paul writes “I keep pursuing [The objective] in order that I may overtake it,” (Php 3:12) he uses military terminology. He steadily advances by his continual reception, retention, and recall of Truth. (Using rebound as needed, and resisting sin) He moves forward by using the problem-solving devices of hope in Truth, Personal love for God, Impersonal love for all mankind, and sharing the happiness of God within himself. He presses on, knowing that God will accelerate his advance through the suffering of momentum testing! No arrogant illusions remain in Paul's Thinking! He may be pursuing the goal, but he always remembers whose goal it is, and in whose power he is able to attain this goal! (Php 3:3) He returns to square one, the first step into the Christian way of life, the perspective of Salvation by grace. The objective that he concentrates on overtaking is the same goal “for which Paul also was Pursued and overtaken by Christ Jesus.” Jesus Christ's objective has become Paul's objective. That goal is the maximum glorification of God! For Paul's advantage Jesus Christ pursued and overtook Saul of Tarsus, as Paul was then known, on the road to Damascus. Our Lord's purpose in inflicting the pain of blindness on that young overzealous Pharisee; was that Saul might believe in Christ. Likewise, God's purpose in imposing momentum testing on the great apostle was that Paul might fulfill the protocol plan of God by attaining Spiritual maturity. The intended (And accomplished) result of administering suffering to Paul was glorification of God to the maximum! (Php 3:12) Documents the fact that Spiritual maturity is the objective of the Christian life! Paul is not practicing false humility by declaring that he has not reached the goal. In this retrospective verse, he recalls that when he was in Spiritual autonomy he knew that he had not yet arrived at Spiritual maturity. He possessed the strong self-esteem that belongs to the believer in Spiritual autonomy, but he entertained no illusions about himself. He accurately evaluated his Spiritual life and recognized his need to keep pursuing the objective. A believer who evaluates himself objectively perpetuates his momentum and eventually reaches Spiritual maturity!
The Basis for Objective Self-Evaluation
Brethren, I do not regard [Logizomai] myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind [The victories and the failures] and reaching forward to what lies ahead, [Full Spiritual maturity] I press on toward the goal for the prize, [Full Reward] of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Php 3:13-14)
The Greek verb Paul uses to describe his self-evaluation is (Logizomai) which has a prominent place in Greek philosophical discourse. This verb connotes non-emotional Thinking according to strict logical rules, apprehension of something actually present, the representation of facts as they are.
There are two objective standards for self-analysis available to every member of the royal family of God:
1. Perception, metabolism, and application of TRUTH,
2. The Doctrine of SUFFERING.
The believer's attitude toward Divine Thinking changes as a result of post-Salvation Epistemological rehabilitation. Truth in the soul creates a desire for more Truth. Initially the immature Christian listens to Bible teaching for a variety of motives that carry over from his life as an unbeliever, but gradually human thinking is replaced, by Divine Thinking. (Prov 11:20) The believer's academic discipline and concentration on the Word of God become stronger as he develops Personal love for God, the highest motivation in life! The Spiritually adult believer approaches the perception of Truth with a new mental attitude. He concentrates on the Mind of Christ, (1Co 2:16) because he is Occupied with the person of Christ, (Php 1:21) and has begun to share the happiness of God. (John 15:11) The believer knows that he has attained Spiritual adulthood because his perception, metabolism, and application of Truth cease to be a means to an end and instead become ends in themselves! He takes genuine pleasure in the Word of God. The perception of Truth is the highest form of worship! (Psa 101:6)
The Christian's second Standard for objective self-evaluation is the Doctrine of suffering. This Spiritual yardstick must be used with caution because many variables are involved. The overt circumstances of life have a wide variety of causes. Comparing the experience of one believer to that of another is never precise. Two believers may experience similar disasters, but in one case the pressure is suffering for blessing while in the other it is Divine discipline. The difference lies in the Spiritual advance or retrogression of the believer, not in the overt circumstances of life. Therefore, no suffering in itself conclusively indicates a Christian's Spiritual status. Furthermore, the blend of adversity and prosperity is unique in every life by Divine design. Yet even prosperity can have at least three legitimate sources: blessing by association, logistical grace or escrow blessings. Of these three sources, only escrow blessings are connected with a specific Spiritual status. Blessing by association can prosper anyone in the periphery of a mature believer, (1Co 10:2) and logistical grace is guaranteed to every believer, whether winner or loser. (Luk 6:35) Neither adversity itself nor prosperity itself is necessarily a sign of Spiritual progress. In fact, Paul's self-evaluation emphasizes the stage of growth he has not attained, (Humility) rather than the stage he has attained. A believer can use suffering as a barometer of Spiritual growth only in the sense that pressure forces him to apply the Truth in his soul. His ability to utilize the Doctrinal inventory in his soul under stress indicates his level of advance! If he falls apart in every crisis, he has a long way to go before reaching Spiritual maturity. If his Occupation with Christ, reliance on Truth, and utilization of the Spiritual life enable him to take suffering in stride, he is making progress in Spiritual adulthood. From Paul's experience of the Reality of Truth under momentum testing, he knew that he had reached Spiritual autonomy, and was closing in on Spiritual maturity. The purpose of this self-knowledge is not to compare oneself with other Christians, (2Co 10:12) but to motivate continued momentum in the protocol plan of God. There is no substitute for Truth, as the only measure and standard for self-analysis in the plan of God. The successful application of Truth under pressure demonstrates the effectiveness and power of the Spiritual life, (2Co 12:9) and as a result, increases the advancing believer's Personal love for God and Spiritual self-esteem.
An Athlete's Determination! (Php 3:13)
Following Paul's self-evaluation, he uses ellipsis in an idiom of concentration; an abbreviated interjectional clause-to eliminate the negative and emphasize the positive. “But [I concentrate on] one thing” indicates that he has blotted out, forgotten, or disregarded past failures and is pressing on to Spiritual maturity, as the final objective! Paul used rebound and rapidly recovered from his Jerusalem fiasco. By “forgetting the things which are behind,” Paul demonstrates a Principle that applies to every believer. Recalling past failures causes bitterness, self-pity, and a guilt complex, and hence further involvement in Satan's cosmic system. When remembered and pored over, failures compound current problems and hinder advance in the Spiritual life. God has a purpose for every believer, and that purpose is to rebound and keep moving! Paul's retrospective exposition is designed to encourage believers to confess their sins to God, to keep short accounts with Him, to forget past failures, to concentrate on present momentum in the Spiritual life. The Christian must not handicap himself. Past punitive suffering, whether self-induced misery or Divine discipline, must not hinder his execution of Divine protocol in present suffering for blessing. All believers periodically fail; only losers allow past failures to hinder their current progress in the protocol plan of God! On the one hand, Paul forgets past failures, and on the other hand, he “stretches out or strains forward toward the goal or finish line!” In (Php 3:13-14) Paul uses an athletic analogy. Just as an Olympic class runner maintains his form in spite of physical agony, so also the believer continues to follow Divine protocol in the midst of suffering! Paul has rounded the final turn of Spiritual autonomy and is sprinting down the home stretch toward Spiritual maturity. Just as the athlete drives for the finish line, so also the believer concentrates on the objective, unhindered by distractions, (Heb 12:1) as he undergoes momentum testing. “Straining forward” and “pressing on” portray the aggressive mental attitude of the believer who has nearly reached Spiritual maturity. His goal is the maximum glorification of God which will become a Reality in his life at reaching Spiritual maturity. God glorifies Himself, by distributing the special blessings He created for each believer in eternity past, but only the mature believer has the ever increasing capacity to receive these fabulous blessings. God has an infinite amount of Truth and Blessings, for time and eternity, and this is the prize, the goal, the purpose for which the believer was saved. To Love God, and to be loved by God! (Rev 21:7)
The “upward call from God” refers to the ministry of God the Holy Spirit at the instant an individual first believes in Christ! (John 6:44-45) Every member of the human race is born Spiritually dead, unable to comprehend Spiritual Thoughts and totally incapable of a relationship with God. (1Co 2:14) We have a Spiritually dead understanding and a Spiritually dead faith. The ministry of God the Holy Spirit is necessary, first, to make the Gospel clear and, second, to make our faith in Christ effective for Salvation. In itself our faith has no power to save us; the Holy Spirit must take our faith and make it effectual or effective in establishing an eternal relationship with God. (Tit 3:5-7)
We receive no credit even for believing in Christ; all glory belongs to God. We are saved exclusively as a gift, and all the power is from God. The “upward call” is the work of God the Holy Spirit in the lucid presentation of the Gospel. This call is designated common grace because it is extended to every individual. (Psa 19:1-4; Rom 10:18) The Holy Spirit's ministry in converting the believer's faith into eternal Salvation is called efficacious grace. (Eph 2:8-9) In every case where common grace is not followed by faith in Christ, efficacious grace does not occur. The Divine purpose in saving us is that we might attain the prize of Spiritual maturity! Spiritual maturity, Divine blessings, and the glorification of God, form the complete package awarded to the Spiritual winner! (Rev 22:12-14)
Therefore, as many as [Are] Spiritually mature, let us keep on Thinking with the Mind of Christ, and if you think differently on some point, even this God will reveal to you. (1Co 2:9-16) (Php 3:15)
Paul has completed his retrospective exposition and now writes from his current status of Spiritual maturity. He infers from the preceding verses, which describe Spiritual self-esteem and Spiritual autonomy, that in every generation a certain number of positive believers will continue their momentum until they attain Spiritual maturity. These Bond-servants, (Rev 1:1; Luk 17:10) represent a special group. Once they understand the objective of the Christian way of life, they do not waver. Instead, they organize their lives and priorities for the purpose of glorifying God to the maximum! As a result of passing that portion of momentum testing classified as thought testing, the mature believer has fulfilled the Biblical Command related to Divine Viewpoint mental attitude. (Rom 12:2-3; Php 2:2) “Let us keep on Thinking” refers to an action that began in the past and continues into the present. The same process of utilizing metabolized Divine Thinking in the power of the Spiritual life is what enables the believer to attain Spiritual maturity, and is the means of facing maximum suffering for blessing; after reaching maturity. Paul is urging readers, at every stage of Spiritual growth, to join him in the system of Divine Thinking that leads to Spiritual maturity. A dynamic and powerful mental attitude is required for the mature believer who is facing evidence testing!
Failing a Test
(Php 3:15) warns the believer that even after he fulfills the protocol plan of God by reaching Spiritual maturity, he must not let up. He must continue to utilize the Spiritual life, and cognition of Truth. (John 4:24) The ability to Think under pressure perpetuates the believer's momentum through each stage of Spiritual adulthood. The Spiritual winner Thinks; the Spiritual loser emotes without Spiritual Thought. Courage is Thinking Spiritually under pressure; cowardice is failing to Think under pressure-and falling apart emotionally. Under suffering for blessing, the believer's content of Thought is the Divine Thoughts he has metabolized over many years. Right Thinking from metabolized Truth and the right motivation from Personal love for God create the positive determination and esprit de corps (Hoorah) needed to fulfill the protocol plan of God.
No matter how far a believer advances in God's plan, he is still human. No believer on earth is perfect; we are all prone to failure, especially under the pressure of suffering for blessing. Failure can come from a lack of Truth, or from a particularly difficult thought test. The believer may have resisted or rejected the specific Principle of Truth that he now needs under pressure. More likely, however, he has learned the Truth but has become disoriented, motivated by fear, or by arrogance. The solution after failure is to rebound and keep moving, as (Php 3:13) Commands! Immediate rebound keeps the believer from losing ground. Although he fails to advance, he retains his current level of Spiritual growth, ready for another administration of testing at the proper time.
The Spiritually adult believer learns quickly from failure. When his attitude has wavered or when he has made a wrong application of Truth, he uses rebound to reenter the Spiritual life. Inside his invisible palace he either draws upon the Truth he already knows to make a correct application or he is receptive to learning the Truth he previously may have resisted. “God will reveal” Through Divine Guidance: (Acts 11:5-16) Prayer, Thinking Truth, the Word, God the Holy Spirit, repetition, remembering Scripture, coincidence, comparing of events and information. In Fellowship. (Matt 7:7-11)
A Soldier's Steady Advance
Although provision is made for failure, the purpose of momentum testing is not failure, but success. However, as a result of what we have attained, (Growth with the Mind of Christ) keep advancing in ranks by means of, [The Spiritual life]. (Php 3:16)
Paul has shifted from an athletic to a military analogy. The verb (Stoicheo, “living”) connotes marching in ranks. Members of the royal family are executing a powerful plan when they obey the Commands of the Spiritual life. (John 14:15) The objective of this plan is no less than to demonstrate, (God's Thoughts and Nature) God's eternal glory. (Eph 3:10-11; (2Pe 1:4) This verse establishes that there are stages of Spiritual adulthood, stages in the fulfillment of God's protocol plan. “What we have attained” is Spiritual self-esteem when the believer is undergoing providential preventive suffering. “What we have attained” is Spiritual autonomy; when undergoing momentum testing, as is Paul in this context. “What we have attained” is Spiritual maturity when the believer receives evidence testing. The same system that the believer uses to pass providential preventive suffering and momentum testing; must also be used to pass evidence testing. “Advancing in ranks” is a most significant translation. Far too many Christians fall out of ranks and become casualties in the angelic conflict. We must remain in ranks, which is tantamount to the following:
1. Residence, function, and momentum inside the SPIRITUAL LIFE,
2. Consistent and prompt use of REBOUND to avoid prolonged residence in Satan's cosmic system,
3. AVOIDANCE OF DISCOURAGEMENT by any failure or setback in any category of suffering for blessing,
4. Consistent use of the PROBLEM SOLVING DEVICES of Spiritual adulthood, and
5. Unrelenting perception, metabolism and application of Divine Thoughts.
The believer advances in ranks from one stage of Spiritual adulthood to the next. As he progresses, he scores tactical victories in the angelic conflict. This Spiritual warfare will come into dramatic focus in the final category of suffering for blessing. Spiritual maturity puts the believer in position for the most significant and beneficial of all suffering for blessing: evidence testing, relationship with God, and relationship with life, people, thoughts, systems, disasters, and self! The book of Job. (Job 1:1) thru (Job 42:17)
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY
A CATEGORICAL DESCRIPTION OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY indicates the happiness and inner strength related to this final stage of Spiritual growth. These characteristics mark the highest attainment of the Christian way of life. The purpose of this summary is not to establish a model of behavior for the immature believer to legalistically imitate. Instead, these characteristics, when compared to the previously described characteristics of Spiritual self-esteem and Spiritual autonomy, enable the advancing believer to accurately anticipate the marvelous benefits of faithful persistence in the protocol plan of God.
1. MAXIMUM CONTENTMENT. Sharing the happiness of God is the highest of all problem-solving devices in the protocol plan of God. (1Jn 1:4) The advancing believer began to share the happiness of God upon entering Spiritual adulthood in Gate 5 of the Spiritual life. Now in Spiritual maturity at Gate 8, his “happiness [Is] fulfilled” or complete. (John 15:11) Suffering, which would normally be difficult, becomes relatively easy through residual happiness in the soul! Happiness is a mental attitude which equates adversity and prosperity, living and dying. (1Pe 1:7-8) Maximum capacity for happiness enables the mature Christian to face every challenge in his experience. God strengthens the believer through metabolized Truth, and suffering for blessing, so that His own shared happiness may be tested, developed, and completed in the believer's soul in adversity, as well as in prosperity. God shares His happiness with the believer for the believer's own benefit; therefore, happiness is the problem-solving device directed toward self.
2. MENTAL STABILITY. Truth saturates the mature believer's Thinking. He has maximum application of Truth to every experience. Cognizance of Truth enables him to give Divine Viewpoint precedence, over empirical experience. Consequently, his mental attitude is stabilized by the Truth he knows, rather than destabilized by the circumstances of his life. The mature believer Views his life in the light of God's Declared Reality, which gives him tremendous confidence regarding time and eternity! This confidence in God's ability to provide for him, and to bless him in any future contingency, is the Biblical definition of “hope.” (Rom 8:24-25) Hope is the mature believer's problem-solving device directed toward Truth and related to his mental stability.
3. MAXIMUM USE OF VIRTUE LOVE AS A PROBLEM SOLVING DEVICE. Virtue love includes Personal love for God as a motivational Virtue (Gate 7 of the Spiritual life) and Impersonal love for all mankind as a functional Virtue. (Gate 8) The mature believer has maximum use of both categories of Virtue love. Therefore, he is Occupied with the Person of Christ. (Php 1:21) Furthermore, because Virtue-love for God motivates Virtue-love toward others, Personal love for God in Spiritual maturity becomes the dynamic basis for resolving all kinds of problems. Virtue-love is the problem-solving device directed toward God, toward self, and toward other people.
4. COGNITIVE INDEPENDENCE. The mature believer can Think and apply Truth for himself from the Truth stored within his own soul. As a result of post-Salvation Epistemological rehabilitation and persistence in the perception of Truth, the mature believer has a superior understanding of the mechanics of the protocol plan by which he attained Spiritual maturity. The mature believer understands God's plan for his life and can face his problems with clarity of Thought.
5. MAXIMUM GRACE ORIENTATION TO LIFE. Orientation to the grace of God characterizes the mature believer's Thinking, motivation, decisions, and actions. He understands that the Principle of grace in Salvation is multiplied into the policy of grace after Salvation. (Gal 3:2-3) The believer is saved under the Principle of grace; he lives under the policy of grace. He is delighted to do things God's way! He is free from being motivated by: The flaw of the twisted nature, Feminine: To be told you look good, to be stroked like a dog, to fear, be controled, to be dominated. Or Masculine: To take advantage of, to hurt, control, use, and dominate: Toward the goverment, employer, employes, husband, wife, self, family, friends, house, car, Etc. The flaw of the twisted nature, masculine and feminine, in every soul, male and female. (Jas 3:14-16) The pimp and hooker sin nature in all of us! Is a responder or initiator, pitcher or catcher, giver or receiver, and both at the same time! Now; the Spiritually mature believer uses God's Nature, (2Pe 1:4) God initiates and gives, we respond and receive, the perfect love relationship. Not that God is the male, and believers are the female. (Eph 5:26-27) But that God has an eternal infinite capasity to give love, happiness and Truth, Etc. And we as believers have an ever increasing capasity to respond and receive it, forever and ever! (Jas 1:17-18; Jas 3:17) The mature believer is also free from fanaticism, sincerity, tradition, asceticism, sentimentality, legalism, moral and immoral degeneracy, emotionalism, arrogance, and habitual cosmic involvement! (Rom 6:17-18; Jas 1:21-22; (1Pe 1:22)
6. MAXIMUM DOCTRINAL ORIENTATION TO REALITY. Capacity for prosperity and the ability to apply Truth to experience, give the mature believer Spiritual common sense. Spiritual common sense is an astute (With it) outlook on life that can penetrate confusing, complicated situations and discern the key issues. The mature believer is realistic. He is not easily deceived. He has the wisdom to synthesize the situation and identify the best course of action and the courage to do a right thing in a right way.
7. THE GREATEST DECISIONS IN LIFE FROM A POSITION OF MAXIMUM STRENGTH. Every decision by a mature believer can be a great decision. He has a full, practical understanding of the mechanics of God's protocol plan so that he can relate his decisions to the invisible but real assets that God has provided. Because he has established the right scale of values, the mature believer consistently makes right decisions. For him, Truth takes number one priority.
8. MAXIMUM CONTROL OF ONE'S LIFE. No one who tampers with the lives of others can at the same time control his own. Therefore, the mature believer does not seek to coerce or manipulate others. He is not possessive with those whom he loves and thus avoids the pitfall of jealousy. He does not give expression to power lust. Instead, he fully utilizes the privacy of his priesthood; God is the focus of his life. Personal love for God motivates Impersonal love for others. He eliminates false applications from his life: no competitiveness from arrogance, no comparativeness from subjectivity, no conspiracy from inordinate ambition. In other words, he neither demands superiority over everyone else, nor derives his self-esteem from comparisons with others, nor demeans others in order to elevate himself. He controls his own life by faithfulness in the execution of God's protocol plan. God has control over his life. Because his Thoughts, motives, decisions and actions are consistent with God's Thoughts and Will, (John 15:7-14) the believer lives in a state of sharing the happiness of God. He makes decisions with the full understanding that he bears the responsibility for their consequences.
9. MAXIMUM DYNAMICS IN LIVING. The mature believer has an unwavering personal sense of destiny. He knows that God has a purpose for his life; he understands God’s purpose; he applies his understanding of God’s plan to the particular circumstances of his life, whether good or bad. Self-command, poise, self-restraint, and self-control are established traits of his character. He recognizes that he continues to fulfill his destiny by executing the protocol plan of God. This results in a life of maximum Spiritual production.
10. ESCROW BLESSINGS. The first stage of the maximum glorification of God in Spiritual maturity is the distribution of escrow blessings. In eternity past God created an inheritance of special blessings for each believer. (Eph 1:3; (1Pe 1:4) These blessings are the “prize of that upward call from God” described in, (Php 3:14). The distribution of these unique blessings demonstrates the matchless grace of God and glorifies Him in the angelic conflict. He placed this unique treasury on deposit, as if in escrow, to be distributed to the believer when he acquires the capacity to enjoy God’s “greater grace.” (Jas 4:6) The believer gains capacity to receive, utilize, and enjoy his escrow blessings through the execution of the protocol plan of God, resulting in Spiritual momentum and the attainment of Spiritual maturity. Capacity for blessing is a characteristic of Spiritual maturity; therefore, the distribution of escrow blessings is also a characteristic of maturity!
11. QUALIFICATION FOR EVIDENCE TESTING. The second stage of the maximum glorification of God in Spiritual maturity is evidence testing. Never before in history has God made so much of His omnipotence available to the believer as in the Church Age, and never before in the believer’s lifetime does he have greater exercise of God’s power as in Spiritual maturity. These tremendous Divine dynamics are necessary for the final increment of suffering for blessing. As a result of reaching Spiritual maturity and achieving maximum utilization of his problem solving devices, the dynamics of the believer’s life are manifest in both living and dying, in both prosperity and evidence testing — under the consistent utilization of Divine omnipotence.
12. ATTAINMENT OF THE FINAL PHASE OF THE UNIQUE LIFE. Spiritual maturity is characterized by that phase of the unique life described as “Christ [Being] glorified in [The] body.” (Php 1:20-21) This glorification of Christ occurs through escrow blessings and evidence testing.
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