FOLLOWING PAUL -4
There is one more matter, in which, according to Philippians 3, we are to be followers of Paul. We have
considered the matter of his renunciation (v.7), and his aspiration (v.10), and now there remains what we
shall call his concentration, for that, too, is strongly raised in the passage.
WE ARE TO FOLLOW PAUL IN HIS GREATCONCENTRATION. (VS-12-16).
It would seem that it was this matter, particularly, which was uppermost in his mind when he issued his
appeal, "Be followers of me". We deduce this from the fact that, in the verses immediately prior to verse
seventeen, the Apostle had been making reference to what we call the Christian race, and he had testified
that, as far as he was concerned, he was in that race, and, indeed, pressing toward the mark for the prize
(v.14). The revised version renders it, "I press toward the goal unto the prize", but, in either case, the
emphasis is on intense concentration. Indeed, Paul says, "This one thing I do" (v. 13). Now, it is exactly
at that point that Paul says to the Philippians, "Be followers of me", meaning, of course, that he would
have them join him in a similar concentration, and a whole hearted pursuit of the prize.
We may notice that this figure of the Christian race is frequently used in Scripture, and we give the
To the Corinthians (world center of the Olympic games!), Paul wrote, "Know ye not that they which run
in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for
the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible" (1 Cor.9: 24,25).
Then, towards the end of his life, he wrote to Timothy, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my
course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, i.e. a righteous
crown), which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day" (2 Tim.4: 7,8).
And most of us will be well familiar with that great word to the Hebrews: "Wherefore seeing we also are
compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth
so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author
and finisher of our faith" (Heb.12: 1,2).
Yes, the Christian life is indeed a race, and, as we know, a race requires very much in the way of
concentration. That, we repeat, was the point the Apostle was making when he wrote those words to the
Philippians, -"I press toward the mark for the prize". We can be assured, of course, that, in such passages,
the idea is never that of competing selfishly or unkindly against our fellow-Christians, or, in any way,
seeking personal advantage or glory at their expense, for that would be entirely contrary to the whole
teaching of the Lord. Rather is it this simple matter of intense concentration on the part of all as we all
press forward to the promised "upward calling in Christ Jesus".
Much has been said and written in connection with this "upward calling", but our single purpose, for the
present, is to emphasize this matter of the Apostle's concentration in the Christian race, and his immediate
call to us to be his followers in that regard.
We do well, of course, to recognize that the Word does have much to say about a coming spiritual prize
giving; -whatever form that "prize giving" may take. Christ Himself said, "For the Son of man shall come
in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works"
The Apostle John re-echoes this same truth when he writes in his epistle: "Look to yourselves, that we
lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward" (2 John 8). And, (very
significantly, we would say), the very last chapter of the Bible confronts us, likewise, with the same great
matter when the Coming King Himself proclaims: II And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with
me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (Rev.22:12).
Detailed expositions of these verses we are not attempting here, but certainly no one can deny that there
is a Biblical principle of "Rewards". And that, perhaps, is all we need to know at present!
The simple question we are raising here is, -are we really concentrating in this race? Are we truly
following Paul in this regard? Are we pressing toward the mark for the prize? Have we at least got a heart
to seek that prize, -whatever it might be? Even if it be nothing more than God's "Well done, good and
faithful servant" (Matt.25: 21), have we got a heart for that? And, should the prize be something more
specific, say, sharing the Throne with Christ as promised in Rev.3: 21, -shall we qualify? We know that
this can only be by His grace, but the Lord did say, "To him that overcometh will grant to sit with me in
my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne"(Rev.3: 21). This, too,
is a tremendous subject, which we are not embarking upon just here. We simply note the fact that a great
"Prize-giving" is surely coming. That day will bring great glory to the Lord, and Paul, for one, was
concentrating. No time for fond reminiscences over the past (how fatal in a race!), or, for that matter, for
any futile regrets over the same, but simply, "I press toward the mark for the prize".
THE GREAT MOUNTAIN. 4
Silver in the Bible speaks of the price of redemption paid by the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e., His precious
blood. How great a price our Lord paid to make us His own! He was betrayed and sold for thirty pieces of
silver, but He has purchased us with His own precious blood and because of the rice He paid, we have
become unto God very precious. Before your conversion you probably thought of others in terms of
money. Now, as a new creature, you must think of every one in terms of the redemption price. No longer
do we think of others as inferior or superior, nor make relationships for the sake of money. We think in
terms of God's perfect will. We meet believers as equals, live as equals, and move as equals because of
His blood. It is only because of His blood, we enjoy His love in fullness, and that is why we have love for
others, and are loved of men of all classes. Before our aim was to see how much money we could squeeze
out of others, but now, we want only to know how we can serve others and tell them what we have found.
This is because of the value of the precious blood of Christ and because we know that every redeemed
soul is very precious to God.
Thirdly, brass speaks of divine strength. It is the knowledge of our loving God that becomes our
daily strength. "Thus saith the LORD, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty
man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that
he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and
righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD... Thy shoes shall be iron and
brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be" (Jer.9: 23,24; Deut.33: 25). We now walk and live and
move in the strength of the Holy and the living God. We may live a long life or a short one; we may have
few or many burdens, but according to our days He gives us strength.
Fourthly, iron speaks of spiritual weapons. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty
through God to the pulling down of strong holds" (2 Cor.10: 4). Our weapon is obedience to the Lord
Jesus Christ even in our imaginations and thoughts. We do not conquer the devil by our Bible knowledge,
or by fasting, or by seeing miracles. It is only by absolute obedience to our Lord that we can conquer the
God wants us to have true gold, true silver, true brass and true iron. But before He can give us that, He
must take away from us the false gold, false silver, false brass and false iron. That is how we first receive
the Lord Jesus Christ as the Rock cut out without hands. We receive Him in a simple way by simple faith.
Have you allowed that Rock to break the gold, silver, brass and iron into pieces? Has the wind begin to
blow and drive out the chaff? The wind is the symbol of the Holy Spirit coming into our heart, and
driving out the chaff of false gold, silver, brass, and iron.
The Rock, we are told, increased, and went on increasing. It will fill you through and through till every
lesser thing is removed and your whole heart and being are filled with the Lord Jesus Christ. Will you not
allow that Rock cut out without hands to come and take full possession in your heart? Will you receive
Him? He is ready and waiting to come in. Then the Lord Himself will become your gold, silver, brass and
iron. He comes in a very quiet way. Your neighbours will not know it, but you will know as He begins to
shake and break every image within and begins to increase till He fills your whole heart and life.