The High Calling of God - The Great Commission, Part 24
We have been discussing how the Apostle Paul became a disciple of the kingdom of heaven. He gave a remarkable explanation of this in Philippians 3:10-14:
that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul wrote this Epistle near the end of his life, and yet he claimed that he did not think he had yet attained. He was one of the greatest of all apostles, and he helped give birth to a whole new type of ministry—the apostolic missionary. He lived one of the most devoted and sacrificial lives ever recorded, and yet he did not feel that he had yet attained! Attained what?
He was not talking about salvation or eternal life. He had those the day he trusted in the cross of Jesus for his redemption. What he wrote here about attaining to the resurrection could have been translated “a better resurrection,” the same term used in Hebrews 11 for those who rejected their deliverance for the higher purposes of God. Paul was talking about what he calls in this last verse “the high calling of God.”
Like it or not, agree with it or not, everyone will not be the same in the resurrection. There is a “better resurrection,” a “high calling,” which many have seen and run the race to attain throughout the ages. Jesus taught this, as did His apostles. There are different positions in heaven such as where we will sit in relation to Him. We see it in Revelation where the great multitude stand before the throne, but those who overcome sit with Him on His throne. This revelation of the high calling in Christ is sown throughout the Scriptures.
Not all Christians perceive this high calling, and some who do have gone awry thinking they had attained it just because they were privileged to see it. Others stumble because of the pride of presuming they had attained. People fall to those same delusions over many other truths too, so just because people fall or distort does not negate the clear biblical truth. However, if we handle the truth as we should, it will not cause us to stumble or be puffed up with pride but will elevate and empower us to the greatest purpose of mankind—to love God and serve Him, compelling others to do the same. Paul’s discourse on this subject may be one of the best ever to prevent us from going to extremes with this truth.
If the Apostle Paul did not consider that he had yet attained near the end of his life, how could anyone in this life consider that they had attained? If we cannot show a greater life, greater authority, and greater fruit than the Apostle Paul (whose letters are probably still bearing more fruit than all of the ministries on earth combined), we would be the most foolish of all to claim that we have attained something he did not claim.
When we begin to see this high calling, we understand why Paul would esteem it as highly as he did. It is the greatest opportunity in all of creation. Even the angels marvel at what has been made available to mankind—that we could become the very sons and daughters of God, members of His own household, ruling with Him over the rest of creation.
The lowest subject in the kingdom will have an eternal life that is so wonderful we cannot even comprehend it. Even so, we now determine our eternal positions in the kingdom. It is important that we understand this calling. Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. When we see the prize, it helps us to lay aside every encumbrance to run the race set before us. Let us keep in mind that pride will rob us of our prize.