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Pressing on Toward the Goal, Pt. 1 (Philippians 3:12-13)

Part of the Elders' Elective Series series, preached at a Sunday Morning service

David Torres
David Torres
October 7, 2012

Sermon preached on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at Garden Valley Chapel during our morning worship service based on Philippians 3:12-13.

The heart of Paul’s message is found in v. 14 where he writes –

14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

In fact he uses that verb twice in the passage. I “press on” – used once in v. 12 and again in v. 14. I press on toward the goal.

And the analogy he is using is that of a runner who is running to win – cross that finish line and gain the prize.

What Paul is speaking about in these verses is that eagerness for Christ – that eagerness to grow in the Lord. He is urging his readers to maximize their effort for spiritual growth – press on toward the goal fellow believers.

Now he has already given us his testimony in the preceding verses, but just to remind ourselves look at what he calls “putting confidence in the flesh” in v. 5 –

5circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;
6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

“Look, I was a law-abiding Jew who put his confidence in the flesh. I use to put my confidence in being circumcised, on being a descendant of Abraham, in performing certain external ceremonies and duties of the Mosaic Law. All of these things do not save, yet I put all my confidence in them.”

The point is this – abilities or achievements apart from God do nothing to save you. They are no benefit for salvation.

In fact he uses accounting terminology to explain.

Many of us can identify as we begin to file our taxes – whether it is saving up for the latest Tax software of calling up that accountant that helps you make sense of it all.

Paul did the math for himself, look at v. 7 –

7But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

“Gain” is everything that could be deemed as profit. “Loss” is everything that could be deemed as just that, loss.

You might remember the Pharisee in Luke 18. He made himself a similar profit column (if you will) in which he put such things as these as mentioned in vv. 11-12 –

11“The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
12‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

To him these things served to him as evidence of his salvation. He too placed his confidence in the flesh.

The difference with the Pharisee and Paul in Philippians three is that Paul sees those things as loss. They were actually worthless and damning.

Jesus said it this way in Luke 18:14 –

14“…everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Hell is about the most humbling place – as God will humble all those who prided themselves in their own righteousness apart from God.

Paul at one point saw them as gain, but God saved Paul on the road to Damascus and now all of that seems but a loss to him – and the continue to be to this day.

In essence Paul followed what is written of in Matt 16:25-26 –

25“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
26“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Paul found life and it was totally different from his life before. It was life in Christ and he wanted everything to do with that life in Christ.

And so in vv. 8-11 Paul describes the benefits of that life in Christ. And the number one benefit that consumes him most is knowing Christ.

Look at v. 8 –

8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…

Q: Do you know what the goal of everything is for the life a believer?
A: It is to know Christ. To goal of everything is to know Christ.

That is what is surpassing greatness. This is what towers over every tough moment in life. The believer soars above the heavens just knowing that life’s trials are but a grain of sand to the greatness of knowing Christ.

Knowing Christ changes everything. But it is not some mere intellectual knowledge. We are talking about knowing Him experientially – personally. I know Christ. My life is Christ.

Galatians 2:20 –

20“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

This is what God is after. He wants all men to know Him. Do you remember what Paul said to the Athenians in Acts 17:27?

He made man so… 27that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him

This is what God desired of Israel – for them to know Him. The Lord says through Isaiah in Isaiah 1:3 concerning Israel –

3“An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.”

How well do you know God? or How well do know you Christ?

All of what Paul has gained is that new life in Christ. In fact, knowing Christ was everything to Paul.

This was his goal. This is what he pressed on for. 

“Look, I want to be found in Him. I want know Him and I press on toward this goal. BUT I HAVEN’T ARRIVED at knowing Him fully.”

This is Paul’s heartbeat in these next verses (vv. 12-16). In fact he lays down a gauge by which you can measure your own effort towards knowing Christ.

The year is 62 A.D. when he pens these words to the Philippians and it has been some 27 years since his conversion. You would think that Paul would measure himself higher than he does, but he doesn’t.

In fact when you look at these verses, Paul provides a healthy manner by which you can measure your eagerness towards knowing Christ.

This is the goal of every believer and Paul places a spiritual gauge in these verses by which we can measure our own eagerness towards spiritual growth.

He is most honest in his assessment of where he is at in this race. He is most honest about his own ambition (what he presses on toward). He is most honest about the kind of attitude it takes to carry you through this race.

This is how you gauge the effort you are making towards knowing Christ.

This is Paul’s theme in this section of Scripture. Is there an eagerness for Christ – to know Him? This moment? This last week? This last month? This last year?


Let’s look at what Paul gives to his readers as a spiritual gauge.

A Healthy Assessment (vv. 12-13)
A Healthy Ambition (vv. 14)
A Healthy attitude (vv. 15-16)

Today we will cover the first one and the others in the week to come.

About David Torres: David Torres was born in San Salvador and moved to the States at the age of 6. He came to Christ at age 15. He is a graduate of The Master’s University (BA ’01) and The Master’s Seminary (MDiv ’06; Th.M. ‘19). He served as a pastor-teacher in Garden Valley, CA for 8 years. He works at Grace to You as the GAV Radio Producer serving the Spanish speaking world through the teaching ministry of John MacArthur. David is committed to expository preaching and shepherding God’s flock. He serves as a deacon at Grace Community Church and is a part of the Joint Heirs Fellowship Group. He was married to Angie in 2000, and they have been blessed by God with seven children: Isaiah, Emilia, Micah, Eva, Isabella, Elizabeth, and Jeremiah.