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Devotional - week of May 28, 2017


CAPTURED FOR A PURPOSE

… I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Philippians 3:12

The letters of Paul contain numerous descriptive terms of what happened to us when we came to Jesus for salvation. In Philippians 3:12 Paul says that God “laid hold” of us. He apprehended us. He captured us. 

Philippians 3:12 also indicates that God captured us with a purpose in mind. God “laid hold” on us that we might “lay hold” on something. The broader context of the passage reveals what that something is.

Paul’s expressed desire in Philippians 3:11 reveals the purpose. The verse reads:

… if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Here Paul refers to the believer’s spiritual resurrection. In Ephesians 2:4-6 Paul lists three characteristics of the believer's spiritual resurrection. We were "quickened," "raised," and "seated with Christ in the heavenlies." It is the third characteristic Paul has in mind in Philippians 3:11.

In Philippians 3:12 Paul admits that he has not yet arrived at a continual experience of life in the heavenlies. Then he expresses his passion to do so by writing:

… I follow after if I might lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold on me.

Some might ask, “What about evangelism, missions, Christian service of others, and daily responsibilities? Are we to just sit around all day alone with God?” The answer is, "No." In 2 Corinthians 2:17 Paul testifies of his Christian service.

… but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

As Paul served God, he never had to leave the presence of God. He did so “in Christ.” That is, he did so as he lived out his union with Christ in crucifixion, burial, and resurrection—and so can we.