NCV Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, 13 Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above.
Philippians 3:1 - 21
ESV - 1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.
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For Paul, nothing that he could possibly achieve or obtain, or any hardships or sufferings (including a martyr's death) that he might have to endure for Christ's sake, here in this brief earthly life could even begin to compare with the peace, joy, and blessing of spending eternity in God's presence (Romans 8:18). It was this reward (as Paul said in the verses cited in the question) that caused him to strain toward it, just as a runner strains to reach the finish line for the prize that he will receive -- not motivated by earning salvation itself through his own efforts (which no one can do), but by showing gratitude to God for the salvation that he had already received through faith, and in hope of the reward that he would receive from God in eternity for those efforts. In my opinion, those who do not share this perspective, and who are focused solely on this present life, either lack a proper understanding and appreciation of the infinite nature of eternity, and the brevity of life in relation to it; or else implicitly reject the notion (even if they do not declare it in words) of the possibility of an existence beyond this present life.
Paul was an apostle. He came to preach Christ and Him crucified for the free gift of salvation by grace. He had eternal life, so was working for rewards in heaven. He wanted to receive the crown that God had for Him. The will of God for salvation is to believe on His Son Jesus as the only way to be saved. But after we are saved, our rewards in heaven are dependent on our works. We can only be saved by grace without works, Romans 11:6, but our works done in faith, after we are saved and already given eternal life, if we live to please Him who loved us, we will have rewards in heaven. His commandment to us is to believe on the Lord Jesus as the only way of salvation, and do good works for rewards in heaven. Love one another.
Once you are written in the book of life I have never see any scriptures to preclude you from Heaven. That's why as Christians we strive to get all souls written in this book sinners as they are. We all sin and have fallen short of the Glory of God. That's why he died on the cross BUT I do believe you can still be judged on the other side of the gate. Not harshly as the undesirables according to the scriptures will die and then be judged on the last day. At that time we all will be very busy but judging will not be for us. Many people will wish they were never born and eliminated from all heavenly things forever in the void. Time to make peace with God now. He loves us and cares for us and all he wants is us to ask. My beliefs. The Sinning Preacher
Why was Paul straining to get to heaven? (Philippians 3:14) Life in Christ involves a tension between two equal but contrasting truths. By faith, believers have already attained God's complete acceptance (Philippians 3:16). But in this life, no believer lives out the fullness of it. We are to be fully assured of our salvation, but at the same time, we are to avoid the pride and self-satisfaction that could hinder our continued growth in the Christian life.
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