Pressing Toward the Goal
* Review and Report on last week’s Walking Points questions and next steps. Thoughts? How did you do? Share any victories and/or struggles you may have had following through with your plan.
1. Read Philippians 3:12-21 twice. Write down any key ideas or phrases that catch your attention. What are the key principles you believe we ought to draw from this text? Why did you choose those principles?
2. In verses 12-14, Paul compared the spiritual life to a foot-race. What did Paul say he had not already obtained, according to verse 12? Why do you think Paul used the physical description of “pressing on” or “straining toward” his goal?
Do you press toward the goal like the Apostle Paul? Why or why not?
What is it about spiritual maturity that makes it so hard to achieve?
3. Paul said, in verse 13, that he knew he needed to keep moving forward in his spiritual walk (or race) with Christ. Therefore, one thing he made sure to do was to “forget” what was behind him as he strained toward what was ahead. While we may never completely forget where we were when Christ saved us and the life of sin we left behind, how can dwelling on the past hinder our forward progress with Christ (see Luke 9:62: 17:31-32)?
What parts of your past still occupy a spiritually unhealthy amount of your time and attention? What areas of your past do you still beat yourself up over? What comfort and conviction should Romans 8:1 bring to you regarding this?
4. What was the “prize” Paul was pursuing (v. 14)? (See also, 1 Corinthians 9:24-25; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; Hebrews 12:1-2)
How should such a prize motivate Christians to continue running the race before them? Does God’s heavenly reward motivate you to strain forward and press on toward the goal? Why or why not?
While Christians are not called to be so heavenly-minded that they’re no earthly good, how can being heavenly-minded, in the way Paul was talking about, actually help make Christians more earthly good than they might otherwise be?
5. What do those who are mature in their thinking (v. 15) realize that the legalists and others who are spiritually proud not understand, based on verses 12-14?
Have you ever known or heard about professing Christians who believed they had “arrived” and did not need to continue growing in their faith? Why do you think they believed that? Based on what Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12-16, how would you help them better understand spiritual growth? (see also, Philippians 3:3-9)
6. In verse 17, the Philippians are told to imitate Paul and others who walk according to Paul’s example. What are some reasons Christians today often shy away from calling others to follow their example in Christian discipleship?
Read Philippians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9; 1 Timothy 4:12, 15-16; Hebrews 13:7. In Philippians 3:12, the Apostle Paul admitted he had not reached full Christian maturity, though he was straining toward that goal. Knowing that no one, except our Lord Jesus Christ, has ever or will ever live a fully mature spiritual life, how can we still call others to follow our example in the Christian life?
How is encouraging others to follow our Christian example good for our own faith?
7. If we’re not following godly examples, what other examples are looming out there for us to follow, according to verses 18-19?
Paul uses four phrases to describe these “enemies of the cross of Christ?” Write what you think each phrase means. Then, share how each description reveals that such people are enemies of the cross of Christ.
· Their end is destruction –
· Their god is their belly –
· They glory in their shame –
· Their minds are set on earthly things –
8. Where is our true citizenship (v. 20)? What does this mean for how Christians live in this world?
9. What will happen when Christ returns (vv. 20-21)?
How do the following texts describe what happens at Christ’s return - Revelation 19:11-16; 21:22-27; Psalm 8:6; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28: Hebrews 2:8-9?
What comfort, confidence, and hope do these verses give you?
10. If Christ took the sins of Christians on himself and atoned for them, and if Christians receive the righteousness of Christ when they trust in him, then in what way do Christians still need to “press on” or “strain toward” the goal of spiritual maturity (see Philippians 1:6; 2:12-13)?
What are three practical ways for a Christian to do this?
11. Do you really believe Romans 8:1 is true for those who have repented of their sins and trusted in Christ alone for their salvation? Have you repented of your sins and trusted in Christ alone? If so, claim the life-giving truth of Romans 8:1, forget what lies behind you, and press toward the goal because Christ Jesus has made you his own. Who will you share this good news with this week?
If you have not repented of your sins and trusted in Christ, talk to a trusted Christian friend today and ask for their help in doing so. As Paul said, “today is the day of salvation.”
12. Who are three Christians you know who live spiritually mature lives? What is an example from each one of their lives that you want to follow?
When you complete this lesson, write each of these people a handwritten note and thank them for their godly example.
Click the image to buy the study guide to use with your small group or for personal use.
Each lesson can also be downloaded in Microsoft Word.