If your past has ever threatened to hold you back from moving forward, you need to hear this message from someone in a similar situation.
(on Phil 3:6ff) As an adult, Paul continues, he chose a religious lifestyle that left no doubt with regard to his commitments. Significantly, the matters he brings up in this context parallel clearly his claims in Gal. 1:13–14, where the Judaizing opposition forms the backdrop for Paul’s comments (though in that passage the precise point is different). Here in Philippians he first indicates that the particular approach he chose for his interpretation of the law was that of the Pharisees. This perspective, which emphasized the “ancestral traditions” (Gal. 1:14; this phrase corresponds to the rabbinic oral law), was widely perceived as the one most faithful to Scripture; the Judaizers, at any rate, could not have asked for anything more impressive. (Cf. Acts 22:3; 23:6; 26:5, see also the additional notes on 3:6.) In the second place, Paul proves the sincerity and intensity of his prior religious commitment by using “an expression of intense irony, condemning while he seems to exalt his former self: ‘. . . I persecuted, imprisoned, slew these infatuated Christians; this was my great claim to God’s favor’” (Lightfoot). The language in Gal. 1:13 is more forceful: “I used to persecute intensely the church of God and tried to destroy it.” – Moises Silva
Philippians 3:12–16 (NIV)
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Preparation for Communion
A Prayer of Confession
Minister: (So brothers and sisters, I want to ask you to) first think about our faith. We all confess the truth of God as taught by Scripture and summarized in the creeds of the church. By this faith we take to ourselves Christ and all his benefits, so that for us to live is Christ.
All: Lord God, author and finisher of all true believing, confirm our faith as we prepare for the holy sacrament.
Minister: Let us, further, think about our hope. All Christian hope rests upon the finished work of Christ as Savior. God’s children rely wholly upon the merits of Christ, find in him their strength and victory, and confidently expect his return in glory.
All: Most merciful Father, fill us with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope.
Minister: Let us also examine our love, both for God and our neighbors. Remember the great and first commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Do we unselfishly live for the welfare of others? Do our lives reflect the godly virtues of obedience, fidelity, integrity, justice, humility, and contentment? Do we seek reconciliation with our neighbors in all cases of offense?
All: Dear Father, daily increase in us the greatest gift of all, our Christian love.
Minister: If these marks of spiritual life are not evident in us, we may not presume to approach his table. Those, therefore, who live in self-righteousness, who hope in works or virtues of their own, and who do not show love to God and neighbor, have no true place at the Lord’s supper. Yet we should not be deterred by any sin lingering within against our will. As we find faith, hope, and love within us, we ought gladly to obey our Lord’s command and come with full expectation to God’s open house of mercy.
All: Gracious God, we love and adore you in Christ our Lord. We thank you for reconciling us to yourself in him. We rejoice in being received as your children.
Prepare us by your Holy Spirit for the sacrament. Help us to come in the assurance that by it we shall be spiritually revived, and strengthened in faith, hope, and love, through Christ our Lord. Amen.