The Prize

Woman-praising-God-in-beachBy The Mad Preacher

Jesus said, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.—Jesus (Matthew 13:45-46 HCSB) 1

Notice that the man sold everything he had in order to get that which his heart desired. What does your heart desire? What price are you willing to pay for it? What price are you willing to pay for the greatest prize of all time? What would you pay for the priceless pearl?

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24) 2

What did Paul mean by this statement? Many have interpreted this passage incorrectly. They say that it’s a reference to salvation, or how well we perform in order to get or maintain it. However, Paul was not speaking of competition. He was referring to the dedication and devotion involved in giving your all to something. In the same way a runner dedicates himself, mind, body and spirit to winning a race, we should dedicate ourselves to obtaining “the prize.”

Paul continues this thought. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”  (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)

He continues this theme in Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This prize is something that we’ve been call to. We were created for this one goal.

“Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize…” (Colossians 2:18)

Well, what is this prize that Paul keeps talking about? First, let me tell you what “the prize” is not. It’s not salvation, for that is by grace not good deeds. It is a gift. (Ephesians 2: 8-9) It’s not Heaven. Heaven is the retirement plan. (John 14: 3)

It’s not righteousness or piety, for 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Nor is it wisdom, for James said that wisdom is ours simply for the asking. So what is this prize to which Paul keeps referring?

It found in Philippians chapter 3. “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: [this is the key] Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Vs. 7-14)

That’s the prize—to know God. That’s our ultimate reason for living. We were created to know God, to walk in fellowship with Him and be a co-laborer with Him. When Paul cried out in verse 10, “I want to know Christ…” the Greek word he used for “know” is Ginosko. It means to become intimately acquainted with someone. It’s the word the New Testament Greek used for sexual intercourse.

As the bride exclaims, “I want to know my husband!” the heart’s cry of the Bride of Christ should be “I want to know Christ! More than anything I want to know Him.” The verse 15 in Philippians chapter 3 says, “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things…”

“O God, I have tasted your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want you; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me your glory, I pray, that I may know you indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow you up from this misty lowland where I have wondered so long. In Jesus’ name, Amen” — A prayer from A. W. Tozer’s book, The Pursuit of God.

[1] Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.

[2] Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2001, 2005 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.


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