What word in the New Testament is used only once, in Matthew 24:12?
First, the scene.
The disciples had asked Jesus about the Temple, the times, and when His return would be. His answer is the longest discourse in the NT after the Sermon on the Mount, and the longest answer to any question the disciples asked. It comprises the entire chapters of Matthew 24 and goes on to Matthew 25. The response, given on the Mount of Olives and thus known as the Olivet Discourse, is about the Tribulation period. The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, when Jesus pours out His wrath on the unbelieving world, and punishes Israel for the final 7 years of time, three and a half of which are called the Great Tribulation. (Revelation 12:14, Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7).
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
Straining, pressing, racing, it all gets tiring. Sounds a lot different than the mystical notion of ‘let go and let God’ doesn’t it! Christianity is active. We study, pray, battle the flesh, exhort, preach, build up, and more. Here Paul is saying we must not give up!
The road might seem long but in the end we will look back from our vantage point in heaven and say, ‘that was but a vapor, our life on earth was but a mist of a moment.’ Even this evening I was looking at the Facebook photos of the 8th grade semi-formal dance going on now, and I see handsome and tall young men and lovely ladies who I knew in kindergarten. Their parents write captions such as ‘time slow down’ and ‘where did the time go, he was a baby just yesterday’.
The road might seem long but it’s really short, just over the next rise could come glory
Keep up the good work, sisters, of praying and working for Christ and raising young ‘uns and submitting and worshiping and battling and singing and phew, hang in there!
Here is a bit of encouragement from The Bible Knowledge Commentary,
3:12–14. Though Paul was a spiritual giant in the eyes of the Philippian saints, he wanted them to know that he had not yet attained the goals stated in verse 10. He was still actively pressing on toward them. He had by no means reached the final stage of his sanctification.
Paul’s salvation experience had taken place about 30 years before he wrote to the Philippians. He had won many spiritual battles in that time. He had grown much in those years, but he candidly confessed he had not obtained all this, nor was he yet made perfect (v. 12). He still had more spiritual heights to climb. This testimony of the apostle reminded the saints at Philippi—and it serves to remind believers today—that there must never be a stalemate in their spiritual growth or a plateau beyond which they cannot climb.
Paul pursued Christlikeness with the enthusiasm and persistence of a runner in the Greek games. Unlike the Judaizers, whose influence was prevalent among the Philippians, the apostle did not claim to have attained spiritual maturity. He was still pressing on, pursuing that for which Christ Jesus took hold of him. Nor had he yet taken hold of it, that is, he had not yet attained perfection or ultimate conformity to Christ. But he was determined that he would forget the past and, like a runner, press on toward the goal. Paul refused to be controlled or absorbed by his past heritage (vv. 5–7) or his attainments (v. 8).
Vigorously and with concentration Paul sought to win the prize to which God had called him heavenward (v. 14). Again the Greek games must have been on his mind as he wrote of the prize. The winner in those games was called to the place where the judge sat in order to receive his prize. Paul may have referred to ultimate salvation in God’s presence, or to receiving rewards at “the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10).
Lightner, R. P. (1985). Philippians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 661). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Jesus said in the Olivet Discourse that the end times will be such as they were in the ‘Days of Noah’ and the ‘Days of Lot.’ (Luke 17:26-30, NIV; cf. Matt 24:37-39). That, in the mad search for pleasure and prosperity, mankind sank into such great depravity, the Scripture says, “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5; cf. 18:20-21). Further, Jesus said social wickedness would increase prior to His Return: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12, NIV). A thoroughly drenched, wicked and evil society was happening then and it’s happening now. is occurring now. In the Ark days, Noah held his eyes on God and remained rooted in Him. We must do that as well.
In prayer and bible reading mode this week, the phrase came to me: “Be not troubled.” Prayer and close relationship with Jesus alleviates our strongest fears, troubles, distress. Let us always exhibit the peace that passes all understanding in the face of incomprehensible headlines. And then share that peace with urgency and mindfulness with people who have no hope. He will come. Until then, we run the race.
I used to teach kids at church on Wednesday nights. I love their conversations and their thoughts and their joy. One night they were asking about Jesus and heaven. They got so excited when they figured out that their Christian friends will be in heaven too. They practically jumped out of their seats when they made the connection that they will actually see Jesus and hang out with Him. They started making plans, clapping their hands … Ironically, the story this night was of Mark 10:13-16, “suffer the little children to come unto Me, do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Boy, does it ever. Let US be excited, innocent, planning, expectant, too. Are we? We should be!
Do you feel joy? Do you feel fear? It is normal to be anxious in these times, but oh, joy, bathe yourselves in His Holy and experience all the comfort of eternity in there. I recommend reading Psalm 34 yesterday and it is very good advice! If you feel caught up in the events of the day, remember that He is in command if every situation. As is often said, “Satan is on the prowl, but Jesus in in control!” Take a bath, friends, bathe in His word, and you will feel His arms and return to the blessed peace that is our to claim by His grace!
Martin Luther said:
“The ears of our generation have been made so delicate by the senseless multitude of flatterers that, as soon as we perceive that anything of ours is not approved of, we cry out that we are being bitterly assailed;” This same theme of tickled ears carries through to the end generation, the one living through the reign of the antichrist.
Christians know true freedom, whether incarcerated within walls or confined by duties or confronting an addiction, we are free, truly free. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1.
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