THE CHRISTIAN'S PRIZE
"Do not let anyone disqualify you for the prize" (Col. 2: 18). But what is the Christian's Prize?
"There are some Bible scholars, and among them names that are held in universal esteem, who say it is only the Virgins whose lamps are burning that are qualified to go in; that there is a just suspicion in Luke 21: 36 that those Christians who do not watch will not escape all these things. In view of that bare but awful possibility, there is but one position - habitual expectation" (J. Mac Neil).
"To those of God's saints in this Age who are "counted worthy" a complete escape is to be granted: escape from the awful period of earth-judgements is possible, but it is conditional" (Samuel H. Wilkinson).
"Like Enoch, those Christians with the traits of Philadelphian grace and fidelity are taken before the judgement of the Tribulation. Such as share the Laodicean spirit will be left behind, to awake, repent, and witness for their Lord through that awful time of woe; and, whether by martyrdom or translation of the Harvest, be among the saved at last" (G. D. Hooper).
"The teaching of first-fruits translation is said to be a legal doctrine, doing despite to grace. How can this be, when apart from grace it is impossible to live such a life as alone can entitle to the privilege set forth? Nothing can more show one his dependence on grace, or more animate to believing prayer for grace, than a conviction that apart from its constant and abundant reception, we must fail to be ready to meet our Lord with joy" (Fuller Gooch).
"The burden on my spirit day and night is the imminent appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray God to make you ready and to keep you ready. May your portion be amongst this number that shall be caught up to heaven" (Evan Roberts).
"Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man". (N. I. V.) "But be ye watchful at every time begging that ye may be able to escape these things all being about to happen, and to stand before the Son of man." (Greek-English Interlinear)
THE FIRST RESURRECTION
"When Paul says 'resurrection' (in Phil. 3: 11), it has the preposition 'out' before it, the 'out-resurrection' - the special resurrection, the specific resurrection, the one that is singled out from every other: 'if by any means I might attain unto the out-resurrection, the one from among the dead.' Paul is looking for a resurrection 'out' from among Christians, else he would not have to strive so strenuously: he is striving to attain something that ordinary Christians will not attain. A 'prize' is something to win: there is a special blessing and reward for those who will go the whole way with God" (C. H. Pridgeon).
"Of his resurrection at the end of the world, when all without exception will surely be raised, he could have no possible doubt. What sense then can this passage have, if it represents him so labouring and suffering merely in order to attain a resurrection, and as holding this up to view as unattainable unless he should arrive at a high degree of Christian resurrection to be appointed as a special reward of high attainments in Christian virtue, and all seems to be plain and easy. Of a resurrection in a figurative sense, that is, of regeneration, Paul cannot be speaking; for he had already attained to that on the plain of Damascus" (Dr. Moses Stuart).
"It is more evident that Paul had some special resurrection in view, even the first: and to share in that he was straining every nerve" (J. Mac Neil).
"Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection" (Rev. 20: 6): "And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Greek, - "If somehow I may attain to the out-resurrection out from the dead".) - "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold" - (Greek, - "If indeed I may lay 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: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal TO WIN THE PRIZE" (Phil. 3: 11-14a).
"To those who believe on Him, but go no further, the Lord does, indeed, give eternal life; but the fruition of it will not begin until the Last Day, until the thousand years of the millennial reign are ended. Such persons will not, therefore, be permitted to enter the Kingdom of the Heavens" (G. H. Pember).
"Into that glorious company of the First Resurrection it is possible that only those who have been partakers of Christ's humiliation and suffering (either personally or throughout the present aeon) shall be received - a select portion of the redeemed, including the martyrs" (Dr. E. R. Craven).
"In this exclusion from the Kingdom is rendered impossible [in certain cases], but not by any means does it follow that salvation can be thereby prevented" (Olshausen).
"There may be positive and entire forfeiture of the Kingdom, and only the lowest position in Eternal Life after it. … This truth must speedily redeem it from all obscurity. Those who have the single eye will perceive its amplitude of evidence, and embrace it, in spite of the solemn awe of God which it produces, and the depth of our own responsibility which it discloses" (Govett).
"Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest" - the sabbatismos, the seventh millennium - (Heb. 4: 11): for "not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7: 21).
"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" (1Cor. 9: 24).