by Wade E Taylor
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
Paul said that he was pressing toward this “prize,” that he might apprehend it. This prize is not heaven.
“I do not say that I have already won the race or have already reached perfection. But I am pressing on, striving to lay hold of the prize for which also Christ has laid hold of me.” Philippians 3:12 Weymouth
He understood that heaven is a part of our redemption, which is freely provided for us. Thus, he could say:
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” II Corinthians 5:8
All who are saved will be in heaven. The prize which Paul is striving to attain is to be seated, as an overcomer, with the Lord on His throne. Scripture teaches much through contrast. Those who are “singing” in Revelation 5:9-10 have been gathered from “every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” Those in Revelation 7:9, who “cried” with a loud voice have also been gathered from “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues.”
However, the outcome for each of these groups is quite different, and can be compared to the five wise and the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. Only half of these virgins, (the wise) were able to enter into the marriage of the Lamb, and then be seated with their Bridegroom on His throne.
Those virgins who were “foolish” were not prepared, and were told to “go and buy for yourselves.” There is a price that must be paid in order to enter into our Lords highest and best. Thus, Paul said, “I press toward the mark for the prize.…”
At the end of the messages to the seven churches, a promise is given that applies to all those within each of these churches who had committed their lives to the Lord, and who rose above the problems they faced.
“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21 NKJV
Chapters four and five of Revelation give us a view of these who are seated with the Lord in His throne.
“And they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for You were slain, and has redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. And has made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10
There are three important statements in the above Scriptures.
“They sang.” They are rejoicing.
“Has made us.” There is a qualifying process.
“We shall reign on the earth.” They have received a reward.
To be “seated on a throne” speaks of governmental authority. Thus, their statement in Rev 5:9-10 that the Lord has “made us” means that these, like the “wise virgins” have “qualified” themselves as “overcomers,” and are seated on the Throne with the Lord, in order to reign with Him.
There is another group who, as the “foolish virgins,” were not able to enter into the marriage that led to the throne.
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb.”
“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said to him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
“Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sits on the throne shall dwell among them.” Revelation 7:9-15
There are two important statements in this Scripture. They “cried… saying salvation.” They are not overcomers. They are “before the throne of God, and serve.” They are not reigning.
Those in Chapter 5 of Revelation (the wise virgins) are seated with the Lord on the throne, and are “reigning.” They are seen as being in the midst of the throne, “as a sea of glass.” That is, their lives have been so dealt with that they have become transparent in His presence, so much so, that only Jesus is seen in the reflection of all that they have become.
These in Chapter 7 of Revelation (the foolish virgins) are standing before the throne, and are “serving.” The outcome for each of these groups who had been redeemed from every nation is quite different.
The group in Revelation 5 testified that they had become “kings and priests.” But those in Revelation 7 could only say “salvation,” because that was all that they had. They were satisfied to be saved and look forward to a future heaven.
Life is a probationary period during which we make choices and decisions which determine our future. We can make the right decisions and be as the “wise virgins.” Or, we can chose for our self-satisfaction and comfort, and be as the “foolish virgins.”
What I have become will unfold in all its ramifications throughout the ages of eternity, in whatever level I have attained to. Our Christian life is not comparable to our being placed in a bowl of punch, where everything is mixed together and loses its identity.
In “that day,” I will either be singing with the Lord upon His throne, or I will be standing among the multitude, far out from the throne, “weeping,” because I now realize that I missed my opportunity to attain.
It is in this present time that we have opportunity to qualify for the kingdom. The apostle Paul understood this. Therefore, he said that he was pressing toward this prize.
May we also be among the wise, as was Paul.