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Apprehended by God
By David A. DePra
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:7-12)
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13)
Paul is not talking about salvation in these verses. He knows his salvation is settled. But if we donít understand this, we might think we can lose our salvation, or have to earn it. No. Paul is speaking of a resurrection experience possible NOW in Christ, which he otherwise refers to as the, "high calling of God in Jesus Christ."
Incidentally, donít think of the, "high calling of God," as a calling given only to some Christians, while others must settle for less. No. The phrase really reads, "the UPWARD calling of God in Jesus Christ." God is calling us UPWARD to Him in this age Ė which, if you think about it, is only possible through resurrection experience in this age. This is for ALL Ė for if God is calling you to Christ, regardless of actual function in the Body of Christ, this is an UPWARD call. It always is.
Note the theme of Paulís remarks Ė that he has been APPREHENDED by God. The root for, "apprehend," means to LAY HOLD OF. Paul is saying that God has laid hold of him Ė has called him Ė UPWARD unto Godís own purposes. Sure, the fullness of this will be seen in the next age. But it must be established here in this age, and some of it God intends us to experience.
To realize what it means to be APPREHENDED BY GOD Ė to realize this would answer a lot of questions. It would also be a Truth that would set us free from so much that we do that is actually contrary to the way in which God is working.
Godís grace IS resistible Ė contrary to the error of Calvinism. This doesnít mean that man is more powerful than God. No. God has ordained that man can resist Him. Indeed, if man could not resist the grace of God, then it would not be possible to sin against the Holy Spirit. And we would have to say that everything that has happened in the Christian church for two thousand years has happened by Godís hand Ė for in that case it could not have happened because people resisted Him.
So when we read that God has apprehended, or laid hold of Paul, we are not talking about something over which Paul had no choice. Paul did have a choice. But Paul did NOT have a choice as to whether to be apprehended of God. No. Rather, Paul had a choice as to what to do once he was.
Here we see the true nature of election. Election is NEVER irresistible, that is, election is never unconditional. But election IS irrevocable. In other words, God Himself must elect, or call us to Christ. Jesus said, "No man can come to me except the Father draw him." (Jn. 6:44) And once God does elect, it is too late to go back Ė for light has come into your heart, and you have seen. You have been called. But you can resist. Indeed, the same light God intends for our salvation will condemn us if we refuse.
So God decides when to call, and who to call, but once He does, we CAN Ė and MUST -- respond one way or another. Paul said, "I must lay hold of that for which God has laid hold of me."
Apprehended by God
Most Christians think they need to apprehend, or lay hold, of God. Indeed, some of think that God is either sitting in heaven waiting for us to do so, or that He is hiding from us lest we do so. But clearly, this is error. Rather than try to apprehend God, the Bible reveals that God has already apprehended US.
Many Christians either try to get God to do their will, or they try to get God to do HIS will. Well, God wonít do your will, and you donít need to try to get Him to do His will. It already IS His will. Thus, by definition, He already wants to do it! Yet here is the challenge, isnít it? Are we willing to trust God to do His will, but moreover, are we willing to completely surrender to Him for it?
Paul said, "I must apprehend, or lay hold of, that for which God has apprehended me." This is not a matter of Paul being given an assignment and then doing it. No. It is a matter of God laying hold of Paul for a purpose, and Paul yielding to it Ė as God unfolds that purpose to him. Again Ė God has ALREADY apprehended us for HIS purpose. The rest of our lives is a matter of us laying hold of THAT Ė as God opens it up.
If we would just stop and get before the Lord as to exactly what the Truth is on this matter Ė on the fact that God has apprehended us Ė it would set us free. We would STOP trying to get God to do, and stop trying to bring God aboard our plans, and stop trying to argue and debate with God, and stop trying to keep Him informed. We would stop trying to carry along the Lord. Rather, we would SEEK God, and YIELD to God, and ask Him to open our hearts and minds to what HE wants to do. God is not going to be carried along by our plans. He wants to carry us along into HIS. And until we get that straight, nothing much else is possible.
You and I cannot apprehend God. But He has apprehended us. That makes things much more simplistic. Now, we need only apprehend that for which we have been apprehended. Or, to put it more simply, we have to embrace and yield to what God has always intended for us, and that for which Christ died.
Losing to Find
Christian people Ė those who God has apprehended and those who presumably have responded for at least salvation Ė seem totally ignorant of Godís purpose. You almost NEVER hear it taught Ė at least you donít hear it taught on Christian television, or even on the internet to any degree. Rather, the purpose of God is replaced by some of the worst heresies and suggestions imaginable.
First, you have the group that believes that Jesus came to give you, "Your Best Life Now." Is THAT the purpose of God? Seems to me that Jesus said, "Who ever would save his life will lose it, and who ever would lose his life for My sake will find it." Indeed, if there is ONE THING that God has NOT promised, and if there is ONE phrase that is the absolutely OPPOSITE of Godís purpose for His people, it would be that title of Osteenís book: Your Best Life Now. God has promised only HIS life, and HIS purpose. Not ours.
But you see, most donít even know what this means. We still think that if we believe and obey God Ė defined by our understanding of those terms Ė that God has promised, indeed, that God is required, to give us OUR best life now. We all have hopes, dreams, plans, and intents for our lives, donít we? Most of the time these are legitimate, not sinful. And havenít you heard that if you walk along with God that these will be given unto you? That if you just ASK God, Heíll come aboard your plans and bless them? Sure. Well, this is error. Sorry to disappoint anyone. Sorry to frighten you. Not my intent. But you might as well hear the Truth now, rather than later. I donít care what you think God has already done in your life, or what you think He intends to do. God is NOT going to give you YOUR best life now. He isnít going to give it to you no matter how obedient you think you are, or because you think you have lots of faith. Rather, God wants to SET YOU FREE from trying to get your best life now. He wants you to LOSE the whole motivation. And He wants you to embrace HIM. Then the life that emerges wonít be your best life now Ė it will be CHRIST IN YOU, and everything that it pleases God to add to that as far as your lot in life.
Do we have any idea what would happen if God gave us OUR best life now? We would never lose ourselves to Him. And weíd never find real life and Truth. But I know that most Christians do NOT believe this. They donít. But worse, they WONíT believe it. Thus, God doesnít disturb them. He knows they canít take the Truth.
If you are a person who, despite your sincere attempts to find Godís will for your life, continually ends up in one disaster after another, or one heartbreak after another, consider yourself blessed. God has apprehended you. God HAS seen that He CAN disturb you. You may not be where God wants to take you as of yet, but you will get there if you do one thing: Ask the Lord to do whatever is necessary to bring you into the fullness of His purpose. Ask Him to smash your every hope, dreams, and plans Ė if necessary Ė to get HIS will, and HIS glory in your life. This is exactly what you must do to LOSE YOUR LIFE into your hands.
Now, donít do this in a religious way. Donít make it part of a deal you are striking with God. Donít do it because you think you must do it. Do it because you believe and trust God, and have finally seen that there is NOTHING good about holding onto your life your way. Do it because you WANT GOD.
To LOSE your life means to LET GO of your life Ė to LET GO of having your life YOUR WAY. It means to let go of your future, and really, of everything about yourself. Lots of people more easily let go of a situation or a lot in life. But how much more difficult it is to let go of yourself Ė of who you want to be, or who you think you are. Yet doing that is really the core of what this is all about.
At this point I want to make a statement that the Lord conveyed to me a number of years ago. At the time, I did not really grasp it. I certainly did not believe it Ė in that I did not SEE enough TO believe it. But over the course of time I have come to realize how incredibly true this statement is. God said, "Almost everything you believe about yourself is a LIE."
I have come to see the Truth about this. Certainly, God can speak things to us about ourselves that are true. But I believe that what God was addressing in this statement was the fact that our opinion of ourselves, and what we think is true about ourselves, is ALL a product of the same flesh and ego that itself is a lie. In other words, that which is born of the flesh IS flesh, and our self-image is merely a product of that same flesh Ė and has no material to work with in knowing the Truth, even about ourselves.
The only possibility of seeing the Truth about anything is to see Jesus Christ. HE is the LIGHT. But we are not born into this world with Christ in us. For Christ to be in us, we must relinquish our old life and be born again from ABOVE. Then, you see, there is a new life, and LIGHT, and has come into us Ė not from ourselves as the source Ė but from OUTSIDE of us. Get that: Truth is wrapped up in Christ, and comes INTO us from the OUTSIDE of us. Truth comes through revelation. It does not emerge from the human as the source.
So the only way to see oneself according to the Truth is to see Jesus Christ Ė is to have Christ in us. Before that, our self-image is nothing more than a series of defense mechanisms and layers of ego that we unconsciously develop in reaction to life. Our self-image is the product of SELF. It is a product of darkness. There is simply no way to know the Truth about yourself until you know Jesus.
But you know, I have also found that the more you know Christ, the LESS you care to know yourself. In effect, Christ not only sets you free from the lying self-knowledge that you have developed, but He sets you free from the need to know yourself to begin with Ė at least from the fixation and self-centeredness that characterizes fallen man. Once you see Jesus Christ, you wonít be fussing so much over yourself. More and more you will leave yourself alone. Ironically, this is exactly what it takes to be set free into holiness and obedience.
Well, anyways, Iíve said all of that to get back to this necessity of LOSING our lives in order to find them. We have a terrible time with this because we donít know Jesus Christ. It is a fact that if we know and believe Christ, losing our lives will not be all that difficult Ė we will actually WANT to do so. But if we donít know Him, we will be afraid. And because we are afraid, we will hold onto our lives.
Now, isnít it amazing that to try to save our lives for ourselves is equal to trying to save that which is already dead? Isnít it amazing that if most of what we believe about ourselves is a lie Ė isnít it remarkable that this means that our entire pension to hold on to ourselves is based upon that SAME lie? Sure. This is exactly what it means to be in darkness. It is what it means to be deceived. We think to LOSE our lives is a bad or scary thing. And we make light of the life of Christ that we would FIND. We donít know. We are blind.
The only solution is to see Jesus. For if we would see Him just enough to trust Him, and then LOSE all of ourselves into His hands, we would slowly but surely see that what we are losing is Ė as Paul said Ė nothing more than a refuge heap. And in the end we would win Christ.
Are you yet convinced that there is no Truth in you except Christ Himself? Have you come to see that there is NOTHING in you that is good? Paul said that of himself in Romans 7. He did not say that because he was depressed. He said it because it was the Truth. And until we say it we are going to hold onto ourselves.
The purpose of God is that we might know Him and experience Him Ė and become a witness unto Him. But you cannot get to that point in any real measure unless you FIRST face and come to terms with all the negative. Morally, this is vital. Today preachers are offering the resurrection life that is in Christ WITHOUT the Cross. But the Cross precedes the resurrection, and so it does in each one of us. Except you repent, you will perish. Unless you LOSE what you are, you cannot find HIM.
God has apprehended us Ė not to give us OUR best life now Ė but to deliver us OUT of our best life now into HIS LIFE IN CHRIST. This cannot be accomplished without the work of the personal Cross. But if we would yield, what we would find that the life that emerges is eternally above that which we lost.
There are other substitutes for Godís purpose in His people. I think one of the most common is simply apathy and indifference to the Truth. Jesus said the love of many would grow cold Ė and certainly the love of the Truth has grown cold. Today, Satan has succeeded in convincing many that Truth is wrongly divisive. Or that Truth cannot be known. Worse, many Christians donít even know to care about the Truth. They donít even know that they donít know Christ, and donít know that there is a Christ TO know. It is utter blindness to Godís purpose Ė the purpose for which Christ died, and for which God has apprehended them.
Every week thousands and thousands of professing Christians attend church and are never challenged or encouraged to know Christ. They are never even given a hint as to the true nature of things. Well, Godís purpose stands. And He wants us to know and experience it.
Complete in Christ
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2 Tim 1:9)
According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: (Eph 3:11)
First of all, we need to get it settled that there is NO purpose that God has that is NOT in Christ. Nope. Of course, Iím not saying that God cannot do some isolated things here or there. Or that He is not merciful enough to help people along certain lines. But what I am saying is that Godís purpose, whatever that is, is IN CHRIST.
Now, donít misunderstand those words. Iím not saying that Godís purpose was accomplished BY Christ Ė it was, and is Ė but Iím not saying that at this point. Rather, Iím saying that the purpose of God is fully and completely wrapped up IN HIS SON. Or, to put it another way, we might rightly say that Godís purpose IS CHRIST.
Christianity is CHRIST IN US, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27) Included, of course, is how Christ comes to be in each Christian, and certainly includes the impact of Christ in us. But in a sentence, Christianity is CHRIST IN US. And since that is true, then the entire purpose of God is already given us IN CHRIST. It is simply a matter, as Paul said, of laying hold of that for which God has laid hold of us.
Get away from the notion that once you are saved that you have to get MORE saved. Or that you need something or someone ADDED to the Christ who dwells in you. You donít need anything more. What you need is to LAY HOLD of Christ. You need to grow to KNOW HIM.
Note the words of Paul on this important point:
For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (Col 2:9-10)
In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col 2:3)
If you are a person who has been wrongly taught that you need a, "second blessing," which is said to be the baptism with the Holy Spirit, you need to read and prayfully take these verses before the Lord. If, IN CHRIST, "all the fullness of the Godhead dwells," and you are COMPLETE IN HIM, then why do you believe you need something else ADDED to you after you receive Christ? You donít. You are complete IN CHRIST. ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are IN HIM. There is nothing to ADD to the Christ you receive at salvation. There is only a growing to KNOW HIM and experience HIM.
Godís full purpose is IN CHRIST. If Christ is in you, then EVERYTHING God has for you is found IN HIM. This is the Truth, and it doesnít matter what experience you might point to, or what you think God has shown you otherwise Ė we must go back to scripture, and that is what scripture says. It says it in language that is not unclear, but it is laid right out in the open. You are COMPLETE IN HIM. Period.
God has apprehended us, that we might receive Christ. Once we do receive Him, we are complete IN HIM. But then we must go on to lay hold of that same Christ, and grow to know Him, and continually seek to apprehend that for which God has apprehended us, that is, His purpose IN CHRIST.
Again, Godís purpose is not given to us in addition to Christ. Godís purpose is IN CHRIST. And thus, we cannot have it, and we cannot know it, aside from knowing and experiencing Christ Himself. This is the whole point of Colossians, and exactly what Paul is getting at in Philippians 3 Ė "that I may WIN Christ."
The Purpose of God
Election is unto a purpose Ė in Christ, and through Christ, and as the outcome of knowing Christ. But what is that purpose?
Paul tells us the purpose of God in Christ in Ephesians 1. You can read Ephesians 1 and write down the purposes for which God has apprehended us. But in the end, they all come down to ONE Ė and it is found in Ephesians 1:10:
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (Eph 1:9-12)
God wants to gather all IN CHRIST, so that from OUT of Christ, we might apprehend and experience all that God has for us. And what God has for us is really HIMSELF. God wants us to know Him, experience Him, and live with Him forever. The specifics of that are not given to us in detail as it pertains to the ages to come. But when everything is said and done, God wants us to be ONE with Him through Jesus Christ. HE is our inheritance.
That Christians might realize Godís purpose was Paulís continual prayer:
I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in ChristÖ.which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all. (Eph 1:16-23)
When you read the prayers of Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are reading the will of God for His people. Paul was praying according to the will of God, and God saw to it that this prayer was made part of His inspired Word. Yet how does this prayer impact us? Do we ask God to make us understand His purpose?
The reason that the church has been off the track for so many years is that the purpose of God has not been our purpose. Iím not sure what Bible we are reading, but that purpose is stated right here, and is stated over and over again in scripture. God has apprehended us for HIS purposes, indeed, for HIMSELF. Christ in us in this age begins that purpose, and Paul is here praying that we would come into the fullness of it through Christ.
The Upward Calling
Godís UPWARD calling is out of this world Ė out of our lives Ė to Christ. It is from the earthly to the heavenly. It is out of the natural to the spiritual in Christ. His calling is NOT irresistible, else wise Paul was wasting his breath praying that our eyes would be opened, for everything would be predestined anyways.
Predestination is nothing more than saying that God has a purpose that He is going to see fulfilled. It does not negate the possibility that some will refuse. It simply states that God has a purpose for which He has apprehended us, and that whether we embrace it or not, that PURPOSE is going to come to pass. God IS going to have His way through Christ.
The UPWARD calling of God Ė Godís apprehension of us in Christ Ė is clearly described in Phil. 3, quoted at the beginning of this article. Paul uses himself as an example. He says that he LOST everything about himself in order that he might WIN Christ. But as we have seen, this is not a matter of losing material possessions. It is a matter of losing, as Oswald Chambers says, his right to himself. Paul lost into the hands of God the right to decide who he was, what his life would be, and the outcome.
Now, it is important to see that this was not a, "deal or bargain," that Paul was making with God, or that God demanded of Paul. Neither was this about Paul becoming entitled to a reward. This was not about God rewarding Paul with a knowledge of Christ because Paul agreed to lose all. Nope. Rather, Paul could NOT win Christ until he lost all. This was a matter of spiritual condition. In other words, Paul had to LET GO of his own life Ė LOSE HIS LIFE Ė in order to FIND Christ.
We CANNOT have our own lives and WIN Christ. The two cannot coexist. This is because the attitude, motive, and spirit behind owning yourself for your own purposes is utterly contrary to knowing Christ, indeed, it will BLIND us to Him. In the end, we know Christ by giving ourselves to Him. There is simply no other way.
Note Paulís words. He said, "I counted all things as lost for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." He added, "I suffered the loss of all things that I may win Christ." When Paul LOST himself and his life for Christ, there was a CHANGE IN PAUL that took place, and that change enabled him to know Jesus Christ.
Why did such a change take place? Not because Paul DID something. No. Paul changed because his relationship with God changed, that is, he lost himself into the hands of God. In effect, when Paul gave himself to God, he GOT God Ė he FOUND Christ. We WON Christ. He SAW Jesus.
God had LAID HOLD of Paul so that Paul might know Christ. Thus, when Paul let go of himself, and laid hold of Christ, the result was that he received exactly that for which he was apprehended: Christ.
You will note that there is not a single material thing that Paul said he received for losing all things. No. And actually, there wasnít a single material thing he lost that is mentioned. This is all spiritual. It is all a matter of losing oneself Ė my life Ė so that I may find it IN CHRIST.
It would seem that few of us have any clue as to what it actually means to BE FOUND IN CHRIST, or what it means to FIND life in Christ. If this is taught at all, it is made to mean salvation Ė the fact that we are saved. But this isnít what Paul is talking about. We know this isnít want he is talking about because he says, "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." Paul is describing a PROCESS of coming into resurrection life and fellowship with Christ. He is saved. Now he wants to experience all that salvation HOLDS Ė he wants to experience all that CHRIST HOLDS.
The UPWARD calling of God, which is actually the ONLY calling to Christ that there is, is for these purposes of God described in Philippians 3. It is unto these that God has apprehended us. Thus, if you try to apprehend God for OTHER purposes, or try to get Him doing those other purposes, He is not going to answer you. Rather, you have to seek to apprehend the purpose for which God has laid hold of you.
Paul tells us what this purpose is Ė he tells us the definition of what it means to WIN Christ, and be FOUND in Him. He says, "To be found in Christ means I will be stripped of everything about myself that I would otherwise use as a basis of my own righteousness. Christ alone will be my righteousness." Note that. It isnít only that Christ WON my righteousness for me. No. It is that Christ Himself Ė in me Ė IS my righteousness. In other words, if you are found in Christ, you are found in HIS righteousness.
Paul continues by describing the ongoing results of being found in Christ, and of having Christ as his righteousness. He says, "This will result in my KNOWING Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, because I am being shaped with Him by His death." And THAT will make it possible for Paul, "to attain unto the resurrection OUT FROM the dead." Paul is not here talking about the resurrection at the second coming. Rather, he is talking about a resurrection in Christ possible to experience NOW Ė if we are shaped with Christ by His death.
Christians continue to teach that we are to be made LIKE Jesus. Actually, that is wrong. Rather, Christ is to be seen THROUGH us. Now, there is a necessity here to be like Jesus, in the sense that Christ isnít seen through you by by-passing you Ė you have to live in concert with Him. But we have this Treasure IN an earthen vessel, that the glory might be of HIM, and not of us. We arenít the Treasure. We arenít made LIKE the treasure. No. We are the earthen vessel in whom the Treasure lives. Christianity is NOT people living like Christ. No. Christianity is CHRIST IN US.
So God has apprehended us for Himself Ė for Christ. There is no other upward calling God will give. But once we answer that call, and begin to apprehend and lay hold of it, we will begin to move into resurrection NOW Ė and experience that upward calling and purpose of God.
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