30 Life Experience (8)

Before Kathy left after the piano lesson, she was reminded by her piano teacher Mrs Gardner that there was a concert at Roy Thompson Hall this Saturday. This was a special fund-raising concert for the Sick Kids Hospital, featuring all the talented young musicians from Eastern Europe, Russia, Armenia and the nearby countries. Kathy loved going to concerts, especially by young musicians about her age, so that she could learn from them. Kathy was very excited and could not wait until Saturday.

The first song was wonderfully played by the cellist Sesili Kalayjian, accompanied by the pianist Siran Poghosyan. Then the Master of Ceremony Paul came out and introduced the following programme, “We are extremely happy tonight, not just because of the beautiful music that we are going to enjoy, but also to celebrate a miracle. One of the most talented young pianists in the world is with us today; he is only twelve and initially was unable to come to this concert. He is from Armenia and the border was closed owing to the political conflicts between Armenia and Georgia. However, he was permitted to leave by the authority in the last minute and was just about to make it to the concert tonight. Before we listen to his story, let’s welcome Siran Poghosyan once again and he will play us one of his favorite songs – Liszt Piano Concerto number 1.” The whole hall was filled with the welcoming applause and amazing music just slipped out of Siran’s fingers.

“There was a man behind the scene which made this miracle happen. Let us call upon the Pianist Master, Alex Kaminkovsky.” Paul said after Siran played his first song. The silvery white-haired man walked up the stage in his black tuxedo elegantly. “Mr Kaminkovsky, it’s an honor for us to have you here tonight. You are a great musician of our age and are well-known for your unceasing learning attitude. You never give up in your pursue of music and raising up new generations. Can you tell us what happened to Siran?” “Well, no one was allowed to leave Armenia because of the special situation; I talked to the embassy and tried to persuade them but was in vain. Finally, I was a bit furious and said that children should not have to suffer because of the political games that the adults played, besides, Siran was leaving for Toronto for a good cause, he was going to raise fund for the sick children, using his talents from God. Owing to my worldly status and also there was no excuse to stop Siran for a good cause, they let him leave in the last minute.”

Paul continued to speak, “Mr Kaminkovsky, since you are so successful and have accomplished a prominent career, could you share with us your motto of life and why you have this passion in developing young musicians?” “I think no one is perfect and can never attain the state of perfection, but we can all strive toward it. This is a life-long learning process and is also my goal in life, never give up and never belittle young generations, because they might have lots of potential that were overlooked. On the flip side, their success in life also reflects your accomplishment in developing them too.” Alex kept on speaking and flipping his hands in the air, “I think everyone knows that I play piano with nine fingers, because I broke my little finger in an accident while I was starting my professional careers. That was a blow to me, however, my mentor encouraged me to keep going and he said that God had a purpose for everyone in life; we needed to strive toward that goal even though we were imperfect, and we should never give up because of little hiccups in life, so here I am, even I am close to the end of my life, I still keep learning and strive for perfection, and I never give up!”

Alex received a standing ovation…..

Your Initial Response

Is there any goal in your life that you want to achieve? What is your attitude if you cannot attain it at this point of life?

Philippians 3:13–17

13Brothers and sisters, 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, 

14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

15All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 

16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. 

17Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. (Philippians 3:13–17 NIV) 

1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.

2 Read Philippians 3 at one sitting and circle all the difficult words and sentences.

3 Refer to the NET (A New Approach to Translation) and come up with some new insights.

4 Circle “prise”, “God”, “called” and “in Christ Jesus” and connect these words with straight lines (Philippians 3:14).

5 Circle “following”, “example” and “take note of” and connect these words with straight lines (Philippians 3:17).

2) “Expound” (E)

iEXP Bible Study Method

The Apostle Paul knows very well that knowledge and action should go hand in hand. Not only did he understand difficult theological truths, but he also acted them out, thus became part of his life. In Philippians 3, Paul shared with the believers the aspiration, attitude and action to the development of his life transformation.

1 Who are the “brothers” of the Apostle Paul (Philippians 3:13, 17)?

2 What was the “one thing” that Paul talked about (Philippians 3:13)?

3 Why did Paul have to connect running with the God-given “prise” together (Philippians 3:14)?

4 What is the meaning of a “mature” person (Philippians 3:15)?

5 Was Paul thinking too highly of himself as he asked people to imitate him (Philippians 3:15)?

In the Epistle to the Philippians, Paul spoke of the self-humbling and exaltation of Jesus Christ, which was the theological theme of this letter (Philippians 2:6-11), and this lifestyle had already become the reference of Paul’s conduct. According to the Jewish standard, Paul was a very experienced religious leader (Philippians 3:4-5), but when he converted to Christ, he began to follow the footpath of Jesus Christ. In the process of self-abasement, suffering and self-sacrificial acts for the cause of the Lord, Paul attained real happiness. Therefore, a scholar indicated that the theme of the Epistle to the Philippians was “Knowing Christ and Living as Citizens of Heaven in a Fallen World” and another simplified it as “living the Christian life.”

For those who serve the Lord, we can attain the secrets to ministry in the Epistle to the Philippians, for Paul has listed out his purpose (Philippians 1:20; 1:22-25), attitude (Philippians 1:19-26), consecration (Philippians 2:17) and example in ministry (Philippians 3:17; 4:9), that present believers can refer to and imitate accordingly.

Furthermore, heresies and incorrect theological beliefs emerged in the church; namely legalism (Philippians 3:1-17) and libertinism. The former brought about the crisis of changing the gospel of grace to doctrine of works, and the latter diverted the believers from the boundary of the truth, producing wickedness in conduct.

Outline of the Epistle of the Philippians:

1 Introduction (1:1-11) 
 A Greeting (1:1, 2)
 B Thanksgiving (1:3-8)
 C Prayer (1:9-11)
2 The Situation of Paul in Rome (1:12-26) 
 A Paul’s Circumstances Had Advanced the Gospel in Rome (1:12-18)
 B Paul’s Circumstances Would Turn Out for Salvation (1:19-26)
3 First Series of Exhortations (1:27-2:18) 
 A Exhortation to Unity and Courage in View of External Foes (1:27-30)
 B Exhortation to Unity and Humility Toward Those in the Church (2:1-11)
 C Exhortation to Work Out Their Salvation (2:12-18)
4 Two Messengers of Paul to the Philippians (2:19-30) 
 A Timothy (2:19-24)
 B Epaphroditus (2:25-30)
5 Warning Against Judaisers and Antinomians (3:1-21) 
 A The Judaising Danger (3:1-16)
 B The Antinomian Danger (3:17-21)
6 Second Series of Exhortations (4:1-9) 
 A Exhortation to Stand Firm in Unity (4:1-3)
 B Exhortation to Maintain Various Christian Virtues (4:4-9)
7 The Philippians’ Gifts to Paul (4:10-20) 
 A The Recent Gift (4:10-14)
 B The Previous Gifts (4:15-20)
8 Closing Salutation (4:21-23) 

Philippians 3:13

Paul called the believers at the church of Philippians brothers (a general designation of brothers and sisters) and it was an affectionate term of address. Perhaps, Paul used this term to arrest the attention of the readers.

Philippians 3:13-14

If we wanted to interpret Philippians 3:13-17 correctly, we must refer to its context. In verse 10, Paul says, “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” (Philippians 3:10, NIV). The Apostle Paul shared with the believers his purpose in life was “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” The “know” mentioned above was not head knowledge but experience to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. In other words, the aspiration of Paul was to know the Lord Jesus through life experience. Moreover, the aspiration of the apostle was to suffer with the Lord. Paul moved on and said, “and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” The apostle was not doubtful of his resurrection here. He spoke in such a manner was because he had not experience physical resurrection yet, and his aspiration was the arrival of the future completion of his salvation. He said afterwards, “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.” (Philippians 3:12) The Apostle Paul indicated that he had not attained perfection yet, but he continued to pursue spiritual transformation. Using the imagery of a runner, he spoke of the purpose of his life transformation as winning the prize in a race. The Apostle Paul had only one thing in mind, as if hewas a determined runner who did not look over his shoulder but strived forward, simply for the prize that came from God. He regarded this as his purpose in life, for this was his calling from heaven (Philippians 3:13-14).

Philippians 3:14

What is this “prize”? There are several interpretations below:

1 A scholar thought this “prize’ was the heavenward call which gave people joy in ministry and they could attain the ultimate joy in the completion of God’s work in their life.

2 The “prize” was the crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8).

3 The time when God calls each believer up to heaven as they will attain Christlikeness in heaven (Philippians 3:20; 1 John 3:1, 2).

4 This is the reward of eternal life.

5 This is referred to the ultimate salvation of believers in God’s presence.

6 Believers receive rewards at “the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10).

Philippians 3:15

“Perfect” (KJV) or “mature” (NIV) denotes fully grown, mature ethically. Paul indicated that he was not perfect (Philippians 3:12), so why he regarded some people as “perfect” or “mature” believers? The “mature” believers may be the people spreading heresies in the Philippian church; therefore, Paul used sarcastic language to point out their errors, for they believed that they had already attained perfection. Paul clearly pointed out that the mode and way of his spiritual transformation was correct. Whether self-proclaimed “mature” ones or other proponents, Paul firmly believed that God would let them understand the truth, so that they would get to know his concept was correct.

Philippians 3:16

The translation of New American Standard Bible: “however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” The apostle was earnest in exhorting the Philippian believers. As the believers knew the principle and standard of the truth, that is, the previous teaching provided by the apostle, therefore they should continue to obey.

Philippians 3:17

The apostle knew very well that he was not perfect, and his way of spiritual transformation was right. Therefore, Paul recommended believers to imitate him and all those who lived according to the pattern, was not an expression of thinking of him too highly or unblushing overstatement.


As the believers were facing heretical ideas, Paul did not only point out these heresies (Philippians 3:1-4), but he also shared with them his background and aspiration (Philippians 3:5-12). A point worthy to mention is that the apostle used running to illustrate the correct way and attitude of spiritual pursuit, so that the readers could understand the importance of self-discipline and self-control (Philippians 3:13-17).

3) “Exercise” (X)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Even Paul did not regard himself as mature, thus we should not be conceited (Philippians 3:12).

2 Believers not only should beware of heretical teachings, but also should not consider ourselves more mature than others (Philippians 3:15).

3 Memorise Philippians 3:13-14. 

13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

4 Resolve to learn from a runner’s discipline, concentration and dedication (Philippians 3:13-14).

5 God will surely reward all believers in Christ.

4) “Proclaim” (P)

By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.

iEXP Bible Study Method

After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believer.

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