THE UPWARD CALL
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God
IN CHRIST JESUS.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NASB)
#03-09129
The Goal of Our Instruction―Love
June 8, 2009
Paul, an apostle and bond-servant of Christ Jesus, nearing the end of the race that he so valiantly ran,
wrote two letters to his beloved child in the faith, Timothy, who was in Ephesus because of Paul’s
urging. This remarkable brother who had suffered so much from persecution said at the end of his life
that he had fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith. He was not disobedient to the
heavenly vision that began on the road to Damascus and grew in the years that followed. What a
testimony and an encouragement!
In spite of all that he went through, Paul never became bitter. He was a man who poured out his heart
for the body of Christ as he carried a daily burden for the ecclesia. This was more than just a concern or
some good thoughts but rather a deep burden that the eyes of the hearts of the Lord’s people would be
opened to see their glorious calling in Christ; and that they would come through to the end, standing
unashamed before their Savior and Lord.
We would naturally expect that a man like this would have been greatly appreciated among believers.
But this was not always so. In 2 Timothy 1:15, Paul said, “You are aware of the fact that all who
are in Asia turned away from me.” Later, he told Timothy that a brother named Demas, who loved
this present world, deserted him. Even Alexander the coppersmith vigorously opposed his teaching.
Throughout his walk, Paul was under persecution by Jewish religious leaders and was opposed even by
other believers who were out for personal gain. Paul never sought personal gain as he instructed those
who had an ear to hear. At the heart of his instruction was love.
Whereas the object and purpose of our instruction and charge is love, which springs
from a pure heart and a good (clear) conscience and a sincere (unfeigned) faith. (1
Timothy 1:5 AMP)
Notice that he did not say that the goal of his instruction was to defend himself, to prove himself right,
to battle all the offenses that were levied at him, or to destroy those who stood against him.
Paul had but one goal in all that he tirelessly taught. It was love. In the Greek, this word is agape , which
is God’s divine love, sacrificial love. Paul said this love is found in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 1:14), and he
lived out the love of Christ in his ministry. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another
(Romans 13:8).
We must see that the beginning and the end of all instruction is love. We instruct out of a heart of love
in order to bring others into the depths of God’s love. The heart of a teacher must be love—in drive,
motive, and goal. Paraphrasing, Paul said, “If I do not have love, I am nothing. I can do all sorts of
things that outwardly look good and seem right, but if I do not have love, it profits me nothing” (1
Corinthians 13:2-3). We all need Paul’s words written upon our heart.
Love is patient, love is kind, {and} is not jealous; love does not brag {and} is not
arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not
take into account a wrong {suffered,} does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices
with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails… (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NASB)
Now, according to Paul, love must spring from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith,
something that he saw was missing in some who were instructing believers.
But certain individuals have missed the mark on this very matter [and] have wandered
away into vain arguments and discussions and purposeless talk. They are ambitious to
be…. (1 Timothy 1:6-7 AMP)
Although Paul went on to state that some were ambitious to be teachers of the Law, in our day, we could
assign ambition to many other motives, such as making money or a name for oneself.
First, the love found in Christ comes from a pure heart . A pure heart is a clean heart; one that is free
from selfishness, which is being too concerned with one’s own welfare with little to no concern for the
welfare of others. As Paul told the Philippian believers: Do nothing from selfishness or empty
conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important
than himself; do not {merely} look out for your own personal interests, but also for the
interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus
(Philippians 2:3-5 NASB). After all, Christ laid down His life for us. This is the ultimate act of love and
the antithesis of selfishness.
Second, the love found in Christ comes from a good conscience . Our conscience tells us if what we
are doing is right or wrong. Before we were saved we had an evil, wicked conscience, but thank God, the
blood of the Lamb is sprinkled upon our heart to cleanse it from an evil conscience. But this is not
enough; we must obey what the Holy Spirit calls us to do. When the spirit of the Lord speaks to our con-
science, we know what is right and wrong in God’s eyes. If we obey, then we know that our conscience is
clear before God and man. This is a good conscience.
Paul had a good, clear conscience that all he did came from the love of God that was in him because he
lived by the life of Christ that dwelt in him. But when He who had set me apart, {even} from my
mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me
(Galatians 1:15-16). What a revelation this was to Paul—His Son in me. Paul knew this life in him, and
he lived by Him moment by moment. When we live by His life in us, our conscience is clear. This was
Paul’s testimony. In fact, Paul said that he always did his best to maintain a blameless conscience before
God and man (Acts 24:16).
Third, the love found in Christ comes from a sincere faith . Actually, a better reading of this word is
unfeigned faith . In other words, it is real faith, without hypocrisy, which is pretending to be what one is
not. Consequently, some might say they believe and yet they are not living and walking by faith. They
are pretending. Their faith might go no further than a mental acceptance or understanding of Jesus’
atoning work on the cross and the hope of one day “going to heaven,” a concept that comes up woefully
short of our true hope in Christ. They “accept” salvation but refuse its power in a daily working out of
salvation through faith. This is not unfeigned faith. It is hypocritical because it is not genuine, real,
active, living faith; a faith within based on a spirit of power and love and discipline (2 Timothy 1:5, 7).
Paul knew nothing of feigned faith in his own life. His faith was genuine and sincere. What he spoke, he
believed. When he passionately taught of the Lord Jesus, he believed all that he spoke. When he said to
trust in the Lord, he meant it. When he said rejoice in the Lord, he meant it. When he said that “The
Lord stood with me and He will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely
to His heavenly [celestial] kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:17-18 NASB [CV]), he believed it with his whole
heart. When Paul shared the glorious gospel of the blessed God, he spoke from a living faith that had
been tested in the trials of life and had not faltered.
Paul could not brag on himself because all that he was came by the grace of God and not from any rights
he had or from anything good that came from his life. He lived by the life of Christ that was in him. In
living this life, he learned to walk by faith not by sight. When the entire world seemed to be against him,
when the powers and principalities were trying to destroy him, he knew that the One who had taken up
residence in his life would deliver him. Why? Because God is love , and love never fails ! Real faith
knows the love of God and stands in the living reality that God is faithful. Love springs from unfeigned
faith!
For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have
believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until
that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)
This is love in action based on unfeigned faith. May the goal of all that we do, not only of our
instruction, be love from a pure heart and a clear conscience and an unfeigned faith, love that is in
Christ Jesus our Lord!
The Upward Call: #03-09129
by: Stuart H. Pouliot