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Sovereignty of Purpose

Sovereignty of Purpose

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"But this one thing I do." — Phil. 3. 13.

"But this one thing I do." — Phil. 3. 13.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Apr 09, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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SOVEREIGTY OF PURPOSE BY JOH RHEY THOMPSO D.D. "But this one thing I do." — Phil. 3. 13. This is the declaration of the apostle Paul. He had a purpose in life, a clear, distinct, strong, mas- terful purpose ; and in his estimation everything else was relative, inferior, secondary, subordinate. "This one thing"— not "two" things, or "three" things, or "four" things, but "this one thing I do." Paul was so situated, he was a man of such endow- ments, that if he had been so minded, he might have attempted to do a great many things. He was a man of remarkable intellectual power, possessed of all the prime characteristics of genius. He was able to light his own fires of thought, and any man who can do that is a genius. We may be sure that as large, as expansive and growing an intellect as that of the apostle Paul could have found employment and delight in many directions. He lived at a time and under circumstances and in places likely to tempt him to become a dabbler and smatterer in a great many things. But he was not a philosopher, he was not a traveling rhetorician, he was not a Greek sophist, he was not a politician, he was not a litterateur, he was not a geographer, he was not an art critic. All the questions of philosophy that 4o Sovereignty of Purpose solicit us were as eagerly discussed, and perhaps as ably discussed, by the early Greek philosophers; they have, in fact, anticipated many of the most vaunted conclusions of modern speculative thought. The apostle Paul did not trouble himself about
them. The old Greek system of politics was wan- ing, decaying, almost dead; we have no opinion of Paul as to the causes of its decline. He does not go into any question concerning the genius of the Roman government ; he never steps aside at a single place to discuss any question that had arisen, or might be expected to arise, between the emperor and the senate, between the patrician and the ple- beian, concerning the extension of the rights of Roman citizenship, or any cognate question. He visited cities that were rich in art, Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, and especially Athens, a city made glorious by the supreme and immortal genius of Phidias, that immortal worker in marble and gold and ivory and brass, but Paul passes no judgment on statue or temple. You may search his letters, speeches, ad- dresses, and sermons in vain for any opinion on art. You would not surmise from anything that we have left of the apostle Paul, that he had ever visited a city that was made splendid by this great creative genius. He gives us no account of the countries through which he passed, as Humboldt, or Stanley, or Livingstone might have done ; they seem to have made no impression on him at all. He never goes Sovereignty of Purpose 41 into ecstasies over any natural scenery; there is no indication that any sea, or any landscape, or any range of mountains ever made any appeal to him. "This one thing I do." He had found a supreme purpose for living, he was mastered by it, he lived in it, it possessed him thoroughly. He saw all these outward things; he knew that Phidias had put his best work on the Acropolis; he quoted from two obscure Greek poets, but he never mentions the name of Socrates.
This one business of the apostle's life was to seize hold of that for which he had been seized by Christ Jesus. He had been apprehended by Christ Jesus for a certain purpose, and it was the strenuous effort of his life in return to grasp that great pur- pose. More and more did it outline itself before him, and in the presence of that sublime destiny everything else was relative and subordinate. "ot as though I had already attained, either were al- ready perfect : but I follow after, if that I may ap- prehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 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." Paul was right. If life means what Jesus re- vealed it to mean, if human destiny be what Jesus 42 Sovereignty of Purpose declares it to be, if the cross be what Paul under- stood it to be, if the love of God in Jesus Christ be what it is declared to be, if man be a spirit, and his body an accident, if trade and art and philosophy and literature and all things earthly be merely insti- tutional, educational, preparatory, if man sprang from God, if, after this brief life, which flies swifter than a weaver's shuttle, immortality be our in- heritance — then Paul was wise and reasonable when he declared that he had only one thing to do in life, to apprehend these great truths and be ruled by them. I wish to speak to you to-night on decision of purpose, steadiness of aim, strenuousness of action,

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