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The pattern of the cross

The apostle Paul nominated knowing the Lord, and expressing the righteousness of God as a member of the body of Christ, as being the goal of his Christian pilgrimage. Php 3:8-9. He testified that, although he had not yet been perfected in relation to this purpose, he was pressing on to lay hold of his calling as a son of God in Christ Jesus. To this end, Paul was forgetting what lay behind him and reaching forward, by faith, to what the Father had in store for him each day. This would include the works that he was to do, and the sufferings that he would experience, as he participated day by day in the fellowship of Christ’s offering and sufferings. Php 3:12-14.

Significantly, Paul exhorted all believers, saying, ‘Let us keep living by the standard [or sanctification] to which we have attained.’ Paul was indicating that the righteousness of God would become increasingly substantial and obvious in the life of a Christian who is in Christ and lives by faith. Elsewhere, he described this attainment as changing from glory to glory into the image of Christ’s sonship. 2Co 3:18.

Paul then specified the way in which a Christian was to live and walk each day so that this would be their reality. He said, ‘Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.’ Php 3:17. The pattern that Paul spoke of was the way of the cross. The cross of Christ is our fellowship in the offering and circumcision of Christ.