Paul writes a facinating comment in his letter to the Philippians. As a Master Builder (apostle) he writes of himself: “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death…” (Amplified Bible)
To some, I am sure, Paul would appear to be very narrow-minded. To me it is apparent that he was single-focused. He knew what he was called to do and the role he was to play in the early Church. He dropped everything else that was just excess baggage; he removed anything that was contrary to God’s will; he released the good so he could focus on the best. Jesus said that anyone who placed his hand to the plow and then looked back was not fit for service in the Kingdom. (Luke 9:62) He placed his hand to the plow and did not look back. Ever!
But his focus was not specifically the ministry or the calling that he had received supernaturally from the Lord on the road to Damacus. That would, in most cases, be our focus. However, Paul writes and says that his focus – his determined purpose – was to intimately know the Lord whom he followed, served, and worshipped. That should be the true and only focus of all who follow the Lord.
Long ago I learned a truth – so long ago that I don’t remember if the Lord showed it to me directly or if I read it somewhere. It is based on Mark 3:13-14. It states that He called the 12 to Him who were to be called apostles and then “they were to be with Him that He might send them out to preach…” They were to BE first and then DO afterwards. They were to develop an intimate relationship with the Lord first – and then, out of that intimacy – they were to go out and minister in His power. The truth I learned early on was that “ALL MINISTRY ARISES OUT OF RELATIONSHIP”.
So, my determined purpose, single-focused approach in my Christian walk is the become intimate with the Lord – intimately acquainted – so that I know His Word, His voice (“My sheep hear My voice”), His will, His plans and purposes, His still, small voice… Then, from this relationship I can go out under His direction and minister according to His will.
This is not just for those called to one of the five-fold ministry positions (Ephesians 4:11). It is a calling on all believers. When a believer acknowledges their sin, repents with godly sorrow, recognizes and trusts in the fact that Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for that sin, and receives forgiveness so is born again – they are given a gift. Romans 6:23 states that “the gift of God is eternal life”. John 17:3 defines this gift that we receive: “This is eternal life, that they may truly know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent.” The gift is an intimate relationship with God the Father and with Jesus.
The word “know” in the Greek is the word for intimatcy or intercourse. So, we can have an intimate and close relationship with God (it’s a gift but you have to unwrap it) just as a husband and wife have a gift of intimacy in the marriage bed.
So, the first calling on all Christians is to to become intimate with the Lord. To ‘be with Him’. Then, as we hear His voice and know His will we can go forth and be faithful workers in His Kingdom doing His will as He leads us.
Then, on Judgment Day, we will hear: “Well done good and faithful servant”. We will not hear: “away from you you perverse and evil generation, I never knew you…”
Listen to the full three verses…
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
NOTE: “I never KNEW you” refering to an intimate relationship and the gift of eternal life.
Paul was not narrow-minded; he was simply single-focused and had a determined purpose. Not to build a ministry or the Church but to know Him who died for us while we were yet sinners.
That should be our focus and ‘determined purpose’ as well.