THE EXAMPLE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL
Surely we have been saved eternally. But whether or not we will be able to share in the manifestation of the kingdom is the problem. As a concluding word we need to consider the history of the Apostle Paul. First, let us read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." Surely Paul had the assurance that he was saved. Yet he emphatically told us that he was running the race. During the time Paul was living, there were the Greek Olympic games where people ran the races in order to receive a prize. Paul used this as his example, saying that he too was running a race to receive a prize.
Philippians 3:13-15 says, "Brothers, I do not yet reckon myself to have laid hold, but one thing—forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I pursue toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are full grown have this mind; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, this also God shall reveal to you." At the time Paul wrote Philippians he was old and had been with the Lord many years; but he was not yet certain he had attained to the goal. Only at the time of the writing of 2 Timothy, which was close to the time of his martyrdom, did he have the assurance that he had reached the goal. This did not mean he was not sure whether he was saved, but that he was not sure whether he had gained the reward of the manifestation of the kingdom. When he wrote 2 Timothy he was sure that the crown of righteousness was waiting for him. That is the crown to be a king. This means when the Lord comes back, Paul will be rewarded with the manifestation of the kingdom of the heavens. We must be very clear: to be saved is one thing, and to be exercised in the kingdom is another. Today we need to be exercised so that tomorrow we can be rewarded.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 49, by Witness Lee)