Excel Still More

1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.

 God is deeply concerned with our daily walk, with how we live the Christian life.  The Lord came not just to make us children of God and get us into heaven, but to enable us to live as the children of God ought to live in a dark and sinful world that does not know Him.                                                              J. Hampton Keathley III

 “Christ in you, Christ in you, we get it!  When do we move on to something else?”  This was the statement of some of my Bible students years ago who had been given a new book to read for the purpose of discussion with their discipleship groups who meet once a week.  It was the third book assigned to them that year, each one on the topic of Christ being more than just a ticket to heaven, and more than someone for us in and of ourselves to act like.  Each book explained that Jesus is to be the believer’s very life and therefore the actual source in fulfilling God’s demand placed on mankind which is His Holiness as described in 1 Peter 1:16 “… YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

 The students believed that as a result of their academic endeavor, because they had read the previous two books and had come to comprehend the theory of the truth taught, that they had come to master the concept and were now ready to move on to other things.  If you believe the Christian life is nothing more than concepts and theories to be academically mastered so you can be ready to move on to “other things”, then you’re in a for a world of hurt, frustration and disappointment.  God’s Holiness in man doesn’t start with us nor does it depend on us. 

 Paul made it abundantly clear just who God’s Holiness depends on.   “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20), “Finally,  be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10) “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), “For this purpose also I labor, stringing according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Colossians 1:29).

 If God’s Holiness is reliant upon man’s ability to comprehend and accomplish according to our own ability then we have no need for Jesus!  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law (what man can do of himself), then Christ died needlessly” (Galatians 2:21- emphasis mine).  In this we find the issue with my former students.  They believed God’s Holiness was dependent on their own capacity to imitate God.  What a sad reality but unfortunately one that every believer in Christ must battle with, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3).

 A few years after this experience with our students I was a guest lecturer in another school when one of the students introduced herself to me.  She told me she was a sister of one of those former students of mine who had believed he had mastered the “concept” of Christ living in him.  When I asked her how her brother was doing she was grieved to inform me that he was not doing well with Jesus and asked if I would pray for him.  She told me that while she was preparing to leave for school her brother had pulled her aside and implored her to not do what he had done during his time with us at school in Texas.  He simply said, “whatever you do, don’t do what I did and waist your time there”!

 Wait a minute, I thought he understood “Christ in you” and wanted to know when he could move on to something else.  He was convinced that he had used his time wisely and had mastered the life that according to scripture is for every believer.  Do you see what I’m getting at.  He thought that Christ’s life in him was simply a concept to emulate by his own abilities.  He thought Christ’s life was something and not Someone and by living according to this lie he came to the horrifying realization that he was wasting his time.  All that reading, studying, thinking and trying to live the life of Christ by his own abilities and determination brought him not to victory and peace but despair and regret.

 Will you in your pursuit to be like Christ arrive at the same place as my former student or will you say with Paul, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7–11)

 We should never come to the point that we say, “I get it, now I’m ready to move on to something else”.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  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).


“All that God requires of us is an opportunity to show what He can do.” A.B. Simpson


From all of us at A’del, keep pressing on by faith in Christ for we must all “excel still more”.



All scripture is from the NASB 95