“Not that I have already received this, nor have I already been perfected, but I pursue it that I might attain it, for I was made to attain it by Christ Jesus.”
As we discussed above, the language of “attaining” the goal of the resurrection is not implying a doctrine of merit…that we somehow are able to earn the work of salvation. Instead, the final clause in this verse is the key to understanding the whole…why do we strive forward toward this goal? We do so because Christ has made us to strive forward to this goal. It is God’s work, not ours.
Some of our English translations vary in how they render this final clause. The verb, katalamba/nw (katalambano — “to attain a goal”) is used twice, the first time as an active subjunctive (“that I might attain”) and the second time as passive indicative (“I was made to attain”). This sets up parallel ideas — I run to attain it because Jesus is drawing me irresistibly to this goal.
On a practical note, the question is whether or not we think like this. Do we really think that we are growing in our sanctification because God is working in us? Or, do we fall into the trap of being prideful about our growth in sanctification. Often it is the latter. Often we like to focus on what we have done rather than on what Christ has done in us…and what a colossal difference there is between the two.