What are the "Two Journeys" of the Christian life?
God has set before the Church of Jesus Christ two infinite journeys: the external journey of the global advance of the Kingdom of Christ, and the internal journey of individual, personal sanctification. These two journeys have one destination, one ultimate goal. God has ordained these two journeys for his glory and for the joy of his people. Though only accomplished by the power of Jesus Christ, both journeys require immense human effort and untold suffering in order to be accomplished. If you are a Christian today, these journeys are your central work, your central means of bringing glory to God. And what are these journeys?
1) The external journey of the worldwide advance of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ to all nations.
2) The internal journey of an individual Christian from being dead in sin to gloriously perfect in Christ.
These two journeys are referred to directly and indirectly in many places in Scripture. They are not always referred to as journeys, but that is what they are. The essential idea of a journey is progress; i.e., advancing gradually to a desired destination. The external journey of the worldwide advance of the Kingdom of Christ (from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, through the ministry of the gospel), is a gradual process requiring great effort, labor, and suffering. The internal journey of individual, personal salvation (from justification, through sanctification, into glorification), is also a gradual process requiring great effort, labor, and suffering.
Both infinite journeys are displayed in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 1.
1) The external journey of the gospel: “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12; emphasis mine).
2) The internal journey of sanctification: “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1:25; emphasis mine).
Both verses use the same Greek word, prokopē, to speak of “progress” or “advance.” This word, used twice, thus speaks of two journeys.
The External Journey of Gospel Advance
In the first case, Paul wants the persecuted Philippian church to know that his arrest and chains have actually helped the gospel make progress throughout the Praetorian Guard (Philippians 1:13). These elite soldiers were among the finest in the entire Roman empire, the toughest, most loyal, and most dedicated men the emperor had. It seems that Paul may have been chained to some of these Praetorian guardsmen, and had seized the opportunity to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to them one after the other. Undoubtedly Paul’s supernatural joy in Christ—despite his dreadful circumstances—must have made quite an impression on many of them, and they gave his message a careful listening. Paul hints that some of them may even have become Christians as a result (note that there are believers in “Caesar’s household,” Philippians 4:22). What is more, once the rest of the church saw how courageously and joyfully Paul was suffering for Christ, they were now emboldened to share the gospel fearlessly (Philippians 1:14)! Church history shows that, within one generation of Paul, there were Christian churches as far north as wild and forbidding Britain. Could it be that some Praetorian Guards believed Paul’s gospel and became even more loyal to Christ than they were to the emperor, and spread the gospel to such distant places?
This is the progress of the gospel that Paul was speaking of: the gradual advance of the Kingdom of Christ through the verbal proclamation of the gospel message. “Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (verse 18). This worldwide advance of the gospel is the heroic story of missions, commanded and predicted by the resurrected Christ: “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem’” (Luke 24:46–47).
The Church has been traveling this journey for almost two thousand years. Since the time when Philippians was written, the gospel has been carried heroically to the most distant parts of the earth’s surface. Missionaries have crossed the burning sands of the Arabian Desert, the forbidding slopes of the Karakoram Mountains, the measureless expanses of the Pacific Ocean, and the dangerous wilds of the jungles of Irian Jaya. Martyrs have suffered persecution and died, families have suffered tropical illnesses and died, missionaries have suffered starvation and died, all to accomplish the “advance of the gospel,” to make progress along this external journey.
The Internal Journey of Sanctification
The Apostle Paul also mentions the other of our two infinite journeys, in Philippians 1:25 (emphasis mine): “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.”
The issue here is Paul’s ongoing concern for the individual Philippian Christians after they have trusted Christ and been baptized. He is immensely concerned about their “progress and joy in the faith.” Another name for “progress in the faith” is sanctification, the internal journey of gradual growth into Christlikeness. This internal journey is as important to Paul as the external, and that is why he wrote Philippians to begin with. His desire is that his letter will help them make “progress in the faith,” and to this end he constantly preaches, teaches, prays, and labors. He is greatly concerned that they become fully mature in Christ, letting the manner of their life be worthy of the gospel of Christ (1:27), responding to persecution with his same joyful attitude (1:28), putting others’ needs ahead of their own with the perfect servant heart of Christ (2:1–11), working out their salvation with fear and trembling (2:12–13) as Paul did, by focusing totally on Christ, pressing on toward the goal for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (3:7–14), and learning to constantly rejoice, trust, think, and be content in Christ (4:4–13).
This internal journey is the personal struggle of each Christian with the world, the flesh, and the devil. It requires a different kind of valor in the face of suffering than does the external journey, but it is the essence of the ongoing saving work of Christ in the individual Christian. This internal journey is a major and constant emphasis in the New Testament. Christ spoke of two roads, a narrow one leading to life and a broad one leading to destruction, and commanded us to “enter through the narrow gate” (Matthew 7:13–14). He also taught of the “way” to the Father, saying, “I am the way. . . . No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). Christianity itself was originally called “The Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22), indicating this sense of a “way of salvation” (Acts 16:17). The book of Hebrews commands us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1), while Paul commanded that we should “run so as to obtain,” and said he did not “run like a man running aimlessly” (1 Corinthians 9:24, 26). In many of his epistles, he spoke of his own “race” (Acts 20:24, Galatians 2:2), and at the end of his life, he said “I have finished my race” (2 Timothy 4:7). All of Peter’s and Paul’s references to Christian spiritual growth (e.g., 1 Peter 2:2, Colossians 1:10) are allusions to the same issue—the internal journey—using different metaphors.
These two journeys are really one and the same thing, and they are carried on for the same ultimate goal—the glory of God in the final perfection of the Church. God has ordained that his chosen ones shall most certainly be saved to the uttermost; they shall be resurrected from being “dead in transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) and brought to absolute perfection in Christ. Christ came to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21), and that means to save his chosen ones from everything that sin has done to them. The final end of salvation is total conformity to Christ (Romans 8:29), and he will not stop until each of the elect are brought into this perfection. Thus do the two infinite journeys become one: only when each individual elect of God is 1) brought to personal faith in Christ through the missionary work of the Church (the external journey), and 2) totally glorified in Christ, perfect in body, soul, and spirit in the Kingdom (the internal journey), will the work of God in this world be complete. These two journeys have one goal: “the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12, 14).
Two Journeys exists to help Christians make progress in the "two journeys" mentioned above. Central to this mission is the dissemination of the word of God, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). Two Journeys seeks to make available for free, expository sermons, teachings, bible study books, helpful articles, and teaching videos to spread sound Christian teaching as far and wide as the Lord wills.