Study 6 KNOWING THE LORD FULLY
(Scripture Portion: Philippians 3: 1-11)
In this letter the apostle Paul tells us of seven great aspirations which he had, all of which centred in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. These earnest longings, which should characterise every Christian are, progressively:-
(1) To KNOW Him 3:10; (2) to GAIN Him 3:8; (3) to EXALT Him 1:20; (4) to BE FOUND in Him 3:9; (5) to ATTAIN to the first resurrection 3:11; (6) to BE WITH Him 1:23; and (7) to BOAST in His Day 2:16.
Of these seven great aspirations, the first is the most important – to know Him – for the other six all build up on the foundation of a personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. See how the apostle speaks of this personal knowledge of Christ in verse 8, and notice the importance of each emphasised word:- (1) “knowing CHRIST“; (2) “knowing Christ JESUS“; (3) “knowing Christ Jesus my LORD“; and (4) “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus MY Lord”
Paul reckoned that to know the Lord was such an excellent thing that it was well worthwhile losing everything else to gain this knowledge – see verses 7 and 8. This raises the question: What did Paul lose in order that he might gain this excellent knowledge? What did he count as refuse? When Paul became a Christian he lost his former friends, social prestige, worldly advancement, financial gain and, of course, he lost physical comfort. But he lost very much more. Study verses 5 and 6, and notice the seven things which Paul counted of great value until he became a Christian, but which he counted as loss (verse 7), and rubbish (verse 8) after his conversion.
(1) “Circumcised on the eighth day” (verse 5). This shows that he was a true Jew; (2) “Of the people of Israel” (verse 5). He was an actual descendant of the Patriarch Jacob; (3) “Of the tribe of Benjamin” (verse 5). Benjamin and Judah were two very privileged tribes; (4) “A Hebrew of the Hebrews” (verse 5). He enjoyed every advantage that could possibly be derived from the fact that he was a Jew; (5) “In regard to the Law, a Pharisee” (verse 5). This was the strictest sect among the Jews; (6) “As for zeal, persecuting the church” (verse 6). Compare Acts 8:3 with 26:9-11; and (7) “As for legalistic righteousness, faultless” (verse 6). No other Pharisee could accuse him of religious laxity.
These had seemed great gains to the apostle up until the time of his conversion, but after he met the risen Lord on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:3-6), he viewed them all as worthless and accounted them as refuse in order that he might gain the excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. This knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ is a four-fold knowledge, as indicated in verse 10, and to know Him in this four-fold way is to know Him fully – that is, as fully as it is possible to know Him down here.
1. KNOWING HIS PERSON
“I want to know Christ…” All vital Christian experience begins when we come to know not only about the Lord, but when we come to know Him personally. Multitudes of people who know about Him are in the same position that Samuel was in – 1 Samuel 3:7; that Nicodemus was in – John 3:2-12 – look up 2 Timothy 1:12, and notice that the apostle says, “I know whom…” i.e. “I know Him.” To know God and the Lord Jesus Christ is salvation (John 17:3), and we only begin to know Him when we trust Him as our own personal Saviour and accept His gift of pardon through His Finished Work. Do you know Him? – look up Job 22:21. There are, of course, degrees of knowing Him. Paul first came to know Him on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:3-6), but thirty years later he said – Philippians 3:10; Philip first came to know the Lord at the commencement of His public ministry, but see what He said to Philip over two years later – John 14:9; see what Hosea 6:3 says; and look up 2 Peter 3:18. Do you know Him? How much do you know Him?
2. KNOWING HIS POWER
“I want to know…the power of his resurrection…” What does this mean? The Lord Jesus was crucified and He actually died (John 19:33-35). After His death His body was placed in Joseph’s tomb (John 19:38-42) and then what happened? HE ROSE AGAIN! and the same mighty power which raised Him from the dead, “the power of His resurrection”, is available for and may be experienced by every Christian through union with the Lord Jesus Christ; this is the meaning of Romans 6:3-4. We are saved from wrath by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, i.e. by His death (Romans 5:9), but we are saved from the power of sin by His life (Romans 5:10), i.e. His risen life, His resurrection life – compare Hebrews 7:25 and Jude 24.
3. KNOWING HIS PASSION
I want to know…the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings…” This means to share the reproach, the ignominy, the scorn – in short, the sufferings which He endured on our behalf when He was arrested, falsely accused and crucified – look up Colossians 1:24, and compare Philippians 1:29. If we are determined to be faithful to Him we must in some measure enter into “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings”. Is it possible that we are shunning the reproach of the cross, and that in consequence we know little of this wonderful fellowship?
4. KNOWING HIS PURPOSE
“Becoming like him in his death…” God’s purpose for every believer is set out in Romans 8:28-29; God’s intention is to make us like the Lord Jesus, and in order that this purpose may be accomplished, all that there is about us which is unlike Him must “die”. When our Saviour died, in the purpose and intention of God we died also – look up Romans 6:2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, and notice that in verse 11 we are exhorted, “…count yourselves dead.” Do you know anything of the outworking of God’s purpose in you? Do you daily “count yourselves dead to sin” and to all that is contrary to His will? Are you experiencing the truth of Galatians 2:20?