Knowing Christ

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 3:7-11, NLT

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

INTRODUCTION

The world views religion as man’s attempt to reach God and it’s not a bad definition. Since Jesus is the one and only way, it seems to me that the devil is behind religion. Many people seem to believe that religion will save them but this is not taught in scripture. They do not get their theology from the bible. Religion is what we do for God. It is our attempt to reach Him. Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. It is not what we do for God but what He has done for us. It’s not about our reaching out to Him but His reaching out to us.

Paul was a very religious man until he meet Christ on the road of Damascus. Christ convinced Paul to give up on religion. Judaism was the seed from which Christianity sprang but the seed no longer exist. Christianity is the flower that sprang from the seed. All seeds, to give new life, rot and decay. Jews don’t need Judaism, they need Jesus. I believe in every O.T. prophecy. I believe in a Millennium but I am not a Zionist. Judaism can never please God. The O.T. prophecies are all fulfilled in Christ who is the only way. Some Jews are very religious but they are not practicing O.T. Judaism. They have no High Priest, no sacrifice, no temple and no way to atone for sins. They have none of these things because Jesus is all of these things. Jesus will never have a rival and that includes the revival of ancient Judaism. God’s way is faith in Christ which is exactly what Paul is saying in Philippians 3…For His {Christ} sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ  and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. Making oneself righteous by obeying the law is a religious thing but the Christian thing to do is put your confidence in Christ who kept the law in your behalf.

No where else in scripture do we have a sharper contrast between religion and Christianity than in Philippians 3. A little girl was attended a wedding with her mother. The bride came out in a white gown. The little girl pulled on her mom’s dress, “Why is she wearing white.” Not wanting to get into the real meaning of purity and virginity, the mom said, “White is the happy color and today she is happy.” It was a bad answer. Immediately, the little girls asked, “The man is wearing black, isn’t it the sad color?” The little girl had a good point: there is a huge contrast between black and white and the same is true with religion and Christianity.

The Apostle Paul understood the truth: there is no value in religion. Religion is dog food, human excrement [dung], garbage, refuse. Paul had nothing good to say about religion. Paul said, “It has no value, I am done with religion. You take religion but give me Jesus.”

Why is religion so popular? Ralph Martin of Tyndall Commentaries says, “The religious man hankers after something he can boast about; he is blind to his need for grace. He covets a virtue he can call his own.” I agree with Ralph Martin. Religion is rooted in pride. In this passage, we have Paul saying the opposite: Paul is saying, “I renounce my virtue, I have no righteousness, I have thrown my religion in the garbage where it belongs and my desire now is to know Jesus. In verse 8, Paul is saying, there is no comparison between Religion and knowing Jesus

Tonight, I want us to look closer to verses 10-11…I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

KNOWING CHRIST INTIMATELY

The word ‘know’ in the Greek carries the same meaning as the Hebrew word for ‘know’. I love the Hebrew word, it is ‘yada’. Adam knew Eve and he said, ‘yada, yada.’ Of course, the apex of intimacy for a married couple is becoming one in flesh. A huge part of intimacy is bearing one’s self, taking your clothes off, making yourself known.

Paul is not talking about “knowing about Christ.” He is not talking about intellectual knowledge. He is talking about intimate knowledge. He is talking about knowing Jesus intimately. You don’t get to know a person in this way without some things coming into play…

  1. You have to have an unrushed fellowship or communion. You cannot know a person that you are not willing to spend time with.
  2. You have to have an unconditional trust. Intimacy is a two way street. There must be mutual trust. Intimacy is not just getting naked as Lewis says, it is stripping away the pretense that covers you soul. It is getting naked emotionally. When you have secrets, you live a guarded life. When you have insecurities that have hedged these secrets; you make it impossible for anyone to see your soul. Therefore intimacy is not possible. I am not a Psychiatrist by any stretch of the imagination but being a pastor has taught me that emotionally scarred people have a tendency to be distrustful and they have a hard time being intimate with anyone. As humans, we have need to bare our soul. The problem is finding a person who is healthy enough to listen or who cares enough. Most people just don’t care how you feel. How you feel is not important to them. This is not really a problem unless you are married to such a person. There are some exceptions but basically, men are idiots. They treat their wives like prostitutes. They do not understand that the physical act of sex is taking something from her that is precious to her. She doesn’t mind giving her body but she wants to give more. Men don’t have a problem having sex, they have a problem listening. The quickest way to destroy a woman’s love is to convince her that she is there for sex and serving. No one can survive with their soul in tack in such a one sided relationship. Unless your wife was abused sexually before you met her, she will want to be intimate. She wants to share her heart as much, probably more than her body.
  3. You have to have an unselfish love. Again, marriage is a perfect example: you are not going to have a great marriage if everything is about you and your needs. We need to get to a point in our relationship with Christ where everything revolves around Him and What He wants. Paul is there, no doubt. He wants to please Jesus.

KNOWING THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION

Most people think of the resurrection as an event but really it is a person. Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” The resurrection is the “Like Force” that emanates from Jesus. This resurrection has many facets. There is the historical resurrection. There is the resurrection of the new life once the old is renounced. There is the resurrection of the body and there is the resurrection day. A merely spiritual existence is not appealing to humans: we want a body–perhaps a new and improved body but none the less a body. I think the resurrection Paul is talking about here is the same as Romans 6:4…

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. The spiritual power that generates the Christian life. But in verse 11, he is talking about the bodily resurrection. William Barclay says the resurrection guarantees us a [1] Body [2] Immortality [3] Never be separated from Christ.
KNOWING THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERING
We cannot add anything to the suffering of Christ. Our suffering has no vicarious value but it does have spiritual value to the one who suffers. It all goes back to “Knowing Christ”…it goes back to intimacy. When do you get to know people best? When they are suffering. If you are willing to suffer with your friends; you will have friends for life. Truthfully, we will never get to know Jesus intimately without suffering. Barclays says–“To suffer with Christ is not a penalty, it is a privilege.” Paul would say, amen!
The religious man needs something to boast about. He hankers for a virtue he can call his own. Paul had moved away from this religious stance.
CONFORMITY TO HIS DEATH

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s