Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Person, the Power and the Purpose

3 fingers

Philippians 3:7-15
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ  and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you

We can see the personal aspect of Christian maturity as we examine Paul’s life ambition in Philippians 3:5-15. These eleven verses can be described as his personal testimony to his relationship with the risen Lord Jesus Christ. In Philippians 1:21 he wrote: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” In these few verses we are considering, he expands that concept and spells out for us the details involved in such a dedication.

We shall appreciate this passage better if we see that Paul was preparing a three-fold appreciation of the Lord Jesus Christ. His burning desire was to know – the PERSON, the POWER and the PURPOSE involved in his relationship with Christ. Let us look very closely at the three. If we can make this our own desire then we too will not only be fulfilling our Christian responsibility but be fully in His service.

The Person

"that I may know Him"

Paul’s first longing was “that I may know Him.” He was attracted to and fascinated by the PERSON of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me ask you: do you know your friend?” Ever since that day recorded in Acts 9:4-5 when Paul heard the amazing question: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” to which he stammered out his own question “Who are You Lord?” , he has been filled with an eager desire to know more, so that he could give more.

Read More: Do you Know Him? - C. H. Spurgeon

It is possible to be so taken up with the work of Christ that we discover little of the person of Christ. I can be meticulously accurate in my doctrine, and yet be vague and uncertain in my personal devotion to my Blessed Saviour. To know Him, I must live with Him. There must be a wonderful intimacy and bonding between my soul and my Saviour.

This fact of knowing Him is something every one of us must pursue if we are to go on like Paul, to be involved with Him. There is only one way in which we can achieve this experience. It is by spending time with Christ in worship and adoration. The method of spending that time may differ according to our abilities and opportunities; but the necessity is essential. Always remember that worship and adoration are not the same as asking for favour or presenting petitions.

Paul’s desire was to perceive and recognize and understand the wonders of His Person. Remember that the One whom Paul met on the Damascus road was the risen Christ in all His power and glory. The One of whom he desired to know more was that same Person – the risen Christ who had declared in Matthew 28:18-20 “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth ... and lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.” The Lord had promised His presence; Paul sought to prove His presence.

The Power

“... and the power of His resurrection

But there was a purpose in Paul’s fervent desire to know the Person of Christ. As he proved His presence so he would experience His POWER. This is the Second great thrust in our passage. Verse 10 says: “And that I may in that same way come to know the POWER out-flowing from His resurrection which He exerts over believers.” The more Paul knew of the PERSON of Christ, the more he would experience the POWER of Christ.

The greatest need of the Church today, is that those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ should go on to experience the presence of the risen Christ so that they can demonstrate the power of the indwelling Christ – the power overflowing from His resurrection.

Knowledge of this power will make possible an understanding of verse 11. The King James Version reads: “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead”. This is both uncertain and ambiguous in communicating the real meaning. The Amplified Bible makes it a little clearer “That if possible, I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]”. The reference to the resurrection in this sense is not pointing to the dramatic experience of a coming day, but to the out-working day by day of the fact of being born again.

Ephesians 2:1 says:  “And you have He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sin” We were dead, but now we are alive from the dead. John 5:24 has come true in our experience “verily verily  I say unto you, he that hears My Word and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death unto life.” This is the experience of every true Christian. When we passed from death unto life, we experienced the resurrection referred to in Philippians 3:11. But notice carefully what Paul is saying in this same verse. He speaks of a spiritual and moral resurrection. All Christians have experienced  the Spiritual resurrection when they were born again, what is so vital now is that the power of the Risen Christ that brought the Spiritual life should be released, and become operative in the moral life.

Read More: New Life from Dry Bones

It was for this that Paul yearned and pressed forward. It is this that is so much needed in the Church today; the application of the Power of Christ to the moral life of the believer. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 7:20: “Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.” This is eternal truth applicable to all ages and situations. What a blessed thing it would be if we as believers opened our moral lives more and more to the infusion of the risen life of Christ.

Such an act would take care of so much of the spiritual junk that clutters up the free flowing of the Gospel – the pride, the gossip, the back biting, the jealousy, and the impurity in thought, word and deed. All these and the other attendant works of the flesh would be swept away if a moral resurrection took place in our lives.

The aspirations of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:10-11, would then become real in us. “That the life also of Jesus Christ might be made manifest in our body ... that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” The life of Jesus Christ will be made manifest in our mortal flesh when the power of the Risen Christ is made manifest in our mortal life.

This can only become true when we, first of all, “Know Him” in an increasing intimacy, and then know His power at work in our fragile flesh. The moral resurrection will be seen in the growth in Christian maturity as the fragrance of His presence and power, permeate the complete personality – emotions, mind and will.

The Purpose

“ I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me”

The third thing Paul wanted to know is expressed in verse 12. “I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus, the Messiah has laid hold of me and made me His own” When Christ saved Paul He had a purpose and a plan in mind for Paul’s life. Now what Paul is seeking is that he might be identified with that purpose and that plan. This is the real desire of every Christian. Knowing the PERSON; leads to experiencing the POWER. Yielding my entire life to that POWER sets in motion the PURPOSE of Christ in my life.

Paul was on the move, he was always going even when he was locked up in a prison cell. Remember that the Philippian Epistle was written in prison but even there; he was pressing on and reaching forth. Paul saw himself always in relation to the purpose of God. This could be an encouragement to many of us if we go on to know the PURPOSE of the POWER of the PERSON indwelling our hearts and lives; that we see ourselves caught up in the plan and purpose of God.

Read More: All run but only one receives the prize

If we could see ourselves in gear with Christ then we would know His power meshed with the whole of our yielded personality. We would then go on to appreciate that as His divine power is experienced in our day by day living, then His plan and His purpose would be both set forth and fulfilled through us. This is what Paul is proclaiming in this personal testimony – something so practical and down to earth, yet something which simply must be experienced if ever the believer is to be of use to God.

God bless you and please share your thoughts in the comments below

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