Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Excellence of Knowing Christ

Excellence of Knowing Christ

Philippians 3:7-11
“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.” NKJV

Everyone has a life ambition, and if you put that ambition in proper focus, everything you do brings you nearer that objective.

I asked my six year old son what he wants to be when he grows up. He said, “I want to be a doctor, a business man and a pastor!” I then asked him how he intends to achieve all those and still avoid conflicts. I was surprised at his answer. He said; “Now I have a Bible and I am reading it. That prepares me in future to be a Pastor. I go to school and I am doing all I can  do to pass all my subjects; that is in fact steps to being a doctor and I have with my friends in my class formed a Company – ‘The Future Investments Company’; we are already Business men” He is putting his life ambition in focus and is working towards it.

Paul had a life ambition – to be the best Jew. And in order to achieve this, he worked very hard to get to the top. In Philippians 3:3-6, he showed how hard he worked to get to the top. And at the time he was writing, he was indeed at the top and has achieved his life ambition. Nobody could contest with him. Read it all below: “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”

But in verses 7-11, Paul sharply contrasts the excellence of knowing Christ with the comparative worthlessness of everything else.
Let us look at what Paul describes as the excellent life ambition – the excellence of knowing Christ.
1. First to know Christ, you must count all your other ambitions, your all other gains, as loss. Leaving all others and following Him. Jesus Himself put it very sharply in these words – Luke 9: 23-26. Paul deliberately turned from his heritage and earlier religious trainings because none of those things could bring him to God. Only the knowledge of Christ could do that.

2. Second, it is not a partial abandoning of the past; it involves ALL THINGS. This is where the difficulty is. Ahab, the king of Israel was willing to give all his silver and gold to Benhadad, king of Syria. He was willing to give his wives and children, but when he asked that his home and kingdom be searched so that he, the king of Syria takes all that he likes, he protested (First Kings 20:1-9). To know Christ, we will give Him the unhindered access to all we have so that He can take away all that He wants. We often resist. To know Christ, we need to count all those things as repulsive rubbish. This will have to be on daily basis. In fact, as we daily remove the rubbish in our rooms, so we must do to know Christ in our lives.

3. To know the excellence of Christ, we must not count on our own righteousness. We all have what we think we have done and are doing for God, things which we think He ought to look upon and welcome us to His Kingdom, things we are hanging on as our passport to His presence. By works of our own righteousness, none of us will ever make heaven. At the end of all our works, it shall be like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; “we saw that we were naked”. (Genesis 3:7-10)

4. To know the excellence of Christ, we must depend on His righteousness – this only comes from trusting Him to do the best for our lives. “Faith in Christ”; this is what God illustrated in Genesis 3:21. Jesus is that Animal that was slain and His righteousness, that tunic that they were given.

5. We must know three things about Jesus Christ

i. The Power of His resurrection
ii. The Fellowship of His suffering
iii. Being in conformity with His death.

The power that raised Christ from the dead, is the same power that arrested Paul on the Damascus Road, and it is the same power that quickens all who are dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-3). “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” The same power keeps you living as a Christian

But you cannot be effective as a Christian until you experience the fellowship of His suffering. Let us see a few verses 

Romans 5:1-5: Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 

Second Corinthians 12:9-10: And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

James 1:2-4: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Hebrews 12:11: Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

If you must know the excellence of knowing Christ, you must die, be buried, and be resurrected to a new life just as Christ Himself did.

As you deliberate on this today, be guided by the fact that if you must work for Christ, you cannot do it your own way. It must be as he has approved and with only one thing in focus, the excellence of Christ. Let nothing be done with a selfish motive.

God bless you all.

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