Sunday, June 21, 2020

“I Want To Know Christ” [Matt's Messages]

“I Want To Know Christ”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
June 21, 2020 :: Philippians 3:10-11

We actually looked briefly at these very words last week, but we didn’t have time to really consider them carefully. These words are the beating heart of this Bible book and the beating heart of its apostolic author, so you don’t want to just pass over these words quickly or lightly. You want to linger.

Now, having said that, I also have to admit that nothing I say today can do these words justice.

These words are sublime. They are beautiful, and they beautifully sum up the beauteous aspiration of the heart of the Apostle Paul.

And nothing I will say today can do them justice.

But I’m still going to try! Because I want us to get a glimpse of the heart of Paul for the heart of Christ. To get a sense of what he really felt and what really he wanted so that, Lord-willing, we might feel and want it ourselves.

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11, NIV84).

Do you hear his heart?

Do you hear his aspiration? What Paul really wants?

The Greek construction here that the NIV translates, “I want to know Christ” emphasizes that this is Paul’s deepest purpose for everything he does.

It literally could be translated, “TO KNOW HIM!”

That is it! That is the goal! That is the ultimate experience.

“To Know Him!”

Paul says, “That’s what I want!”

We saw last week how much Paul was willing to give up to know Him.

In his earlier life, Paul was a religious success story. And if you could be justified and saved by doing good works and being a good boy and outwardly following the Law, then Paul would have pulled it off.

But Paul said that he has thrown that all away. From the profit column to the loss column. Remember this?

V.8 “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish [street trash, worse than worthless], that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

Why? To what end? To what purpose? V.10 again.

“[TO KNOW HIM] and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Paul wants to know Christ. There is no greater thing.

Can you and I say the same thing?

Now, notice that Paul doesn’t just say that he wants to know God.

This is about knowing Christ. Verse 8 made it very clear. It’s “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

Some people want to just know “God,” a generic God.

A Creator God, perhaps. God in nature. God up there in the sky. Something like that.

But Paul has a very specific God in mind. He wants to know the Lord Jesus Christ.

The One we’ve been learning about in the Gospel of Matthew the last few years. The most compelling Person who ever lived and ever will live! Paul want to know Him.

And he doesn’t just want to know ABOUT Him. His goal is not just to gather facts about Jesus and have a good mental database of factual knowledge of Jesus.

This is not just an academic exercise. This is relational. This is the language of personal relationship.

Paul wants to know Christ. Paul wants to relate to Christ.

Paul wants to have fellowship and connection and personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And he wants more and more of it!

I said last week that if I’m doing the math right (which is always a question!), the Apostle Paul has known Christ now for about 30 years of his life.

And he just wants more! He. just. wants. more.

On Thursday of this week, Heather and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. The first one we’ve had during a pandemic! We both bought each other books that we knew the other would like. And she fixed me Eggs Benedict for supper, and I baked her Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert. 26 years of joy!

Yesterday was my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary! A half-century of wedded bliss. Which is an even greater achievement and gift.

You know what? After 26 years, Heather and I still hunger to know each other better. And so do my parents.

We aren’t content to just know about each other or to have known each other.

We want to know each other! ... MORE!

That’s kind of how Paul felt about Christ. He wanted MORE.

He was hungry to know Christ more.

Can that be said of you and me?

Do you want to know Christ?

Around here at Lanse Free Church we like to say that our purpose is “to glorify God by bringing people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.”

I remember when our elders formulated that statement. It was more than 20 years ago. We had a retreat where we prayed and brainstormed how to articulate what we believed was what the Lord had us here for as a church family.

And that’s what we came up with. “...bringing people into a relationship with Jesus Christ.” One of the key passages of Scripture that we studied that weekend and really inspired us was this one: Philippians 3:10 and 11.

This is what drove Paul, and it’s what drives us as a church.

A life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. “TO KNOW HIM!”

In these 2 verses, Paul goes into two different ways that he wants to know Christ.

Two different aspects of knowing Him.

Let’s look at them more closely. Verse 10 again.

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection...”

That’s the first aspect of knowing Christ, and it’s worth throwing away everything else for.


Whenever Paul wants to talk about extraordinary power, he almost always turns to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What kind of power does it take to bring a dead man back to life?

I know we didn’t get to have Easter together this year as a church, so I’ll remind you what happened:

Jesus Christ was executed, crucified on a Roman Cross. And he was buried. He was really dead. Dead on Friday. Dead on Saturday. Dead on Sunday.

And then on Sunday morning, the third day, Jesus Christ came back from the dead!

What kind of power does it take to do that?! That’s what Paul wants to know!

He wants to know the power of Jesus’ resurrection.

Not just about it. He wants to know it. He wants that power at work in his life.

Why would he need that kind of power?

Well, we’ll see in a minute that he will need it for his own resurrection after he dies.

But he also needs it for the work that we often call “sanctification.” Which is becoming more and more holy. More and more like Christ.

Verse 9 talks about what we call “justification” which is being declared righteous, having righteousness–not of our own from the law but that which is through faith in Christ alone–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

But verse 10 goes beyond justification to sanctification. Not just being declared righteous but increasingly becoming more and more righteous.

Are you becoming more and more righteous?

In your heart, from your lips, at your hands, from your feet?

Are you becoming more and more like Christ?

It takes power to do that. Extraordinary power. The kind of power it takes to bring the dead to life.

I want to know that power, don’t you?

Not power without Christ, apart from Christ but resurrection power from knowing Christ.

However, before you experience a resurrection, you have to experience a death. Look again at verse 10.

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death...”

That’s the second aspect of knowing Christ.


That one doesn’t sound as appealing, does it?

I think we often forget this side of it, or at least we try.

But Paul does not try to avoid it. He says that he WANTS to know the fellowship of sharing in Christ’s sufferings.

What does that mean?

Well, that word “fellowship” in verse 10 is the same word we learned about back in chapter 1 back in March. It’s the word “koinonia,” and it shouldn’t be translated “coffee and donuts.”

It’s more like “partnership” or “in-it-togetherness.”

Paul wants to have in-it-togetherness with Jesus’ suffering.

He wants to share in Jesus’s suffering. What does that mean?

Well, I don’t think it’s a death wish. And I don’t think it’s masochism either.

Paul doesn’t love pain for pain.

But he does want to have deep fellowship with Jesus even if it means going through hard things for and with Jesus.

If that’s what it takes to really know Christ, then count me in, Paul says.

Of course, Christ’s sufferings were unique and one of a kind. He died like we never will.

But mysteriously, we were united with Him in His death. Paul says that elsewhere.

And as we are united to Him, Christ brings new meaning to whatever suffering you and I experience today.

We follow Christ’s pattern when we suffer in faith.

I think that’s what he means when he says, “becoming like him in his death.”

We are conformed to Christ’s image when we suffer as Christians.

And mysteriously we find ourselves knowing Him more and more and more.

Last year, I read this book by Paul Miller. The guy who wrote, “A Praying Life,” and it’s all about this concept of being conformed to the image of Christ through dying and rising with Jesus in everyday life.

He calls it the “J-Curve.”

J for Jesus, but also for the shape of our movement as we are conformed to Christ.

Remember in chapter 2 (over there on the big slide) when Paul said that Jesus went down down down, giving up His rights and privileges and prerogatives.

And that we need to do the same?

That will mean some suffering, won’t it?

Going down, down, down and putting other first will mean suffering.

For Jesus it meant the cross.

And Paul says that we should have the same attitude.

But Jesus didn’t stop there, did He?

No, God exalted Jesus to the highest place and gave Him the highest name!

Up, up, up!

That’s the pattern. Down in suffering like Christ. Up in exaltation like Christ!

You don’t get the one without the other.

So Paul says, “Count me in.”

I want to know the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death.

Do you want that?

Do you choose that?

Paul Miller shows us that this pattern gets repeated over and over and over again the New Testament.

It is what it means to know Christ.

Some people want you to think that you can know Christ without suffering.

And there’s big theological word for that, “Baloney!”

Don’t listen to anyone who says that Jesus just wants you to be happy, healthy, and  wealthy.

No, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

And Paul said, “I want to know that guy!”

“TO KNOW HIM and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, [verse 11] and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

That’s not just a metaphor. That’s a real, literal expectation.

Paul expects someday somehow to be resurrected from the dead himself.

And that’s when we move from justification to sanctification to glorification!  Which he’s going to talk more about as the chapter goes on.

Down, down, down even to real death.

And then one day up, up, up from the grave!

All because we know Christ.

Do you know Christ?

Is Jesus your Savior and Lord?
Is He your Rescuer and King?

Knowing Christ is worth giving up everything.

Knowing Him is worth throwing everything else away. Taking up your cross.

If you have never come to know Him, then let today be the day.

Turn from your sin and put your all of your faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

He crucified for your sin. And He offers the gift of His righteousness.

And He offers for you to be spiritually united to and found in Him.

There is no greater thing!

That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. Following Jesus means embracing pain. Painful love, painful repentance, trusting God when bad things and trials come.

But you get to know Him better as you trust Him through those bad things.

You get the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.

So it’s worth it!

And the suffering doesn’t last forever. After death comes resurrection. Somehow.

And knowing Him is worth it all.

Do you know Christ that way?

Have you told somebody else about it?

Knowing Him is so good. We can’t keep it to ourselves!

Paul is telling us how good it is. We need to tell somebody.

Who could you tell this week how much you want to. know. Christ. and the extraordinary power of His resurrection and the sweet and deep fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.

Not just about Him.

But knowing Him. More and more and more.



Previous Messages in This Series:
01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"
03. "I Will Continue To Rejoice"
04. "Whatever Happens"
05. "Make My Joy Complete"
06. "Your Attitude"
07. "I Am Glad and Rejoice With All Of You"
08. "With Great Joy"
09. "Rejoice in the Lord!"