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Sunday, July 21, 2024

What Is It Prefer to ‘Know Christ’?


Do you keep in mind your first aware “favourite tune” as a toddler? Possibly it was a single, or an album, or a selected artist.

I keep in mind listening to a specific tune on the radio as a four- or five-year-old and saying out loud to my mother and father, “That’s my favourite tune.”

Now, I notice I’m one of many older folks within the room. So, I’ll ask, however I don’t count on many to boost a hand. Does anybody know the title Larnelle Harris?

Arms down, gospel singer Larnelle Harris was my first favourite singer. In January of 1985, Larnelle launched an album known as “I’ve Simply Seen Jesus,” and the primary tune on the cassette was known as “How Glorious Is Thy Title.” I liked that tune.

The explanation I point out Larnelle is that two years later, in 1987, he launched one other album, and tucked away fifth on the cassette was a tune based mostly on Philippians 3 known as “I Need to Know Christ.” Nonetheless right now, this tune strikes me deeply. One thing about this tune captured my six-year-old coronary heart. I may inform its subject material was unsurpassed. A tune about “understanding Christ” felt a lot greater than your standard-fare Christian music of the 80s — or any decade. It went so clearly to the very coronary heart of what God made us for.

I’ll learn you the refrain, and you’ll hear our textual content this morning, in addition to the “urgent on” we’ll take a look at subsequent week in verses 12–14:

I need to know Christ
I hold Him earlier than me
I raise up my eyes
I drink in His glory
I press towards the objective
His goodness unfolds
March on, O my soul
I need to know
I need to know Christ

Deep, Private Understanding

On the finish of the sermon final Sunday, Jonathan set the desk so effectively for us for right now. Actually, I hope this message will merely flesh out what he mentioned close to the top — that Philippians 3 doesn’t simply need us to be proper with God (which is penultimate) however to know Jesus. Understanding Christ is the ultimate objective, the final word objective; it’s what makes heaven to be heaven:

Jesus is not only the means to get you what you need, however Jesus additionally turns into what you need. Jesus is means and finish. To know Jesus is of surpassing price. That is what’s most precious — to know “Christ Jesus my Lord.” . . . This can be a deep, private understanding. It’s actual expertise in actual relationship. Intimacy.

I see three items right here that map onto what we would name a (form of) previous facet in verse 9, and a current facet in verse 10, and a future facet in verse 11.

So, right here’s how we’ll proceed this morning: we’ll begin by rehearsing what we noticed final week in verse 9 (the penultimate), then bounce to verse 11 and the long run, after which come again to verse 10 and linger over what it means to “know Christ,” even now on this life, within the current. I hope to shoot as straight as I can about what it means to know Christ, and what that have is like, and the way we go about searching for to know him and luxuriate in him in our on a regular basis Christian lives.

So, we begin with the penultimate in verse 9.

1. We’re absolutely accepted by God in Jesus.

I’m unsure we used the phrase “justification” within the final two weeks, however that is the fact we’ve been speaking about. Verse 3 mentions “boasting in Christ Jesus” and “placing no confidence within the flesh.” That is justification speak. It raises the query, What’s the grounds of your right-standing with God, your acceptance earlier than God? How can an unrighteous sinner get proper, and keep proper, with the righteous, holy God?

Justification is God’s declaration over sinners like us, “You’re righteous in my sight. I declare you to be in the correct with me, absolutely accepted in my presence.” How? Not due to something we’ve finished to deserve God’s favor. However slightly, due to what Jesus has finished to win for us God’s favor and the decision “Righteous!”

Begin again in verse 7, and get the stream of thought into verse 9:

No matter achieve I had [and remember his amazing list of Jewish gains in verses 5–6], I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Certainly, I rely every thing as loss due to the surpassing price of understanding Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I’ve suffered the lack of all issues and rely them as garbage, so that I could achieve Christ and be present in him, not having a righteousness of my very own that comes from the legislation, however that which comes by religion in Christ, the righteousness from God that is dependent upon religion.

Three items right here assist us get readability on this justification by religion alone.

First, what’s not the grounds of Paul’s justification, and ours, earlier than God: our personal benefit. He says, “not having a righteousness of my very own that comes from the legislation.” The issue just isn’t the legislation; it’s holy, righteous, and good. The issue is us. We’re sinners by and thru. We aren’t holy, righteous, and good, and so even our best efforts at obeying God’s holy, righteous, and good legislation can’t win his righteous favor and get us proper with him.

Second, then, what is the grounds of our justification? Reply: having the righteousness that “comes by religion in Christ, the righteousness from God that is dependent upon religion.” Religion in whom? Religion in Christ. Righteousness from whom? Righteousness from God, by our believing in Jesus.

However nonetheless, one piece is lacking, and it’s simple to miss, initially of verse 9: “present in him.” That is relational language, and it’s a part of an interplay or an alternate. Paul has been speaking about gaining Christ, getting Christ, and now he talks about Christ getting him, his being present in Christ. It’s virtually like, “I’m my beloved’s, and he’s mine,” from the Track of Solomon. I get Christ as a result of he obtained me.

Which suggests the floor of our justification is Christ alone, not our doing. And the instrument that connects us to Jesus is religion alone, once more not our doing. And the context or the situation of that religion is our being “present in him,” our being united to him, by the Spirit, by religion.

So, justification, in verse 9, is our being absolutely accepted by God in Christ. United to Jesus by religion, his righteousness is ours, and the Father’s full acceptance of him is ours.

Brothers and sisters, to know, actually know, the grace of justification by religion alone will make you need to stand in your head for pleasure — and keep in mind, verse 9 is penultimate. Justification just isn’t the top. It’s not the ultimate objective or actuality. Justification, superb as it’s, is the means — the means to understanding the one in whom we’re justified.

So, primary, we’re absolutely accepted by God in Jesus. Now bounce forward to verse 11 and the final word objective.

2. Someday we are going to absolutely know Jesus and be happy in him without end.

That’s, we are going to dwell without end, collectively, in ever-increasing bliss, within the unobstructed presence of and ever-deepening relationship with Jesus.

“Justification, superb as it’s, is the means to understanding the one in whom we’re justified.”

We name this “glorification.” Someday quickly, once we see Jesus — the risen, glorified God-man — face-to-face, we too, like him, will likely be glorified. In that day, says verse 21, Jesus “will remodel our lowly physique to be like his superb physique.”

Let’s learn verse 10 to verse 11. As we’ve seen, Paul is celebrating being united to Christ by religion and declared righteous in him:

. . . that I could know him and the facility of his resurrection, and should share his sufferings, turning into like him in his dying, that by any means attainable I could attain the resurrection from the lifeless.

So, verse 11 speaks to a future actuality: our attaining, our reaching, our arriving at, our coming to the resurrection from the lifeless. Identical to Jesus rose once more bodily to a brand new indestructible, risen, glorified physique — the identical temporal earthly physique that went into the grave, then raised and remodeled into an everlasting heavenly physique — so we too who’re in Christ will sooner or later rise once more bodily to glorified, transfigured resurrection our bodies.

And in these perfected, indestructible our bodies, we are going to dwell eternally with Jesus, experiencing to the total the life God made us to dwell. We may have everlasting life, which received’t solely imply dwelling in the identical new world because the risen Christ, however it’s going to imply understanding him. Union with him by religion now results in communion with him without end. This, at its coronary heart, is what everlasting life is, like Jesus mentioned in John 17:3:

That is everlasting life, that they know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you may have despatched.

Notice two beautiful strikes on this assertion: (1) Jesus places understanding God on the coronary heart of everlasting life; then (2) he places himself on the middle of understanding God: “and Jesus Christ whom you may have despatched.”

Bear in mind the new-covenant prophecy that we noticed in Hebrews 8, from Jeremiah 31, that “they shall all know me”? The approaching of Jesus, God himself taking human flesh, dying for us, and rising once more because the glorified God-man without end, is how God attracts close to to us that we would know him — “the glory of God within the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

So, with Christ’s good work completed, justification by religion alone is the bottom beneath our ft; and seeing him face-to-face is forward of us, once we will likely be in the identical area with the God-man — no distance, no obstructions, no remoteness, no extra understanding partly however then understanding in full. However what about within the meantime? What about now, between our justification and glorification?

3. We all know Jesus even now and need to know him extra.

We’ve seen penultimate and supreme, and so lastly we come to “deep, private understanding, actual expertise in actual relationship,” even on this life. Verse 10:

. . . that I could know him and the facility of his resurrection, and should share his sufferings, turning into like him in his dying . . .

What does it imply to know Jesus — not simply know about him however know him, proper now, the dwelling Christ on the throne of heaven? Are you aware him?

What does it imply to know Jesus, when, in contrast to his disciples, you’ve by no means seen him with your individual eyes, or touched him with your individual fingers, or heard his human voice with your individual ears? How have you learnt an individual who’s at current bodily inaccessible? How will you know him?

One factor to clarify about Paul’s expressed want “to know him” is that Paul is urgent method past minimal saving data to maximal satisfying understanding. He’s not asking, What’s the least I must know to be saved? Moderately, he’s speaking about maximally understanding and having fun with an actual, dwelling, respiratory individual, who has made himself knowable each as God and as man. That is maximal personal-knowing, not minimal information-knowing.

Battle as we would to seize in phrases what it means to know Jesus, everyone knows experientially as individuals what it’s prefer to know one other dwelling individual. You don’t know an individual just by being in the identical room. Two folks can sit in silence within the physician’s workplace ready room and never know one another in any respect. Or two folks hundreds of miles away can know one another profoundly by the sequenced alternate of phrases. Shared area just isn’t the essence of how we come to know one another, however interplay. Communication. Self-revelation. Exchanging phrases is often the principle channel by which individuals know one another.

Our phrases reveal the unseen interior individual, and so phrases heard and responded to in variety allow us to dialogue and work together and so know one another in and thru the alternate. We come to know an individual by listening to him after which, within the rhythms of relational interplay, talking again to him with questions or our personal self-revelation.

And don’t miss this: attending to know an individual effectively additionally includes different folks. You see extra, and listen to extra, and know an individual extra by having fun with him with others. Different folks draw out beforehand unknown facets of the individual. Additionally understanding somebody deepens as you expertise life with him, and particularly life’s ups and downs, each triumphs and defeats.

As we get to know a dwelling individual, it typically occurs first in huge chunks after which by infinite refinements over time. You by no means exhaust understanding a dwelling individual. But over time we will genuinely say that we come to know an individual’s coronary heart, their essence, who they are surely. So, when another person talks about an individual you recognize, “Sure, that’s him.” Otherwise you would possibly say, “No, I do know him, and that doesn’t sound like him.”

And naturally, Jesus isn’t any unusual individual, so there’s a particular be aware to strike right here: important to our understanding him, and coming to know him extra, is one thing distinctive in comparison with each mere human individual we all know. These whom Jesus is aware of, he places in them his personal Spirit. In case you are in Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells in you, and (as we’ve seen in Philippians 2:13 and three:3) he’s “the Spirit of Christ” (1:19). We hear Jesus’s voice in his phrase by the Spirit, and we pray to him within the Spirit, and we come collectively as his folks by the Spirit. Which ends up in Paul’s subsequent phrase in verse 10.

Resurrection Energy

What does it imply, then, to “know him and the facility of his resurrection”? Jesus not solely died in our place to forgive our sins; he rose once more, and he’s alive. He’s alive to know, proper now, as a dwelling individual, because the God-man seated on heaven’s throne, due to the facility of the resurrection. So, to know the dwelling Christ is to know him within the energy of his resurrection.

However it additionally means to expertise his resurrection energy in our personal individual by his Spirit and be modified by him. It means to work together with him and so be remodeled by him.

In understanding Christ, in being united to him and communing with him, his resurrection energy doesn’t depart us unchanged. We’re sanctified. We grow to be extra like him.

Which suggests in coming to know Christ higher, in his holiness and beauty, we additionally come to know ourselves higher in our sin and wish. Understanding Jesus has main life entailments. Understanding Jesus will change us. Actually, understanding Jesus is the engine of true Christian change. However — get this straight — we don’t change so as to know him; we all know him and his resurrection energy and so start to vary.

Understanding Christ transforms the battle in opposition to sin and our striving to be like him by placing it in the correct perspective. When you recognize Christ and need to know him extra, studying the Bible and meditating on Scripture just isn’t a chore to be accomplished however a way of God’s grace within the pursuit of understanding Jesus extra. Prayer just isn’t a field to test, however talking again to the one we all know, within the energy of his Spirit, having heard his voice in his phrase. And fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ turns into a treasured company context through which to see and listen to what contemporary glories they bring about out about Jesus of their phrases and prayers and obedience to him.

However we shut with another putting and surprising means in verse 10 for a way we all know Jesus and are available to know him extra.

Fellowship of Sufferings

Have a look at verse 10 one final time:

. . . that I could know him and the facility of his resurrection, and should share his sufferings, turning into like him in his dying . . .

Now, what we’ve mentioned thus far about understanding Christ is true, however the accent Paul provides right here is struggling. How we come to know most deeply the risen Christ — his nearness, his sample, his obedience, his holiness, his coronary heart, his grace — just isn’t in life’s best occasions and our most comfy moments however in our sufferings.

What Paul has in thoughts right here pertains to what he’s simply mentioned about Christ’s instance in chapter 2: “He humbled himself” (2:8). I don’t suppose that “turning into like him in his dying” implies that Paul anticipates a crucifixion for himself, or for us, however that he desires to know Christ by echoing Christ’s coronary heart and “thoughts” (2:5):

[Being] within the type of God, he didn’t rely equality with God a factor to be grasped, however emptied himself, by taking the type of a servant, being born within the likeness of males. And being present in human type, he humbled himself by turning into obedient to the purpose of dying. (2:6–8)

That’s the sample Paul desires to be conformed to. He desires to know Christ by sharing in his sufferings, strolling within the footsteps of his self-humbling, and experiencing Jesus’s assist and fellowship and nearness and resurrection energy on the trail of obedience when it’s hardest.

We all know Jesus not solely as we stroll with him in triumph but in addition — and sometimes all of the extra — as we cling to him in our struggling and discover that he attracts particularly nearer to us in our struggling.

So, we would sum it up like this. There are two huge elements to understanding him: Sunny days and stormy days. Vibrant days and darkish days. Completely satisfied seasons and heavy seasons.

Within the vibrant, sunny, blissful seasons, we set up the steps of our lives. We study to stroll with him and get to know him as we stroll with him. We domesticate habits for listening to his voice in his phrase by the Spirit and talking to him in prayer within the fellowship of others who know him. Oh my, how important are our fellows in Christ for understanding extra of Jesus!

What we’re doing in these vibrant and sunny days is establishing belief and attending to know Jesus higher in order that when the wet, stormy, darkish, tough days come, then we go particularly deep with him. As many on this room know, it’s typically the occasions once we know him in our sufferings that we actually know him finest and are available to know him extra.

Supper Collectively

And we all know him by consuming with him at this Desk. Right here we all know ourselves afresh as sinners, determined, condemned aside from him. And we all know his grace right here — not simply learn about grace, however know grace, expertise his grace. And thru his grace, we all know Christ himself.

So, whereas this Desk is under no circumstances the one sensible avenue of understanding him, it’s a important one as we come right here collectively week after week and eat and drink in religion. Which is why one other title for the Lord’s Supper is Communion. We don’t simply come right here to eat and drink the grace he supplies; we come right here to come across him. To know him.

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