English seems so lazy at times, doesn’t it? One word can have such a range of meaning. Someone may ask, “do you like football?” but in their inflection, you can tell that they have a level of excitement that goes beyond the casual “like” for it. And the other can respond, “yeah, I like it.” with an almost disinterested tone. It’s the same word, but vastly different meanings. The word “know” can work in the same way. I have vague familiarity with someone I met a few years ago, and can have a close and intense relationship with my wife, but I would say that I “know” them both. But both types of knowing are vastly different.
“I want to know Christ…”
“I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10-11
- He wants to know the power of the resurrection
- He wants to know participation in suffering
- He wants to become like Jesus in his death
- He wants to attain to the resurrection from the dead
1. When we know Christ, we know God’s incomparable power.
2. When we know Christ, we know a life of sacrifice
Paul says he wants to know “participation in his sufferings.” He didn’t say “I’m willing if I must.” Instead, he welcomed, even desired, to participate in suffering for the sake of knowing Jesus more closely. That’s challenging, right? How could we actually desire that?
Romans 12:1 says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
It’s not easy to think this way. We’re conditioned and told to desire comfort and avoid suffering. But a life of Christ-following will be a life of sacrifice, won’t it? We won’t put ourselves first, we won’t cling to self-gain, and we’ll be willing to be disregarded as long as Christ is regarded and glorified. How will know Christ in this way if we are always regarded, always honored, and always comfortable? When we are willing to participate in the sufferings of Christ, whether to take on that suffering personally or to wade into it and carry the burden for others who suffer, we are able to know Christ better. And when we live a life of sacrifice, it models the life of Jesus.
1 Peter 4:13 says “But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
When we understand that these things lead to a deeper knowing of Christ, will we actually welcome sacrifice and participate in Christ’s sufferings?
3. When we know Christ, we know what is valuable
In leading up to Paul’s statement about wanting to know Christ, he says in Philippians 3:4-9 :
“If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 on the basis of faith.”
Paul had credentials! He had attainted success in view of the law and could point to his achievements, knowledge, and performance. But he considered all of that garbage, a loss, “because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.” When we know Jesus, we know what’s valuable. We know what validates us, and it isn’t worldly credentials or successes. Certainly, Paul’s background was useful to him for the sake of his ministry. He had deep knowledge of scripture, had citizenship status in the Roman world, and many other tools at his disposal as a result of his background. But he knew his value, his validity, came from knowing Christ and nothing else. When we know Jesus, we know that He is what is valuable.
Jesus Himself said this in Matthew 16: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?“
He also said in Matthew 6: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” And that leads us to #4…
4. When we know Christ, we know where our heart and mind belong.
There is a constant pull for our attention and passion. Everywhere we turn, something else wants us to focus there, value that, and strive to achieve this. But when we know Christ, we know where our heart and mind belong.
Colossians 3:1-4 says “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Christ is our very life! And when we know Him, our heart and our mind belong to Him. We’ll desire to know Him intimately and to align our heart with His.
5. When we know Christ, we know our life’s purpose.
Church forefathers wrote the Westminster Catechism in an attempt to answer some fundamental questions. Their first one, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer – “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Our life’s purpose is to glorify God with everything that we do, and to enjoy a close, intimate, connection with Him … to know and enjoy Him.
1 Corinthians 10:31 reminds us that glorifying God is always the aim, no matter what the action is: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
6. When we know Christ, we know hope.
When we know Christ, we know true hope – a hope beyond measure. He is hope, living by the power of the resurrection that Paul desires to grasp and know.
1 Peter 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Then, in Ephesians 1:18, Paul says this: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
We have been called into hope! We just need to know Him. He is a living hope.
7. When we know Jesus, we know that people need to know that hope.
Knowing Jesus impacts everything about our life, but it also should impact the perspective we have toward others. When we know Jesus, we know that people need to know the hope that he offers. Without him, there is no life, only death (Romans 6:23). He is the only way (John 14:6). And every single person is without hope apart from him (Romans 3:23). This motivates me to action! When I know Christ, I know that others need Him too.
We know that others need that hope because of what Christ has done in our own life. Apart from Him, we were hopeless. But when we know Him, we know hope and we desire that everyone else knows that hope as well.