2 Samuel 22:31-37; Philippians 3:10-11
In the Christian life, it is easy to get sidetracked. We need to be clear and focused at all times on what it is we are after. What is the goal of the Christian life? If we forget it, we’re not likely to achieve it. In our text, the apostle Paul nicely sums up what we’re supposed to be aiming at. Paul says that the goal of the Christian life is to know Christ and to be like Him.
That’s it! Christianity is definitely not a religion of rules and rituals that we must work at keeping in order to climb the ladder to heaven. Rather, it is a personal, growing relationship with the risen, living Lord Jesus Christ that results in our growing conformity to Him. Our goal is to know Him and to become like Him. As our post Easter series, today and next week, we will be looking at Philippians 3:10-11. What is the goal of the Christian life?
In Philippians 3:10-11, we read, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
First: The Goal of the Christian Life is to Know ChristOur primary call is to know Christ. ““I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings,” says Paul in Philippians 3:10. Christianity is primarily a growing relationship with the infinite God who has revealed Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ.
As with all relationships, it begins with an initial meeting or introduction. In Paul’s case, it was not a planned introduction. Paul wasn’t seeking after Christ, inquiring as to how he could become a Christian. Far from it! “Breathing threats and murder,” he was on his way to Damascus to arrest men and women who were followers of Jesus, when suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” He answered, “Who are You, Lord?” The Lord said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” Acts 9:1-6. So Paul met the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
If we go around the room this morning and ask how did you meet Christ. We would hear many different stories. Some may have met Christ as young children, reared in Christian homes; others may have met Him later in life. It may have been a traumatic situation, where in a moment of crisis you called out to God and were saved. It may have been less dramatic, so that you can’t even recall the exact time or place. Some were looking for God; others weren’t looking at all. Some met God when things were going well; others met God when they were broken. But one thing is certain: If you are truly a Christian, you know Jesus Christ personally. You don’t just know about Him; you know Him. You can say with Paul that He is “Christ Jesus my Lord.”
That relationship with Jesus Christ begins at the moment we recognize that our sins have separated us from God and that we need a Savior. We also realize that we cannot save ourselves from God’s judgment through our efforts or good works. Letting go of all human merit, you call upon the Lord to be merciful to you based on the merits of the death of His Son Jesus. Your object of trust for commending yourself to God shifts from self to Christ. You are saved. You have met Jesus Christ personally.
Cultivating that Relationship
Like any relationship, once you’ve met, you must cultivate that relationship. Our personal relationship with Christ requires cultivation and that requires time. Do you often make time to spend with the Lord? It’s sure easy for that first love to cool off, and the quiet time between you and the Lord gets squeezed out with other things. Are we seeking to know Christ in a more intimate way? Are we opening our heart to Him, so that He could confront us, cleanse us, and make us more like Himself?
Friends, our Triune God is infinite and altogether apart from us. We can never come to know Him through philosophy or speculation. We can’t know Him through our own imagination or feelings. We can’t know Him through the ideas or experiences of others. We can only know Him as He has chosen to reveal Himself. That revelation comes through His written Word which tells us of the eternal living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ – Hebrews 1:1-3. “To know Him …” it won’t happen if you aren’t committed to becoming a man or woman of the Word.
Knowledge and Obedience
But, there’s a word of caution here. It’s possible to gain knowledge about Christ through studying His Word, and yet not grow to know Christ Himself through His Word. In fact, you can read and study your Bible all your life and never get to know Jesus in an intimate way! The goal of Bible study is always growing obedience so that we can get to know the Lord Jesus better. In Matthew 5:19 Jesus said, “But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” Paul's use of the term “knowledge” doesn't derive from the Greek mystery religions or philosophical schools that abounded in his day, but from the Hebrew Scriptures.
In the Old Testament, knowledge in Hebrew is “yāda”. “Yāda” denotes living in a close relationship with somebody; such a relationship would result in what we may call communion or deep fellowship with Christ. The prophets look forward to that day of intimately knowing God, intimately communing and fellowshipping with Him. “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know (yāda`) the Lord,' because they will all know (yāda`) me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” Jeremiah 31:34. This longing to know God has found fulfillment under the New Covenant, the Covenant of Grace, because of God the Holy Spirit who can reveal to us the very mind of Christ as we see in 1 Corinthians 2:16.
We will not know, we won’t experience, the power of Christ’s resurrection until we have the time and the desire to know Him, to commune with him, to fellowship with Him. But Philippians 3:11 puts “becoming like Him” as the ultimate goal of following Christ. Does this desire consume you? How can we develop this passion? I will say more about this next Sunday, Lord willing. In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen!
First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday April 28, 2019)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor