Tuesday, June 14, 2011
We spent a little while studying the center of Philippians in which Paul urges us to live like Christians. In Philippians 2:18-30, he gave us personal examples of two godly men who live out Paul’s exhortation.
Today we see Paul summarizing the heart of his gospel teaching, in which he reminds them to rejoice in the Lord.
Paul explains in verses 1-11 how they are able to rejoice in Christ in their circumstances: when you embrace Christ, the joy of the Holy Spirit will flood your life, and though your sufferings, hardships, trials and even your poverty won’t go away, you’ll be able to rejoice in the Lord anyway, not only in spite of it, even because of it. This so because you know Christ savingly.
I. To know Christ savingly is more valuable than anything in this world.
I do not mean knowing about Christ, but to know Him personally, in your trusting Him, in your loving Him, in your delighting in Him, in your treasuring Him, and in your worshipping Him. To know Christ is to know Him in all His benefits and in all His work. And therefore, if you know Christ, you know how valuable He is and you count everything else in your life as rubbish.
II. To know Christ in the power of His resurrection
Paul there tells us that to know Christ savingly is to know him in the power of His resurrection. That means, first of all, to know the forgiveness of sins. By the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven, justified. By Christ’s perfect life and full obedience and by His death on the cross, God has judged and sentenced and condemned and punished all the sins of all those in this world who believe in and trust on Jesus Christ and credited Christ’s righteousness to them. The resurrection that displays this verdict of God: ‘not guilty,’ sins forgiven.
That’s not all Paul is saying. In this whole section, Paul is talking about sanctification. He’s talking about our being changed into becoming more like Jesus Christ. He is also pressing home the truth that to know the power of Christ’s resurrection is to know the power of new life in us. Look at what he says in verse 10—“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and may share His sufferings becoming like Him in his death.”
And this is what Paul is saying when he says that he wants to know the power of Christ’s resurrection: the saving, changing, maturing, growing effects of the Holy Spirit applying the power of Christ’s resurrection to his life so that the he is increasingly more like Christ.
Paul is also saying that this leads us to embrace the suffering and hardships of this world as God’s school of Christ-likeness. We are living in a fallen world, filled with sin, we're going to experience trials and troubles, tribulations and hardships, sorrows and suffering, but don’t look at the sufferings apart from the power of Christ in the gospel. God intends those sufferings to produce Christ-likeness.
Knowing Christ savingly in the power of his resurrection is to know forgiveness, growth in grace, and being ready even to face trials with a view to becoming more like Jesus Christ.
III. To know Christ savingly is to long for His power to be perfected in the day of His coming
The Apostle Paul is saying here is that he recognizes that in this life, despite the fact of the power of Christ’s resurrection is already at work changing him to make him more like Jesus, though that process is never ever going to be completed until the day of the resurrection when Jesus comes, but until that day he is going to continue to have to fight the fight of faith against sin in him.
Paul, just like Jesus and just like the Old Testament, makes it clear that there is going to be one general resurrection, but only those who know Christ savingly will be raised to glory. Those who do not know Christ savingly will be raised to judgment and condemnation.
If you don’t know Christ savingly in the forgiveness of your sins, in that you long more than anything else in this world to be like Him and you treasure Him more than anything else in this world, and the power of His resurrection even in your sufferings, then you are yet awaiting the resurrection to judgment. The only way to escape that judgment to come and to know the joy that Paul is teaching us about here is to know Christ, to treasure Him more than life, to put all of your hope in Him, and for all who trust in Him, there yet is a resurrection to glory and to hope and to joy.
Posted by Ligon Duncan at 11:33 AM