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The Added Value of Knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8-11)
The Math of God
The Added Value of Knowing Christ
Philippians 3:8-11
 
Once again, I invite you to open your Bibles to Philippians 3 and listen to what Paul writes in
 
Philippians 3:8-11
 
What we have here is a very personal passage.  The word "I" appears a number of times, as well as the word "my".  Paul is sharing his testimony , and in particular, he is sharing his salvation testimony.  And as we noted last week, he is voicing this testimony against the backdrop of mathematical terms, and more to the point, accounting terms. 
 
He's talking about gains and losses and doing evaluations and inventory.  I've always wondered if his motivation for using that language was what Jesus said in the gospels.  For instance, In  
Matthew 16, verses 25 and 26, Jesus said, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"
 
Obviously, Jesus was talking about an exchange. He was talking about losing something to gain something and what He said was that in order for you to gain, you have to lose.  If you want to gain your soul it will cost you your life. If you desire to save your life, it will cost you your soul.
 
That is the nature of God's math. 
In other words, if you hold on to the things that to you are precious and reject the things that to God are precious, it will cost you your eternal soul. That's the exchange.
 
And Jesus said, "What good is it if you have gained everything the world has to offer and lost your eternal soul?" You would be much better off to make some exchange of what you have in this life for what God offers you in the life to come. Whatever exchange you need to make to gain your eternal soul, you ought to do that. That's a very significant spiritual principle.
 
And that seems to be what is driving Paul's comments here in  Philippians.  As we saw last week, Paul said, "I looked at everything I had and I decided it was nothing more than rubbish.  So I counted it as loss and I exchanged it in order to gain Christ."
 
So if you ask Paul, "What will a man give in exchange for his soul?", Paul will say, "I gave everything in life that held any value to me." And that's exactly what he says in
 
verse 7 
 
I will give up everything if it means I can have Christ. I will make any transaction to save my eternal soul.
 
Now that is not an insignificant statement.  Some people don't have very much of human value or worth to give up when they come to Jesus.  You may have come to Christ out of a life of destruction and violence or drugs and abuse, and there wasn't much of you left to give up to gain Christ.
But Paul had quite a resume.  As we saw last week, he had religion and rank and human righteousness.  He was at the top of his game and the envy of every Jewish man who knew him.  He had everything about which he could brag as far as human credentials go.
 
But when he came face to face with the risen Christ on the Damascus Road, he came t understand that none of those things that he held in high esteem were worth anything spiritually speaking.  In fact, it not only had no value, it was a liability.  It was all loss. 
 
Please understand that.  He didn't say, ""I had a lot of good things and Christ was just one more good thing I added.  I had the good and He was the best." 
He said, "What I had was nothing but trash.  It was just a pile of manure.  It was a negative on the profit and loss sheet."
 
And I'm afraid that's how a lot of people view Christ and salvation.  They're good people and do good things and going to church just makes them that much better.  It's good for business or the reputation. 
 
But in order to be saved, we've got to come to where Paul was when he came to understand there ain't nothing good about us! It's all rubbish!  There is nothing a lost man can ever do on his own to make himself right with God.
 
And Paul says when I came to realize that, I trashed all the things that I thought were gain and threw them out so I could gain Christ.
 
Now last week we saw what he came to count as loss.  He had ritual, rank race, tradition, religion, sincerity and righteous works and he moved it from the profit column to the loss column in order to gain Christ. 
 
So what did he gain when he gained Christ?  In the verses we read a few moments ago, he lists five things we all gain when we come to Christ.  And it is quite a list!
 
It begins with 
 
1.  The Knowledge of Jesus Christ
 
verse 8
 
Notice how he references this knowledge.  He calls it "the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord".   And he starts out by making a comparison statement.  He wants to drive home the point that knowing Christ is so much greater than anything else that I'll gladly get rid of those to know Him.
 
The NIV says, "What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord"
 
The Amplified says, "But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord"
 
Every translation strives to make this point and all of them use different words to state it.  The reason for that is it is untranslatable.
In fact, Greek translators tell us that what you have here is a strange sequence of five little particles and if you read them literally in Greek they would go like this...But rather therefore at least even. It's just a pile of particles that look like they were just  randomly thrown together. 
 
But what Paul is trying to do with those particles is to make a strong point even stronger. Notice, in verse 7 he said, "I have counted everything that was gain to me as loss for the sake of Christ. But rather therefore at least even..."
 
And what he's trying to say is something like, "but way yonder above and beyond that, I count all those  things, the things listed in verses 5 and 6, those things, plus everything else in the world, as a loss so I can gain Christ.
 
In other words, you can't trust in anything, not just those things, but your own wisdom, your own intellect, your own mind, your own religious instincts. You can't trust anything. I count it all a loss.
 
And by the way, Paul covers the past and the present in those things that are counted as loss.  In verse 7 it is those things that were gain to me, that's in the past and in verse 8 it is those things that right now I also count, that's present tense."
 
It's an ongoing thing. It's all loss. Nothing in my past and nothing in my present can compare with Christ. There's nothing in life that can. And what he's really saying is I continue to resist the recurring temptation to rely on my works rather than God's grace for my standing.
I have counted it all loss, and I continue to count it all loss. I continue to evaluate the things in my life to make sure nothing interferes with me knowing Christ.
 
Paul never got over what happened to him on the Damascus Road, and I will just suggest to you if you got saved and got over it, then you are no longer counting everything loss in order to know Christ.  Something somewhere along the way has taken on more value to you than Christ. 
 
But not Paul.  He talks about the excellency of knowing Christ.  Some translations call it "surpassing value". Some translate it "all surpassing greatness."
 
Now the word used to speak of "knowing" Christ is the word "gnosis"  and it is a very important word that implies very strong things in this text.
 
Paul says, "I consider everything else in the world to be trash compared to knowing Christ." So what does he mean by knowing Christ? What is the surpassing value of knowing Christ? 
 
The word he uses is not referencing intellectual knowledge, but experiential knowledge.  He's talking about the kind of knowledge that comes through personal experience and interaction.
 
Now that language is very common to the Christian faith.  Being a Christian is called "knowing Christ." Those who are Christians know Christ. John 10 is the great chapter on the Good Shepherd where Jesus says, "I know My sheep and they know Me." Knowing Christ.
When Jesus prayed in the high priestly prayer of John 17 and verse 3, his prayer for the believers, those who were alive and those who were yet to be saved is very simply summed up in that concept. It says this, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Eternal life is connected with knowing God by knowing Christ. And it's not just head knowledge.  It's knowing Him experientially.
 
Salvation is a relationship in which I know Christ. It's not just knowing about Him or knowing the facts of the Bible or when He lived and how He died.  The wonder of the Christian faith is we know Christ.
 
Now when Paul used that word with the Philippians they understood a little bit about knowledge from a humanistic point of view because they believed you could reach a place of transcendental communion with the gods
 
So when Paul says to these Philippians who come out of that pagan culture, "I give up everything for the surpassing knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord," they understand what he means is not just head knowledge and facts.  He's talking about a deep and intimate relationship that transcends human experience.
 
But there is also an Old Testament setting for that word that carries the idea of a union of love. 
Think about Old Testament usages of the word "know" or "knowledge".  They very often carry a sexual relationship imagery. 
 
For example, it says, "Adam knew his wife and she bore a son." It doesn't mean he knew who she was. He knew who she was all right, but he had an intimate love relationship with her.  It says in Amos 3:2, "Israel only have I known." And what God means is He has an intimate love bond with them. 
 
Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice and I know them. I have a bond of love." Jesus said, "Depart from Me, I never knew you...I had no bond of love with you."
 
So there's a Jewish intent with the word as well as a sort of Gentile one. The Gentile intent is to speak of a deep surpassing mystical intimate communing love with Christ. And the Hebrew one expresses that union of love, that bond of love that inextricably ties people together. And all of that is in the word.
 
So when Paul says I would give up everything for the surpassing knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, he is filling up that word "knowledge" with all of that rich meaning. He is saying it is a knowledge of love, it is a union of love that is intimate, that is supernatural, that is transcendent, that is mystical. It is something way beyond anything you can experience in this life or in this world.
 
And then to add warmth to it he adds the personal pronoun "my Lord." There is authority and kingship. 
 
But he also sees Jesus as Savior and that's the priestly role. And He sees Christ as the prophet, the messenger of God.  So he sees Him as prophet, priest and King, Christ being prophet, Jesus being priest, Lord being King. All three names emphasizing all three offices.
 
And as he sees Him in that fullness he also sees Him in intimacy.  He's my Lord.  That's personal! That's what Christianity brings.
 
And that's what you gain in Christ.  And nothing else in the world can bring you that. The only way you'll ever come in to deep knowledge and intimate love bond with Jesus Christ is through salvation by grace through faith. So he says I count all that loss to gain the knowledge of Christ, the deep knowledge of love.
 
F.B. Meyer wrote, "We may know Him personally intimately face to face, Christ does not live back in the centuries nor amid the clouds of heaven, He is near us, with us, compassing our path in our lying down and acquainted with all our ways. But we cannot know Him in this mortal life except through the illumination and teaching of the Holy Spirit. And we can surely know Christ not as a stranger who turns in to visit for the night or as the exalted king of men, there must be an inner knowledge as of those whom He counts His own familiar friends, whom He trusts with His secrets who eat with Him of His own bread. To know Christ in the storm of battle, to know Him in the valley of shadow, to know Him when the solar light radiates our faces or when they are darkened with disappointment and sorrow, to know the sweetness of His dealing with bruised reeds and smoking flax, to know the tenderness of His sympathy and the strength of His right hand, all this involves many varieties of experience on our part. But each of them like the facets of a diamond will reflect the prismatic beauty of His glory from a new angle".
 
The knowledge of Jesus.  Paul says I'll exchange anything for that privilege.  By the way, notice to what depths this knowledge takes us. 
 
verse 9
 
You are so intertwined in a bond of intimate love and knowledge with Christ that you are in Him. Paul loves that concept. He refers to it at least 164 times in his epistles. It's Paul's way of saying, "I don't know where I end and He begins and where He ends and I begin. We are inextricably intertwined, that's how intimate the bond is, that's how deep the knowledge is. He moves through me and I have the mind of Christ.
 
And he says I count everything in my life trash to gain that knowledge.  Salvation begins with the knowledge of Christ. Second it includes
 
2.  The Righteousness of Jesus Christ
 
verse 9
 
Up until the time he met Christ, Paul had spent all of his life trying to accumulate righteousness.  That's why he was a Pharisee. He was one of the elite 6,000 Pharisees who believed they could attain salvation by perfect adherence to the law of God.
 
What an unbelievable burden that is!  And what a deception. And he said, "I give it all up.  In fact, I will gladly give it up!"  So what kind of righteousness is that?  What did he give up?  In a word, it's the righteousness of good works.   It's self-control and external morality.  It's keeping religious rituals and ceremonies. 
Righteousness simply means doing right. So self-righteousness is just doing the best you can do by yourself.  The problem with that is from God's viewpoint it's never good enough.
 
Romans 3:19 and 20 reminds us we can't be justified by doing good works.  Human flesh can't pull that off.  And yet, Paul and a whole lot of other well-intentioned folks spend their whole life trying to prove God wrong.
 
But there came a day when he gave up.  He finally saw it for the trash it was.  And it must be trash.  After all, if you can be good enough to save yourself, you don't need Christ.  You're as good as He is! You're good works have the same value as His blood.
 
But Paul cam to understand that's not true.  Righteousness can't be attained through doing good works.  It can only come through Christ.  That's what he means there in verse 9.
 
Salvation is a matter of faith.  It is not trusting in yourself and what you do but trusting in what Christ did on the cross.  It's placing complete confidence and trust in Christ. That's how you're saved. And when you put your faith in Christ, God gives you His righteousness.
 
Paul came to the place where he said, "I want the righteousness which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. Not human righteousness on the basis of works that doesn't please God.  So I'll exchange my righteousness for His. "
 
Listen:  You need to know God is not impressed with you!  After all, the best you can do is filthy rags. The best you can come up with is manure and trash. The best you can do is to come short of the glory of God.
 
So how are you going to gain righteousness? How will you acquire right standing with God when you're covered in manure?  How are you going to be accepted by God? By your own effort? No.
 
You're going to be accepted by God only when you receive by faith the righteousness He gives you because Christ paid the penalty for your sin. And when you take Christ, God gives you in Christ righteousness. In other words, He accepts Christ in your place and since Christ perfectly satisfies God and you are in Christ, God is satisfied with you.
 
He took on your sin at the cross so that you might take on His righteousness.
 
Thirdly, salvation provides
 
3.  The Power of Jesus Christ
 
verse 10
 
Notice the ongoing reference to knowledge.  He's already started in that direction with the deep knowledge of verse 8, but there's a longing to know more.  That's how it is with a deep and intimate love relationship.
 
Paul says, "I give up everything so that I can know His power." What do you mean, Paul? "The power of of His resurrection."
Now follow his thinking.  When you know Christ intimately and experience His righteousness, there is available a dynamic spiritual energy that comes from Him.
 
Again, note the contrast.  There's no power in the law. There's no power to overcome sin in my flesh. There's no power for spiritual service in my flesh. There's no power for victory in my flesh. There's no power for witnessing in my flesh. He says I've been operating without power and now I have available the very power that raised Christ from the dead. 
 
The most graphic demonstration of Christ's power ever seen was at the resurrection.  There is no other work of Christ as powerful as that.  Listen:  If you can raise yourself from the dead, you have power over anything else in heaven or earth or under the earth!
 
When Christ raised Himself from the dead, he  proved He had power over the physical world, the spiritual world, the human realm, the demonic realm and death itself.   It is the greatest display of power Jesus ever accomplished and Paul says that's the kind of power I want to experience. That's what he's saying. Why did I trash this stuff and take Christ? Because of His power.
 
Now, Paul knew His resurrection power in two ways.
 
First and most obvious, he knew it was resurrection power that saved him. When he was saved according to Romans 6 he was buried with Christ in His death and he rose with Christ to walk in newness of life. So he's already experienced resurrection power in his salvation.
Everyone who comes to Christ in a spiritual sense, we die with Christ and we rise again. We  may not understand it, but resurrection power is in us.
 
But more than that, he wanted resurrection power to continue to be his resource. He wanted the power to resist temptation and serve Christ and preach the gospel and witness with boldness. 
 
He wanted to be strengthened by the spirit in the inner man.  As he said in Colossians 1:11, he wanted the great might of Christ. He wanted the expression of that power of which he spoke of in Ephesians 3:20 when he said, "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think according to the power that works in us."
 
He said why did I take Christ and say no to everything else?  Here's why:  because in Christ there's power, there's power over sin, there's power over temptation, there's power for service, power for witness, power over trials. There's power in my otherwise powerless life. That's why I count it all loss for the power that's in Christ.
 
To the believing soul, the power of the life of Christ pours into us, rises out of us to give us victory in this life.  What did he gain in Christ? The knowledge of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the power of Christ.
 
Fourth, salvation also brought him
 
4. Fellowship with Jesus Christ
 
verse 10
 
Paul says there's something else that I consider gain and that is the fellowship of His sufferings being conformed to His death. He had already been conformed to His death in the saving sense that when he believed in Christ he was buried with Him in baptism and rose to walk in newness of life as we saw in Romans 6, or noted a moment ago.
 
He had already fellowshipped in the sufferings of Christ in a saving way. And I don't want you to misunderstand that. When you're saved somehow supernaturally God puts you in Christ and you die in Christ and you rise with Him.  He had already experienced that kind of suffering, that kind of suffering.
 
But what he has in mind here is something more. Not a saving union with Christ in His death and resurrection, but a fellowship, a partnership, a deep communion of suffering.
 
What do you mean, Paul? What are you talking about? So think he's talking about suffering like Christ suffered.  And suffer he did.  And He found the power of Christ available when he did. 
 
But I'm not sure that's what he's talking about here.  I think he's talking about gaining in Christ someone to fellowship with when I suffer. Did you get that?  In Christ we have someone Who comes alongside us when we're in the pit.  And that Somebody has suffered far beyond any suffering I will ever know, far beyond any suffering I will ever feel or experience and He becomes my companion in my suffering.
 
Any Christian on the face of the earth will tell you that the deepest moments of spiritual fellowship with the living Christ are the direct result of intense suffering. No question about it. Suffering always drives us to Christ.
 
Why? Because we find there the succoring sympathetic merciful high priest who cares, the friend who feels our pain, who is in all points tempted like as we are, who knows our weakness and our infirmities. And he is saying how blessed I am to be persecuted and to know that I am simply following the one who was persecuted before me and in whose fellowship I find comfort.
 
Christ was rejected. Christ was mocked and despised and hated and killed and Paul went through that too.
 
And he said, "I tell you, the greatest thing about suffering is not that it makes me like Christ, but that Christ is my companion in my suffering." Paul says, "You know, when I'm very weak I go to Christ," 2 Corinthians 12, "and I find in Him my strength." And that's what he means.
 
Hey, it's a sad world we live in, isn't it? It's only a question of when your pain is going to come and how intense it's going to be. We all suffer it. And where do you go? Well most of the world goes to the bottle or goes to the psychiatrist or goes to the mall, I guess.
 
But where do you go when you want real comfort? When you want partnership in suffering? Where do you go to have somebody feel what you feel? You go to Christ, don't you? That's the fellowship of sufferings.
One last thing. Salvation results in
 
5.  The Glory of Jesus Christ
 
Verse 11
 
Now don't be mislead by the way that sentence is structured.  In spite of the way it reads, there is no doubt about what is going to happen.  That's not insecurity speaking.  That's humility.
 
Paul never got over the fact that he was unworthy.  It never left him that he didn't deserve it. But he says I long for the glory of Christ, the resurrection from the dead. He uses a word for resurrection never used anywhere else in the Bible. In the original language a preposition is added before the word resurrection that reads in the English like this:  "It's the out resurrection".
 
Then he uses the phrase "from the dead," it means from the corpses, from among the corpses. This is the way it reads literally, "I want to attain the out resurrection from among the corpses." What does that mean?  It's a Rapture reference. That's the time when he goes to be with the Lord and he gets a new body.  That's what he's talking.
 
He's talking about that moment, that twinkling of an eye when the dead in Christ shall rise and be changed in to incorruptibility. He's talking about that moment when the dead in Christ rise and those that are alive caught up together to meet them in the air, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. 
 
 
He's talking about resurrection day, the out resurrection from among the corpses, when believers are taken from among the rest of the dead corpses who aren't raised until the end of the millennial kingdom.
 
But believers are taken out and transformed into the image of Christ. He talks about it in verse 20, our citizenship is in heaven from which we also eagerly await for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory. That's what he wanted.
 
And he came to understand the only way to get what he wanted was in Christ. 
 
Several years ago, Dr.  Carl Baugh of the Creation Evidence Museum told me about a conversation he had with a Russian mathematician who set out to prove evolution through developing a mathematical  equation.  His expertise was quantum algebra.
He said when he finished, the equation was 16 pages long.  He took it to his staff, asked them to run the numbers and tell him what solution they came to. 
 
When they finished, they told him there must be something wrong somewhere.  So he reviewed the equation, but didn't change a single decimal point. 
 
He told them he couldn't find a problem with the equation.  They said, We didn't say there was a problem with the equation, just that there is a problem somewhere because if your equation is right, the earth is no more than 5-10,000 years old. 
 
He told Dr. Baugh when I realized that evolution wouldn't work mathematically, I knew there must be a Creator so I set out to read every major religious document  I could get my hands on.  And what I discovered is I could throw them all away but one - The Bible.  Dr Baugh asked him what he did.  He said, "I read it." And in it, he discovered, not just a Creator, but a Savior to who he gave his heart.
 
Let me ask you a question:  What will you give in exchange for your soul? You see, Christ offers you union with Him, righteousness, power, fellowship and glory. Nothing else adds up.  So what are you going to hold on to that's equal to what only Christ can offer?
 
And what good is it going to do if you gain the whole world and lose your soul? That's the question.
 
What do we gain in Christ? The knowledge of Christ.
Theologians call that identification.
 
We gain the righteousness of Christ. Theologians call that justification.
 
We gain the power of Christ. Theologians call that sanctification.
 
We gain the suffering with Christ. Theologians call that participation.
 
And we gain the glory of Christ. And we all call that glorification.
 
And all of it is yours in Christ.
 
Let's pray together.
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