We have been studying in our Sunday morning worship services the book of Philippians. In the third chapter Paul talks about all the various things that he had going for him before he came into a personal relationship with Christ. Beginning in the fourth verse we read, “though I myself have reason for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reason 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 legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ,” (v.4-8 NIV). When Paul was Saul of Tarsus he lived a very commendable lifestyle in accordance with the Jewish religious laws and customs. You would have found very few as a zealous for the law and self-righteousness as Saul of Tarsus. But when he came into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ he realized that all of those things that were his confidence and hope were now meaningless. Not only were they meaningless that they were in encumbrance to him being all that Jesus Christ would have him to be. In the King James Version the word “rubbish” in verse 8 is translated as “dung”. This speaks of a pile of human waste. That’s how Paul viewed his previous points of pride and religious superiority. Now the single most important thing in Paul’s life was his desire to know Christ. Is knowing Christ Jesus an important desire that you have in your life?
This past Sunday we heard a beautiful testimony from a Chinese student as she prepared to be baptized. As this student shared her testimony she talked about the two stages of her coming into a personal relationship with Christ. First there is a preparatory stage, where we know facts about Jesus’s historical existence and we understand that He was a historical person who lived and died. Then if we are to truly experience salvation we move on to a personal stage. Notice Paul’s words in verse eight, “my Lord”. For us to have a saving relationship with Christ our intellectual knowledge and convictions has to be translated into a personal knowledge of trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. It’s not enough to know intellectual and historical facts about Christ. We must move into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Until we commit ourselves to faith in Jesus Christ we cannot call Him “my Lord” as Paul does here. How do we get to know someone? I think there are three important things that are involved in getting to know someone. First it takes time to get to know someone. When I was dating my wife many years ago, we took time doing things together. We didn’t fall in love immediately though some tell us that is a possibility. But as we spent time together our relationship developed. Secondly to get to know someone you must talk with them. Most young men and young women, when they are dating, can spend long periods of time talking on the phone just about nothing. If we are to fall deeply in love with the Lord Jesus Christ we need to make sure that we are communicating with Him through our prayers and allowing Him to speak to us through His word. The third thing that’s very important in developing a loving and knowing relationship is trust. When we trust someone we believe that they are going to do what they have told us they will to do. When Paul placed all of this trust in Jesus Christ he saw Jesus Christ do more things through his life then I’m sure he could ever imagine. God has an amazing way of using us when we surrender to Him and place our trust and faith in Jesus Christ. For Paul there was nothing greater then knowing Jesus Christ. Again he says, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things”, (v.8 NIV). There is nothing greater then knowing Jesus Christ. Not just knowing facts about Him but knowing Him to the point of trusting Him with every aspect of our lives. Do you have that same knowledge today? It takes time, talking and trust to develop that kind of relationship.
Shalom, Pastor Rich Sivo