“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” Philippians 3:10
The Apostle Peter is about to finish his final letter, but before he lays his pen down for the last time, he is directed by the Holy Spirit to leave a final word of admonishment; “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (II Peter 3:18). The volatile spiritual life of Simon Peter has left him with a clear understanding of the importance of growth in the Christian life. The moment one turns their back on acquiring and appropriating spiritual knowledge, faith will cease to flourish and the flesh will assume control. The Apostle Paul was also aware of this important truth and made growing in knowledge a lifelong goal. Writing to the church at Philippi, Paul voiced his passion for knowledge; “that I may know.” The word “know” means to know absolutely as to follow, to perceive or understand, can speak. If there is one truth that I have learned by writing it is this; “If you can’t put it into words, most likely you don’t understand it.” Paul wanted to acquire knowledge that he could understand, follow and speak of. Yet, there is an aspect of growing in knowledge that has evaded many! There must not only be the passion of knowledge, but there must be the particulars of knowledge! Previous to his conversion, Paul, known then as Saul of Tarsus was a reservoir of knowledge; “brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God” (Acts 22:3). Paul had a wealth of knowledge that would make him religious, but could not make him righteous. That day on the Damascus road, Paul discovered that it was not only important that you know, but it was even more important as to what you know! Within our text, Paul is in pursuit of the right kind of knowledge.
Paul wanted to gain knowledge of a person, “That I may know him.” Knowledge of the intellect will generate a reservoir of truth, but knowledge of the individual will generate a relationship with the truth! The deadness of many peoples’ Christianity is due to the fact that while they have a reservoir of truth that has plucked them out of hell, they have failed to pursue a relationship that manifests the festivities of heaven. The reservoir of knowledge rests in the anticipation of blessings; the relationship of knowledge reclines in the arms of “The Beloved.” The reservoir looks toward the realm of possibilities; the relationship enjoys the realities of the present. There is a great difference in knowing Christ as “a boarder” and that of being “the Beloved.” As a believer we have the personal presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (see John 14:23-26). In the reservoir of truth, Christ is a foreigner to be entertained, in the relationship of truth Christ is family to be enjoyed! But, let us not cast aside the pursuit of the reservoir in hopes of enjoying the relationship; for it is only out of the vastness of the reservoir that the value of the relationship is known! In the reservoir there is the promise of hope and in the relationship there is the presence of help! The quality of the relationship is proportional to the quantity of the reservoir.
Paul wanted to gain knowledge of a power, “That I may know . . . the power.” The word “power” means force, especially miraculous power usually by implication a miracle itself, ability, abundance or might. Paul wanted to operate in a realm beyond the weak limits of the performance of the flesh. The power that Paul passionately pursued was resurrection power. While many know the term, most are unfamiliar with its presence and its purpose. In order to understand this power it is necessary to see the performance of this power in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus said, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18). The resurrection power of Christ means not being controlled by the creature; “No man taketh it from me.” The creature may have put Jesus of the cross, but they could not take His life. The creature has absolutely no power that can subdue or nullify the resurrecting power of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the believer to walk in resurrection power it means that the flesh has no power over them. The flesh has no power because we like Christ have willing submitted to the work of the cross in our lives; “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The resurrection power of Christ means not being controlled by the circumstance; “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” Jesus was not a victim of His circumstances! Jesus found Himself the enemy of two nations, Israel and Rome. Tried in a religious court and a Roman court; He was sentenced to death. While the court could sentence Him, it didn’t have the sufficient strength to execute Him; “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). When the believer lives in resurrection power, they are not controlled by their circumstances. The Word of God says, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Paul wanted to gain the knowledge of a partnership, “That I may know . . . the fellowship.” The word “fellowship” means partnership, participation or communion. Paul wanted the knowledge of Christ’s experience, “his suffering” and Christ’s expression, “being made conformable unto his death.” Having known Christ in a personal relationship and powerful resurrection; Paul expected to experience the same hatred because he expressed a likeness to the image of Christ. Our Lord put it this way; “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18-20).
Paul had a passionate pursuit of knowledge, but not just any knowledge: a particular knowledge! Paul was growing in knowledge; are you?