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Experiencing Christ

Philippians 3:10-11 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

In a day of shallow Christianity, there are few that exemplify the spiritual character of the Apostle Paul in contrast to the hordes marked by spiritual apathy. On any given Sunday the church pews are filled to capacity with observers while few are prepped for participation. This trend is not for lack of opportunity, but rather attitude; for “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). While there is a pressing emphasis on the acceptance of Christ, there is minimal on experiencing Christ.

Paul declared that “I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12). Christ had laid hold of Paul and now Paul was making every effort to lay hold on Christ, by experiencing Christ! This process is emphasized in the word “know.” The word has an emphasis on experience; it means to know experientially as in contrast to perceiving with the outward senses such as physical sight. Within our text Paul emphasize three areas of experience. Paul wants to experience the personality of Christ; “That I may know him.” It is possible to know about a person and not know them personally; to possess facts while not experiencing fellowship. Countless millions call His name, but only a limited few are conscious of His nature; for this reason the masses are disillusioned and discouraged by His activity or lack of!

Paul wanted to experience the potential of Christ; “may know . . . the power of his resurrection.” I chose the word potential purposely; the Apostle had already experienced the miraculous power of Christ when God changes a rebellious sinner into a righteous saint on the Damascus road. The word Paul used for power means inherent power, power that exists in something as a permanent essential or characteristic attribute, what Christ is capable of doing. Listen to Christ declare His capability of raising up; “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18). By means of this experiential knowledge of Christ’s potential, Paul could declare; “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Wouldn’t this type of knowledge totally alter the saint’s prayer life?

Paul wanted to experience the personification of Christ; “may know . . . the fellowship of his sufferings.” In order to understand what Paul is in pursuit of it is necessary to remember the words of Christ to His disciples; “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18) and “They hated me without a cause” (John 15:25). Peter emphasized Paul desire in this manner, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (I Peter 4:16). When Christ is personified in the life of the believer, the persecution of the world will follow.

In John 10:10, our Lord said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” “Life” comes with the acceptance of Christ, “more abundantly” comes with experiencing Christ!