Summary: The Power of Christ meant for Paul a confidence. For the believer the resurrection is a certain fact. It gives us confidence. This confidence in Christ is for all Christians. Not just a few, but all are meant to have this abundant power.
Just imagine something with me today. Let’s say that a few years ago that you went out and for a nickel a share bought fifty thousand shares of stock in a company that no one really thought would do any good. Some company they called the cellular phone company. And all of a sudden that stock that you thought would probably amount to nothing was now selling for sixty dollars a share. All of a sudden you are wealthy, you are a multi-millionaire.
Let’s imagine something else. You have worked hard toward your goal and are about to finish your accomplishment. You are about to be awarded a PhD degree from Harvard University. The research that you did gave you recognition internationally.
If you can’t picture yourself in any of those scenarios, then maybe you can picture yourself in this, you get a call from the Olympic committee and they need you to go and participate in the Olympics. It turns out that in the Olympics you win several gold medals. All of a sudden your face is on cereal boxes across the country.
What do these things have in common, this wealth, the prestige and the fame? What is the common denominator that ties these things together? In this passage of scripture Paul would take all these things and say that they have one thing in common. Compared to knowing Christ each of these things is valueless. All their worth, in comparison to knowing Christ, is to take them and throw them out onto the garbage heap.
We say we have a landfill crises. Our landfills are becoming full. But we have a different kind of crises than we think. Actually it is that the wrong things are being thrown into the landfill. Instead of old bottles and coffee grinds we need to be taking all the things that are valuable, but keep us from Christ and throw them away. Paul says the only thing that really counts is knowing Christ. Anything else that might keep us from knowing Christ needs to get thrown out.
Look at what Paul says in Philippians 3:7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
Now in verse 8 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.
For Paul, all the things that he had been talking about in these chapters, all the prestige he had from studying under the greatest of scholars, all the fame that came from his being zealous. All the important heritage he had. All those were of no use except to be thrown out. He considered none of this to his profit. Paul emphasis was that the former things in his life are now a loss. Paul had all the things that others sought after. However he summed them all up and said they were all valueless. To Paul all that he had before knowing Christ was wasted self righteousness. In some ways I can identify with the Apostle Paul.
I can look back on my life and see my life formed into two distinct categories. First of all there was twenty years that I went on with life not knowing Christ. Then came the years of knowing Christ. If I had a thousand lifetimes of living without Christ, none of it could equal even a few years of knowing Jesus Christ.
Paul had a dramatic experience on the Damascus road. He had an encounter with Jesus Christ and it changed everything for him. It changed his whole outlook. Now he looked back on his life and all the things he thought were to his credit. All the things he thought were his accomplishments. He looks back and says now they have no value.
Is there something in your life that is keeping you from Jesus Christ? There is tragedy that scripture portrays in the rich young ruler. He wanted to come to Christ and be a follower. But he would not let go of his riches. He was not prepared to give everything to follow Jesus. Oh, if he only knew all the gain. If he only knew the abundance he would have in his life if he just let go and counted the former things as loss. What he would know in his own lifetime. That is why sometimes tragedy can accomplish a very important work in our lives.
I shared with some of you that our mission pastor was not in the pulpit last Sunday. He was in Houston because his sister in law was in critical condition. She was near death. Through this tragedy our mission pastor shared the gospel and his sister in law and she and her husband committed their life to Jesus Christ. It took tragedy to let go of everything and come to realize that the only thing that can really count is value in this life is a relationship with Jesus Christ.