Summary: This message discusses what it means to really know Jesus, and seven ways to get to know Him more.
Around 1915, Mohandas Gandhi set a goal for himself… political freedom for his native India. And over the next three decades he led his people in their quest for freedom until it was granted to them in 1947. Albert Einstein said of Gandhi:
“Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood.”
~ Albert Einstein
Sir Edmund Hillary set a goal for himself, too. He wanted to climb Mount Everest. No one had ever done this before, but he was determined that he would. In 1951 and 1952 he climbed part way up the mountain, but in 1953 he didn’t stop part way. He climbed all the way to the summit and returned to tell about it. He set a goal and attained it.
Earlier in the service we read from the book of Philippians in the Bible. This is actually a letter that was written by the apostle Paul while he was in prison. And in it Paul sets a goal for himself, too... to know Christ.
History tells us that Paul was born between 5 BC and AD 10. Most likely it was right around AD 5. This letter to the Philippians was written about AD 61. So Paul was getting along in years, especially for this time period when life spans were shorter than they are now.
In fact, there’s another letter written by him in the Bible to a man named Philemon, in which Paul refers to himself as an old man. Scholars tell us that this letter was written about a year before the letter to the Philippians.
So here we have Paul, one of the most influential people in the Christian church, the man who wrote more letters that are included in our Bible today than any other person, the man primarily responsible for the spread of Christianity beyond the Jewish community, sitting in a Roman prison as an old man.
And what was the #1 desire he had? Does he want to be released from prison? Probably, but he doesn’t comment on that. In some of his writing, Paul refers to a thorn in his flesh, which many believe to be a physical problem like poor eyesight. But does he want to be healed? Again, he probably wouldn’t mind but it’s not foremost on his mind. What was it that he wanted above everything else? He tells us in verse Philippians 3: 10. The NIV puts it this way:
Philippians 3:10 (NIV)
“I want to know Christ...”
That was his goal. Think about this: Paul has one of the most amazing track records of any man who’s ever lived except for Jesus, he’s raised the dead, he’s opened the eyes of the blind, he’s cast out demons, and performed many other miracles. And yet his supreme desire is that he may know Christ more and more.
So what we’re going to do here this morning is look at three different levels of “knowing” and identify which level we’re at, and we’ll also look at some ways that we can know Christ better.
Three Levels Of Knowing:
1. Intellectual Level - To know of
For example, I know that Hungarian Erno Rubik, a professor of architecture, designed this cube as a mental exercise for his students. I know that this cube that he designed has over 43 quintillion different combinations. I don’t know him personally, but I know of Erno Rubik.
I also know that in the 1860’s a teenaged Levi Strauss invented new tough pants for the San Francisco miners who were constantly tearing their pants because of their rugged work. I know that originally he made the pants out of canvas, dyed blue to hide the dirt, and with gold rivets so the miners’ tools wouldn’t tear the pants at the seams. And I know that a few years later he started making the pants out of a softer material from France, denim. I know of Levi Strauss.
But knowing of someone does not necessarily equal knowing them personally.
Let me share a couple of passages with you from the Bible.
James 2:19 (NLT)
Do you still think it’s enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror!
The demons know of God, but they don’t know Him personally. Here’s another passage similar to that one.
Acts 19:13-16 (NLT)
A team of Jews who were traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus. The incantation they used was this: “I command you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But when they tried it on a man possessed by an evil spirit, the spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul. But who are you?” And he leaped on them and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and badly injured.