Summary: This is the fifth in a series of sermons looking at developing a deeper walk with Christ. It addresses the issue of spiritual goals. Paul’s wer to know Christ in the power of His resurrection and in the fellowhsip of His suffering.
Pt 5 - Power and Pain
We have spent the last few weeks looking together at this idea of developing a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. How many of you are still on board? How many of you are still pressing toward a deeper walk with God? Over the last weeks we have talked about what this life looks like, what it takes, and what it costs. This morning I want to talk with you about how it’s lived. If this is only a conceptual change in life it’s really meaningless. Going deeper is not about changing your philosophy it’s about knowing Christ in life transforming experience.
Paul comes to the end of his life transforming testimony and he sets two goals for his life; to know Christ in the “power of His resurrection” and in the “fellowship of His sufferings.” These goals are the benchmarks Paul sets for his deeper walk with Christ. So what do they mean for us.
1) Power of His Resurrection - Paul says his goal is to know Christ in the power of His resurrection. Now I could spend the next several weeks just covering what this means but instead I just want to touch briefly on this concept and what it means to us in our deeper walk. The power of Christ resurrection is manifested in several ways in this deeper walk with Him:
• Freedom - It’s funny when people come to Christ they believe they have to give up all this stuff they have in the world. The reason many people don’t come is that they are afraid to give up the world. They think that serving Christ is a sort of bondage. You have to do this and do that - don’t do this and don’t do that. The reality is that the deeper we walk with Christ the freer we become. Free to be who we are (who we are created to be), free to love (without worry or possessiveness), free to venture (without fear because God is in it), free to live (beyond the bondage to sin), free to experience life (without the burdens of sin and bondage). Christ died and rose again so that we could be free. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Gal 5:1
• Expectancy - Look at the disciples. While they walked with Christ they lived lives filled with wonder. Every time Jesus worked a miracle they were amazed. Whether it was the feeding of the five thousand or the casting out of demons constantly they were amazed at what He said and did. Man always underestimates the power of God. After the resurrection however nothing God does surprises them anymore. Life is about the miraculous power of Christ to transform lives and the world around them. Paul tells us that God is “able do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or even think according to the power that works within us.” That’s resurrection power.
• Security - Paul is able to face life without fear. His statement “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Paul is able to live his life with abandon for Christ because he knows that the world cannot take anything away from Him that is really important. All those things that are truly important and precious are eternal in nature and they can never be taken away. The power of His resurrection is the assurance of eternity, the removal of the sting of death, and the emasculation of the enemy.
2) While living in the power of the resurrection Paul also notes his embracing of the Fellowship of His suffering. Again we could spend all week here but let’s just look at two aspects of this idea. Paul embraces wholly the idea of going deeper with Christ. Even as going deeper has it’s costs, it also has its share of pain. Most Christians are willing to serve when it means “green pastures and quiet waters” (the first part of Davids Psalm) but few are willing when it means the passing through “the valley of the shadow of death” (the rest of the story). We are willing to share His crown but not his cross, willing to share his glory and triumph but not his poverty and contempt. Paul said to have one is to have it all. If you want to live in the power of His resurrection it means sharing in His suffering. What does this suffering look like in the deeper life? It’s not, at least not in America likely to be harsh persecution at this point.
• Carrying the burden - Paul talks about the burden he carries for the churches. In his letter to the Romans Paul says “I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren...” Paul had so identified with the heart of Christ that it was no longer God’s project it was his, no longer Christ’ sorrow but his own. Friend the deeper you move with Christ the more burdened you become for those who don’t know Him.