Summary: To help Christians in Christian maturity.
“To Know Him”
The Apostle Paul is the writer of Philippians. He was a man who knew the Lord. We have the record of his conversion in Acts 9, where the Lord knocked him to the ground and completely humbled him. It was a dramatic conversion, and we see the fruit of it on the following pages of the book of Acts, as one of the greatest enemies of the Christian faith became perhaps the greatest defender of the faith the world has ever seen. He knew the Lord.
Paul knew the Lord in sanctification, that is, in being set apart from the world, as he grew in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. He experienced great things with God, and even at the time of the writing of this particular letter, he was in a Roman jail, which was actually a dungeon, in the most primitive conditions. He was there, not for doing wrong, but for doing right. He was there because he would not shut up or back up when it came to preaching Jesus. He knew the Lord.
In spite of all the victories Paul had experienced in his life, in spite of the fact that he was able to say in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And, the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” in spite of that, in Philippians 3:10 he said, “That I may know Him in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Now, for reasons already mentioned, he could not have been talking about initial knowledge of the Lord, but he had to be speaking of increasing knowledge, an increased intimacy with Christ, or what we would refer to as further Christian growth.
Those who know Christ, know Him through a connectedness with Him through the word of God, the Bible. In John 5:24, Jesus said, “Truly I say unto you that he who hears my word and believes on Him who sent Me, has everlasting life...” Notice, the requirement of hearing the word. Now, we understand that we are saved by God’s grace through faith, as we are told in Ephesians 2:8, but in Romans 10:17, God’s word says, “Now faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” So, anyone who is saved, or will ever get saved, there is this requirement of being exposed to, and trusting in the word of God. The same thing is true for Christians who grow in the Lord. First Peter 2:2 says, “Desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby.” The word is a necessary element for growth, or Christian maturity.
In Philippians 3:10, we have this statement of desire, “That I may know Him,” then there are to specific areas in which Paul says he wants to know Him, or as we have established, know Him more completely: 1) “the power of His resurrection;” and, 2) “the fellowship of His sufferings;” then, we have a statement as to how this is going to come to pass. He says, “Being conformed to His death.”
Being conformed to His death doesn’t mean being crucified just like Jesus was, but it means what the Bible teaches in Luke 9:23: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” To deny one’s self means to deny our self anything that is contrary to God. It is to have a heart like Jesus had in the Garden of Gethsemene, when He prayed, as recorded in Matthew 26:39, “O Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” This doesn’t happen in every Christian’s life. As a matter of fact, most Christians never tap into this, and as a result, they miss the greatest quality of life that anyone could ever live. Paul had experienced enough of this that he wanted more of it.
Knowing Jesus in the power of His resurrection, for Paul, meant to increase in this knowledge. He had seen the resurrection power of God operative in his life in some big ways. For instance, he had seen the power of God cause an earthquake, the falling off the shackles that were on his hands and feet, and the opening of the prison doors in Philippi. He had experienced the raising of a young, dead man back to life, after he had fallen asleep and fallen out the upstairs window during one of his long sermons in Troas. So, he wasn’t talking about a first time experience, he was talking a growing experience.