Summary: For Paul, knowing Christ, constantly moving closer in his relationship with Christ, and doing so with others was of primary importance.
I. I personally was not, but I have certainly heard the zeal of some that have been; born in a Christian “home” that is.
A. I must believe that it would be a great benefit to have a strong Christian heritage.
1. I was once in a prayer group with a pastor, whose ancestry included a direct line to Jonathan Edwards
a. I must admit that he took no great solice in the fact however
b. He lamented at times that his ministry was no place near as worthy as the reformation preacher he descended from.
c. I believe he might well have felt better about the ministry God had given him, had he come from a less austaire pedigree.
B. Or, would, he would have been much better off to focus on what was really important, rather than questioning what he did not have.
II. For some of us, we know about this thing we call the Christian life.
A. We go to a “good” church
B. We’ve been baptized,
C. We attend church regularly
D. We know all the right answers.
E. We know what a “good” Christian looks like, what a nominal Christian looks like, and we might even believe we know what a non-Christian looks like.
F. We believe we know what being a Christian is supposed to look like, and we may even be saved and on our way to eternity with God.
III. But the important question is, “Do we really KNOW Christ?”
IV. Listen to what Paul writes in Philippians, chapter 3, verses 1-7
A. 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, 4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. 7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
V. I will admit that there may be some exceptions, BUT, I really do believe that most people want to please God.
A. I believe that when the last day finally comes, and every knee bows and every tongue makes the confession that Jesus is Lord it will not only because they finally realize the truth, but there will even be a sincere desire to please the Lord.
B. In Paul’s statement, he is not only saying, “I was born as close to pleasing God as any human could be”, he is also saying, “I made a conscious, willing decision to do everything in my power to please God.”
1. I was a Pharisee, because they followed all the law of God.
2. I persecuted the church, because the church was not committed to God.
3. As far as humanly possible, I PLEASED THE LORD,
C. But then one day, Christ finally broke through my God pleasing heart, and I found that all my human effort was in vain.
VI. None of us today would use the words that Paul used to speak of our attempts at pleasing God.
A. But we might say,
1. My parents, or grand-parents, even from my distant ancestors were Christians; I was born following God.
2. I was not only baptized, I was dedicated the first Sunday after I was born.
3. I was not only baptized, I was baptized by some great pastor, or in some great church.
4. I never miss a Sunday of church, even when I’m on vacation I find someplace to go WORSHIP God.
5. I go to Sunday School, I pray, I even fast.
6. I know I am going to heaven because.
B. And what we need to do more than anything else is echo the words of Paul, “But I count all that to be a loss in view of what is really important.”
C. None of my efforts, none of what makes me proud is worth one thing compared to “Knowing Christ.”
I. Of those first seven verses, for me verse 7 speaks the loudest.
A. “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.“
B. For the early part of his life, Paul had been a pursuer of God.