“Knowing the Power of the Resurrection”
April 2, 2006
Leave behind everything to know the power of the resurrection.
I. Consider Personal Achievements Loss (Philippians 3:7-9)
II. Walk the Same Road Jesus Walked (Philippians 3:10-11)
III. Press On to The Finish Line (Philippians 3:12-14)
MessageIn a seminary missions class, Herbert Jackson told how, as a new missionary, he was assigned a car that would not start without a push. After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he could either park on a hill or leave the engine running. He used this ingenious procedure for two years. Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station.
When Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, “Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable.” He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to Jackson’s astonishment, the engine roared to life.
For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting that power to work.
J. B. Phillips paraphrases Ephesians l:19-20, “How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God.” When we make firm our connection with God, his life and power flow through us.
Do you want resurrection power in your life? Do you want life change? Do want to know Christ and experience His life in your life?
The Apostle Paul was a man who desperately wanted Christ’s resurrection power in his life. He wrote a pep-talk letter to encourage fellow believers in Philippi. Paul wrote this pep talk from Rome around 60 AD while chained to a Roman guard to encourage his friends to rejoice in the Lord.
In Philippians chapter 3 Paul warned the Philippians not to listen to the Jewish teachers who put their confidence in their Jewish heritage instead of Christ. Paul said 3:2-6 if one could gain God’s favor because of their family lineage he had the best pedigree do so, but he said that “ain’t so.” Did you know that “ain’t” is in the dictionary now? I decided to use ain’t since the dictionary said the less educated use it.
On a few occasions I have shared the gospel with someone and then asked for a response. Then they respond that their family went to church, their grandfather was a preacher, and their great aunt was a missionary. You see they were trusting in a religious family heritage to somehow give them favor with God. Paul said that he used to trust in his family heritage and his obedience to the law, but now that has all changed.
Let’s pick up in verses 7-9.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 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,
NFL football player Pat Tillman broke the Arizona Cardinals franchise record for tackles in the 2000 season. After 9-11 and shortly after he came back from his honeymoon Tillman decided to join the army. He turned down a $9 million contract offer to serve his country in Afghanistan. On April 22, 2004 Pat Tillman was killed in combat during an ambush. Tillman left behind a new wife, great career, and lot’s money for defending his country. And he suffered and died for it.
In the same way Paul was one of the religious elite in his day. In his time and society he would have been looked up to like Pat Tillman. But then one day as Paul was making a trip to persecute Christians he was shell-shocked by Jesus. Jesus appeared to Paul and opened Paul’s eyes to see that his great family heritage and his perfect keeping the Old Testament law could not find him favor in God’s sight. Then with the empty hands of faith he accepted Christ’s free gift of forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life.
Notice that he called his family heritage and law keeping “rubbish” in verse 8. This strong Greek word was used for garbage, human excrement, and food that had gone bad. Paul contrasted this garbage with the “surpassing greatness” of knowing Jesus Christ. For Paul, there was nothing better than having a relationship with Jesus.
And this right relationship with God was received with the empty hands of faith. Look at verse 9.
Phil. 3: 9
that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
Paul repeated this truth in many of his other letters found in the Bible. He said no one should count on any supposed good deeds, righteous living, or law abiding to gain a relationship with God and eternal life. We must accept by faith God’s free gift of eternal life.
Is there anyone here this morning, who wants to have their life changed and have resurrection power?
The first thing you must do is open your hands and let go any good deeds, righteous living, or because you were born into a Christian family that you think is going to merit favor with God. You must completely let go and with the empty hands of faith, being totally convinced, accept God’s free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
Many of you may have already trusted Christ for His gift, but now you have drifted into what Paul warned against, legalism. Now you have started to believe that somehow you must have a certain level of works or righteousness to be saved. Come back. Leave behind that garbage and excrement and empty your hands. Otherwise you cannot have resurrection power in your life.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul said the natural desire he had resulting from his faith was to know Christ. Of course he already knew Christ as he has said in verse 8. So the sense here is that he wanted to know Christ even better, more fully, and more deeply.
Now what does it mean to know Christ even better? Paul described it in the rest of verse ten. It is walking the same road Jesus walked at the end of his life. That road included both the powerful resurrection and the humiliating suffering of the cross. Paul developed this idea further in Romans 6:3-4:
Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Now I don’t have the time to develop fully my understanding of this passage, but I believe that Paul is saying believers in Christ are baptized or identified with Christ’s death and resurrection. Paul in Romans 6 proclaimed that because of this identification with Christ we should die to our sins and live a new life.
So the power of the resurrection is not so much about us doing feats of power, but of living a new and holy life.
How many of you have seen the power team? Now I am cool with the power team. I like the guy who can rip telephone books in half. I wish I could do that just before I give my children a command. However, I don’t think Paul meant the power of the resurrection was to be able to break baseball bats or bend iron bars.
Now some might say that the power of the resurrection is the performing of miracles, but clearly that is not what Paul intended. I found a website that called their pastors the power team because they proclaimed to perform signs, wonders, and miracles. Without going into the discussion of whether God still gives the gift to do miracles today, one thing for sure is that Paul made it clear in 1 Cor. 12 that not all believers have the gift to do miracles. Furthermore, Paul said he wanted to know the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. Sharing in his sufferings was about being dead to sin and suffering for the gospel. It is walking the same road Jesus walked.
Then in verse 11 Paul makes a statement that a first reading seems a little problematic.
and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Literally, Paul is saying “and if somehow” which seems to suggest Paul was uncertain of his resurrection. Yet Paul consistently taught believers resurrection was a certainty. Let’s read Rom. 8:11
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Paul used an unusual Greek word for resurrection, exanastasin, or “out-resurrection.” My suggestion is that the out-resurrection is the up-in-the air or out-from-the grave-resurrection, namely the rapture, when Jesus will come back and give resurrected bodies to living and deceased believers. Therefore, Paul is not saying that he doubts that he will be resurrected someday. What he meant was that he is not certain, but is hopeful that he will experience the rapture before he dies.
If you have your faith in Christ alone for your eternal salvation, do you want to know Christ better?
Those are the normal desires of someone who is saved. So what areas in your life right now is the Holy Spirit telling you to know Christ even better? In what areas does He want you to have a changed life?
In what areas does He want you to die to some kind of sin?
Or to suffer like He suffered? Do you want to know His resurrection power and sufferings more?
So we have seen that the natural desire from trusting in Christ is to know Him better; to know Him better by walking the same road of suffering, death, and resurrection. Now let’s see what kind of attitude we should have toward knowing Christ better.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Paul wanted to make sure that he is not misunderstood. He was not saying that he had obtained the intimate relationship with Christ that he desired or that he had reached a state of perfection in his life.
Some Christians believe in the doctrine of entire sanctification. This is the belief that a Christian can and should come to a point in their life when they call out to God for entire sanctification. Entire sanctification is a state when a believer no longer sins, or at least does not voluntarily sin.
When Paul wrote Philippians he had been a Christian for almost 30 years. Yet Paul claimed that he had not reached a place of perfection. He was not entirely sanctified. That would ultimately happen when he saw Jesus. And this fits with what the Apostle John wrote:
1 John 1:8
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
Let’s move on and see how Paul pressed forward.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Paul was focused. He said, “This one thing I do.” This is like the immortal words of Don Sederdahl, “let’s focus like laser beam.”
Have you ever been in a church service or some other gathering when someone shines one of those light pens? They shine the light beam on the wall or on the speaker. What does that do to your focus? The Apostle said that he put his light beam on Christ. He didn’t focus on his past mistakes, but he put the cross hairs of his life on the prize, to which God had called him.
Now what is the difference between a “prize” and a “gift?” That’s right a prize is earned and a gift is free. Paul is not speaking of his eternal life with Christ here, but of the rewards he will receive at the judgment seat of Christ. He wanted to know Christ more intimately by knowing the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings. So, he focused like a laser beam on Christ and the prize that Christ’s wants to give him at the finish line of his life.
So where is your life focus? Is Satan distracting you by putting a light pen somewhere else other than Christ? Are you focused on material things? A wrong relationship? Or a good thing, but a good thing that is not Jesus? Are you focused on Jesus and the power of His resurrection?
This morning we have seen what you must do to have the resurrection power in your life.
First, you must accept God’s righteousness with the empty hands of faith.
Second, you must passionately desire to know Christ even more.
Third, you must not look back on past failures or spiritual achievements. But you must focus on Christ and the prize He has waiting for you.
How desperate are you to know Him? How fervent are you to know the power of His resurrection? How zealous are you to know the fellowship of his sufferings? This week, how much?