Paul’s Holy Ambition
Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
We all want to have the best for everything in our life, our family, career, health, social status, and material wealth. Man in his quest to find happiness and joy has tried everything the world has to offer, Christ has been put aside in favor of worldly things. The question is can we really be joyful knowing that we will be losing our treasures or our possessions that are closest to our heart? Loosing what we have worked for years, gone just like that? Well some are not bad; in fact they are good things, positive things. Counting all loss for Christ? Is it really worth it?
I. The knowledge of Christ
A. Knowing God does not mean just having intellectual knowledge about Him. Most people now here on earth know that there is God and it is an accepted truth. In fact people who belong to other religious group claim to know God more. The devils too know and believe that there is a God more powerful than them.
B. Knowing God here means personally knowing Him through faith or experiencing who He is. Salvation is knowing Jesus Christ in a personal way. We know Him in the sense that:
1. True Christians hears His voice. John 10:27
2. True believers have spiritual knowledge about Christ. John 17:3
3. Real Christians are truly enlightened. 2 Cor. 4:6
4. Real believers have the plain and absolute truth. 1 Jn. 5:20
5. True Christians are “still” in the midst of adversities. Ps. 46:10
6. True Christians continuously grows and learns about Christ. 2 Pet. 3:18.
Knowing God involves knowledge of Christ’s person as God and man. It changes or transforms a man. It includes the knowledge of His work in the eternal salvation of man, of His relation to us, and of the benefits we derive from Him, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification. If we read our Bible, meditate on God’s Word, pray, commune with Him, be sensitive to the leading and will of the Holy Spirit, attend Bible Studies and Worship services, we will know Christ our Saviour in such a way that you will truly trust Him for everything. Fanny Crosby a blind woman who wrote lots of hymns knows Jesus Christ experientially. John Bunyan who wrote the book “Pilgrim’s Progress” was imprisoned for preaching Christ knows Him better than all the religious leaders in his time. How about you, do you know Christ personally?
II. Suffering for Christ.
A. After we become Christian, things in our lives will become more complicated. A child of God whose name is written in the book of life and in the Father’s hand will still experience difficulties, pains, danger, etc. Christian’s journey to heaven will be full of sufferings. It’s a vital part of our life so we can be more intimate with Him. (Acts. 14:22, 1 Pet. 4:12). Some painful experience will be:
1. Loss of status or reputation – 1 Cor. 4:10
2. Hatred. Mt. 10:22
3. Renunciation of earthly treasures. Lk. 14:33, Mt. 19:29
4. Persecution. Jn. 15:20, 2 Tim. 3:12
5. Leaving home and friends. Mk. 10:28, Lk. 5:11
6. Leaving business. Lk. 5:27-28
7. Death. Acts 21:13, Ps. 116:15
In contrast to the qualifications of Paul which are in some way positive for others, (remember who Paul is before he met Christ?) the above listed are all negative. However, loss of all things whether positive or negative is nothing compared to the Excellency of the knowledge of Christ. The apostles left their all including giving their life for Christ. Their very life was sacrificed for Jesus and for them it is still nothing. What made them so strong that they were able to bear such hardships and pains? They know God, and they know where they are going.
Illustration 2: We Are Chosen
On a wall in his bedroom Charles Spurgeon had a plaque with Isaiah 48:10 on it: “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” “It is no mean thing to be chosen of God,” he wrote. “God’s choice makes chosen men choice men….We are chosen, not in the palace, but in the furnace. In the furnace, beauty is marred, fashion is destroyed, strength is melted, glory is consumed; yet here eternal love reveals its secrets, and declares its choice.”
III. How to gain Christ
1. Not by tears;
2. Not by confession to a priest;
3. Not by good works;
4. Not even by our “suffering the loss of all things.”
5. We gain Christ simply in the act of our believing, in receiving Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour (Jn. 1:12). When we receive Him we throw away all our righteousness and all our unrighteousness, just as the shipwrecked sailor, to save his life and his ship, throws his precious cargo into the sea.
IV. The excellency of the Knowledge
A. It is so excellent because:
1. It exceeds all other knowledge
2. It brings peace, holiness, and salvation
3. It is worth the sacrifice
4. It is acquired and understood through the Holy Spirit.
5. Can you consider all things loss for the Excellency of the knowledge of Christ? Do you include Christ in your plans?
Jesus Christ is the best thing that ever happened to me and I hope to all of you also. He is the best and He deserves the best of everything. If you have Jesus Christ, you have everything and much more. Are you willing to give your best to Him? Your ambition should be to know “Jesus Christ” and to be with Him forever and ever.