A Letter from Prison (Philippians, pt 5)

This is the fifth in a series of posts on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. These posts are written from devotional reflections on the Scripture.

Paul is driven by an all-consuming desire to know Christ. In one sense, Paul already knows Christ, as he writes: “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (3:8).

Because of this saving knowledge of Christ, Paul has set aside all earthly accomplishments or religious means of proving himself. He even counts those things as rubbish – or dung – so that he can “gain Christ” and a righteousness of Christ by faith. Paul has a focused perspective on Christ’s impact on his standing before God.

But, in another sense, Paul has more to know of Christ. He says immediately after this: “I want to know Christ” (3:10). There is a sense that something needs to be filled in with Paul’s knowledge of Christ. Paul outlines i this way: “I want to know the power of the resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection of the dead” (3:10-11).

Paul wants to know Jesus’ death and resurrection, His suffering and His glory. This all seems to point toward an experiential knowledge of Jesus Christ that is far beyond what Paul knows now. He has not yet fully experienced this sort of knowledge of Christ (3:12).

How are you growing in your experiential knowledge of Christ these days?

[If you want to explore Philippians further, consider viewing the 2018 preaching series, “Unshackled: Joy Beyond Circumstances,” beginning with the message, “The Joy of Faith.”]

I Am Known by Faith

Why is it so important for us to be authentically known and to authentically know others? Why do relationships feel a tension expressed often in exasperation with phrases like, “You don’t even know who I am!” or “I don’t even know who you are anymore!” It is because being known and knowing others is one of the unique aspects of what it means to be human. In fact, that personal knowledge we have of others and we allow others to have of us has a lot to do with our identity.

In our current series at Eastbrook Church, “Who Am I?“, we are exploring biblical answers to questions about our identity as human beings. This past weekend I explored the ways in which knowing is so important to us grasping a sense of personal identity. Specifically, I addressed the importance of being known by God as a fundamental element of our ability to answer the question, “who am I?”

You can view the message video and an expanded sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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The Distance Between Two

What a long way it is between knowing God and loving him! – Blaise Pascal, Pensees, 377.

It is easier to talk about God than to talk to God.

It is easier to sense awe or delight in the created things – a sunrise, the face of a lover, the rugged mountain ranges – than it is to sense awe or delight in God. No matter the wranglings of theologians or philosophers, we are all still chained to sense perception at one level or another.

It is easier to know what is right and good than to consistently enact what is right and good. The difficulty only increases as life continues and we experience the challenges of daily life circumstances.

It is easier to succumb to temptation than it is to resist temptation. Why is this?

It is easy to love those like us and suspect those unlike us. It is hard to love, but difference increases the difficulty.

When wronged, it is easier to become angry than to resist anger. It becomes easier to forgiven when a wrong is readily admitted by the other. It is easy to become bitter when the wrong is ignored or trivialized. Time does not heal all wounds.

It is never easy to forgive. Forgiveness means letting go of certain elements of justice. “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” The Cross becomes the key to forgiveness because God Himself chooses forgiveness in the face of His capacity for undiluted justice.

The invisible, faceless God is hard to know. The visible, incarnate God is life and love.