Paul's Greatest Treasure: Knowing Christ (Philippians Sermon 14 of 24)
February 01, 2004 | Andrew Davis
Abiding in Christ, Suffering, Fullness in Christ
Introduction: The False Treasures of the World
Well, I'm very excited to preach on this section of scripture, Philippians 3:7-11. We began this message last week, this is really kind of a two-part message. There's a negative aspect to what Paul's doing in Philippians 3:1-11 and a positive aspect. We looked at the negative one last week, how Paul came to reject as trash what was his treasure, his spiritual resume, his self-righteousness, how he came to the point of rejecting that as worthless. Now, we get to the positive aspect of what it was that caused him to do that. What glorious thing expelled that from his heart? What was his treasure that he would sell everything in his life to possess? And that was to know Christ.
I read recently about... And I love this kind of thing, these little moments in our culture and in history. It was 1989, August, and a man was at a flea market. Now, I don't go to flea markets. To my untrained eye it all looks like garbage to me, but to other people, they can see things that I can't see. So I'm not necessarily going to spend a lot of time at a flea market, but there was a man there, and he was looking and he found a dark, dismal country scene, a picture, but he wasn't interested in the picture, it was the frame that caught his eye. It was attractive. It was kind of ornately gilded, and he thought it would go well with another picture that he had been looking to frame at home.
And so, he bought is for $4. When he got home and tried to get the picture out of the frame, the frame disintegrated into many pieces. And he immediately felt that he had wasted his $4, until a folded-up piece of paper in the back fell out onto the table, and he opened it up and there was the Declaration of Independence. And it was strange, he thought it was probably just one of those copies that have been mass produced for the Bicentennial or something, except that he noticed something unusual. At the bottom, there weren't reproduced there all the signatures, instead John Hancock's name was printed, like the rest of the text, like the work of a printer and he wondered about that. He thought it was odd, folded it back up, and forgot about it. He mentioned a couple of years later to a friend, he said, "Well, let me see it." Brought it out and he said, "You need to get this thing appraised, this thing may be worth a lot of money." Well, he contacted Sotheby's in New York, and it turned out to be one of the 24 copies of the Declaration that was printed by the Continental Congress the night of July 4th, 1776.
There were only three left available and this is what he bought for $4. It was auctioned later that year for $2.4 million, that's what he got for his $4. And so, one man's trash can become immense treasure at that moment. Now, that's not likely to happen to you. Don't get any ideas about flea markets and all that kind of thing, but it did happen to him and I find it fascinating how somebody's trash can become priceless treasure.
But the reverse can happen too, how something you thought was priceless treasure becomes worthless trash. Between 1915 and 1921, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired some, so they thought, rare terracotta statues of Etruscan warriors, that was the predecessors to the Romans and the Roman Empire. They were valued parts of the collection until 1960, when it was discovered that they were fakes, because in the black glaze on it, there was manganese, which was never used back in the ancient times.
They tracked down eventually one of the forgers, Alfredo Fioravanti in Italy, and he proved that he had made them because he had a missing thumb from one of the warriors, and they had made it and foisted it off as a fake. How embarrassing for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that something they thought was a priceless treasure was actually worthless trash. Now, what is true materially here, namely, that we can be shocked at the value of something that we thought wasn't worth anything, or we can be shocked the other way, that something we thought was of great value actually turns out to be nothing, is immensely more important in the area of spiritual life. And that's exactly what Paul came to realize, that his whole standing before God was based on something he came to reject as trash. That's the word, I know that's a shocking word, but that's in effect the word he uses. He counted them rubbish, dung, worthless things compared to something of surpassing greatness.
The world offers actually many counterfeit treasures, things that you can build your whole world upon, things that you can cherish, human esteem and praise, academic or professional achievement, material prosperity, all of these things can be as, ultimately, a life goal are worthless trash. Nothing on which to base your life. How much more a false religious system based on works righteousness, self-righteousness, in which by learning to pray the right prayers or spinning the prayer wheel or doing the right little acts of worship at the shrines, or whatever the religious system is telling you must do to work out your righteousness before God and be self-righteous, to find on Judgement Day that it was all worthless and that the God of the universe will reject all of it and will say, "Away from me, I never knew you, you evil doer." I think it's good to know now. I think it's good to know now what is trash and what is treasure. Too late the person discovers that they've been duped and that they will be lost for eternity.
II. Review: Paul’s False Treasure
And so, it would've been with the Apostle Paul, Saul of Tarsus, as he was on the road to Damascus, so filled with himself, so filled with his spiritual resume, so filled with his accomplishments in Judaism, top of his class, rising, he was on the fast track to leadership in the Sanhedrin. He was a ladder climber, an ambitious man. It was Paul's false treasure, self righteousness through religious achievement, and oh, how good he felt about himself. And a few more notches on his belt as he went to the city of Damascus to collect up men, women and children, and drag them to prison, serving God. Salvation, he said, by religious ritual, Hebrew of Hebrews, circumcised on the eighth day, the people of Israel, a tribe of Benjamin in regard to the law, a pharisee as for zeal, persecuting the church as for legalistic righteousness. "I was faultless," said Paul, that was his false treasure, but suddenly on the road to Damascus, there came a light from heaven, blinding, brilliant, spiritual, pure and perfect. And with it came a voice, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" "Who are you, Lord?" he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." And at that moment his world fell apart.
His self-righteousness was shredded by the purity, the glory of Christ and he came to realize that he was undone, just like Isaiah. "Woe is me, I'm ruined. For I'm a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the Lord, the resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ." And so he went to fast and pray, he was physically blinded by the light that he'd seen. And in that time, he came to realize there was only one thing he wanted. He wanted to see it again. He wanted to see Him again. He wanted to see Christ. He'd never seen anything like that, the beauty and the glory, and the purity, and the holiness. And he was inexorably drawn to it. It became everything to him. "Oh, to see it again and to see it forever." That's what he wanted. He wanted to be in the presence of God and that became his treasure.
And he was led into a life of assessing at that moment, as we do all the time, putting a price on something. If you're going to have a yard sale or something, you've got to put price tag on everything, weigh its value and you're going to decide what it's worth. Paul went through everything in his life and put a price tag on it and, in effect, put on it, worthless, worthless, worthless compared to this knowing Christ.
Actually, it was worse than worthless, because it was positively keeping him from faith in Christ. It was dragging him the wrong way, it was actually the enemy of his soul, all of this righteousness, the self-achievement, and so he thought differently. The proprietor of his soul, that's what he was, and he was going through and he was assessing, he was considering and he was using accounting language, the ancient Greek accounting language. Loss and gain, reckoning and considering. "I count everything a loss," he said, "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, that I may gain Christ." It wasn't just theoretical, he really did trash his career as a ladder-climbing Pharisee. It was gone after he began to preach Christ, there was nothing left.
He trashed his reputation as a Roman citizen. In the end it would be Rome that would execute him. He trashed all the things he cherished, he burned his bridges. There was no turning back. Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again. And then in his joy, in his joy, he went and sold everything he had to buy it. It was worth it to him. It was a bargain. "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things." Well, that was last week's message. That was the negative side, how Paul came to reject as trash what he used to treasure, his self-righteousness.
III. Paul Names His New Treasure: Knowing Christ and Being Found In Him
Now, we look at the positive side in which Paul names what his new treasure is. He actually names it in great detail. He goes through it in great detail and explains what it is that drove out his self-righteousness. What was his new treasure? And he says it very plainly. It was number one, and we're going to look at it like a diamond with five facets. Number one, personal knowledge about Christ and of Christ. Number two, the gift of righteousness through faith in Christ. Number three, the power of Christ, resurrected life inside of him. And number four, the fellowship of sharing in Christ's sufferings. And number five, glory through Christ's resurrection, he told the Lord, that's what he has, that's his treasure, those five things.
Facet #1: Personal Knowledge ABOUT Christ and OF Christ
But the center of it all. If you could boil it down, I want to know Christ. I want to know Him. And just pause before we look at these five facets of this beautiful diamond. What an incredible thing it is that this man, the author to the Philippians, is saying, I want to know Christ. This is a man who saw the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. This is a man who went up to the third heaven and saw incredible things, things that a man is not permitted to talk about, indescribable things. He had a vision of glory. A man to whom the Lord appeared at several times in the Book of Acts and presented Himself to him. And what does he want? I want to know Christ. He's not satisfied. It's not enough. Can any of you say, I know Christ enough? Really? That's all I really want to know of Christ.
No saved person would ever speak like that. We have tasted and it's good and we're not satisfied yet, we want more. And that's the way Paul was, the more he knew, the more he wanted to know. I wonder if it's going to be infinitely accelerating in Heaven. We'll get there and just the more we know, the more we'll want to know. Only we won't be flesh and blood anymore, we'll be able handle the strain of pursuing Christ and being so perfectly satisfied in Him. But the amazing thing that the Apostle Paul, who had seen so much of God, wanted more. John Piper said, "The heart is a desire factory." What do you desire today? What's your heart cranking out? What are you looking forward to? What's your treasure? That's worth thinking about, isn't it? The Apostle Paul wouldn't have hesitated, "Jesus is my treasure, I want to know Christ." Let's look at the first one, personal knowledge about Christ and of Christ.
First, I want to start with knowing about Christ. Now, this is just the start, but it's essential, it's vital. How can you call on someone you've never heard of? How can you trust in somebody that you know nothing about? How can you love somebody that you're ignorant of? We must know things about Christ, and Paul wanted to know about Christ. Just like a lover wants to know everything about the fiancé or the husband wants to know everything about the wife. "Tell me everything about you, I want to know about you." Knowledge about is not denigrated in a healthy marriage. We want to know about each other. And so people denigrate head knowledge. They say want we really want is heart knowledge. Do you know any heart knowledge doesn't begin as head knowledge? We must know about Christ.
And so the Apostle Paul would speak like this, "I want to know all about you, Christ. I want to know what you taught line by line. I want to memorize your teachings, I want to know the Sermon on the Mount. I want to know your parables, I want to know what you said in John 10, the Good Shepherd teaching. I want it to be part of the way I think, I want to know your words. I want to know every story of your life. I want to know how you interacted with the Scribes and Pharisees, when they brought challenging and tough questions to you. I want to know what your answers were. I want to know every interaction you had with the humble sinner, broken-hearted and needy, and how you displayed your compassion and your mercy and your miracles. I want to know your miracles, all of them. I want to find out how many there were and what you did. I'm not satisfied with the fact that all the region of Judea and Samaria came to Jesus and you healed them all, I'd like to know about each story. I'd like to find out about each blind man, and each lame man and each demon-possessed boy or girl that you healed, I want to hear the stories. I want to know about you, Christ."
"And I want to know how it is you considered it joy to die on the cross for my sins. I want to understand your way of thinking there, I want to know what was on your mind. And I want to know why it is you wept over Jerusalem. And why did you weep before raising Lazarus from the dead? I'd like to ask you that question, what was in your mind and your heart? And why did you sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane? I want to know your humility, I want to know your gentleness and your compassion and tenderness. I want to know how God the Father created all things through you. What does that mean, through you? I want to understand that. And I want to know how it is that you're sustaining all things right now by your powerful word? I want to know you, Christ, I want to know all about you."
But that's not enough, is it? It's not enough. "I don't just want to ace the theology exam, get all the right answers on Jesus, that's not enough for me. No, I want to know you. I want that covenant love relationship with you, like a husband and wife relationship. Even better than that, I want to know you the way your Father knows you, with that perfect union and that intimacy, I want that kind of knowledge and I'm not going to be satisfied 'til I have it. I want to know you the way your Father does. I want to know you, Christ. I want to know everything about you and I want to know you." Jesus said, "Now this is eternal life that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." Paul's basically saying, "I want to live, I want to live and I want to live forever. I want eternal life."
Now, Moses achieved the highest that the Old Testament had to give. Miriam and Aaron were jealous of Moses' position of leadership, but God put them both in their place in Numbers 12. God said to them, "Listen to my words: "When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" Basically, "what I reveal to Moses, Miriam and Aaron, is better than what I show you."
But let me tell you, what God reveals to us in Christ is better than He showed to Moses. And Paul tasted, and he wanted more. Well, how much did God reveal to Moses? Well, Exodus 33 tells the story. The intimacy is so powerful and poignant, and I think this is what Paul has in mind here. Exodus 33, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide, Joshua, did not leave the tent, so Moses said to the Lord, "You have been telling me, 'Lead these people,' but you've not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name, and you have found favor with me.' If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so that I may know and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people."
That's the way Moses spoke to God. "I want to know you, God, show me yourself." The Lord replied, "My presence will go with you and I will give you rest." Then Moses said, "If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" And the Lord said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked because I am pleased with you and I know you by name." Then Moses said, "Now, show me your glory." I tell you, this is the heart cry of a Christian. "Show me your glory. I want to see it. I want to be in the presence of your glory. I don't want a space anymore between me and you, Lord. Show me your glory." And the Lord said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence." And then He says this, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy. And I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." Do you know what he's saying there?
"I don't owe you this because you're a sinner. You don't deserve to come into my presence. But if I have mercy on you, I will do the very thing you've asked. I will bring you right into my presence. I will have mercy on those people I choose to have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. But," He said, "You cannot see my face. For no one can see me and live." And so He put him in a cleft of the rock and He went by. And at the last minute, He took His hand away and Moses saw just the back part of God's glory. And his face shone like the sun after that. Now, what I say to you is the experience, the intimate experience that Moses had on that mountain with God is nothing compared to what you will have in Heaven with God. And it's what Paul was hungry for. "I want to know you. I want that. I want to be in your presence. I've tasted Christ. I've seen your resurrection glory. I saw you on the road to Damascus, but I want more. I want to know you. I want to know you."
Facet #2: Gift of Righteousness Through Faith in Christ
The second facet is a gift of righteousness through faith in Christ. In verse 8 and 9, he says, "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. I want to be found in Him," that's union language. "I want to be united with Christ spiritually so that His righteousness becomes my own. I want to get rid of my shabby rags, more filthy and vile than the worst drunkard in the gutter, those are my righteousness." Rags. Jesus said, "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and teaches the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Paul said, "Then strip me of it. I don't want it anymore. I want your righteousness, a perfect robe of righteousness woven by your constant obedience, your loving obedience to the Heavenly Father. 30 plus years of perfect obedience to God obeying every jot and tittle to the point of death, even the death on the cross, everything you did." That's the righteousness that Paul wants. He said, "I want that righteousness on myself. I want to stand in your righteousness, Jesus. I'm tired of my own. It's worthless, it's trash. I want your righteousness." That's the second facet on the diamond, Christ's righteousness and no other.
Facet #3: Power of Christ’s Resurrected Life Inside Him
The third facet is I want the power of Christ's resurrected life inside me. Verse 10, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection." He says it again, he keeps repeating himself, "To know Him. I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection." What does this mean? His resurrected power, energy working in me. It means more than that, but we'll get to that in the fifth facet. But right now, it means spiritual life and energy inside me, transforming me, changing me, making me godly, making me holy and making me fruitful and powerful and energetic for God. I want to know that energy, that resurrection life inside me. Resurrection power over sin and temptation, resurrection power to serve God mightily. Every day of my life, storing up treasure in heaven, fruit for His glory. I want that energy in me. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth.
Colossians 1:29, "To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy which so powerfully works in me." That's the resurrected life of Christ. "I want to know that life in me. The power of His resurrection. At the moment of temptation, I want to feel the temptation and overcome it by His resurrection power. I want to know His life. I want to see Him conquer my fear to witness. I was with those Corinthians in weakness and fear and much trembling, but I want to know His power to overcome that weakness and fear and trembling. I want to know Christ's power, His resurrection life."
He talks about this in Ephesians 1:18-21. "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know three things, the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and His incomparably great power which is at work in us who believe, His power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule, and authority, power, and dominion, and every title that can be given. Not only in the present age but also in the age to come." That's the power at work in us. Paul says, "I want to know that power. I want to find out just how powerful it is. I want to see what He can do through a man filled with the power of Christ's resurrected life." Is that all it means? No, it means more. It extends to his physical body too, but we'll get to that in facet five.
Facet #4: Fellowship of Christ’s Sufferings
Facet four is the one that I think about probably the most right now. I want to know how to suffer. I really want to know how to die. Verse 10. "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." I want to learn how to die, to die every day to myself and to my own desires. I want to learn how to suffer joyfully. To be glad to go to the lesser cross of persecution and hardship that others might have eternal life because Christ went to the greater cross of wrath and condemnation before God. I want to know what it means to take up my cross daily and follow Jesus. I want to know how to suffer each temptation to the 100% level until it goes away and I didn't sin. I want to know how to suffer right to the end, the way Jesus did. Every temptation that was brought Him for 30-plus years. I want to exhaust every temptation and see those temptations dead on the field of battle. I want to know what it feels like to be rejected and hated and despised and mocked and spat upon and trampled by the world because my master was so treated and a servant is not above his master.
I want to know how to suffer like Jesus did. He was a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. And what is more, I want to know Christ in the suffering. I want Him to stand by my side and give me strength. I want to have that fellowship as I'm fighting the good fight of faith. I want to know He's with me and pleased with me because I am standing firm for Him, both internally in holiness and externally in witness. I want to know the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings. I want to be with Him. I want to know the joy that comes from being beaten for Christ and then singing all night in a Philippian jail. I'd like to know that joy. I want to know how to suffer for Jesus. The Apostle Paul said at 2 Timothy 4, "In my first defense no one came to my support but everyone deserted me, may it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength." I want to know that, don't you? I want to know what it feels like to have everybody desert you and you're witnessing to a megalomaniac Nero, Emperor of Rome, and Jesus is with you doing it too. I would love to know that, to know the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.
Paul knew what it was like to have an unmistakable sense of Christ's immediate presence during times of immense suffering for the Gospel. And to Paul it was all worth it. It was all worth it. I want to know Christ in His suffering, and I want to know Christ in my suffering for His sake. I think this is kind of the central lesson of sanctification for me, to learn how to die. I'm going to learn how to die every day, every moment. Learn how to say no to myself. To take up my cross every moment and die, and die again, and die again, and die again, again and again until God calls me home. Michael W Smith wrote it in his song Too Many times.
Too many times, I'm back inside.
Wanting desperately to hide
and yet I know, I know you say
you have to die.
Too many times You hear my cries.
I'm at the end of all my tries,
so I'm open now, Lord,
so teach me how to die.
Elisabeth Elliot wrote a biography of Amy Carmichael entitled, A Chance to Die. Amy Carmichael was an Irish missionary who spent 53 years in South India, without a furlough, rescuing Indian children from degraded temple prostitution. The name of her mission was the Dohnavur Fellowship. And if you wanted to serve with her as a missionary, she welcomed you, but she was going to ask 25 simple questions, 25. Among them were these: Do you truly desire to live a crucified life? This may mean doing very humble things joyfully for His name's sake. Does the thought of hardness draw you or repel you? Can you mention any experience you have passed through in your Christian life which brought you into a new discovery of your union with the crucified risen and enthroned Lord? A brief summary of it all, do not come here unless you can say to the Lord and to us, "The cross is the attraction." In other words, do not come unless you view it as a chance to die.
2 Corinthians 4:10, Philips translation, said this, "Every day we experience something of the death of Jesus, so that we may also know the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours." This is the central lesson in my life, and I'm just speaking very openly and honestly. I keep turning away from it. I don't want that. I don't want to die. It's hard. It hurts. It's not on my outline here, but I'm just telling you from my heart, it's the kind of thing that we get afraid of and it hinders our growth. And if you're not willing to die, you can't make progress internally or externally.
You can't grow in holiness, and you can't be a witness for Jesus, you just can't. And so this is kind of central lesson, isn't it? To learn the fellowship of sharing in Christ's sufferings, to be willing to do hard things for His glory, to be willing to be hurt and rejected, and to be willing to stand firm in a time of temptation and not yield. This is very much the issue of sanctification. George Müller, when he was speaking to somebody who asked him the secret of his service, he said, "There was a day when I died, utterly died, died to George Müller, to his opinions, his preferences, tastes and will, died to the world, its approval or censure, died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and my friends, and since then have studied only to show myself approved unto God." There was a day, George Müller? A day? One day? What day was that, George? I think, theologically, it must be the day he became a Christian. Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." That day. And from then on every day, he counted himself dead to sin, but alive to God. Dead to himself, dead to his thoughts, dead to what he wanted, and alive only to serve God and to serve Christ.
If there's no suffering, there's no glory. But if you know suffering, you will know glory. Romans 8:17 says, "Now, if we are His children, then we are heirs, heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ. If indeed, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory." Paul didn't care the cost. He didn't care the occasion. He didn't care the pain or the circumstances, he wanted to know the fellowship of sharing in Christ's sufferings.
Facet #5: Glory Through Christ’s Resurrection
The fifth facet was glory through His resurrection. Verse 11, "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." The ultimate goal of perfection in Christ is uppermost in Paul's mind. He does want to know Christ in a dirty Philippian jail, and at the bottom of a pile of rocks outside the city of Lystra. He wants to know, but not just for that. He's not a masochist, loving pain and suffering for its own sake. No, he wants it for glory. He wants it for good things, for a revelation of God and His nature. He wants it so that the Kingdom can get built and so other people can get saved. He wants to go through all of those things for glory and for resurrection and for the new Heaven and the new Earth, just like Jesus, who endured the cross, despising its shame for the glory and the joy set before Him. It wasn't just because of the cross, but for what good things could come from it.
He wants, you know what he wants? He wants to be like Jesus in His resurrection body, he wants to be free from corruption and sin, and death, and mourning, and crying, and pain. He wants to be free from it all. He wants to be saved. Finally saved, gloriously saved. Look at verse 20 and 21. He says, "Our citizenship is in Heaven and we eagerly await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body." Amen and amen. No more surgeries, no more medicine, no more hospital visits or funerals. No more any of that corruption. No more dental bills. I'm not trying to be insulting. I'm grateful for dentists while we're here, but I'm looking forward to the day when there'll be no corruption in my mouth.
At every level, I mean that. No corruption. He said, "I want a resurrection body. I want to be like you, Jesus, and you're glorious right now. You have a body that I can't understand, It's a spiritual body, whatever that is. It goes through walls, it appears and disappears. It can do anything. I'd like a body like that. That's exciting to me, I want to be saved. And I'm physical now, and you intended to give me a body, but you intend to give me a better one. I want to be saved. I want to know His glorious resurrection." 1 Corinthians 15, "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?'"
This is Paul's central treasure, knowing Christ in five facets. Knowing about Him and knowing Him in a convenantal relationship. Secondly, the gift of righteousness through being united with Christ by faith alone. Thirdly, the power of Christ's resurrected life inside Him. Fourthly, knowing how to suffer and die with Jesus. And fifth, knowing how to be raised eternally with Him too.
IV. Application: Some Questions
Now, I have some questions for you. Do you treasure Christ like this? Is this Christ your central treasure in life? Do you have a deep and abiding hunger and thirst to know Jesus? Are you willing to study the Bible more and more with a hunger and a thirst to know Christ in the scripture? Are you willing to live every moment of every day with one single purpose in mind? "I want to know Christ and become like Him more and more." Do you see yourself clothed in Christ's righteousness alone? Are you still clinging to the idea that you're basically a good person? Have you rejected your own spiritual resume as completely as Paul rejected his, and as God rejected His? Do you see your own righteousness as trash and Christ as treasure? Have you suffered anything at all or lost anything at all so that you may know Christ better? Has it cost you anything to be a Christian? Is the world dead to you and you to the world? Do you yearn to know, to learn how to die like Jesus did? To die every day to yourself? To say no to sin? To say no to earthly things and to follow Christ? Do you want to become more and more conformed to His death? And finally, have you totally set your heart on the glory that will be given you when Christ is revealed, the glorious resurrection?