From John F

God of truth,
help us to keep your law of love
and to walk in ways of wisdom,
that we may find true life
in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Suppose you were to write the story of your life – your autobiography – in about 200 words. What would you pick out as the most important parts (highlights and perhaps lowlights)? What would you leave out?
In vv4-14 of Philippians 3, the apostle Paul writes a summary of his spiritual autobiography. He does that in order to encourage his readers (both the Philippians and us) to “rejoice in the Lord” (v1), to find our deepest joy and peace and hope in Christ, as Ian pointed out in last week’s message.

Reading: Philippians 3:7-11

In these verses Paul writes of his past life, of his present aim and of his future hope.

Paul had a very impressive Jewish pedigree (vv5-6). He knew that he and all the Jewish people had immense spiritual privileges: “theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ…” (Romans 9:4-5).BUT looking back on his past life, Paul writes “whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (v7). All his former privileges he now rejects with horror and considers as liabilities. Why? Just because of Christ. Perhaps Paul had in mind the words of Jesus: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Paul describes the “surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”. This speaks of a warm, intimate, direct relationship.
Earlier this month we celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. I’m sure that many of us know quite a lot about the Queen – her upbringing, her family, her corgis, her faith. But how many of us can say “I know the Queen”?
Knowing Christ is far more than knowing about Christ.

The Old Testament speaks of God knowing his people: “I know you by name” (Exodus 33:17). It also speaks of God’s people knowing him: “They will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest”, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:34).
And when Jesus came he said “No-one knows the Son except the Father, and no-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27).

To know Christ is to gain Christ and be found in him (v9). It is to know his grace and mercy in salvation: to say from my heart “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to your cross I cling; naked, come to you for dress, helpless, look to you for grace” (“Rock of ages” by A.M.Toplady).

Every human being needs to renounce pride, and seek salvation in Christ alone. We need to know Christ.

In v8 Paul writes about his present experience of knowing Christ. But in v10 he implies that he does not yet fully know Christ. He longs to identify wholly with Christ in his death and resurrection.

Paul explains this further in Romans 6, saying that Jesus in his death and resurrection was not only our substitute, but also our representative. “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised 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 if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” (Romans 6:3-4, 8).

Quite simply, to know Christ better is to become more like him in his death and resurrection.

Prayer   (May these words written by Graham Kendrick be our constant prayer)
All I once held dear, built my life upon,
All this world reveres, and wars to own,
All I once thought gain I have counted loss;
Spent and worthless now, compared to this.

Knowing you, Jesus,
Knowing you, there is no greater thing.
You’re my all, You’re the best,
You’re my joy, my righteousness,
And I love you, Lord.

Now my heart’s desire is to know you more,
To be found in you and known as yours,
To possess by faith what I could not earn,
All-surpassing gift of righteousness.

Oh, to know the power of your risen life,
And to know you in your sufferings,
To become like you in your death, my Lord,
So with you to live and never die.

Category: Prayers , The Bridge