“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11
The greatest ambition in life can only be to really know Him. Outside of Jesus and the Bible no one can find God. Not through science, philosophy, or non-biblical religions. After thousands of years of human philosophy with men and women groping in the dark looking for answers, they find nothing beyond unfinalized speculation. In science whether they are counting the stars or splitting the atom, they arrive at a dead end when the line is reached that separates the natural material realm and the spiritual. Under the absolute best set of circumstances the non-biblical religions merely express a quest, with no realized goal. Even the most lofty of the lot can merely state, “we seek”. None of them can say, “we have found”.
Even so, God may be truly and experientially known through the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the eternal Word of God become flesh, the absolute Deity incarnate in our humanity, the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”, the one, the only, all-sufficient Redeemer, Reconciler, and Restorer of mankind to God. In Him and in Him alone and in Him directly, we may know the Creator of the universe, and hold complete, unbroken fellowship with Him as our Heavenly Father. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me”. “He that has seen Me has seen the Father”. “This is life eternal, that they might know You Father the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent”. Absolutely nothing is more sacred or more vital or more wonderful than to know the Lord Jesus Himself. Nor would it be possible to over-emphasize the requirement of clearly understanding what is meant by really knowing Jesus in that way.
There are four distinct and different ways to know a person. We may merely know someone historically in the way that we know a person like Napoleon, Julius Caesar, or Moses, we may know someone as a contemporary like a US President, an athlete, or an entertainer like Elvis Presley, we may know someone merely by virtue of contact where we have met them socially or by virtue of business relationship. We may know this or that about them, we may have casual conversations with them and know whether or not they are married, etc, or we may know someone in a familiar way and know them not only by name, but also by nature. We are frequently or even continuously with them. We know them heart to heart and mind to mind. We know their characteristic ways of thinking, feeling, and reacting. We know their disposition, temperament, and habits. This is a close friendship, a fellowship, a heart to heart Love between us and this person.
The same is true in our knowing Jesus. We can know Him in the same four ways. We can merely know Him historically, believing that He really lived, died, rose, and ascended, exactly as the Gospel says, believing that He really is the Son of God, the Supreme Example, the Savior of the world; believing it all, but only in the sense of intellectual assent with the mind, and not in the deeper sense of accepting Him with the heart.
We can also know Him merely in the sense of Him being our contemporary, believing in Him as the risen One who said, “Truly, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”, and yet not knowing Him by virtue of direct contact.
We can even know Jesus as a result of direct contact, and have received Him spiritually as Savior, and still not know Him in the way that Paul meant when he wrote; Philippians 3:10, This is the approval that comes from God and is based on faith that knows Christ. Faith knows the power that His coming back to life gives and what it means to share His suffering. In this way I’m becoming like him in his death.
Paul wanted to know The Father in a reverent, holy, familiar way. A way that is continually deeper, richer, and is a spirit to spirit communion with Him; in an ever-expanding experiential exploration. This, I believe is to be the focus of our lives as Christians, our greatest ambition . . . to really know Him.
Wouldn’t it be strange if we did not long to know Him fully considering all that He has done for us, all that He has become to us, and all that He is in Himself?
Consider if you will the days of slavery in America; look upon the face of the totally devastated black slave as he waits trembling in the slave market. Soon he has been sold to the hardest slave owner that has ever curled a whip over the bodies of his cringing victims. The servitude is almost unendurably hard and rigorous ; the beatings for any slight failure are merciless; the plight of this wretched slave and that of his fellow slaves is pitiful. One night he attempts escape, but he is caught and dragged back, where his gloating owner decides to punish him publicly as an example—a major beating such as almost always means death to the undernourished slaves. In the morning he is tied naked to the whipping post; the whippers are called; and he is just about to be beaten to probable death before onlooking slaves and several white visitors, when something very strange happens. One of the visitors, a tall noble looking gentleman, exclaims, “you can not whip that poor man so brutally; he will die!” The slave owner glares and screams in reply, “then die he shall, unless you, brave sir, will take his punishment”. The stranger steps forward and says to the wicked owner, “you have committed yourself, free the slave and I will take the lashing”. He bares His back to the whippers; His body quivers under the lashes; but He endures manfully until the last two strokes, when He sinks to the ground, lacerated, bleeding, and exhausted.
Imagine the astonishment and surprise of the slave when he was called into his owner’s presence to be told, “you are my slave no longer. That Man who suffered for you has paid such a price to free you that I cannot keep you any longer. Go now. You are free”.
That is not all; once the freed slave had left the bondage, he was intercepted by a messenger from his amazing Benefactor, with new clothing, good food, and a message that all of the wealth that he could ever require has been deposited for him at the central bank.
But the climax comes when he enquires at the bank and learns the name of his Wonderful Deliverer. He is The King’s Son; is rich beyond calculation, is the liberator of many, many other suffering slaves; is Absolutely Upright and Noble, so strong yet so humble, gracious and kind, so completely understanding and sympathetic, that all of His Great Household Love Him, and find Him ever more Lovable the more they know Him.
Do you find it strange or surprising that this liberated slave will travel whatever the miles, or whatever the hazards just in order to get to his Loving Benefactor? Just to fall at His Feet, look up into His Face, become His willing bondservant, then enjoy knowing Him, Loving Him, and to serve Him forever. To be in his Noble Rescuer’s presence, to look into His Wise, Kind, Gracious Face, and to really know Him, heart to heart!
Does my parable seem far-fetched or over-stated? No, not at all. It simply can not be; for the reality of what it pictures utterly defies all possible analogies or illustrations. That wretched slave, do you recognize him? I do, I see myself in him, under the worst of all tyrants, SIN!
My slavery involved eternal ruin and involved far more than just a beating unto physical death. I was in bondage to sin and eternal damnation was the cost with no way out, except One. His Name is Jesus! He paid my sin debt in full and set me free. My Divine Savior, The Prince of Glory, The Lord Jesus has Redeemed me and eternally Enriched me in all ways. So it should not be surprising to learn that my explanation of the greatest possible ambition of any Christian is to Really Know Him.
I ask you now, do you really know Him? Do you find yourself unable to truthfully say that you know Him in the familiar way that has been described here? Maybe you know Him historically, as a contemporary, or maybe you do have a relationship with Him based upon genuine contact, but do you really know Him? No matter which condition you find yourself in today, do you want to really know Him? If so, then the Holy Spirit is speaking to you right now. This very moment, exactly where you are, tell the Lord that you know that you are lost in sin, and that you can not save yourself. Tell Him that you know that He died on the cross to pay for your sin debt and to set you free. Tell Him that you are repenting of sin in your life and that you accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior. Tell Him that you are placing your life in His Hands and that you trust Him with your whole heart. Tell Him that you want to really know Him just as He really knows you. Thank Him for hearing your Prayer and for setting you free from the bondage of sin. In Jesus’ Name . . . Amen. Now if you have just had the above conversation with the Lord and meant it with your heart, then you are right now a born-again, set free child of God. You now can begin to really know Him in a way never before possible. You have a fresh start, your debt has been paid in full and you are free indeed. Look to the Lord to begin to mold you and shape you into the image of Jesus step by step. He will bring about the changes in your life that He wants, just draw close to Him and trust in Him fully. Get a Bible and begin reading in The Gospel of John regarding what Jesus has done for you. Tell someone of this decision that you have made today, and ask the Lord to guide you to a good local church so that you can begin to grow in your new life as a Christian. Welcome to the Family Of God
Now that you have been Born-Again By God’s Power as you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord & Savior – you now have the wondrous opportunity of Drawing Near To God In Intimate Personal Fellowship By His Word, The Holy Bible And In Prayer – take opportunity to do so and you will find that you will grow to Really Know Him As He Desires!!!