Explore The Bible Study: Joy In Knowing Jesus

11:09 AM

 

How would you complete this statement: Knowing Jesus is more important than . . .? There are so many things in life that keep us from completing this statement accurately and honestly. You will discover in this Explore the Bible Study: Joy In Knowing Jesus, that Paul gave up everything so that he could know Jesus. Perhaps his conversation in Scriptures will remind you of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus!

In Philippians 3, Paul desired to help the brothers and sisters in Philippi (Philippians 3:1) to rejoice in the Lord and not get drawn away from the Lord by evil workers (Philippians3:2). He begins by reminding them of his ancestral heritage and background to make a point. He states in Philippians 3:3-6 that if anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless. 

If anyone had bragging rights about their status and achievement, Paul did. Yet Paul tells us in Philippians 3:7 that, everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. How did Paul come to this reality? Why did he consider everything a loss compared to knowing Christ? You will discover the answer in a study of Philippians 3. Hopefully it will lead you to the same conclusion.

Knowing Jesus should be more valuable than anything else – Philippians 3:8-11.

Not only did Paul consider everything that was a gain to him to be a loss because of Christ, but he states that the value of what he lost compared to the value of knowing Christ was incomparable. When Paul had a personal encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road, Jesus gave him the very thing he desired—to be declared acceptable before God. Paul now had the assurance of a right standing with God and this made everything that he once valued as dung compared to knowing Christ.

There are a lot of ways in which one can know Christ. You can know Him from a historical perspective. You can know Him from a distance as you discover new facts regarding Jesus. You can know Jesus on a surface level much like you might know a co-worker or a store clerk. Or, you can know Christ experientially. This type of "knowing" only comes through a deep understanding that is based upon ongoing personal experience and intimate communion with Christ.

The Greek word used here, gnosis from ginosko, means knowledge gained through personal experience and intimate companionship. Knowing Christ experientially was Paul’s quest: to know Christ’s thoughts, His ways, His works, His will. This was Paul’s desire because He had come to love Christ above anything this world could offer.

Paul wanted the closest possible personal relationship with Christ. It’s a relationship pictured in baptism—buried to the old life of sin and raised to a new life of righteousness as Christ was resurrected. To know Christ in this way meant he was ready to share in Christ’s sufferings, even if that meant sharing His death. Knowing Jesus in this way meant Paul was willing to follow the path of Christ, no matter where it might lead, because he had a promised and sure hope in a future with God in Christ.

Knowing Jesus should be a lifelong pursuit – Philippians 3:12-14.

17-year-old Lydia Jacoby is a swimmer from Seward, Alaska (population: 2, 773) and the first Olympic swimmer from Alaska. Jacoby joined a local swim team at age 6 and before long was swimming faster than everyone else her age. She broke her first state record at age 12. When her local pool closed because of COVID-19 she was forced to train at a pool 2 ½ hours away. Jacoby kept training, knocking off time, until she qualified in the 100 breast, claiming the second spot on the team, and then pulled off an amazing gold medal win in the 100-meter breaststroke. Jacoby could have settled for just being a swimmer, but her dream was to be on the Olympic team. She could have been satisfied with making the team, but she desired to compete for the prize. With all the odds against her, she worked hard for the prize. By the way, her hometown doesn’t even have an Olympic size swimming pool, yet she competed for the prize and won! 

By stating in verse 12 that Paul hasn’t reached his goal or become perfect in knowing Jesus, Paul is looking back at what he has just described in Philippians 3:10-11.  Those things he described in verses 10-11 are still not realized in his life. It is like Jacoby’s hard work in competing for the Olympic gold. She kept working hard even though she was already known as a talented swimmer in Alaska. 

The “it” Paul referred to in verses 12 and 13 was the wreath given at the end of the race, like the gold medal given to Jacoby. So what Paul was saying was this, “I know that the race is not over yet. Even though I have a relationship with Christ because of my experience with Him on the Damascus Road, I’ve not yet done all God has for me to do. I’m going to keep working, training, serving, learning, and striving to know more about Jesus.”

  • What might cause a believer to stop the pursuit of knowing Jesus more? Perhaps the answer to this question is found in Paul’s statement in Philippians 3:13. 
  • Are you laser focused daily on knowing Jesus? Is it the one thing you do more than anything else? Or are your time, energy, money, and interests diverted in a hundred different directions? Are you so involved in a hundred and one good things that your commitment to Christ just gets lost in the shuffle?
  • Notice the two things Paul said you should do to be laser focused on knowing Jesus -- Forget the past; Reach for the Future. How can you apply this to your life?

Someone once said, “Millions in the church today feel like they have done their part, run their race, and finished their course, when, in reality, they have not even made it through the first lap.” Imagine the difference that would be made in our church and in the world if we who profess Christ face each day with the awareness that led Paul to say in verse 12, I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.

Knowing Jesus should produce maturity – Philippians 3:15-19.

Paul believed that all spiritually mature Christians would agree with his thinking, and if they didn’t, God would reveal more to them if they would continue to pursue knowing Jesus. As they pursued knowing Jesus more they were to live up to whatever truth they already knew. 

Don’t use not knowing as an excuse to stop knowing Jesus!

In our Christian walk, we are to keep our eyes on the goal of maturity and be ever pressing toward it. If we can’t see the goal, we need to keep our eye on someone who knows the way to the goal and follow him.

Knowing Jesus means we should live as citizens of Heaven – Philippians 3:20-21. 

If you profess to believe in Christ, you should remember, while on this earth, that you are a foreigner or alien away from your true home. Your Christian citizenship is in Heaven where you will be fully transformed because Jesus is Lord of all and able to accomplish the work that He started in you.

Moving Forward

Write this down in the margin of your Bible or study guide, “Knowing Jesus is more important than . . .” Then consider the things that keep you from knowing Jesus based on Paul’s words. Write those things down beside the statement. Spend time this week praying for God to help you overcome those things that keep you from knowing Jesus as you should.

In 1993 Graham Kendrick penned the words to the song, Knowing You (All I Once Held Dear). Check out the words on the video below and make this your prayer today.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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