Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Thursday, December 8th. Would you say that you have a passion to know God? It is a challenge to lay aside anything that competes with your desire to know Christ and to serve Him with boldness. Here's part two of A Passion to Know Him.
Let me ask you this. What is the passion of your heart? What is the thing that you are pursuing above everything else?
Is it a ministry? Then it's the wrong passion. Is the passion of your heart somebody?
It's the wrong passion. When Jesus Christ becomes the objective, when He becomes the object of my affection and the passion of my heart and the obsession of my life, everything else that I need and desire, God will provide in its perfect and proper timing and place. You said, does that mean we should have no desires?
No. Does that mean you should have no desires? But absolutely nothing should compete with that desire to know the Lord Jesus Christ. What is more valuable in life than knowing Him? Who is more valuable to you than the person of Christ? What relationship is more valuable to you than that of Jesus Christ?
I can answer that. In many people's lives, their relationship with someone, their relationship to something, their relationship to some opportunity is far more valuable to them than knowing Christ. So I ask you a simple question. Do you really know Him other than knowing Him as Savior? Do you know Him intimately? Do you know Him as a friend? Do you know Him as the one who walks with you moment by moment, day by day, with whom you can fellowship and converse? Do you understand His ways, why He operates the way He does?
How well do you know Him? Are you just sort of running along in your Christian life doing your thing and calling on Him just when you need Him in times of desperation, trouble and heartache and problems and trials? Or are you like the man and woman who takes the time to genuinely, intimately love the Lord Jesus Christ and to get to know Him?
Let me ask you a question. If you love somebody today, you want them to know you. Amen?
You really want them to know you if you love them. And the apostle Paul says, when I look at every single thing in life, he says, here's my conclusion. You can put all of that on this scale and you put knowing Jesus over here and he says there is absolutely no comparison whatsoever. And my friend, when you begin to understand who He is, then you won't ask that question anymore.
You'll begin to say, wow, why did I not pursue this earlier? Why did I not give myself to find out who is this Christ in whom I have believed and whom I trust and whom I follow and whom I serve and whose name I have named myself, follower of Jesus, Christian? Well, listen to what Paul says. He says, verse 10, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. So not only do we have to have a proper understanding of what He means by knowledge and we understand here what He means when He talks about this profound value He places upon Jesus, superlative, beyond and above all other knowledge or experiences or relationships. Then He comes to give us here that is His primary goal of knowing Him. What is it that He wants to know specifically about Jesus Christ and what does He want to experience in Him? And so He tells us what that is.
Look at this, if you will. He says, if you'll notice in the last part of verse 8, He talks about gaining Christ. That doesn't mean that Paul wants to get saved because there has already been saved sometime before he writes this.
And he talks about being found in Him. First of all, Paul says, here's my goal. He says, I want to know the Lord Jesus Christ first of all.
Now follow this. First of all, I want to know Him. I want to know Him and experience His righteousness. That is, Paul was already saved. He says, I want to fully understand and experience. He says, I want such an intimacy with Him that I understand what it means to be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. You see, the Apostle Paul had lived most of his life trying to keep the law, trying to keep the Ten Commandments, trying to keep the Mosaic law.
It came that time on the Damascus road when he was struck down, he was saved by the grace of God. God placed in his heart a desire to know this Christ. And he said, my desire is to know what it means to live and to walk and to experience the righteousness of Christ. That is, I am clothed in His rightness. I am clothed in His holiness.
I want to experience that to the deepest intimacy of my relationship and my capacity. I want to know what it means to be fully redeemed and fully justified and fully glorified in the righteousness of Christ by faith and faith alone. No works of my own. No achievements of my past.
No promise of doing something better. Until you know Him as the all-sufficient sacrificial Savior. Until you know Him as the Son of God, virgin born, who came to die on the cross for your sins. Until you know Him in the suffering of the cross for your sins and mine. Until you know Him in that way, you don't really know Christ. Until you know Him as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. Paul says, I want to know Him intimately in that fashion.
But secondly, listen to what he says. He says not only that, verse 10, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection or to know Him in the power of His resurrection. Paul said, I want to know the Lord Jesus Christ. And I want to be able to intimately walk with Him in the same power that He experienced after His resurrection.
That is the power of the Holy Spirit. Walking in such a fashion that His life was not only meaningful, listen, not only leaving an impression, but His life made an indelible, eternal impact on the people He met and the people with whom He associated. He said, I want to know the intimacy of Christ. I want to experience what He experienced when He lived in resurrection power, which He promised to every single believer. The presence and the power of the Holy Spirit operating in your life and my life, making it possible for each one of us to make an impact on those about us. He said, I don't just want to know about Him. I want to experience this same overwhelming sense of resurrection power that my life can make an impact like that of Christ. But he says, I want to go a step further.
Look at this. He says, and I want to know Him, the fellowship of His sufferings being conformed to His death. Now, usually we'll look at that and say, well, Paul wanted to suffer like Jesus suffered and die like Jesus died.
Well, that's true. But let me explain what he means by suffering and death. He's not saying that I want to go to the cross like Jesus went. But here's what the Apostle Paul is saying and his desire to know Him. You see, the Apostle Paul wanted to know Jesus Christ in a very practical way.
Nothing just theological and ethereal and philosophical and probable. He wanted to know Jesus Christ in a very practical way. Moment by moment, day by day, whereas He walked as He sat in prison. Who is this Christ? And he says, I want to know Him and the fellowship of His sufferings. When the Lord Jesus Christ was here, He suffered trials, tribulations, heartaches, harassments, attacks.
And you know what He did? He always responded in a holy fashion. He never responded in a sinful fashion. He always responded with love and forgiveness. And when he says conformed to His death, here's what Paul was saying. Fellowship of His sufferings, yes. I want to be able to experience what Jesus experienced and respond the way He responded. I want to know Him in such a fashion that it'll just be just as natural for me to respond to these things as it was for Him to respond. And when he said being conformed to His death, that's the only time I believe that word is used in the New Testament.
And it's almost like Paul coined the word and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, of course. And he says, I want to be as crucified to sin. I want to be just as dead to sin.
That when I suffer and I am persecuted and I am tried and I am rebuffed and I am criticized and I face tribulation and heartache and suffering. I want to be able to be just as dead to the responses that are natural. And I want to be able to respond just the way Jesus did. I want to know Him so intimately that I will be able to live as crucified to sin as He was crucified for my sin. I want to be able to walk in public on the basis of what my position is in private with Christ. He says, that's the way I want to know Him. I want to know Him in a fashion that no matter whether I'm in prison or whether I'm out preaching the gospel. No matter what, that my response to life is the same response that the Lord Jesus had. And that is forgiveness and loving and acceptance and death to sin.
It had no appeal. And the Apostle Paul wanted to know Jesus Christ, not just head knowledge. No philosophy, no ethereal kind of puffy, cloudy, fuzzy, hazy, foggy kind of idea about Him. He said, I want to know Him intimately. I want to experience this man. I want an intimate relationship with Him. I want an understanding of who is He? How does He operate?
Because it is affecting my whole life. Well, when you look at how Paul gauged all of that, here's what you have to come to. This man knew something about Jesus.
It was so practical, so real, so life changing. He said, listen, even though I know Him, the passion of my heart is to know Him even more. Listen, whatever the Apostle Paul had discovered about Jesus only stirred him, motivated him, built a passion in his heart to know Him better.
Let me ask you a question. How did you and I get so satisfied knowing so little of Christ? How did we get so satisfied? Did we learn enough? Did we learn something we didn't like? Did we learn something that was not true?
Did we learn some error? Where does our interest lie? Do you really want to know Jesus Christ? The only thing that really matters is who is He? And what does He want to do in my heart? Nothing else is really important compared to that.
And the question is this. Hey, listen, you want to know Him? Are you going to keep on being satisfied just knowing about Him? Knowing Him as your Savior?
What about Lord and life? Listen, knowing Him as your life will absolutely transform your whole perspective. If you want to know Him, I want to give you seven suggestions.
And those of you who want to know Him are going to get them down. Do I really want to know this Christ? Number one, if I want to know Him, I must study the Scripture.
This is where God has unveiled and given to us the intimate person of Jesus Christ in the Word of God. Secondly, I must be willing to spend time alone in prayer, meditation, and worship of Christ. Not just asking Him for things, but just being alone with Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, allowing Him to speak when oftentimes maybe I don't understand what He's saying. Maybe it may appear that He says nothing, but spending time alone with Him.
Notice I said alone, listening, praying, worshiping, meditating upon Him. Thirdly, I must trust Him. If I'm going to know Him and He tells me to do something, I must trust Him. Fourthly, I must obey Him. Not only must I believe what He says, but I must do what He says if I'm going to know Him. Because you see, the only way I'm going to know how He operates is to do what He said when He said do it. Number five, if I'm going to know Jesus Christ, listen very carefully, I must observe and record. I must observe and record how God works in my life and in the lives of other people. I must not only be very sensitive to what He does in my own heart, but I need to be sensitive to what I see God doing in somebody else's life.
When I say observe, I mean carefully ask, what's going on? Why did that happen? Why did not God do this and so? Why did God do this? Why did He respond the way He responded? Why did this circumstance turn out the way it did? You see, if you're going to learn the ways of God, you cannot be self-centered. You've got to be caring for other people.
You must be observant. What is God doing in the life of someone else? Why did God do that for them?
If God will do that for her, will He do that for me? We must be willing to watch the way God operates in other people's lives as well as their own life and record it. Here's what God did. Now I understand why this happened the way it did.
Now I can understand why He responded. Now I can see what God was up to. Now I can understand that God knew ahead of time what was going to happen. You see, if we run through life and don't look for and record and observe and become sensitive to God's ways, you'll never know Him. Listen, the people you work around, the people you fellowship with, the people you play with, the people you worship with, every single one of them is a potential object lesson in knowing Christ. Look what God is doing in their life. We put on our blinders and we run through life and the only thing that matters is we get what we want and we never know the one who is the giver.
But then number six is this. I must look for the evidence of Christ in every circumstance of life. Look for Him in every circumstance. If you want to know Him, look for Him.
He is in every single circumstance of life. I don't always understand it. I can't always figure it out. But eventually, in the Word and looking at that, eventually, most of the time, it clears up. And then number seven, if you really want to know Him, if I want to know Him, I must be willing to lay aside every single thing in life that competes with my love and loyalty and devotion for Him.
I want to tell you something. You can't live in deliberate sin and know Christ. You cannot. You cannot choose day after day disobedience and rebellion toward God and ever know this man, Jesus Christ, who is God. Now, you say, well, how do I get started? Just start with number one and open the Word of God and start with Philippians and tell the Lord, Lord, here I am at this age in my life and I know You. My knowledge of You is so barren. I know so much about so many other things, but, oh, dear Lord, I know so little about You. But I choose this day to begin to know who You are. And I want a passion to know You. And I want a passion to know You that overrides and supersedes every other single desire of my heart. And, my friend, your life is about to get exciting.
And you know what you're going to be saying? Why didn't I start before now? Why have I waited so long to discover who is this Christ? And if that is your response, every day, your life is going to change because you're going to grow and your understanding of Jesus Christ is going to deepen and become more personal and more intimate every day. Thank you for listening to A Passion to Know Him. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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