The Enthusiast
Philippians 3:8-11
Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…

Paul now exhibits himself to us in the light of an enthusiast in whose eyes the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ is all and in all. He regrets that so many fruitless years were spent away from Christ, and now he shows us all he hopes from him. He has surrendered everything for the sake of his Lord and Master. He has put away the thought of what he might have been had he remained a Jewish partisan. There was nothing beyond the ambition of Saul the persecutor had he remained true to the Jewish tradition. But he had cheerfully sacrificed every worldly prospect, he had cheerfully accepted a life of privation and contempt, he had learned to count such worldly advantages as but "the refuse of the table" when compared with the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is such enthusiasm that makes men of us! Let us now look at the gain got from Christ.

I. ACCEPTANCE IN HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Ver. 9.) We have seen how self-righteousness died within Paul. The sight of Christ on the way to Damascus cured him of all his self-satisfaction. Henceforth his religious reputation seemed but "filthy rags," utterly insufficient to clothe his spirit before the all-searching King. But instead of self-righteousness, he found provided by Christ a perfect righteousness, whose protection before God he could rejoice in. The idea of merit being transferred and imputed, though ridiculed by some superficial thinkers, is an everyday experience in life. The whole department of personal influence for the benefit of another is an illustration of it. We all benefit by the character and influence of others. We are glorified by their merits. The person from whom we want the favor knows the value and honor of our friend, and he considers us favourably because of him. In the very same way, then, God the Father regards sinners with favor because of the merit and righteousness of his Son, in whom poor sinners are asked to trust. Christ's glory is sufficient to encircle with radiance all the world.

II. ACQUAINTANCESHIP. (Ver. 10.) The difference between "knowing a person" and "knowing about a person" must never be forgotten. We may know a great deal about a person whose acquaintanceship we never acquire. We may in the same way know a great deal about Christ; we may be erudite theologians; and yet if we do not "know him" as our incomparable acquaintance, our Savior, our best Friend, all will be vain. Paul got acquainted with Christ on the way to Damascus, and that acquaintanceship he cultivated ever after by prayer, meditation, co-operation in Christ's work, and every means in his power. It is the essence of religion and of eternal life. "This is life eternal, to know [i.e. to be acquainted with] thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Let no man be content with anything short of this acquaintanceship with Jesus.

III. THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION. (Ver. 10.) This is a present experience. Our hearts are dead in trespasses, and sins, as Christ's body lay dead in Joseph's tomb. But the Spirit who quickened his dead body by a similar act quickens our dead souls, so that we experience in our spirits the power of our Lord's resurrection. Paul had passed through this experience. He had entered into "newness of life." He had risen out of the corruption of sin and spiritual death into the power of a new and spiritual life. The thrill of resurrection is first felt in this life. The dead soul hears the voice of the Son of God and starts into new life (John 5:25). Well may we say of this resurrection, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in this first resurrection; on such the second death can have no power."

IV. FELLOWSHIP IN SUFFERING. (Ver. 10.) It seems strange that Paul should reckon pain among the advantages obtained from Christ. But we must remember that as Christ's sufferings were vicarious, so the sufferings he sends upon his servants are so far vicarious also as to be for the good of others. Of coarse, in atonement we can have no fellowship with Christ. He was alone therein. But outside the atoning quality of Christ's suffering there is an element in which we can all share. Paul had serious suffering, but as he felt it was to make him a better workman, and so for the good of others, he was content to share it with his Lord. And here we must observe that sympathy is the closest fellowship between souls. What is sympathy? It is fellowship in suffering, It is in distress, in fiery trial, that hearts come nearest to one another. The Hebrew children never knew such fellowship in Babylon before as the Son of God gave them in the fiery furnace. It is here that the reason of our fiery trials lies. They are to bring us nearer the heart of Jesus. His sympathy is cheaply purchased by any pain. Paul's suffering life lay closer than other lives to the heart of Christ. How this should reconcile believers to trial! We may well "count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations" (James 1:2).

V. CONFORMITY TO CHRIST'S DEATH. (Ver. 10.) To be reconciled to death is a great experience. It was this which Jesus experienced on the cross. The amazement of Gethsemane and its sinless shrinking from the experience of death gave place to radiant welcome as the last hour came. "Father, into thine hands I commend my spirit," was the utterance of a Son fully satisfied with the Father's will in the matter of his death. Now, this brave spirit is within our reach. We, too, may look without blanching into the eye of the king of terrors. The sufferings and discipline of life are meant to bring us to this sweet conformity.

VI. RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD. (Ver. 11.) This is the crowning experience which Jesus is to give to Paul and all the faithful departed. The attainment of the resurrection is the climax of a spiritual process. We have risen spiritually into newness of life; we have been advancing steadily in the knowledge of Christ's mind and heart, and largely through life's trials; and physical resurrection will be the top-stone of the great experience. The notion is broached that resurrection is an immediate experience at death, so that we practically bid our bodies good-bye for evermore when we depart. This doctrine of Hymenens and Philetus, however, will not stand investigation. we must believe in a bodily resurrection at the last day. Then shall our full spiritual experience be reached and Christ's last great gift be ours. - R.M.E.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

WEB: Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ

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