That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death;
I. LET US PASS BY THAT CROWD OF OUTER-COURT WORSHIPPERS WHO ARE CONTENT TO LIVE WITHOUT KNOWING CHRIST. I do not mean the ungodly and profane, these are altogether strangers and foreigners, but —
1. Those who are content to know Christ's historic life. These know the life of Christ, but not Christ the life.
2. Those who know and prize Christ's doctrine, but do not know HIM. Addison tells us that the reason why so many books are printed with the portraits of their authors is that the interested readers want to know what appearance the author had. This is very natural Why then do you rest satisfied with Christ's words without desiring to know Him who is the "Word"?
3. Those who are delighted with Christ's example. That is well as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. His example will be better understood as we know Himself.
4. Those who are perfectly at ease with knowing Christ's sacrifice. This is a blessed attainment, but we should not forget that He was the sacrifice and is greater than it.
5. Those who look for His coming and forget His presence.
6. Those who are satisfied with hearing or reading about Christ: but Paul did not say, "I have heard of Him whom I believe," but "I know."
7. Those who are persuaded to their ruin that they know Him but do not.
II. LET US DRAW CURTAIN AFTER CURTAIN, WHICH SHALL ADMIT US TO KNOW MORE OF CHRIST.
1. We know a person when we recognize him: and to this extent we know the queen, because we have seen her, and so by a Divine illumination we must know Christ who He is and what He was.
2. By a practical acquaintance with what He does. They tell me Christ is a cleanser, I know Him because He has washed me in His blood; that He is a deliverer, I know Him because He has set me free; that He is a sovereign, I know Him because He has subdued my enemies; that He is food, my spirit feeds on Him.
3. We know a man in a better sense when we are on speaking terms with him. I know a man not only so as to recognize him, and because I have dealt with him, but because we are speaking acquaintances. So we know Christ if we pray to Him.
4. But we know a person better when he invites us to his house; we go and go again, and the oftener we go the better we know him. Do you visit Christ's banquetting house, and has He permitted you to enjoy the sweets of being one of His family?
5. And yet after frequent visits you may not know a man in the highest sense: you say to his wife, "Your husband never seems to suffer from depression, or to change." "Ah," she says, "you do not know him as I do." That man has grown much in grace who has come to recognize his marriage union with his Lord. Now we have the intimacy of love and delight.
6. But a Christian may get nearer than this. The most loving wife may not perfectly know her husband, yet a Christian may grow to be perfectly identified with Christ. Looking at all this might not Christ well say now, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me."
III. CONSIDER WHAT SORT OF KNOWLEDGE THIS IS.
1. If I know Him I shall have a very vivid sense of His personality. He will not be to me a myth, a vision, a spirit, but a real person. Then there must be a personal knowledge on my part, not a hearsay, second-hand knowledge.
2. It must be intelligent. I must know His nature, offices, works, and glory.
3. Affectionate. It was said of Garibaldi that he charmed all who got into his society. Being near Christ His love warms our hearts.
5. Exciting. The more we know the more we want to know.
IV. SEEK, THEN, THIS KNOWLEDGE.
1. It is worth having. Paul gave up everything for it.
2. There is nothing like this to fill you with courage. When Dr. Andrew Reed found some difficulty in founding one of his orphan asylums, he drew upon a piece of paper the cross, and then he said to himself, "What, despair in the face of the Cross;" and then he drew a ring round it and wrote, nil disperandum!
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;