“that I may know Him”
To know Christ is the greatest pursuit to ever press toward. Wondrously, as we come to know Christ, we come to know even the Father by Him; for Christ is the express image of His person. Christ is our life and to know Him is life. The tendency is to think, “to know Christ is my utmost aim”, yet, with sincere examination, we oft see that this is not our actual mark.
Numerous obstacles factor into this dismal pursuance of knowing Christ. Failing to read the scriptures, forsaking the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, and slothfulness in studying God’s Word can individually or collectively influence our ignorance of Christ. Yet, I speak of a more subtle matter that lurks behind the knowledge of the Bible we already possess. This problem is masked behind all that we do know about the scriptures. The dilemma is that we can know much about God, but not know Christ. I speak of a reading, a studying of God’s Word, a focus on things in scripture that culminate to Bible knowledge – Bible data that is void of knowing Christ.
How can this be? If I know the in’s and out’s of creation, do I not know the Creator? If I know the intricacies of the end times, do I not know the prophecies? If I know dispensational distinctions with sheer clarity, do I not know God’s plan throughout the ages? Of course these things are important and must not go unnoticed or undone in our understanding; we, therefore, must not criticize their proper place. Yet, it is their, and certain other things, proper place we must recognize.
The Measure of Weightier Things
During Christ’s time on earth He cursed the Pharisees for their omission of the weightier things of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith – magnifying improperly the lesser things of the tithe of mint and anise and cummin. An inappropriate balance, an imbalance of certain things classified them as hypocrites by the Lord. Weightier things? All of His things are weight, are they not? Even the tithe? His things are weightier compared to the world; however, when one compares His things of weight – some are weightier. In Matthew’s account of Christ’s pronouncement of woes upon the Pharisees we learn some things that He characterizes as, weightier things of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. Do not these teach others more about God than the tithes? The Pharisees omitted these things and such omission would grant proclivity to omit the express image of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith – the One that stood, speaking to them these things – Jesus Christ.
The Pharisees were the example of their day of knowing some of God’s things without knowing God. They missed the point of those things that stood before them in the Son of God. Rejection of the weightier matters would lead to a rejection of God in the flesh – the Lord of glory.
The Pharisees were not the only one’s guilty. If it weren’t for the patience of the risen Christ the disciples and apostles would not have understood either. We read in Luke that Christ preached Himself and expounded the scriptures, the things concerning Himself, for they knew not the things that witnessed to Christ in the law and the prophets. The scriptures He expounded were the law, the prophets, and the psalms. All along the disciples had access to these scriptures and knew them well enough to identify the Christ and follow Him, but they did not know the weightier things, that, the Word was made flesh to suffer to enter into His glory.
The quandary is this: those declared righteous in Christ can know so much without knowing Christ. We must, with the eyes of understanding, see that His things teach us and expound unto us – Him.
- If all we see is the promise of the redemption of our body, without seeing that our vile body will be fashioned like unto His glorious body – we know, but we do not know Christ.
- If we know dispensational distinctives without seeing that it is for God’s eternal purpose in Christ – we know, but we do not know Christ.
- If we understand our resurrection before the time of tribulation on this earth without understanding that we are to meet the Lord in the air – we know, but without Christ.
- If we possess a selflessness in our mind without possessing the mind of Christ – we know, but without Christ.
The danger is real, knowledge puffeth up. We can possess a knowledge of God, but hypocritically abuse it by omission of the weightier things. The Lord follows up with the Pharisees that they should not have omitted the weightier things, yet, they also should not have left the others undone. Therefore, we dare not classify these things unimportant to leave them “undone” in our understanding and actions, but they are lesser in their weight than weightier things.
The Corinthians possessed much knowledge that Paul had taught them concerning God and Christ; however, they gave more weight to the things of the world – its’ wisdom, fashion, prestige, etc. Nevertheless, their problem was fundamentally the same as the Pharisees, that is, they did not glorify the weightier things of God. The little knowledge they did acknowledge puffed them up instead of effectually working in them – Christ.
Paul’s endeavor in Philippians chapter 3 is to declare that our worship of God is to know Christ by the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. Such excellent knowledge has the capacity to produce His righteousness in our lives. The faith of Christ not only provided the imputation of God’s righteousness without the deeds of the law for our justification, but also for the righteousness of the law to be fulfilled in us when those in Christ walk after the Spirit in sanctification. Yet, such righteousness in the spirit isn’t simply for righteousness sake, but that we may know Him. As we walk after the Spirit, by minding His things by the Word of God, and prove those things in our life, thus the fruits of righteousness fill us and effectually work through us – we come to know Him.
Knowledge to Life
To know Christ necessitates being for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. Wherefore, we are to learn Him through the reading and studying of the Word of God, yet knowing Him doesn’t end in the mind. Knowing Him is to live out those things in the Word of God to manifest His character and glory in and through us. Therefore, Christ is to be our life, unto abundance of joy and power in whatsoever state we find ourselves.
Knowledge that Passes Knowledge
To know Christ as we ought passes where our knowledge of Him ends. In other words, to know Him as Paul speaks to the Philippians is to experience Christ as our wisdom. Christ is our wisdom when we apply His mind in decisions we make, situations we face, and relationships we are in. He is made unto us wisdom provisionally, but we know Him intimately when we exercise that wisdom as a proof of the provision. Therefore, when we learn the knowledge of Christ, for instance, to be “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” we know in measure Christ’s diligence, fervency, and singleheartedness to the Father when God by these things works in us not only to will, but also to do of His good pleasure. We pursue knowing Christ in order to “win Christ”, to know Him beyond what this necessarily ought to be in our minds, to wit, have the Word be manifest in our flesh. Know Him that it may be true of you, that is “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.”
Press, beloved – press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, set your affection on things above, and let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher