“What it Means to Gain Christ”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Philippians 3.9-11
Philippians 3. You sit down with George who appears to begin to brag about his past, before it takes on a bizarre twist. “When I was in elementary school,” says George, “I played Monopoly obsessively. I played it so much, I was so good, that by the time I was in my teens, I was playing in international tournaments…and winning them! No one was as good as I was.”
“Wow, that’s impressive, George!”
“Well, kind of,” says George. “I literally became obsessed with it…. So much so that I began to fantasize about the money in the game.”
“What you mean?”
“Let me tell you,” explains George. “I began to try to use the money out in real life, at real stores! I thought that since I was so good at Monopoly I could take the money where ever I wanted and the stores would let me use it to purchase real items. I mean, I’m George! They should let me!”
“What would the cashiers do?”
“Well, if I were 6, they would have smiled. But I was 16. One time, I was in front of a long line, and the cashier laughed at me till my face turned red and I ran out crying. Another time, a cashier threatened to call the cops. I was terrified!”
“Do you still do that? If not, how did you change?”
“I finally realized that the money in Monopoly wasn’t going to do what I set out for it to do. I thought and I was and the fake money was valuable, but after multiple attempts, I realized it wasn’t! To change, I began to work on believing that my Monopoly money wasn’t going to cut it in the real world.
I counted it as rubbish and dung and that it would actually only get me into trouble if I clung to it! And then, I went out and got a real job and began living in the real world!”
Crazy! What would possess this guy to believe this?
But that’s a very similar belief that those who attempt to earn a righteous standing before God have. Those who seek to be right with God by their works are fools! They aren’t living in the real world. They may have grown up in a works-based religious system where they try to appease their god, but that’s just like trying to take Monopoly money to the store to buy something. It’s pointless…but even worse, it’s dangerous… it’ll get you into a lot of trouble.
At one point, Paul was this kind of fool. He looked at his privileges in life and his religious achievements as ways to earn favor with God. But when Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus and the great light shone around him and Paul committed his life to Jesus, he realized that his past religious heritage was nothing to depend on to earn favor with God.
So in chapter 3 Paul recounts his life about how he was always trying to hand Monopoly money to God, trying to pass to God his own righteousness in exchange for eternal life. But he gives it all up instead to gain Christ.
Read verses 3-11
Philippians 3:3–11 3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, 4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. 7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
In verses 8-11, Paul is looking back and telling us more emphatically why he gave it all up. … “more than that” he says, “I count all things loss.” “Don’t think I regret counting all things loss as means to earn favour with God, not at all. Even now I continue to think about my past achievements as nothing yes, even all things… all of it is like passing monopoly money before God.”
So, he’s lost it all, his whole life. But he’s gained Christ.
In verses 9-11, which is our text today, Paul explains to us what it means to gain Christ. Look at it, end of verse 8, Paul counts all things to be loss “so that he may gain Christ” verse 9 … and be found in Him.
The “and” I take, as is sometimes the case with that word, as giving us an explanation. “I’ve suffered the loss of all things so that I may gain Christ…let me tell you about what that means… I wanted to be found in Him perfectly verse 10…to gain Christ means also that I wanted to know Christ fully….and to gain Christ thirdly v.11 means that I knew that I have confidence in my future resurrection from the dead.
What we’ll find is that these verses are motivational for us to lose our lives and to continue to take up your cross daily and follow Christ.
To gain Christ is to be found in Christ perfectly (justification, v.9)
“So Paul, why did you give up your life of Monopoly-money righteousness?” “To gain Christ,” exclaims Paul. “Tell me about how that happened Paul…”
Sure, when I was on the road to Damascus, on my way to persecute some Christians, I lost my life for Christ when Christ found me… to gain Christ and as I look back I lost my life to gain Christ in order that I may ….ah…Philippians 3:9 9 …may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith….”
“Thank you Paul for sharing your past viewpoint.”
“To be found in Christ”… “In Christ”… those two words summarize the entire Christian life.
We have eternal life in Christ, we are alive to God in Christ, there is no condemnation for those in Christ, we labour in Christ, sanctified in Christ, fall asleep in Christ, and are raised from the dead in Christ.
“In Christ” summarizes the entire Christian life. What does it mean?
ILL: It’s like lost and found. Paul lost his life, all his credentials before God, everything. Well, where’s he going to be found now? If he lost it all, his life…where is he going to be found?
That’s why you can’t be found by Christ until you realize you’re lost!
We need to turn to Matthew 16:24–25 where Paul, perhaps, gets his understanding that he needed to lose his life for Christ … and if he did, what he realized he would gain.
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it [that was Paul, trying to pass to God his works-righteousness Monopoly money trying to save his life, but that’s dangerous because you’ll lose your life doing that….]; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. [that’s what Paul did, he lost his life for Jesus sake, he lost it to gain Christ…]
“Once I was lost but now am found!” Find yourself lost you’ll be found in Him! Christ lived the perfect life and is accepted with God; therefore, those who lose their life and rush headlong into Him will themselves be accepted with God.
And so that’s why back in Philippians 3:9, Paul makes a difference between his own righteousness and the righteousness which is through faith in Christ.
Paul found out the hard way that as Galatians 3:21 says, the law cannot give life; it’s worthless. The law cannot give life anymore than monopoly money can give wealth.
Only the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith is the ‘real money’ that actually saves.
TRANS: No more looking inside oneself for righteousness; each individual needs a righteousness outside himself, that comes from God. Why? Because as Isa. 64:6 says, all our righteous acts are as filthy rags, ready to be thrown away. So you need a righteousness from God, that’s not yours. How are we going to get that righteousness from God?
It comes through Jesus’ perfect life. Jesus came born of a woman born under the law…. And he perfectly fulfilled that law in his life and teachings. Perfectly Satan-resistant never ever having been stained by him one time. And so when He died on the cross, He died as a righteous man, perfectly acceptable to God.
That’s Christ. But we…those who believe into Christ and are found in Christ, we are “saved by his life” (Ro. 5:10). His life of righteousness credited to me!
This is what theologians call justification. Justification is where we are declared righteous before God. It’s a righteousness that comes from God; he gives it to us.
The righteousness that he gives us is the very righteousness of Christ. My sin laid on Jesus; Jesus’ righteousness laid on me. And so judicially, from a legal standpoint, he looks at me like he looks at his son. And that is because I am in Christ.
Now, this is not true for everybody. And it’s not true for those who go about trying to hand God Monopoly-money righteousness. The righteousness that comes from God is on the basis of faith. We only get Christ’s righteousness when we have saving faith.
And so that’s the real exchange; saving faith is the real currency, the real money. Like an exchange of money for goods, saving faith is the means by which we receive a righteous standing with God.
But that begs the question, what is saving faith? In this context, saving faith is renouncing any confidence in self and placing full confidence in Christ.
And so saving faith is not simply belief. There is a difference between saying, “I believe it will rain tomorrow” and “I believe Jesus is Lord.”
To say I believe it will rain tomorrow is to say that you have some sort of intellectual faith. You’re not going to change your life based on this.
There is also an emotional faith. Having some feeling of assurance, that’s not based on facts or evidence…, “Do you believe Jesus is Lord?” “Umm…yeah, that’s sounds right, ah … yea.” That’s an emotional faith.
But then there is saving faith. This kind of faith drives your will and is committed to changing your life. Saving faith in Christ counts everything to be loss except for Christ. Saving faith, as has been said, swings out over the mouth of grabbing a hold of the rope labelled Christ.
Saving faith in Christ shops the entire market for the best pearl and when he finds it, he sells all he has and buys that pearl. That’s saving faith.
And so saving faith changes the life… It doesn’t just say that Jesus Christ is Lord but produces a life that demonstrates that.
And when the saving kind of faith is exercised toward God to gain Christ, that person becomes righteous in God’s sight.
TRANS: “So Paul, you decided to put off passing that monopoly-money righteousness to God, lost your life and counted everything but loss, in order to gain Christ….
“And so Paul you’ve gained Christ …you are found in him not having a righteousness of your own, but that which is through faith in Christ.
“What else does it mean for you to gain Christ?”
“Well then” says Paul… “that was then, when I first trusted Christ, I look back and can see I counted everything loss and gained Christ, was found in Him, having His righteousness.
But now…today, if you want me to talk about my present life, gaining Christ has everything to do with knowing Him, to know Him fully.
“I have lost it all to gain Christ …. that is, to know Him fully.”
To know Him fully (sanctification; v.10)
Philippians 3:10 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
To know Him fully will empower us to be like Him. Whereas verse 9 speaks to justification, believers being declared righteous. Verse 10 speaks to our sanctification, believers growing in godliness.
To know him means to have an intimate, experiential knowledge of him. It is the pursuit and goal of the Christian life: to know Christ fully.
Not to know about Him. Someone who is saved, knows Him. And a Christian is someone who is growing in that knowledge of Him.
ILL: I know about a lot of people, famous people even. I know about the prime minister or the president of the US. But I don’t know them because we’ve never met and we don’t have an ongoing relationship. If some guy you meet on the street is friends with many of the richest people in the world…truly friends, that would change his life.
It’s the same with knowing Christ. If He has called me His friend, the most powerful righteous, loving, and kind person, then that will change my life. Christ will change my life, yes even more, He’ll change me from the inside out…as I know Him.
Paul teaches in Romans 6 that those whom God justifies, He sanctifies. Those whom He declares righteous, He empowers them to progress in Christlikeness. And the means by which we know Christ is the gospel of Christ as found in His word.
2 Corinthians 3:18 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Are you beholding His glory? Do you seek Him in His Word; are you changing? You can’t come face to face with Christ the Savior and be called a friend of Jesus without being changed!
We want to know Him that’s how we’ll grow. In particular verse 10 says, we need to know the power of His resurrection. That’s how we’ll grow!
Know the power of His resurrection
Jesus was raised from the dead in His body and that resurrection not only happened in history but Christ’s resurrection is active in believers today.
Flip over to Eph. 1. In Ephesians 1:18-20 Paul under inspiration of God, tell us that the power of Christ’s resurrection is directed toward believers today.
Paul is praying in verse 18…and he prays verse 19 that we would come to know the power of Christ’s resurrection…
Ephesians 1:19–20 [I pray that you would come to know] … what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. [“This power” is the idea is] in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead… [that’s the kind of power we’re talking about, resurrection power]
Paul is praying that we would come to know the power of Christ’s resurrection that is directed straight at us. Like an electric current empowering a machine, Christ’s resurrection power empowers believers.
And back to Philippians, this time chapter 2… to make this point … that power is working in us continually. Phil. 2:12-13…
Philippians 2:12–13 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Verse 13…God is at work…or literally, God is continually at work in you. It’s never ending for the believer, no interruptions in the power service, no power outages.
We constantly and continually have resurrection power directed right toward us.
And it’s that power that helps us to live for Christ.
Romans 6:4 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
It’s that resurrection power of Christ that is active in believers today to enable them to live the new life in Christ.
And so as we saw in Ephesians 1, Paul prays that we would come to know that power and in Phil. 3:10, he’s expressing that very desire that he may know Christ, to know the power of His resurrection.
TRANS: But you can’t have the power of the resurrection without suffering. Suffering is part of the Christian life. Those who have resurrection power have suffering. You can’t have the power of the resurrection without suffering anymore than you can have Easter without Good Friday. Suffering is required to accomplish the resurrection in Christ; and suffering is required for those who already know Christ’s resurrection power.
Know the fellowship of His sufferings, conformed to His death
That’s why Paul says at the end of verse 10, that he also desires to know the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.
But Paul just didn’t want to know suffering…he doesn’t enjoy pain for pain’s sake. He wanted to know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.
This is probably not going to be a church’s most popular fellowship time, you know…food and fellowship of His sufferings.
“Come on over, we’re having some good fellowship of His sufferings!”
But every believer experiences suffering. Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.
Paul pictures suffering as part of the Christian life. Just as it has been granted to a believer to believe, it has also been granted to him to suffer for the sake of Christ.
This is literally following Christ… Suffering is part of following Christ.
You know the sufferings of Christ. How they placed on him the crown of thorns and with his back, slapped Him and mocked Him…and they crucified Him. Sufferings!
And as we suffer for Christ we experience his fellowship. When we suffer, we move beyond just benefiting from His suffering, but we move into sharing it with Him, being conformed to His death…taking up the cross daily.
And if Christ learned obedience through suffering, so also we. However, we can’t expect to suffer like Christ did, especially in our climate.
But we do suffer. We suffer for Christ when we resist temptation, and struggle against sin, when we suffer persecution, or lose a job because of your testimony for Christ.
And when it gets hard, overwhelming, if you are in Christ and have died with Christ, remember you are alive with Christ. His resurrection power is filling you and empowering you to overcome in suffering.
We can’t do it in our own strength. Don’t forget…it’s first know the power of His resurrection and then be conformed to His death, knowing the sweet fellowship, the partnership of His sufferings.
And with the power of Christ’s resurrection flowing through you, anything in the power of Christ is possible for you!
TRANS: Gaining Christ is to be found in Him, having His righteousness. Gaining Christ is knowing Christ … specifically His resurrection power and through that power knowing the fellowship of His sufferings and being conformed to His death. “I die daily.” Dying to self everyday, His will not mine.
Now, the goal of both justification … being declared righteous before God … and sanctification … growth in godliness…the goal of both those is lastly this morning glorification.
Goal: to attain the resurrection (v.11)
Philippians 3:11 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Or more literally “if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
That Paul would experience the resurrection from the dead is certain, but how would experience it was uncertain.
Somehow he would experience the resurrection from the dead… But would he first die of natural causes, martyrdom, or would Christ return first? He didn’t know.
One thing he did know was that he would follow Christ into eternity. Just as Christ suffered and died and was raised from the dead, so also those who follow Christ will suffer and die and be raised from the dead.
And those in Christ are beneficiaries of his death are also sharers in his sufferings and are empowered by his resurrection every day to live as unto Christ.
And those in Christ will also one day be raised from the dead.
Paul says of the end of the chapter
Philippians 3:20–21 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Believers’ bodies at Christ’s return will be transformed to be like His body! That will happen when he raises us from the dead. We will rise like He did, have glorified bodies like He does, and we’ll be perfect like He is.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Philippians 3.9-11
The great enemy is death. Trust no one with your life who hasn’t proven his ability to conquer it.
Only Christ has proven himself to be able to conquer mankind’s greatest enemy: death. He alone holds the keys of death and hell and eternal life.
He will raise his people from the dead on that day and everyone who has this hope in himself…1 John 3 says… do you have that hope in you? Purify yourself even as Jesus is pure.
Let us endeavor to know Christ and be changed every day by Him.