For the past three years, the theme for our Sunday School work has been “Embrace the Vision, Embrace the Word, Embrace the Work. Vision is more than just recognition. Vision is manifested by the action it prompts. And the initial action is to “Learn of Me” — Jesus’ own words (Matthew 11:29).
Paul said in Philippians 3:8-11: “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, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
What a desire; what a determination Paul had to “know Christ.” He expressed it so strongly – “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.” This is the” excellency of the knowledge of Christ,” the only thing that can lead to the ultimate goal: “being made conformable unto his death;” and to be able to partake of the resurrection.
We must not seek to know about Christ, but to experience Christ – up close and personal. What is the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. It’s that blessedness which comes through the Gospel of Jesus Christ – new birth, sanctification and indwelling of the Holy Ghost.
It is tempting to stop and celebrate knowing Him and the power of His resurrection, but we must continue on to know the fellowship of his sufferings.
When the two disciples’ mother came to Jesus (Matthew 20:23) seeking a special favor for her sons — “Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom — Jesus said you don’t know what you’re asking. To the disciples, he said, “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.”
His answer was “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.”
Many want the power of the resurrection and desire to sit in high places with God, but not the suffering part – not to drink of “my cup.”
I am overwhelmed when I think of that “cup.” But Christ said, “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with …” As I write this, I am overcome with tears because I am unable to express the depths of drinking of His cup. I pray that you to feel the moving of the Holy Ghost in bringing you to the full realization of its meaning. I can’t allow myself to be casual in proclaiming a knowledge of my Savior anymore. When I partake of the cup of communion, I have to know and accept all that it means. Drinking of “my cup” is not a ritual, but an ordinance not to be taken lightly. In doing this, we say, “I will drink of this cup which you drink of.” Oh, God, am I able? Oh, my Lord, I want to know You.”
Let’s look at 1 John. The word, “know,” appears 39 times in this book – eight times in Chapter 5. Let’s examine the meaning: To perceive with certainty, understand clearly, to have a clear and certain perception of truth, fact or anything that exists. To know a thing precludes all doubt or uncertainty of its existence. To have full assurance of, to distinguish; to be no stranger to.
I read that last phrase again: “To be no stranger to.” We have different levels of “knowing” people. Some are good friends. We share confidences, we talk often, eat together, cry or laugh together – in other words, we share life. Others we know in passing with a wave, a smile, a handshake, or maybe a hug if a little closer. Some we see infrequently, but still count as friend, even if not speaking for some months or years. And then there are strangers that we may nod to. But to Christ, I don’t want to be a stranger.
On what level do we put Jesus? Paul said, “That I may know him …” The more we know Him, the more we love Him, and the more we love Him, the more we become like Him.
The Word exhorts us “to learn.”
Isaiah 1:17: Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plea for the widow.
Deuteronomy 17:19: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
Deuteronomy 31:12-13: Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
Titus 3:14: And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.
The reason: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31).