lesson
13

Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Do we know Christ? 
Philippians 3:8-14

warm up
 

   1. Discuss the difference between knowing "about someone" and actually knowing them? 
   2. Is it possible to know about Jesus as the Lord yet never really become acquainted with him? Discuss.

wise up

In verse 8, Paul concludes that his losses could not compare to what he had gained in Christ. He chose to count all things loss "for the excellency (great worth) of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. The idea of knowledge in this text is not just knowing about Jesus but truly knowing him in the sense of experiencing him. We might ask ourselves: What will it cost to really know Jesus? Are we willing to "take up our cross and follow him?" What are the benefits? These are things we should take time to discuss.
Are we willing to lose everything...

I. That we may win Christ and be found in him?
Vs. 8-9

   1. As we noted in the previous lesson, Paul's own past success in terms of human heritage and achievement were discarded in order to gain (or win) Christ. Perhaps if we can learn to appreciate what it means to "win Christ," we too will be willing to make similar sacrifices. Discuss what we gain when we gain Christ? 
   2. Paul not only desired to "win Christ" but he also desired to "be found in him." (Vs. 9.) It is "in Christ" that that all spiritual blessing are to be found (Eph 1:3), including redemption (Eph 1:7.) Paul understood that his or anyone's attempt to obtain self-righteousness through merit or perfection in keeping of the law (of Moses) could never be achieved. (Romans 10:3.) No man, except Christ himself, ever kept the law perfectly. This is why the new covenant is superior to the old. (Hebrews 8:6-13.) The law of Moses was a kind of bondage (Galatians 4:24-25) which brought frustration (Galatians 2:21) and hardship. To gain Christ and to be "in Christ" was to clothe oneself in "Christ's righteousness." In sharp contrast to the false teachers that were attempting to bring Christians back under bondage, Paul taught that righteousness is not through the law (or Judaism) but through the "faith of Christ" (or Christianity).
   3. How dangerous is it to begin to think that we can achieve spiritual success and heaven by means of our own righteousness? Discuss some comparisons of  man's own attempt at righteousness compared to that which can be ours "in Christ." (For example: It is like rusty iron compared to stainless steel.)

Are we willing to lose everything...
II. That we may know Christ and the power of his resurrection?
Vs.10-11
   1.
Again the idea of "knowing Christ" has to do with experience and sharing and not just knowing factual information about him. Paul suggested this experience begins with sharing in the "power of  his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death." (Vs. 10.) This is an obvious reference to baptism. (Cf., Romans 6). We enter his death at baptism, crucifying the old man of sin and rise to walk in newness of life. In that symbolic way we "conform to his death."    
   2. While many want to know the Lord by sharing in his death, burial and resurrection, some fail to appreciate that knowing Christ also includes sharing in his sufferings. What sacrifices (sometimes painful) may one have to make in order to truly repent and follow Christ? Does cross bearing (Matthew 10:38) imply sacrifice and suffering?  
   3. In contrast  verse 11 makes reference to Paul's future "physical resurrection" which he states that he has not yet attained. When will that take place?

Are we willing to lose everything...
III. That we may apprehend that which Christ has apprehended us for?
Vs 12-14

   1. Paul understood that Christ had apprehended (captured or taken hold of) him for a purpose. (Specifically to be a "witness." Cf., Acts 26:16.) But in general, all Christians are apprehended for a purpose. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul said we are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works." As Christians, we have been pulled out of the darkness of the world and placed into Christ in order to run the Christian race. We have been apprehended by Christ but we have not yet apprehended the goal. (We don't have it made in the shade.) Yes, Christ has encircled us with his grace and loving arms but he is nudging us forward and pointing us in the direction that we must be willing to go. We are to stretch and press toward the finish line. We must seek to finish our course.
   2. Why is it important to forget what lies behind? (Vs. 13.) Can we rest on our past success? Can we allow failure to hinder us? Discuss Paul's terms of "reaching forth" and "pressing" toward the mark. Do those words imply effort and sacrifice? Discuss some of the things that faithfulness may require of us before this life is over? 
   3. What is your understanding of "the prize of the high calling of God?" In ancient times, those who crossed the finish line with success were given a crown to wear as their prize. Its value was in its honor. What is the finish line in our spiritual race? What is our honorable prize or crown? Will it be worth our effort?
   4. Discuss the dangers of thinking that you have already attained the goal or prize before you have crossed the finish line. 

wrap up

   1. To really know or experience Christ we must share in his sufferings as well as his righteousness. All these things are said to be "in Christ." 
   2. Are we willing to lose everything in order to be found "in Christ?" (Cf., Romans 6:3-4, Gal 3:27.)

Assignment

 Please read Philippians 3:15-4:1 for next week   copyright 2001