Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection…
All this week we are discussing the benefits of knowing Jesus. The third benefit will be the experience of God’s power.
Power means different things to different people. When I think of power I get several different pictures. I think of the 1979 tornado in Algona, Iowa that destroyed half of the town where we lived. I think of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina that I experienced firsthand when we travelled there with 20 people from our church to work with our sister church to rebuild homes. I remember the minor tremors of an earthquake I experienced in Alaska and wondered what a big one would be like.
My pictures of power usually come from nature, where power is mostly uncontrollable. Some of you may define power in terms of people, from powerful weightlifters to powerful politicians. For you, power is control – the control of things, the control of outcomes, and the control of people. Both concepts of power need to be considered and balanced. For power to be true power, it must be uncontrollable. For power to have any benefit to us it must be able to control things, outcomes, and people.
Paul writes that he wants to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. I believe he is asking to experience both the awesomeness of God’s power that cannot be controlled or duplicated by man, and the benefits of that power being at work in his life to control things, outcomes, and people – namely himself. Consider for a moment all these aspects of God’s power:
- Resurrection power is beyond our comprehension and control. God’s power raised Jesus from the dead. That alone would be significant enough, had it not been for the fact that by God’s power Jesus also raised other people from the dead. What makes the resurrection of Christ more powerful than the resurrection of Lazarus? Here’s one simple contrast – Lazarus was raised to his previous state. He would sin again and he would die again. But Jesus, after becoming our sin for us, and having been put to death by God as the total expression of God’s wrath against sin, was raised by God from that sin to newness of life, never to experience sin or death again but instead to reign over it. Praise be to God! God’s power is more than restorative power – it is transformational power.
- God’s power is controlled by His purpose, and that benefits us by controlling things and outcomes. When Jesus came to earth as man He was still fully God, yet the fullness of His power was brought under the control of God’s purpose. Man had no power to crucify Jesus except that it was granted to them by God for the accomplishment of His glory. Jesus defined Himself as meek, and the Greek word He used means “to have power under control.” It is God’s glorious purpose that controls His power, so that all things and all circumstances are being controlled to accomplish His outcomes.
- God’s power is able to control people. Our initial thoughts may not have been very pure when we first read that statement. We may have been guilty of thinking about other people and how they need to be controlled by God’s power. But we need to say what Paul said – “I want to know the power.” In other words, “How can the power of God control me?” If we fully understand and believe that the power of God is transformational as in #1 above, then we need to let His power transform us. We have not been raised with Christ to sameness of life, but to newness of life. We are not to identify with Lazarus in his resurrection, but with Jesus in His. When we seek to know Christ and His power in that way, then the flesh and all its sin is brought under the control of the power of God, we are empowered to accomplish the purpose of God.
The power of God that controls all things for His purpose also transforms us so that we become a part of His purpose. Every aspect of our flesh – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – can be controlled by the power and purpose of God.
Our transformation is not yet complete, as Paul explains a few verses later in Philippians 3 when he says, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” I’m sure we can all agree with Paul that we have not yet obtained all of God’s power, but can we also say with him that we are pressing on to get more of it every day? I hope so. It’s why Jesus took hold of us – so we could be completely transformed by His power.