Written and preached by David P. Nolte

2 PETER 1:5-11

There is true knowledge and there is so-called knowledge. Science once "knew" that the world is flat; that the earth is the center of the solar system, that the atom is the smallest indivisible particle; that eating tomatoes was deadly and that taking a bath in a tub would result in lunacy. Through true knowledge science, at least temporarily, eliminated polio, small pox, and other dread diseases. God wants us to add "true knowledge" as another building block of character. We see in 1 Timothy 2:4 that He "wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." And in 1 Timothy 6:20-21 Timothy is told, "Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith." Real, significant, lasting knowledge must incorporate knowledge of Jesus Christ. To develop that idea we must go to Philippians 3:8-11 where Paul speaks of the knowledge to which he would attain.
    1. There's a vast difference between knowing someone and knowing about them!
      1. We all know facts about others with whom we are not personally acquainted! Maybe some sport's hero or political figure.
      2. A man "knew" Abraham Lincoln but in reality had only "shook his hand!"
      3. Many can cite fact after fact about Jesus Christ, may believe in His historical existence but are yet strangers to Him for there is no relationship; they simply don't know Him!
    2. Paul knew Jesus personally! Yet his objective to know Him better and better and never quit knowing Him; to be related to Him, involved with Him, walking with Him, communicating with Him, identified with Him more and more! How do we get to know Jesus? Exactly as we get to know others:
      1. Spend time with Him, learning His traits, words and actions.
      2. Work with Him, sharing His tasks and purposes.
      3. Converse with Him but also listen to and learn from His word.
    3. A person can go to heaven without wealth, but not without Jesus; A person can go to heaven without fame, but not without Jesus; A person can go to heaven without health, but not without Jesus; A person can go to heaven without popularity, but not without Jesus; A person can go to heaven without success, but not without Jesus; A person can go to heaven without secular education, but not without Jesus. It is essential to know Him for life here and hereafter.

It was Paul's, and it should be our, objective to know Christ- personally and intimately.

    1. He knew that Jesus was alive; he met Him on the Damascus road! He wanted to experience the dynamic, the power, the glory that caused the resurrection! It took immense power to raise Jesus from the dead.
    2. Paul wanted an experience with God's resurrection working power! But, what does that mean? How does that happen? Is that resurrection power available to believers today? Listen to Paul:
      1. Ephesians 2:5-6 (NLT) "But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's special favor that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ."
      2. Romans 6:4 (NLT) "For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives." That's the power of resurrection.
      3. Ephesians 3:16 (NLT) "I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit."
      4. Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) "Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.
      5. And, beyond this life, our resurrection to heavenly bodies.  1 Corinthians 15 and 2 Corinthians 4:14.
    3. One thing we all find aggravating is to try to start our car and we only hear a weak "click" of the solenoid. The first thing I do is check for corrosion on the battery terminals. If they are corroded, power doesn't get through to the starter. The corrosion acts as an insulation. Many times there is corrosion in our life: things like pride, hate, fear, doubt, lust will corrode our hearts and keep God's power from flowing. To surrender our lives to Him lets the power flow.

It was Paul's, and it should be our, objective to know the power of Christ's resurrection.

    1. You've got to be kidding! We want insulation from suffering! We demand instant relief: air conditioning in summer and heat in winter and Tylenol when we hurt. We want relief, not suffering, and we want relief now!
    2. This is not "Good News For Modern Masochists!" Paul did not simply want to suffer but to know the fellowship, the kinship, and personal identification with Christ even in suffering! He saw that as a privilege.
      1. Philippians 1:29 (NLT) "For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him."
      2. 2 Timothy 2:3 (NLT) "Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus."
      3. There is a certain fellowship, a kinship, a bonding, a unity, a commonality in suffering! Paul wanted to know Christ so well that he even suffered what Christ suffered whether it be ostracism, rejection, mistreatment, or even death!
    3. A missionary in Madras, India, encountered a little Christian girl who was a devoted witness for Jesus. He saw that her face, neck and arms were horribly scarred - scars she had received from many beatings for speaking for Jesus. He asked, "Child, how could you stand that brutality?" She replied, "Aren't you glad if you can suffer for Christ, sir?" If one is true to the Savior, we might experience ridicule, exclusion, and harsh treatment - but that's fellowshipping with Christ in suffering.

It was Paul's, and it ought to be our, objective to know the fellowship of Christ's suffering.

    1. Christ's death was by crucifixion! Paul must have had something like that in mind! What is there about Christ's death to which we must conform?
      1. Christ died on a cross, so Paul must have that in mind. He means living a life of sacrifice, and suffering if need be.
      2. Christ died willingly, so we must be willing to submit to whatever cross God may allow us to experience.
      3. Mark 8:34 (NLT)  "If any of you wants to be My follower," He told them, "you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow Me." Bearing our cross involves willingly dying with regard to
        1. Satan and his deceit! 
        2. Sin and rebellion against God!
        3. The world, its influences and standards!
        4. The flesh with its self seeking passions!
    2. How might we experience conformity to Christ's death? Paul gives us several clues:
      1. Romans 6:6 (NIV) "For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin."
      2. Galatians 2:20 (NIV) "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me."
      3. Galatians 5:24 NIV) "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."
      4. Galatians 6:14 (NIV) "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."
      5. We are called to die, to be unaffected by and unresponsive to, sin and the sinful nature, the world and its influences.
    3. James Calvert went out as a missionary to the Fiji Islands. He was going to work among the cannibals. The captain of the ship that carried him, urged him to return home. "You will lose your life and the lives of those who go with you if you go among such savages." Calvert replied, "We died before we came here." He was crucified with Christ, and was conformed to the likeness of Christ's sacrificial death.

Paul had a consuming desire to know Jesus Christ intimately even through suffering and sacrifice. He knew whatever the cost it would result in a crown! If he knew Christ, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering and conformity to His death he would attain eternal life. That is a promise to all who know Jesus Christ in a personal, saving way! Knowing Jesus as Lord now means we will know His salvation eternally! If we live with Him here, we'll live with Him hereafter! Knowing Him is more than a handshake affair; it's more than believing facts; it's more than making a glib confession! It is to obey Him and serve Him as Lord! Really knowing Him is being, giving, doing, and living all for Jesus! How is it with you today? Are you strangers or friends? Are you aliens or family? If you're all for Jesus you'll find that He's all for you! And that is the greatest of all things to know.

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