This is what it means to be a Christian. Our vocabulary falls short in trying to describe the surpassing value of knowing Christ so we use metaphors and we use strong comparative language like loss, filth, rubbish. We’re reaching for words here. For the Christian, you have found Christ to be like that treasure hidden in a field or like the priceless pearl and in order to gain the treasure or the pearl, you looked at everything in your hands and said, this stuff is junk compared to the treasure of surpassing value that I’ve found in Christ. My money, my ambition, my dreams, my goals, my religion–I’ll give it all away, it’s all loss. I want nothing except to gain Christ.
9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ —the righteousness from God based on faith.
Here, Paul again shares his personal testimony before he met Christ. He tried so hard to be righteous on his own, by obeying the law and going to the synagogue week after week and teaching others, but when he met Christ, he realized that all of that effort, all of his supposed righteous acts were like filthy rags. Nothing he did could merit salvation. He had to surrender his life to Jesus and place his faith in Jesus and receive salvation as a gift. Paul gave his sins to Christ in exchange for Christ’s perfect righteousness through faith.
How do you know that someone has truly met Jesus and been saved? A Christian is clear about one thing, that the goal of life is to know Christ.
10 My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.
Christ has to be the goal, not church, not evangelism, not service, but Christ, knowing Christ. If He is the number one goal of your life, everything else–church, family, career–will fall into its proper place. When you hear a salvation testimony, things are crystal clear. Or when you think back to when you were first saved, I bet things were crystal clear back then in the moment. You confessed with your own mouth that Christ was your greatest treasure. You confessed that everything was a loss, filth, rubbish in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ. New Christians often go through a honeymoon phase when you are so thrilled to pray to Jesus and open your Bible and hear from him. And coming to a Bible study or coming to church to meet him was the highlight of your week.
But a strange thing happens as we live out our lives. The clarity we enjoyed when we were first saved gets blurry. We start losing our affection for Christ. Things in Christian life become more routine and you do things out of habit or just because it’s the right thing to do. You settle for religion, or church, or ministry instead of Jesus.
How can you know that a person is saved? You can know whether or not a person is saved by asking them a simple question. What is the goal of your life? For Paul, after he was converted, he had only one goal. My goal is to know Him, to know Jesus. Brothers and sisters, is this the goal of your life? Do you know and love him more today than you did when you first bowed the knee to Christ? Is knowing Jesus something you value? Is knowing Christ worth it to you? Is Jesus worth your time?
I believe Jesus is worth it. He loves you. He knows everything about you. He knows the number of hairs on his head. He knows all the sins you’ve committed in thought or deed. He knows everything about you–the good, the bad and the ugly. Yet he still loves you and he loves me and he always will. He died for you. He wants you and me to come and lay everything else down. Your sins, your burdens, your hopes, your dreams, your worries, your family, your career, your life. Compared to Christ, whatever is in our hands is not worth it anyway. You can have the whole world, but if you have not gained Christ, then you’ve lost everything. But if you lose everything in the world, but you have gained Jesus, then you have everything you need. Let’s pursue Jesus together as a church. To know Him, may that be the highest and only worthwhile goal for our lives. And once we know him, only then, can we go out and make Jesus known to the world.