KNOWING JESUS IN THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION
By Mark E. Hardgrove, D.Min.
Text: Philippians 3:7-11
What have you had to give up, to sacrifice, to become a disciple of Jesus Christ? Some will answer, “It didn’t cost me anything. Jesus paid it all.” Yet, in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 14, Jesus tells the parable of a builder who started building a tower but couldn’t finish it because he failed to calculate the cost of completing the project. Jesus asks:
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, (NKJV)
What does Jesus ask us to give up to become His disciple? He went on to say in verse 33, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” So what does it cost us to become a disciple? It requires that we surrender everything for Him. Salvation is bought and paid for, but discipleship costs us something.
In our opening text, Paul tells us that the things he once considered important, he now counts as loss for Christ. Indeed, he said that he counted “all things” loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, for whom he had suffered the loss of all things, and counted them as rubbish, compared to the prospect of being a disciple of Christ.
Paul was willing to lay aside everything and anything that once meant so much to him, so that he could come to know Jesus Christ better, more intimately, and more spiritually. In fact, Paul says that what was once important, he now considers as rubbish when compared to the righteousness that he now desires to know and experience in Christ.
Paul’s words are dripping with passion and persuasion as he challenges us all to consider where we place Jesus on our list of life’s most important things. Where does the righteousness of Christ fall on our list? Does He come first, or have we shuffled the lineup and now have Jesus batting second or third. Does Jesus have to wait in line for other more important things in our lives before we are able to turn our attention to Him?
There is no question about Paul’s list. Jesus is number one. Not only is Jesus number one, but for Paul, Jesus is the only one. Everything else is rubbish.
Out of this passion, one almost feels the hunger and the thirst of Paul for more of Jesus in His life. Paul’s desire is to be more like Christ—not through works, or through law, but “through faith in Christ.” In short, Paul is saying, “The more I believe in Jesus, the more I put my faith in His Words and my life in His hands, then the more of His righteousness will be found in me.” This is righteousness, right conduct, right living, right standing with God that is “from God by faith.”
This brings us to verse 10. Paul’s passion was for both this life, and the life to come. Paul’s desire was to live the Christ-life here and now, so that He could have the assurance of life beyond the grave. Paul had tasted of the firstfruits of the resurrection of Jesus, and nothing less than the fullness of that miracle in his own life would suffice.
When we think about the resurrection of Jesus, we need to think about what it means for us. His resurrection was the firstfruits, the sample and the example of what we have been promised. This was Paul’s goal and nothing in this life was going deter him. There is nothing that compares, nothing in this world, nothing in this life, that is worth sacrificing eternal life for.
Paul expresses his heartfelt desire in this verse:
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Notice how Paul phrases this desire. He doesn’t start with suffering and death and then resurrection from the dead. Instead, Paul begins with resurrection power, then proceeds to suffering, death, and resurrection from death. Paul’s desire is to know Jesus here and now, before suffering, before death, but to know Jesus in resurrection power first. If you know that power, then you can face those sufferings, and you can conform even to that death.
How did the disciples submit to martyrdom? How could they make the supreme sacrifice? They could do it because they began with resurrection power. They didn’t wait until they were in the middle of the storm try to pray down a rainbow. They didn’t wait until they were in the arena with the lions lunging towards them, and then try to conjure up faithfulness. They didn’t wait until their church was dead and then try to pray down a revival. They didn’t wait until their children were sinking in sin before they began to fast and intercede. No sir! Like Paul, they started their journey with resurrection power.
I) RESURRECTION POWER REVEALED
Resurrection power existed prior to that first Easter morning. The power to raise life out of death, to raise hope out of hopelessness, to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat . . . resurrection power has always been in God’s arsenal.
In the Old Testament, we have the record of three individuals who were raised from the dead. The first was the widow’s son, recorded in 1 Kings 17, the second was the Shunammite’s son in 2 Kings 4, and the third was the man who was revived when he touched the bones of Elisha in 2 Kings 12:21. Resurrection power was already at work. In fact, others were aware of this power. The Psalmist said in Psalm 16:9 and 10:
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (NKJV)
Likewise, Job had this assurance when he said in chapter 19, verses 25 through 27:
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! (NKJV)
Excluding Jesus, the New Testament records the resurrection of five people. First, there was Jairus’ daughter in Matthew chapter 9. Second, there was the young man of Nain, recorded in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 7. Third, there is the record of Jesus raising Lazarus in John chapter 11. Fourth, we have the record of Dorcas being raised in Acts chapter 9, and fifth, we read of Eutychus being raised in Acts 20.
Resurrection power was resident within Jesus. After Lazarus died, Jesus and His disciples came to Bethany where He was met by his friend and sister of Lazarus, Martha. Martha knew that Jesus had healing power. She said, “Lord if you had been here, he would not have died.” But Jesus was not limited by death. Jesus told her, in verses 25 and 26, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said, “Yes, Lord, I believe.”
Look at what Jesus said. He didn’t say that believers would never die. What Jesus said was that while the body may pass for a while, the tent may have to be taken down and folded up for a time, the spirit within the believer, the life force that was breathed as spirit into the nostrils of Adam, will never die. Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Because Jesus is the resurrection and the life, death has lost its sting, and the grave has lost its victory.
When Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus, after the man had been dead for four days, Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Then Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth.” And when Jesus spoke those words, the dead man got up.
II) RESURRECTION POWER RELEASED
The power was always there, and God would occasionally break it out to make a point and to demonstrate His power over death, hell and the grave, but that power was released in small doses. It was like giving an aspirin for a headache, but it was by prescription only.
Something changed, however, on the third day. Jesus told Mary, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He gave a taste of that power at Lazarus’ tomb, but when Jesus came up from the grave, it was a whole new expression of God’s power, and a whole new experience for human existence. On the third day, after laying lifeless for three days and two nights . . . on the third day, when hell was having a party thinking they had defeated Jesus . . . on the third day, when the disciples were hiding behind locked doors . . . on the third day, on a Sunday, resurrection power found its source. Death and hell had to back off and make room. The devil was defeated and the stone had to get out of the way, because resurrection power was released in the body of Jesus. This was different. This wasn’t for a moment, this wasn’t for awhile, this wasn’t just to make a point. This was forever. This was the release of resurrection power, not only in the body of Jesus, but in the body of Christ, the church. God released resurrection power into His church.
Despots and wicked rulers tried to kill the church, but the church wouldn’t die. It was operating in resurrection power. Believers were fed to the lions and wild dogs to entertain the crowds. They were imprisoned, and stoned. They were cast out, cast down, beaten and burned, but two-thousand years later the church of God is still alive as a witness to resurrection power. It is no wonder, then, that Paul would have such a passion to know Christ in the power of His resurrection.
I don’t have to worry about tomorrow. I don’t have to fret about the future. I don’t have to wait until the world is crumbling around me and then try to pray down a miracle. All I have to do is be willing to put Jesus first in my life, to recognize His priority over me, and to put my faith in Him. His promise is that He will supply the power.
We won’t find resurrection power in front of a television set. We won’t find resurrection power by putting entertainment, sports, hobbies and habits before God. Resurrection power won’t be found in the little league rule book or the golfer’s handbook. We will not have access to resurrection power if we put anything ahead of Jesus. And just for the record, there are far too many preachers and pastors who have put their ministry ahead of Jesus. My ministry is not my God, but my God is the Lord over my ministry.
Paul said, “I . . . count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Our problem in the church today is that we want resurrection power on Cliff’s Notes prayers. We want resurrection power on one-hour worship, distracted devotion, and one watered down word. We want resurrection power but we don’t want to give up anything to get it. Paul said “I count it all as waste, as refuse, as rubbish, compared to the burning desire within my heart to really know Jesus in His righteousness and in His resurrection power.
III) RESURRECTION POWER REALIZED
I think that the reason we have so many weak Christians, ineffective preachers, dying churches, and empty altars is that we have no real hunger for resurrection power. We have no hunger for it, because we have counted the cost and we think it costs too much. Want the power, but we aren’t prepared to make any sacrifices to gain it.
I believe, and I believe this for my own life, that if we could really grasp this concept the way that Paul did, then we would find that this is the pearl of great price, something worth the sacrifice of everything. This power, this resurrection power that Jesus released on that first Easter morning is the atomic bomb of spiritual warfare.
Resurrection power is the power of life, of renewal, of revival and of restoration. Resurrection power is a holistic concept. The effects of resurrection power can be found in relationships, in finances, in bodies, and in churches. In every aspect of life resurrection power has the potential to produce profound effects in the life of the believer.
After Jesus’ resurrection, He found the disciples fishing. John’s Gospel, chapter 21, tells us that they had toiled all night and caught nothing.
That is a powerful illustration of many ministries. You have done your best, you have given your all, you have labored through the night, and still you come back empty handed. But when resurrection power is present, all that changes.
Jesus told them to cast the net on the other side of the boat, and when they did, everything changed. They caught more that one moment of faith and obedience, than they had caught all night on their own. What would you give for power like that?
Resurrection power will work in our business, in our finances, and in our investments. But it doesn’t come by naming and claiming, or buying a special anointing cloth, or sending money to a some TV preacher. Resurrection power comes from total commitment to Christ.
Resurrection power will work in your relationships. Peter had broken his promise to Jesus and had denied Jesus three times. He may have been ashamed and afraid to face Jesus again, but resurrection power restores relationships. Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples the first time Jesus appeared. Where was he? Why wasn’t he with the other disciples? We don’t know, but we know that he was there the next time. Resurrection power has a way of reconciling relationships and healing the hurts.
Resurrection power brings healing. Jesus still bore the scars and the marks of His suffering and His crucifixion. He told Thomas, “Look at the nail prints in my hands, and thrust your hand into the wound in my side.” We can extend that to include the stripes on Jesus’ back. The prophet Isaiah said, “By His stripes we are healed,” and then Peter said, “By His stripes we were healed.”
I could go on and speak of resurrection power in spiritual warfare. Like Job, when the enemy is trying to pull our world down around us, we don’t have to quit or give up, because we know that our redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. We know that our own eyes, our resurrected eyes, shall behold Him.
When resurrection power becomes as much of a priority to us as it was to Paul, we will not fear to suffer with Christ, and we will not even fear death itself because we know that resurrection power does not end when we pass. But when that trumpet sounds, and the angel shouts, resurrection power will find us, and will we shall be raised up to meet our Lord in the air. The same power that raised Christ from the dead shall also quicken our mortal bodies.
Resurrection power was a priority for Paul, is it for me? Is it for you? It isn’t when Jesus gets shuffled down to the bottom of our list and prayer and reading His word is secondary to television and sporting events. Resurrection power is not a priority if we put a greater premium on our career, our business or even our ministry than we do on Jesus.
As I wrote this sermon, I felt the passion of Paul and the Holy Spirit convicted me for my failure to put the righteousness of Christ and resurrection power at a place of prominence in my life. The truth is that everything else is just garbage by comparison. What is a man profiteth if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul?