We have to know the character of the God who makes the promise. We also have to know why we get involved with him in the first place. It is fine to say God is good, but why does He care about me and why should I respond to him at all.
Religion is not common these days. Throughout many centuries of history, the church has ruled and reigned. Mostly, the church determined the character of society. The church as an organization became arrogant, doctrinaire and cruel. Church leaders ruled like kings, often corrupt and judgmental; controlling an uneducated society with fear and disinformation about God and his character.
There were, of course, many good leaders, true shepherds that brought relief and solutions to the hurt and harshness of brutal times when state and church mercilessly used the ordinary people to their own advantage without any consideration to life and family. In the Middle Ages the church was a beacon of aid and assistance to the community. The convents and monasteries provided shelter and food to travellers and outcasts. Many children, abandoned by poor parents or young unmarried mothers, often conceived in rape and abuse, were raised by monks and nuns.
It was the church and the basic principles of the Gospel that tackled the big questions like slavery and fought for its abolishment. It was a long process of putting the ordinary man in the spotlight that gave the world the Charter of Human Rights. It is, after all, the man Jesus, that moved the spotlight to the common and the castaway of the society in which He was born.
The post-modern society is antagonistic or even worse, untouched and unmoved by church. Man belongs to himself and do not need the “protection” of religion. Religion is created and gods are invented according to the whims and will of desire. Philosophy and laws serve as the base of community constitution. The church is attacked and insulted. To top it all, horrific abuse and exploitation were exposed in the organization that was supposed to bring love and grace to the desperately needy. Clumsy hypocrisy twisted the life-giving message of the Gospel and diluted the significance of the life of Jesus and his death.
However, God is active in his church and will never abandon something that belongs to him. He reveals sin, as He has always done and provides the means to cleanse his people by the blood of Jesus. The true church is the invisible body of believers whose hearts are stayed on God and his Word. It is the remnant of the Old Testament. According to the promise, God reveals himself to those who seek him. Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near, cries the prophet Isaiah; words that reverberate over many centuries.
It is in seeking God that we turn again to the excellence of Philippians. What is our goal in all this?
Take a moment to truly hear the words of Philippians 3:10,11 in the Amplified translation.
10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly],
and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]
11 That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].
These few lines are well worth a second and maybe some very focused reading. It states the purpose of life and the single-mindedness of Biblestudy. Our intimate knowledge of God brings us to a resurrection from death while still in this life and body.
It brings us out of death into life while living.
We are resurrected from the evil and dead works of a broken world to reign with Jesus with love and grace, only possible by his Spirit. When we sincerely know the character of God, the One who loves us, we have something to give, so extraordinary and unique that we fight with counter-intuitive measure on all fronts.
We are not exempt from trouble. We have to handle tragedy, death, disease, divorce, deception, financial ruin, disaster and destruction, only we get to live from the Source of all spiritual and emotional power – God who heals and restores everything. Nothing is impossible for him who loves us with an everlasting love.
The Greek word that is used here for KNOW is ginoskein, which is used in the Old Testament for sex. The physical act of sex is the most intimate relationship possible and should be the climax of a loving bond between two people. No wonder that the agenda of all human relationships deprecate and belittle the importance and significance of sex. The physical relationship between two people liaise on the spiritual level as well as the physical and intellectual. It embraces the entire human experience.
Our relationship with Jesus brings us to life in its fullest and most meaningful sense. It is the essence of a Christian life– death and resurrection. The desires and worldview of the current secular community dies in the decision to follow Jesus. We are resurrected with him into a new life, wiping the slate clean.
It is the symbolism of baptism.
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3,4)
Life is the substance of our existence. Without life there is nothing. God is the source of life. Life is nothing without death. Death is the guarantee that there is life and that life is special. Therefor one can say that victory over death is the highest life there could ever be. Life from death, rebirth, is God’s gift to us.
Life is holy and comes from God alone. Life is not only physical. It is so much more, deeper and comprehensive. Our physical bodies are just the exterior of our inner being. Our innermost life, which includes belief systems and our worldview from which flow our decisions, emotions and relationships, determine what others see and experience. It is our character that makes us who we are.
Without God this core of our being is dead and “live” in the dead works of this world. It is only by rebirth through the Cross of Jesus that our inner being is reborn by the Holy Spirit, God breathing into our dead bones.
Jesus often referred to death as sleep. He told the people Jairus’ daughter is asleep and said to his disciples that he is going to wake Lazarus up.
“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:14)
Jesus is the source of our life. It is only in him that we can live the miracle that is explained here:
…that I may become deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly…
Get up! Rise from the dead! Vivit – He lives. You live in him – that is life to the fullest – a life of excellence.
The result of this intimate knowledge and relationship with Jesus:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (John 14:12)
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)