by Nancy Taylor Tate
“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death.” Philippians 3:10
Due to the call of God on my dad’s life, I grew up on Bible school campuses. Though only a child, I was blessed to know the students and participate in some of their activities. One particular school encouraged the memorization of scripture, supper time being the time of practice. Table by table, we would go around the room competitively quoting from the book of Philippians. How wonderful to memorize scripture! I have always wondered if this is why I love the book of Philippians so much even today.
As Paul writes to the Philippian church, his letter is not long—only about four pages in most Bibles. Even so, Paul writes so personally, that the first person pronoun “I” is used at least one hundred times. Not composed as a defense or to correct problems in the church, this letter from Paul simply expresses his own desire for the Lord, as he also encourages the Philippian church in their walk and relationship with the Lord.
What is the cry of Paul’s heart? Let’s contemplate this: Paul was an apostle. He had a powerful conversion experience on the road to Damascus. He was caught up into the heavenlies where he saw things beyond expression. Yet, listen to his cry in Philippians 3:10: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death.”
Years ago, there was a man in our church who would often sing the song, “Lord, I Want to Know You More.” Tears would run down his face as he sang not just with his voice, but with his heart. Each time he sang, our hearts would be moved. He could not sing that song enough because each time it was a fresh cry coming from his own hunger for more of the Lord. As the Lord responded to that cry, in the midst of their communion, we all would be brought into a deeper presence of the Lord as our own hearts were being stirred for yet more of the Lord.
Such was the cry in Paul’s heart to know the Lord. Paul said, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:11). Paul wasn’t worried about not being saved or losing his salvation. Looking at this verse in the Greek you will see it means, “If by any means I might attain unto an out resurrection from among the living dead.”
Paul’s burning desire was to be lifted out from mere religious form into a living fellowship and identification with the Lord Jesus Christ. This inner desire for more of the Lord can never be satisfied through learning just facts or information about God. Nor can it be satisfied through religious ritual void of the presence of God.
We were created for fellowship with a living God. It is only through a growing, personal relationship with Him, as I gain knowledge of His heart and thoughts, that I can come to know His person—who He is. As daily, I am learning to discern His presence, I come to know what pleases the Lord and what grieves His Holy Spirit. Then, through identification with Him, as I am open to His working in my life, as He conforms me into His image and likeness, a greater understanding of the Lord is formed in me as every part of who I am is brought into greater unity with who He is.
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12
As with any relationship, knowing the Lord and becoming one with Him will increase over time as we maintain our poise of spirit toward Him. Through this increasing oneness of spirit, as we are brought into an identification with the Lord and His heart, we come into alignment not only with who He is, but with what He is doing. This opens the door for His purpose to be fulfilled in our lives in a greater way, that we might apprehend that for which we have been apprehended.
What is God’s will for our lives? First and foremost, it is that we would know Him. This is what salvation is all about! Not just a membership into heaven, but a growing relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Notice the wording in these verses:
“And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.” Mark 3:13-15
He went “up”—the call of God is always to come up into a higher dimension of living and relationship with Him. Then, He called whom He would, why? That they might be with Him! The call was to come and be with Him! We must come before we can do. So often our eyes catch the doing, without noticing the coming. It is from the coming that we can then do. He is the vine, we are the branches. Without Him we can do nothing! As my dad used to say, two times nothing is nothing! We cannot give what we do not have!
Once, someone asked me why a particular person had said something. I did not know, nor had I even known they had said it. But I had spent a lot of time with that person; I understood their way of thinking. So, I replied that if they had said that, it was probably because of reasons that I then explained. Later, I checked with that person to see if I was right. Absolutely! How did I know? From having spent time in their presence and coming to know them, their heart, their way of thinking.
My son, now an adult, was a beautiful baby. I could not have loved him more when he was first born. I adored him! Yet, as he grew and became a man, there came a fellowship that we now can have, a functioning together, that we never could have had if he had stayed in his original infant state.
Salvation is the first step of a beautiful, new relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, it is the Lord’s desire that we “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
The Lord is longing for us to grow up into Him, that we might become a part of who He is, a sample of Him in the earth today. We are called to be a witness, not to do witnessing (Acts 1:8). So often we see the do, and fall short of the being. From the being, will come a doing, but doing alone falls short of the call of God on our lives.
“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27
Imagine the heart of God, as He asked Philip, one of His very own disciples, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me…?” (John 14:9a)
In the Bible, from beginning to end, we see God’s desire to be known, for fellowship with man. In Genesis, the Lord, coming for fellowship, called out “Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) In Revelation, the Lord is standing and looking to see if anyone “hears” as He knocks on the door of the seventh day church that He might come in for personal communion (Revelation 3:18).
The call of God is always to come. The Lord has called us to be with Him, to know Him, that He might send us forth in His power, with His heart, and His way of thinking, as a witness or expression of Himself.
“Come now therefore, and I will send thee…” Exodus 3:10
“And he…calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him…that he might send them forth…” Mark 3:13-15
Lord, our hearts cry out for more of You. We want to know You more! In the power of Your resurrection. In the fellowship of Your suffering. Being made conformable to Your death. If in anything I am otherwise minded, would You show me, Lord? And change me?
Cause me to apprehend that for which I have been apprehended. Work within my life! Bring me up into an identity with You…who You are…what You are doing. I long to know You more!