That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; – Phil. 3:10 KJV
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The Devotional today continues to take a deeper look at the attempt of the Apostle Paul to encourage the brethren in Philippi and by inference, all believers to remain in the faith irrespective of the persecution they may experience and whatever carnal advantages may be used to lure them away from the path of Salvation. He had started out in the first few verses of the third chapter of his letter to the Philippians, letting them know that some people who claim to be worshippers of the Almighty God must be related with cautiously, as not doing so may make the individual or group become enemies of the Almighty God – Phil. 3:1-2.
He went further to argue against the points being raised by antagonist of the Faith which, in addition to the obvious pain resulting from the persecution that the believers, including the Apostle Paul, were going through, had the potential of discouraging them from further progressing in the Faith. In his argument, the believer was indeed the truly circumcised one as though, they may not have been circumcised in their foreskins, but were surely circumcised in their heart. Also, the believer was indeed the true worshipper of the Almighty God as such was the one who was worshipping Him in Spirit and had Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. His final argument which addressed the use of the weapon of possibility of owning material possessions to lure the believer, was based more on the fact that indeed a true Christian would be expected to have risen above such baits, as they are not expected to attach any significant and over-riding importance to carnality – Phil..3:3.
In the foundation scripture for today’s Devotional, the Apostle Paul takes his time to list what the priority of the believer should be. Using himself as an example of one who had all the reasons to place confidence in Flesh, he told of how he disregarded all the so called advantages that he possessed by virtue of his birth, education and vocation and how instead, he chose to know and develop the following areas of his relationship with God. These points should also be the major areas of focus for the Christian who intends to be as successful as the Apostle Paul was, with his Christian life and they are as follows;
- He chose to improve on his knowledge about Jesus Christ. The major tool that even the Almighty God acknowledges as the cause of destruction of His people is knowledge deficit – Hos. 4:6. Unfortunately, not many Christian leaders today emphasize programs that improve the knowledge of their members. Revivals and vigils are constantly arranged where people who have not been thought on how to pray properly babble words that have no meaning or any impact in the spiritual realm – Lk. 11:1-13. More progress would have no doubt been made towards enhancing the growth of the Christian if seminars and educational platforms where quality knowledge is disseminated is made available to help the believer. It is simply impossible for anyone to be successful in a venture without been properly introduced into it and the Christian life style is not an exemption. The response of the Ethiopian eunuch to the enquiry of Phillip made it obvious that it was not about zeal but about proper indoctrination – Acts 8:26-40. A people that lack knowledge will always be living on the edge when it comes to retaining their faith amidst trials and persecution. At such times, prayer may help but it has to be on the foundation of knowledge. Little wonder the bible confirms that the prayer of God’s people is not answered because they ask amiss – Jms. 4:3. The only process that can build the Christian up to develop ability to resist the ever present temptations and trials of life, and thus avoid back-sliding, is the one that provides knowledge. There is nothing wrong with all those revivals and vigils but without a proper foundation of true knowledge, all will be a waste of time. Be greedy for the right knowledge about Christianity and you are almost assured that you will be able to withstand whatever wind of doctrine that may be threatening your faith.
- He chose to have a better understanding about the Power behind the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is still further emphasizing the role of knowledge. The truth is that insufficient knowledge of what is available to the Christian in terms of spiritual ability is what makes most Christians depart from the Christian faith when seeking solution to life challenges. The power of resurrection remains the ultimate that proved the omnipotent nature of our God. The devil simply could not prevail against it – 1Cor. 15:55-56; Eph. 4:7-9; Col. 2:15. The Almighty God is the omnipotent One and he has made available to the believer that same power through Jesus Christ – Jn. 1:12; Acts 1:8. Unfortunately, not knowing of the existence of that power or its limitless capability makes the believer look like the proverbial hunter with a very powerful gun, but who is still running away from a chasing wild beast. All that the Christian requires to overcome the challenges of life are included in the package of salvation that is made available to the one who believes. Indeed, with God, ALL THINGS are possible. The challenge of not having this awareness is what will make the believer not ask, seek or knock but until that is done, a believer would wrongly think that it is not possible to receive, find and have a closed door of opportunity opened. The one who knows that ALL POWER belongs to the one whom he/she has received, will have no need to run helter-skelter, and will stick with him in the believe that all that is asked of him will be done at the right time.
- He chose to have a better understanding of the power that is inherent in the fellowship of sharing in the suffering of Christ. The Apostle, still asserting the role of knowledge in sustaining the Christian through difficult moments, made it clear that the one who knows the benefit of remaining faithful during trials would rather rejoice, than complain or attempt to back-slide. James, the brother of Jesus Christ in his letter to all believers revealed that successfully navigating through trial moments eventually results in a matured and complete Christian that lacks NOTHING. Absolutely Nothing. This however does not include suffering resulting from not so positive actions as stated by the Apostle Peter – 1Pet. 4:12-19. Knowledge of the great benefit that exists in going through experiences similar to that of Jesus Christ for divine reasons, should be sufficient to encourage the Christian to persevere rather than deny the faith and back-slide. Emphasis should be placed by Christians on the benefits of going through life trials because of the Faith, rather than the present day messages of promises of prosperity and comfort that seems to be the only message from pulpits. God does bless His people but persecution and trials are more realistic possibilities for the true Christian. Preparing believers for these experiences through dissemination of knowledge will no doubt help to entrench the believer in the Faith.
- And finally, he chose to be like him in death so as to also be assured of resurrecting from the dead. This is a simple choice that the Christian must make if such intends to remain in the faith during persecutions and trials. The Bible notes that the people that were able to overcome the devil, who had been hurled into the earth had some peculiarities amongst which was their lack of fear for death – Rev. 12:7-11. Despite the comfort that Jesus had in heaven with his father and the obvious pain that the picture of his impending suffering and death brought to him, he chose to allow the Will of God to prevail – Matt. 26:39-45. Proper understanding of the process of water baptism will make it clear to the Christian that it is a demonstration of the willingness to die with Christ so as to be able to resurrect like he did, on the last day – Col. 2:12; Rom. 6:5. The Christian who is not willing to persevere through persecution and trials is definitely denying his/her baptism. That is a simple case of being deceitful before the Lord.
That the Apostle Paul was once like the unbeliever but went through the process of being a new convert into the Faith to the point of having assurance that he ran a good race and was awaiting the Crown of Glory is not in doubt – 2Tim. 4:7-8. He is therefore in a very good stead to guide the Christian today on the best way to ensure success in the Christian life. Therefore the one who earnestly desires to have the Crown of Life will be better of taking his hints and applying them as guiding principles for living a successful Christian life. His experience will in no doubt be very useful. May God grant us all that is required for us to achieve success in our Christian life and obtain the Crown of Life in Jesus name. Amen.