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A Relationship With God

Below the Baseline  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:40
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LESSON ONE

A Relationship with God

Philippians 3:10-14

Philippians 3:10–14 KJV 1900
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 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. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Introduction
Salvation gives us the most wonderful relationship of life. When someone receives Christ as Saviour, new life is birthed within. It can never be taken away or lost. It is a relationship that changes our eternity, but it also has the potential to change our immediate lives.
Salvation means that we are declared righteous before God.
Philippians 3:9 KJV 1900
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
In our court system, a judge will drop his gavel and declare his verdict on the defendant. Likewise, God is our Judge. When we come before Him, we are declared righteous if we are saved. For those of us who have accepted Christ as our atonement, God declares us righteous by the merit of His Son's own blood.
John 15:5 KJV 1900
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Particularly in the culture of that day, one would have understood the significance of this agricultural parallel. A branch without a vine would soon shrivel and die.
Likewise, without Christ, we have no strength or ability to bear fruit.
Salvation also makes Christ our cornerstone. The Apostle Paul used this analogy in his letter to the church at Ephesus.
Ephesians 2:19–22 KJV 1900
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
A Christian has the advantage of building his life on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ. The hymn "My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less" written by Edward Mote adequately states, "On Christ the Solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand."
The amazing thing about many Christian lives is that we have mastered the art of giving the illusion of success, all the while ignoring the foundation that is designed by God to support the structure of our lives. It is possible to have the appearance of growing in Christ but have a crumbling foundation.
Illustration
Pisa, Italy, is the home of the well-known landmark, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Though this tower draws tourists from all over the world, it is actually an embarrassing display of the ramifications of a faulty foundation. Construction of the Tower of Pisa began in 1173. It was built in soft soil and was given a foundation that was less than ten feet deep. Even before its completion in 1372, its infamous tilt was noticeable to the naked eye. The inadequate foundation was too unstable to support such a large structure.
From 1990 to 2001, the tower was closed to the public while a $25 million project was conducted to stabilize the structure and reduce its lean. But even after these eleven years of reconstruction, the lean was only able to be reduced by sixteen inches.
Millions of people make their way to the Tower of Pisa and gaze with awe at the phenomenon of such a structure. But every day, we cross paths with souls whose structures are just as much of a contradiction to functionality as that of the tower.
It does not matter how much effort is put into constructing a successful life. If we only take care of the outside and do not put effort into the part that no one else sees—the foundation—our demise will eventually become obvious.

I. The Foundation of this Relationship

Philippians 3:10
Philippians 3:10 KJV 1900
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
When the Apostle Paul penned these words, he was not speaking of a casual knowledge of God or of simply knowing Jesus as Saviour. He was speaking of an intimate and deep knowledge of God.
The Greek word used for “know” used in this passage means "to understand, to grasp or ascertain; especially to be familiar or acquainted with a person or thing." It is to really know Jesus in an abiding relationship.
Philippians 3:10 highlights three ways of knowing Jesus:

A. Know His Person

"... that I may know him.. ." (Philippians 3:10).
This kind of knowledge of Jesus Christ is far more than intellectually knowing about Jesus. It is knowing Him personally. We have the opportunity to develop a relationship with Him. Knowing the person of Jesus Christ means that we spend time with Him. We are sensitive and obedient to His voice.
We set aside time to know Him.
Religion alone is satisfied with ornate rites, systems, and regulations and is willing to pass these off as "knowing" God. But a Christian ought to desire to know Christ—intimately and personally. One can know biblical boundaries and spiritual preferences and yet not know Christ.
Do you know Him? Do you know the sense of His conviction?
Do you know when He is burdening your heart to spend more time with Him? Do you know the prompting of the Holy Spirit to share the gospel with someone? This is knowing Christ.
Ephesians 1:15–18 KJV 1900
15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Consider these words by F.B. Meyer:
We may know Him personally intimately face to face. Christ does not live back in the centuries, nor amid the clouds of heaven: He is near us, with us, compassing our path in our lying down, and acquainted with all our ways. But we cannot know Him in this mortal life except through the illumination and teaching of the Holy Spirit....And we must surely know Christ, not as a stranger who turns in to visit for the night, or as the exalted king of men—there must be the inner knowledge as of those whom He counts His own familiar friends, whom He trusts with His secrets, who eat with Him of His own bread.—F.B. Meyer
John Milton accurately stated,
"The end of all learning is to know God, and out of that knowledge to love and imitate Him."
Illustration
When a man and his wife have been married for a number of years, they know by instinct their spouse's likes and dislikes. The husband knows what kind of flowers his wife loves, her favorite restaurant, and exactly how to brew her coffee. The wife knows her husband's routine, how he likes to relax after work, and his favorite sports teams.
We would think it strange if a married person didn't know anything about their spouse. But knowing one's spouse isn't developed merely by being married. It is gained by spending time with each other. It takes communication and making it a priority to get to know one's spouse. Knowing the Person of Jesus Christ is like that.
If a Christian has been saved for a number of years but still does not know Jesus personally and intimately, there is a problem in his foundation. Eventually, the structure of that Christian's life will crumble because no investment was made into building this foundation.

B. Know His Power

"...and the power of his resurrection..." (Philippians 3:10)
The Greek word for power is dunamis from which we get our English word dynamite. It is a life changing power that comes through the Spirit of God living within us. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you and me.
And here, we see that Paul states he wasn't content to merely know about this power; he wanted to personally experience it. Thus, he gladly exchanged his human impotence for experiencing divine omnipotence. He wanted to know the fullness of God's power.
2 Peter 1:3 KJV 1900
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
1 Corinthians 2:1–5 KJV 1900
1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Below the baseline of each of our lives there must be God's power at work. We ought to be personally experiencing the manifestation of God's power working in us through our relationship with Him.

C. Know His Presence

... and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death" (Philippians 3:10).
The word fellowship speaks of communion. It means to partake with Christ, to commune with Him.
Paul had such a deep abiding relationship with Christ that even as he penned these words from prison, he had come to realize that the sufferings of life gave him a venue of fellowship with Christ. Rather than complaining about his problems and looking for a way out, he looked at those sufferings as tools to experience the presence of God Almighty.
Hebrews 4:15–16 KJV 1900
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
The deepest moments of fellowship with Christ can be the times of our most intense suffering. Suffering drives us to seek the presence of God. We find in Him a merciful High Priest and a faithful Friend who feels our pain.
He is a sympathetic Companion who faced all the trials and temptations that we face. We can boldly come to God's throne and find grace to help in time of need because He knows the feeling of our infirmities. Paul didn't give up in his times of suffering because he recognized that it was through suffering that God's presence became most real.
"What I taught with my lips I now seal with my blood! Lord, I commend my spirit to you!"
Illustration
In the early 1400s, John Huss was a Catholic priest appointed in Prague at the Bethlehem Chapel. Through the preaching of John Wycliffe, however, Huss began to see the error of the Catholic Church in preaching salvation by works. Huss began to boldly preach the truth of salvation by grace alone to his congregation. This gained the attention of his people, drawing crowds and resulting in many being saved.
Meanwhile, the Pope promised forgiveness of sins to all who supported his leadership. Huss did not cower from clearly pointing out the fallacy of the Pope's declarations, for only Jesus Christ can offer remission of sins. This caused great suffering for John Huss. He was burned at the stake because of his refusal to comply to the Catholic Church's teachings.
As the wood was lit and the flames licked his body, Huss cried out, "What I taught with my lips I now seal with my blood! Lord, I commend my spirit to you!"
John Huss knew the fellowship of suffering with Christ. Like Paul, he did not seek to elude suffering nor fold to the pressure. He had a foundation that was far deeper than what the pain of suffering could reach.
When we have an abiding relationship with Christ, we come to know Him in a way that is deeper than surface knowledge.
His power and His presence become real in our lives in a way that sustains us. This is what it means to build a foundational relationship with God that will last for a lifetime.
The Foundation of this Relationship

II. The Formation of Faith

Philippians 3:11-12
Philippians 3:11–12 KJV 1900
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 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.
When a relationship with God becomes an intricate part of our foundation, we begin to grow in our faith.
Of course, we are saved by faith, but our faith ought not stop with salvation. That is just the beginning. As our relationship deepens and we know the Lord more intimately, our confidence in Him will likewise grow.
Illustration
We get excited at the announcement of a newborn. Ladies, in particular, like to know the details: How much did the baby weigh? How long is the baby? We want to see pictures and share our admiration of this new life.
But six months down the road, if that baby still looked the same, weighed the same, and was just as helpless and needy as a newborn, we would be concerned. That is not natural. It goes against the cycle of a maturing life.
Our faith ought to likewise develop. Salvation—being born again—is an exciting moment. But we should
not stay in that infant stage. Our faith should grow.
The maturing of our faith takes place as we continue to build upon the foundation of our relationship with Christ.
Paul detailed why and how this takes place.

A. The Promise of Resurrection

At salvation, a believer experiences a spiritual resurrection. Our spirit, being dead in our trespasses and sins, is made alive through the new life that comes to live within us.
Ephesians 2:1 KJV 1900
1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Ephesians 2:5–6 KJV 1900
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
To "be quickened" means "to be made alive." Understanding this truth ought to bring a "hallelujah" to our hearts! We who once were dead are now made alive through Christ.
Far too many Christians, however, are still spiritual babies because they never developed that relationship with the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Galatians 2:20 KJV 1900
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Experiencing Christ living through us demands a reckoning of our own lives as dead unto sin and alive in Christ. This is where most Christians' growth comes to a screeching halt.
Romans 6:11 KJV 1900
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul's testimony, recorded for us in
Philippians 3:10–14 KJV 1900
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 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. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
reveals that the forming of our faith will be noticeable by Christ's life through us. Paul desired to "attain unto the resurrection of the dead." He craved to experience God living through him.
Colossians 3:1 KJV 1900
1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
So how does this take place? We find the answer in Philippians 3:12.
Philippians 3:12 KJV 1900
12 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.

B. The Process of Transformation VS. 12

To have attained as used in these verses means "to come to; to have arrived”
This is not Paul bragging over his status with Christ, but is rather a statement of his humility. He recognized that he had not "arrived" nor was he perfect. A Christian's transformation does not happen all at once. It takes place over the course of a lifetime. It is aspiring to be more and more like the image of Christ.
Nearness is likeness.
If a Christian is developing that foundational relationship with Christ, drawing nearer to Him, he will take on the likeness of Christ.
Does your life remind others of Christ?
When people are in your presence, can they sense God's presence in you?
Or are they surprised when they find out you are a Christian?
We will each emanate a likeness of someone or something.
Whatever or whoever we are near will be reflected in us.
Illustration
Consider the transformation of those who enlist in the military. A young man leaves home with his own likes and styles and generally with more than a hint of teenage immaturity in his attitude. But he returns home several weeks later from boot camp a completely different person. He walks with a confidence and rhythm in his step. He speaks with clarity and respect and looks you straight in the eye as you speak to him. And, above all, he is proud to wear his new uniform.
How did this transformation take place? In part, because he has been in an environment of structure where obedience and respect are demanded. His environment has rubbed off on him.
If we spend time with the Lord, in God's Word, and with godly people, Christ's likeness will begin to be reflected in our lives.
Romans 8:29 KJV 1900
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
God's purpose is the same for every Christian—"to be conformed to the image of his Son." God desires for each of us to experience the process of transformation.
Romans 8:29 says that even before you were born, God knew you. And before you were born, His predetermined plan for your life was that you experience the process of transformation into His likeness.
Our transformation is complete at the moment of our death or the return of Christ, whichever occurs first.
To apprehend means "to seize or be taken." Paul is proclaiming in Philippians 3:12 that he is going after that goal of Christlikeness—to seize it. And he isn't going to stop pursuing it until he is taken by Christ Jesus: "but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus."
How is the transformation process in your life?
Is the likeness of Jesus becoming increasingly evident in you?
The Foundation of this Relationship
The Formation of Faith

III. The Fixation of Will

Philippians 3:13-14
Philippians 3:13–14 KJV 1900
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
From these verses, we see Paul's overwhelming determination to finish strong. His will was fixed on the finish line. He was determined to be faithful to Jesus Christ and to finish his race well.
It is staggering how many Christians quit their race.
It is perhaps the greatest heartbreak that a spiritual leader experiences. We invest in people, work alongside fellow Christians, and assume that everything is as it seems on the outside. But all of a sudden, someone isn't in church anymore. Other matters of life fill their calendars, and they break fellowship with their Christian family. Although we are often surprised by these sudden changes, this falling away does not happen in a matter of a day or as a result of one offense. Somewhere below the baseline, before anyone else could see what was happening, their will to finish was snuffed out.
Fixing our will on finishing strong is not a decision that we make just one time. It is a repetitive choice we must make as we face our battles.
Just because things look okay on the outside does not mean that all is well on the inside. If our foundation is faulty, the structure above will eventually crumble. It takes intentional determination to fix our will on finishing strong.

A. Paul Recognized His Position

"...I count not myself to have apprehended..." (Philippians 3:13).
Paul was not complacent with the level of spiritual growth he had already reached.
We are to be satisfied with the things of God, but we should never become complacent with where we are spiritually!
Though he would already be considered a great man of God, he wanted to constantly draw nearer to Christ. Paul knew he had to keep growing.

B. Paul Rejected the Past

"...but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind..." (Philippians 3:13).
Paul had a past of which any Christian would be ashamed. He had been responsible for actively persecuting Christians—putting to death innocent people. If anyone had a reason to hang his head in hopelessness, it could have been Paul. But Paul wisely chose to forget those things that were behind him.
This is equally applicable to successes in life. We cannot live in the victories of past years. Far too many of us comfort ourselves with reminiscing of bringing someone to church with us years back. Or perhaps we were part of a great moving of God some time ago.
Holding onto the victories of the past will lead to the same demise as holding on to the failures of the past. Both get our focus off the path set before us.
What about today?
What is God doing in your life today?

C. Paul Ran to Win the Prize

"/ press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14).
Press toward means "to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing."
Paul had a goal in view—something toward which he ran swiftly, eliminating any possible distractions. That prize was attaining Christ Jesus. It was knowing Jesus.
Hebrews 12:2 KJV 1900
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Illustration
A marathon race is 26.2 miles. This is not for those who have not put any effort into preparation. An effective marathon runner has trained and is determined to finish the race and successfully cross the finish line.
How foolish it would be if, in the thick of the race, a runner was oblivious to the track before him but was instead scanning the crowd of onlookers and waving at his fans. Likewise, how foolish it would be for him to slow down to a light jog in his last mile.
Just as a marathon runner is committed to finish strong and gives it all he has, we should fix our eyes on Jesus and commit to run well for Him to the end of our race.

Conclusion

At the conclusion of Paul's life, he could say he had been faithful to the end.
2 Timothy 4:6–7 KJV 1900
6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
This is the declaration of a man who built well below the baseline. He had a solid foundation of a growing relationship with Christ. His faith had taken form and strengthened over the years of his Christian life. And he had fixed his will on the prize of knowing Jesus.
Below the baseline is of utmost importance to the structure of our lives. Even if all looks well on the outside, it is the foundation that ultimately determines the success of our Christian walk.
Are you investing into your foundation?
Do you have a real and growing relationship with the Lord below the baseline?
Although others can't easily see and don't readily notice the foundation of our lives, it is the foundation that makes the difference.
No amount of effort or care invested into your relationship with the Lord is wasted. Build below the baseline in this most important area of life.
�Study Questions
1. What is the greatest privilege of life? Knowing Christ
2. What three ways to know Christ did Paul give us in
Philippians 3:10?
Knowing His Person, His power, and His presence
3. What does Romans 8:29 tell us is God's ultimate goal
for our transformation?
To be conformed to the image of Christ.
4. What are two or three ways you can purposefully grow in your relationship with the Lord?
Answers will vary but could include a daily time in His Word, faithful church attendance, beginning a prayer journal, etc.
5. God intends that we grow in our relationship with Him and, as a byproduct, in our Christian maturity. What is one way you see the Lord growing you as a Christian right now?
Answers will vary.
6. What has changed (transformed) in your life since the
time you were saved?
Answers will vary.
📷📷7. At the conclusion of Paul's race, he could say that he had been faithful to the end. Have you made a deliberate decision to finish strong? If not, do so now and record the date below.
�Answers will vary.
Memory Verse
PHILIPPIANS 3:10
io That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
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