Monday, January 14, 2013

“Gaining in Jesus Christ” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 20, 2013

Purpose: To affirm that knowing Christ leads to a new and transformed life

Scripture Text: Philippians 3:7-11

Philippians 3:7-11 (CEB)
(7)These things were my assets, but I wrote them off as a loss for the sake of Christ. (8)But even beyond that, I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ (9)and be found in him. In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. (10)The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death (11)so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Today's printed text is only five verses, and I think you might find it beneficial to read the first six verses of this chapter, prior to teaching this lesson.

As the beginning of this chapter shows, Paul had a special love and relationship with the church at Philippi. Remember from the Book of Acts how Paul felt called to go into Europe and share the good news of Jesus the Messiah. (Acts 16:12 From there we went to Philippi, a city of Macedonia’s first district and a Roman colony. We stayed in that city several days.) Later as he and Silas were searching for a place to pray them met Lydia. ( Acts 16:14 One of those women was Lydia, a Gentile God-worshipper from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in purple cloth. As she listened, the Lord enabled her to embrace Paul’s message. 15Once she and her household were baptized, she urged, "Now that you have decided that I am a believer in the Lord, come and stay in my house." And she persuaded us.)

It was also while in Philippi that Paul and Silas were put in jail, and the Philippian jailer and his household were saved when after an earthquake Paul and Silas remained in prison rather than taking advantage and leaving. (Acts 16:25-36) It is easy to see why Paul held a special place in his heart for the Philippian church.

Paul begins this chapter by apologizing for repeating himself, but wants to make certain that those that were set on destroying what he had started, do not get a foot hold on this congregation. He then lists all of his old credentials, that would have made him a much respected Jew.

Now, all of those things that he thought were so important, before he met Christ on the road to Damascus, he considers as nothing more that human waste. Paul now places his relationship with Christ as the most important thing in his life. Paul goes on to explain that just being good and righteous according to the Jewish law did not offer him the same benefits as knowing Christ. When Paul speaks of “knowing Christ Jesus” in verse 8 I think we can relate that to a marriage type of relationship. The scriptures often speak of a man knowing a woman, and it is usually referring to sexual intercourse. To Paul that is exactly how he felt about his relationship with Christ. It was more than “friend” he knows Christ in the same way as we know our spouses. He never wondered if he was doing God's will, he knew God's will in the same way we know what our wives or husbands expect of us. Knowing God's will is nothing more than knowing God in the same way we know our most intimate partners.

Paul now knows that his own righteousness is no longer the goal, but rather he now relies on Christ righteousness. Paul's righteousness now comes from his relationship with Christ and the faith that he has in the resurrection power that was exhibited by Christ, as well as well as participation in Christ sufferings. Paul's only goal now is to be part of that glorious resurrection that all Christians believe and hope for.

God's grace will carry us through both the suffering and resurrection, just as it did through the transformation of exchanging our righteousness for Christ righteousness. Knowing Christ transforms us, from being self righteous to dependent on Christ, from being selfish to wanting to please Christ. Just like in marriage our focus becomes about our bride, and less about us. Gaining Christ should be our goal.

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