The Surpassing Worth of Knowing Christ
* Review and Report on last week’s Walking Points questions and next steps. Thoughts? How did you do? Share any victories and/or struggles you may have had following through with your plan.
1. Read Philippians 3:1-11 twice. Write down any key ideas or phrases that catch your attention. What are the key principles you believe we ought to draw from this text? Why did you choose those principles?
2. The “same things” Paul referred to in verse 1, related to his call to the Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord.” How would you describe the difference between happiness and joy (what does each depend upon)?
What would “rejoicing in the Lord” look like in your life?
3. As we have seen so far in this study, the Apostle Paul had a strong relationship with the Philippians and cared for them deeply. They did not have a history of having to contend with false teachers (Read Colossians and Galatians for a contrast.). However, Paul knew that false teaching would eventually find its way into the church.
Read Philippians 3:2-3. Three times in one verse Paul says, “watch out” or “beware.” What does he seem to be talking about? What three ways does he describe this group of people to be on guard against? Why do you think he uses such strong language?
Name two or three teachings in the church today that need to be warned against in a similar way. Why did you choose those teachings (i.e., how are they a danger to the church)? Describe them and your concern about them.
4. How did Paul contrast the Christians in Philippi to these false teachers (in verse 3)? Put his answer in your own words. How do people put confidence in the flesh today?
What three things does Paul highlight about those who are the true “circumcision,” or, the true people of God?
5. In verses 4-6, Paul shares his religious credentials. List all the things Paul says he boasted in before he came to faith in Christ. Why were these things once impressive?
What sorts of “credentials” do people today (including some who profess to be Christians) point to in order to establish their religious pedigree? Why is pointing to, (and, perhaps trusting in), such things a temptation?
Which of these credentials do you tend to point to and trust in? Why?
6. Verses 7 and 8 reveal a profound and moving “paradigm shift” or change of perspective in Paul’s thinking. What was that change of perspective?
Describe in your own words what Paul means by this new way of thinking, and consequently, living.
What does he say in verse 8 was the main reason behind this new perspective. (Hint, he found something even more important.)
7. What does Paul mean in verse 8 when he says he counts everything as loss and even considers them as rubbish or garbage because of this new perspective?
8. At the end of verse 8 and in verse 9, Paul says that all he has given up, and all he now pursues, is to gain Christ and be found in him. Where does Paul now say he finds his righteousness? And what is he contrasting that to? How does he say he acquires or receives this righteousness?
This is a central idea in the New Testament (Read Galatians 2:15-21; 3:10-14). How would you help a friend better understand that it’s not his or her efforts and good works they should trust in, but instead, a saving and intimate relationship with God comes only through faith in Christ?
9. What, according to verses 10-11, does Paul now want more than anything else?
· What does it mean to “know” Christ (see John 17:3)?
· What does it mean to know the “power of his resurrection” (see Romans 8:11)?
10. What Paul means when he says he desires to share in the sufferings of Christ is that all Christians will experience persecution and suffering for faithfully representing and serving Christ in this world (See Matthew 5:10-12). Read Romans 6:11 to better understand what Paul means by sharing in Christ’s death.
Have you ever suffered for representing and serving Christ? Describe what happened. If you have never suffered for Christ, explain why you think that is.
11. How were the words Paul wrote in verse 11 an encouragement and source of hope for him? How are they a source of hope and encouragement for you? (Read also: 1 Corinthians 15:22-24; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15; Luke 20:35-36; Revelation 22:1-7)
12. “Knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (v. 8), means far more than merely having information about Jesus, or only believing that it’s true. Pray about this phrase and go deep with it. What does it mean for you to know Christ Jesus as your Lord? What meaningful difference does that make in your daily life?
· In your relationship with God? Family members? Coworkers? Neighbors? Others?
· In your thoughts, words, attitudes, and deeds?
Try to be specific in your answers. Sometimes we cop out of questions like these by being overly general, or by saying such things as, “Well, no one is perfect” or “I have a long way to go.” Growth in our lives will come by taking hard and honest looks at ourselves, exposing our sins and shortcomings, laying them on the altar before God, and asking him to forgive us, purify us, and empower us for more faithful living.
13. Read John 15:18-25. Jesus teaches several important ideas about the persecution of his disciples. Write down two or three of those key ideas and describe each. Also, share how you feel about those ideas and why you feel that way.
In 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Paul says the Gospel, the message of the cross, is foolishness and a stumbling block to the world. In other words, we don’t have to add to it’s offense by going out of our way to be “Jerks for Jesus.” Knowing this, what are three ways you can start lovingly and faithfully sharing the Gospel with others this week, even though you may bring on the hatred, mockery, and exclusion of the world?
Will you trust Christ and lovingly and faithfully represent and serve him anyway?