FOLLOWING PAUL -3
Now the Apostle introduces another most important matter in which he would have us be his followers.
We may say that
WE ARE TO FOLLOW HIM IN HIS GREAT ASPIRATION (Phil. 3: 10-12)
In the words of verse ten, we have a clear statement of Paul's supreme and all-governing ambition, -"That
I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings". This, we see, is
a threefold ambition, but the key phrase, without question, is the first one, - "That I may know him".
Beyond all doubt, Paul's first and foremost aspiration, and his perpetual heart Longing, was to know his
Lord. And this, we may be sure, was very prominently in his mind when he urged the Philippians, in
verse seventeen, to be his followers.
Before we go further, we should perhaps pause to clarify a simple point, which could possibly raise a
question in some hearts. There are those who have said, "Did not Paul already know the Lord, -why, then,
should he ask to know him?". The answer, of course, is not hard to find. We all realise that, in everything,
there are always degrees of knowledge, and, as far as knowing persons is concerned, this is particularly
so. There is what we may call the "knowledge" of mere acquaintance, but there is, as well, that far deeper
"knowledge" which is the fruit of long and personal experience. It is one thing, for instance, for a person
to say, "Yes, I know the postman", or, "I know the professor", but it is quite another thing for the wife of
that postman, or that professor, to say she knows him! In that case, the reference is to a deeper kind of
"knowledge", -a knowledge of character, of inner strengths and weaknesses, and, it could be, of secret
sufferings and heartaches, -something far deeper than that initial or superficial knowledge. Now Paul, of
course, did know Christ in that initial and preparatory way; - he had personally met Him and
acknowledged Him as Lord, -and he meant it. But now his inmost spirit cries out -for more; -he longs for
that far greater thing; -"that I may know Him". Evidently he realises that this extra fellowship and
intimacy, and these fuller unfoldings of his Lord, were equally his heritage and birthright, and now his
burning heart cries out for that.
The point that we are making, of course, is that Paul wanted the Philippians to be his followers in this
matter also. He would have them set their hearts, too, on this further and fuller "knowing of the Lord". As
his own hands stretch up eagerly to Heaven, and his eyes search out that incomparable countenance of his
Master, he turns his spirit momentarily to his brethren, and says to them, "Be ye followers of me". He
would have them set their hearts, too, on knowing Christ, and longs that his ambition become their
ambition, -that, in due time, they might all rejoice together, -they have come to know their Lord!
We venture to suggest that far too little is said, these days, about this fuller "knowing of the Lord". The
emphasis is almost entirely on what we must do for Him. Possibly, a little later, (and happily so), the
emphasis shifts to what we must be, but, very seldom, if at all, is the emphasis found on what we must
know, or, more importantly, Whom we must know! How foolish we are to reverse completely that divine
order of which we read in Daniel 11: 32; -"the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do
exploits", According to that verse, it is the knowing that comes first, then the being, and then the doing.
In other words, the "being" and the "doing", important though they are, are all subservient to, and depend
on, the "knowing". To say the very least, it is the "knowing" that makes possible the "being", and then
gives power and effectiveness to the "doing", And yet, so little is ever said about it!
It is a fact that, according to the Bible, (and the statement of the Lord Himself), the whole purpose of our
having "eternal life" is that we might come to know the Lord! In His High-Priestly prayer, Christ
declared. "...this is life eternal, that they might know thee and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John
17:3). Again the tendency is to reverse the order (how upside down we are!), and jump to the conclusion
that we get eternal life by knowing the Lord, whereas the teaching of the verse is that we are given
eternal life so that, thereafter, and along life's pathway, we might come to know the Lord, -in the manner
that we have described (see also verse 24). The point is that it is not until our spirits are quickened into
newness of life that we are in any way conditioned or equipped to know the Lord, for "the natural man
receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: ... neither can he know them, because they are spiritually
discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). All of us, then, need to receive a new faculty, and, indeed, a New Life, if we are
to begin to enter that realm and penetrate those mysteries. Now, in His mercy, God imparts that new
faculty, and infuses that New Life, introducing us thereby to an entirely new dimension of knowledge,
Certainly God's servants need to understand this principle, for it is always this "knowing of the Lord" that
gives spiritual substance and true value to all ministry. People are not impressed when we talk to them
about a Christ we scarcely know, and who, perhaps, is just a name or a figurehead. And still less are they
inclined to repent before Him, or come under His glorious dominion, -to say nothing of pursuing Him
with all the heart for what He is, Himself. It is a simple fact that, if we only present a formula, we shall
only get formal results, and these, really, are no results at all. It will be proved in the end that they are
only a diabolical deception, and they will certainly not stand up to any coming test. If, on the other hand,
we present a Christ we really know (or are coming to know), the results will be genuine, and spiritual and
And here it is, we can thank God for the Holy Spirit Who is called "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in
the knowledge of him" (Eph. 1: 17). The Greek there, incidentally, is "epignosis", -full or thorough
knowledge, -the kind of "knowledge" we have been talking about. The work of the Holy Spirit is always
to glorify Christ, and He does this against the background of daily experiences and our ever-changing
need. It is His prerogative and joy to make us into men and women who really know their Lord. We can
be sure that Paul himself was depending continually on that Great Divine Indweller to enable him to
realise his heart's ambition. And, in the confidence that his beloved Philippian brethren were similarly
indwelt and endowed, he says to them, "Be followers of me". He would have them also to look to this
same Indwelling Teacher to enable them, likewise, to enjoy this richest of all blessings, -a fuller and
deeper knowing of the Lord. And he would say the same to us, "Be followers together of me", -"That I
may know Him".
THE GREAT MOUNTAIN .3
Many so called preachers, who say they live on faith, often think of so many devices for getting money,
planning whom to go to, and what kind of a hint to give. They have ruined their heavenly calling in this
way, by the love of accumulating money, and brought reproach upon the Name of God. Thus silver
speaks of the desire to multiply income.
Brass in the Bible speaks of strength, but what a difference there is between human strength and divine
strength! Brass in the image which Nebuchadnezzar saw, speaks of those who depend upon their physical
strength and own cunning devices for defense, power and victory. King David, for instance, was tempted
to know the number of the men in Israel. Till then he had not won the battles by his own strength and
army, yet now he wanted to depend upon numbers and arms for strength.
Fourthly, iron speaks of weapons of warfare. For many years iron was used for making swords and
daggers for warfare. Now they use iron for guns and machines. So people depend upon their own
weapons for strength and victory. But God has shown us how these weapons are nothing but straw and
chaff, and that even the greatest kingdom, proud of its wealth and weapons will be crushed to pieces. The
Roman Empire was broken to pieces and in the same way every other great kingdom has fallen.
Thus, in every heart is found love for gold, silver, brass, and iron in greater or lesser degree. Men are not
able to understand the grace of God, the power of God and the ways of God, because their energy is
being spent upon gathering silver, brass or iron and these things hinder them from coming near to God. If
you realise your own condition you will find these four forces working in. you and that is why you have
been carried away, pulled and dragged away from God's power again and again. The Devil deceives you.
You think that, it is quite natural to be ambitious to have these things, but is that God's plan for you ?
Now all those metals have a second meaning also, In the Bible, gold speaks of the Divine nature. Have
you been running after man's glory? God wants you to be a partaker of His glory. Many born again
Christians boast in worldly glory. But remember, that in which you boast to day, whether your great
name, or anything else will one day be all forgotten. However, when you are given the divine nature, of
which gold in the Bible speaks, that nature will so transform you that you will serve your Lord faithfully,
and gain a high position in His eternal Kingdom, and will be honoured, respected and served by the