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Manfred
Member



Joined: 2005/4/4
Posts: 342
Continental Europe

 The Transcendent Value of the Knowledge of Christ

The Transcendent Value of the Knowledge of Christ

by T. Austin-Sparks

"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.", (Philippians 3:8).

"For to me to live is Christ...", (Philippians 1:21).

"The excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus." Clearly that means that the knowledge of Christ in the case of the Apostle Paul far transcended all other knowledge. For him it was a knowledge that outstripped in its value all other knowledge which he had had or conceived himself capable of having. He sets the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord over against every other thing, and just as the candle light pales when the sun shines, so for him the most powerful light and glory which man is capable of experiencing faded in the presence of Christ Jesus his Lord.

Such words were not just words in the case of Paul. This was not some fine flourish of language. Coming from such a man as he was, they carried tremendous weight, not because of who he was, but because of the life out of which the words sprang.


Really to get something of the power and the strength — the depth, the fulness, the wonder of this phrase, of this language — it is necessary to turn to contemplate this man’s life and to see the background of his words. Words are of value in proportion to the reality of a man’s history — the history that lies behind his words and relates to his words. We may say things, but those things may be worthless, because there is nothing behind them in ourselves. Or we may say things, and those things may carry with them tremendous weight of meaning and value because of what lies behind them in the person of the speaker. We must remember, then, that when Paul said these words, he was practically at the end of his earthly course, and that a whole life crammed with spiritual history lay behind every syllable. But what a life! Everything culminated and was gathered up into these final utterances.

Paul’s Sufferings

Look at him personally. Here is a man, worn and feeble, upon whom there has broken, and upon whom there has rolled waves — mighty and continuous waves of every kind of suffering that you could think of if you sat down to try to catalogue the sufferings of man: a victim of gross perjury, the prey of many contending enmities; a broken and enfeebled physical frame; in circumstances of deep affliction; vexed with hundreds, possibly thousands, of opponents; having very few real friends now remaining.

He has placed on record some of his experiences of adversity. They run like this: In afflictions, in necessities, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; chastened, sorrowful, poor, having nothing; in prisons, in stripes above measure, in deaths often; "Five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in labour and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things which are without, there is that which presses upon me daily — anxiety for all the churches"., (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).

There are many other touches as to the experiences of this man of God. He lightly refers to them and passes on: "I who am rude of speech" (that is what some had said about him): "I who am despicable in presence" (again, what some had said about him). The yes and the no man — that is, the man who vacillates, who at one time says yes and at another time no. Sending requests to a beloved yokefellow, he says: "Bring the cloak which I left at Troas", clearly showing that he was knowing coldness.

If you look among his writings and in his history, you accumulate a tremendous amount that points to his history of suffering, of trial, of adversity. In the end he says: "All they in Asia have turned away from me"; "Only Luke is with me."

Then we see what he had given up for that; see that for which this is the exchange from the human side. He tells us what his natural advantages were — how that he had a reason and occasion to boast more than any other.

Paul’s Sacrifices

"If any man thinks to have confidence in the flesh, I yet more (more than any man): circumcised the eighth day (i.e., he was born a Jew; he was not a proselyte), of the stock of Israel (not a graft, but the original stock), of the tribe of Benjamin (After the name of the tribe, the next most distinguished name is that of Saul, the first king, who was of the tribe of Benjamin), a Hebrew of Hebrews: as touching the law, a Pharisee; as touching zeal, persecuting the Church.", (Philippians 3:4-6).

All of that represented position, advantage, influence, reputation — something in this world that provides a basis of honour and success, a name and a place among men. He had exchanged that for all this of which we have spoken and much more.

How does Paul feel about it? See the extremes in this man’s life: the extreme, on the one hand, of honour and earthly glory — that in which men pride themselves, that which from this world’s standpoint was to his advantage. It went a long way. On the other hand is the opposite extreme. Think of it! A man like that, standing out amongst men in a place of conspicuous honour and privilege and influence, yet beaten with rods, thrashed with a whip, flung into prison, stoned, and all the rest. How does he feel about the exchange? What is his attitude to the whole thing? At the end of a life like that, how does he sum it up?

"Rejoice in the Lord", rejoice, rejoice! You say: There is something behind these words! These are no empty words. Put a history, an experience, like that behind an utterance, and the utterance counts for something. It is amazing.

If we stayed long enough to meditate upon it, it is calculated to bring us down to our knees in shame. There is no complaining, no repining here; no saying: "I have given up everything (and it is a big 'everything') for Christ, and look what He has brought me to — see what I have got!" No! There is not a sound or a sign of complaining about it all.

If he says, "Sorrowing" (and he does), he immediately couples with it: "Yet always rejoicing." If he says, "As having nothing", immediately he says, "Possessing all things." If he says "As poor", he instantly says, "And yet making many rich." His attitude toward the whole thing is not one of complaint, but rather the opposite — glorying, rejoicing, and bidding others rejoice. Alone, forsaken, enemies all around, his lifework being torn to pieces by those enemies, universally suspected, all friends leaving him, alone in prison — rejoicing, glorying, exulting.

The Excellence of Knowing Christ Jesus

This goes a long way beyond us. But what is the explanation? It is the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. The knowledge of Christ — to know Christ as He may be known; to know Christ as He is open to be known; to know Christ as He desires to make Himself known; that is the explanation and Paul had come into that in large measure.

He is saying this, in other words: It is possible to know Christ in such a way that, although to begin with you may lose everything in this world that is precious in the eyes of men, you have something infinitely more; and to go on with, it is possible so to know Christ that no matter how many may be the forms of suffering, how deep may be the suffering, how inexplicable may be some experiences, how continuous — right on to the end — the adversity may be, yet that knowledge of Christ is something which keeps you above and well above so that you are not submerged. Although these mighty seas of sorrow and suffering and adversity may throw their weight against you, they break; they do not break you, they break on you. It is possible to know Christ like that. That is what he is saying, if we understand him aright.

Most of us will have to confess that too often the problem has shaken us; the suffering has brought clouds of questionings and doubts into our hearts; we have not stood up to it like this. But our object is not just to see Paul doing this thing, neither is it to measure ourselves to a disadvantage at the side of Paul; but it is to see that Paul’s Christ is our Christ, and what was possible to Paul is possible to us that Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever; He is a Christ who is knowable in exactly the same way that Paul knew Him.

Christ as the Dynamic of Life

What is the way to this knowledge? On the one hand, there is our side, and I think the answer is: "For me to live is Christ." How will you know Christ in fulness? How will you know Him as He can be known: Only on this basis, that for you to live is Christ. What does that mean?

Paul went into Arabia for three years after he met Christ on the way to Damascus, and during those three years he had ample time in solitude to face the implications of his new relationship. For him it became perfectly clear in the course of three solitary years that it was going to cost him everything. All these issues were faced out then. For him it became simply and ultimately a matter of life and death. It meant this: Everything I have on this earth — in this world — has got to be held for the Lord, for Christ; and if, in the course of my relationship to Him, all or any of these things have got to go, then I settle that now. If it means suffering, persecution, and death itself, I come there now — I accept it all — so that for me to live will not be home, family, friends, reputation, acceptance, influence; but if it means none of these things at all — rather, the loss of all things — then the very motive of my being in this world will be none of these things, but only Christ, Christ the dynamic of life!

In other words Paul would say: "For me to be on this earth simply means Christ! I will accept with gratitude what He may give! If He gives something or allows me to retain something here, I will be grateful for it; but if all has to go, then it does not make any difference. Christ — and only Christ — is the object, the dynamic, the motive of my being on this earth!"

When we have settled things like that — when it is really brought to that conclusiveness of issue — that for us to live is Christ, then the Lord has a very open way to become everything to us. Is it not true in our case that too often our relationship to the Lord, our Christian life — our being Christians and being brought into difficulty, resulting in suffering has led us to stand still or draw back for a minute and say: "Ah, well, I did not expect that it would mean this! I do not know that I am prepared for that!" Something like that has very often happened with us, has it not? Suffering the loss of all things is easy language, but really only a man who has put everything once and for all into the balances can know Christ in fulness — utter fulness — and say: "I suffer the loss of all things for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ."

It just means this: the utterness of Christ to us requires our utterness for Him. If we are holding anything instead of Christ — apart from Christ, contrary to Christ — we are limiting our own knowledge of Christ.

That is one side — our side: "For me to live is Christ." We have failed — we have broken down in this matter. And yet our hearts are bent and set upon one thing (I trust they are)... that when we have passed this way, which we pass only once, the eternal verdict will be that our having lived was Christ. It is a solemn thing to bring into view: What is going to be the effect of my having passed this way? Unto what have I lived? What will the end of my life represent as the result of my years? What will eternity show — and what will time show — as to the value of my having gone this way?

When we are utterly for the Lord like that, it gives the Lord the opportunity of the other side — the divine side: "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened... to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge... that God may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him."

I am sure that if the human side is right and there is utterness for the Lord, the divine side will be all right. But between the two there comes a test — there comes a point where the whole issue of life is focused upon one full-orbed decision: Am I going to be in this world with any interests of my own whatever, or is it going to be, no matter what it costs and what the way may be, just Christ? That is very often headed up in a practical test — not a mental test — and not whether the Lord asks us to say a thing... but to do it. Everything as to our knowledge of Christ in fulness hangs upon an act — sometimes one act that commits us.

We may recognise the implications: ostracism, persecution, defaming, misrepresentation, suspicion, loss of influence, loss of reputation, loss of place — launched out in a way in which comparatively few will go with us and in which we shall be misunderstood. That may be the way of the challenge of the Lord and of His highest interests. The question is: Are we going to stand back and say, "No, I cannot go that way"? Or is it going to be: "For me to live is Christ"? If so, and we put that into the required act, we shall know the excellency of Christ and have the most excellent knowledge of Christ — Christ excelling. May it be so with all of us.

 2005/8/16 18:08Profile









 Re: The Transcendent Value of the Knowledge of Christ

Wow Manfred, what can I say, besides Thank You.

These are my favorite verses that I used to have as a sig ... Philippians 3:7~14


Your (God's) timing was perfect here today.



Thank you again for sharing these as you have.
File~Save as~God Bless you !
:-)

 2005/8/16 23:24
Manfred
Member



Joined: 2005/4/4
Posts: 342
Continental Europe

 Re: The Transcendent Value of the Knowledge of Christ

Annie,

Beside all that goes on in our lives, all the things we get involved into as Christians, all that is being discussed here on SI, (personally I cannot keep up with all these posts!), the one thing that matters most is to know Christ.

That was Paul's supreme ambition: that I may know Him!

There are so many things that make up Christianity, (just look at all the subjects being discussed on this site), that one can easily lose sight of what is essential. We may argue that this and that is important, but the question that matters is: How does this thing contribute to an increasing knowledge of Christ? If we did ask this question more often to ourselves, I think we wouldn't do half the things we do.

Thank you for responding to this message.

Manfred

 2005/8/17 4:18Profile









 Re:

Hi Manfred,

I totally understand what you are saying.

I feel much like you on that issue and told how I had "pulled the plug" on the internet, after only one year of having a computer, because of the 'spirit' of most forums.

I've also told, how I'm am disabled and basically homebound, so this is a "sort" of fellowship for me.

But, I prayed before I became a member, because I was actually forum-phobic.

You share your heart, with tears sometimes, on an issue that weighs on your heart, and here comes the contention. Why ?

Well, I've said all of that before.
My 20 months off of the computer, alone with Him, taught me a lot and was a very special time and I don't doubt that it may happen again.

I just have a burden for people - period.

The Forum is "here", so if one could do anything to edify another or keep peace or build up Love, whatever ... whether we stay or leave ... the forum will go on, with kids coming on asking for prayer, etc..
That gets to me, that's all.

I didn't mean to imply that you must come onto the top sections, ha, you are doing great here, obviously, with how this last post blessed me, just when I needed it.

Post and Pray for Peace Manfred, that's all.

Thank you.
Annie

 2005/8/17 7:34
baruch_48
Member



Joined: 2005/5/31
Posts: 78


 Re:

Quote:
There are so many things that make up Christianity, (just look at all the subjects being
discussed on this site), that one can easily lose sight of what is essential. We may argue
that this and that is important, but the question that matters is: How does this thing
contribute to an increasing knowledge of Christ? If we did ask this question more often to
ourselves, I think we wouldn't do half the things we do.



total amen - manfred ... many of these Sparks transcripts are lengthy and must be 'plowed' through ...... this one sure was worth going thru today

I have an online friend, a brother in Christ in Africa, who's going thru the realities of the depths of what Sparks is talking about here, in the life of the apostle Paul

I've been tryin to share with this brother, via e-mail and chatting, that the Lord's let him go through so many tribulations in his young life ( only age 21 ), in such a way, that I can only think of what Paul went through ..... and that he should take heart - the Lord's preparing him to be used in some 'apostolic' way [ of being 'sent' -- probably to us comfortable western believers, in the future]

I'm sending him parts of this speaking by Sparks, that I find apropos for him, editing parts of it for language difficulties.

as an aside, if I may ask you on this, if you have any information :

do you have any knowledge of webpages, or personal knowledge yourself, concerning the "keswick conferences" ... and their history .. and their main thrust, so to speak ?

I ask that, because I see elsewhere you have mentioned TAS as your 'spiritual father' and your having fellowshipped personally with saints that knew him. I take it you may have some knowledge on that subject.

If you could share any, or of any web pages that give a good synopsis about it ( mainly more about what you feel the Lord was 'thrusting' through those conferences, which I keep hearing about, and thus I know they've been influential) --- I'd appreciate any info .... no pressure or hurries though - thanks :)


Sister Annie, I too share your "irks" at the general level of online "Christ-likeness" in christian discussion boards



Quote:
I feel much like you on that issue and told how I had "pulled the plug" on the internet,
after only one year of having a computer, because of the 'spirit' of most forums.

I've also told, how I'm am disabled and basically homebound, so this is a "sort" of
fellowship for me.

But, I prayed before I became a member, because I was actually forum-phobic.

You share your heart, with tears sometimes, on an issue that weighs on your heart, and
here comes the contention. Why ?



Do you mind sharing about your disability ? I hope you don't mind.

The Internet is my main source of 'fellowship', for now, too.

.. But I've sworn off going to discussion boards and posting, myself .. perhaps 3 different times now, in the last number of years .. I only got drawn in here, due to coming here for Art Katz's messages, and noting the forum threads relating to his ministry.

I think I've learned to not 'invest' too much of my heart anymore ... to stay back ... and maybe pepper in comments here and there .... but not get too 'into the fray', so to speak ... let the arguers argue and parry and thrust and debate.

I definitely appreciate your frustrations & "hear your heart," I'd say.

By the way, I used to hang out at the Watchman.net discussion board ( noting your Chip B. quote on your signatures), when there was one on the site two years back.

I did swear off discussion boards, after that, having naively assumed everyone there would be 'matured' in Christ, since they were ones 'coming out' of the System


I learned a lot thru that sojourn there, and I must say I was just quite naive about the state of saints that are "coming out" ... but yet, we still have 'the System' still in us, wherever we are, til we go to the cross.

Anyone can 'leave the System' ... but not all go deeper

:)

baruch

 2005/8/27 6:12Profile
crsschk
Member



Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: Giving an alternative

Hi baruch,

Thanks for the input.

As this site has grown and newer members come in there has been a lot of ebb and flow and various backgrounds and tenure in particular walks of life with the Lord exemplified.

It is something of a difficulty to always keep this in mind. Originally, the topics and discussions were more often revolving around the messages here as well as the normal outgrowth and influences surrounding or given voice to by them.

Such is the large database of articles present here for instance. It does seem at times that it needs to be emphasized that a drift is upon us towards more topical things, not to dissuade discussion, but as Manfred pointed out;

Quote:
How does this thing contribute to an increasing knowledge of Christ? If we did ask this question more often to ourselves, I think we wouldn't do half the things we do.



With that comes something that we can all do to turn the tide back to what is more essential and of greater importance. I can understand and have seen how many have gotten to the point of just removing themselves from the discussions or in attempting to steer back towards things that require a bit more strenuous activity of the mind, in Chambers words; [i]Brain sweat[/i], have feared it is of no use. It is far easier to speak and have ones thoughts trailing behind trying to catch up than it is to ponder, pray and absorb things that may give one a headache from lack of exercise of the fleshly matter... Instead of plagiarizing, best to let him speak to this:

[i]The majority of us allow our brains to wool-gather, we never concentrate on any particular line. Concentration is physical, not spiritual. The brain must be brought into order by concentration, then when the Spirit of God brings a spontaneous illumination of a particular theme instantly the brain is at the disposal of God. If we have not learned to concentrate, the brain cannot focus itself anywhere, it fusses all round and wool-gathers. No one is responsible for that but ourselves.[/i]

Chambers, O
The moral foundation of life : A series of talks on the ethical principles of the Christian life.

(This is worthy of it's own discourse alone)

It is also easy to miss the tone of such things by making mention of this here. It is not a matter of 'how things ought to be done' that is at stake, but more of... [i]have you considered?[/i]. There is enough content available here to revolutionize our thinking as it penetrates into the heart, but it takes time and effort, work, to really begin to [i]think[/i]. Someone of the ilk of T. Austin Sparks being a perfect example, a cursory skimming over will avail little, just as doing the same with the scriptures themselves lack substance when they are taken in beggarly doses, stripped of their context and produced as quick antidotes to what is lacking in our makeup.

It is a saddening thing that there isn't in our day more emphasis on taking time to absorb and think things through, not always to a complete and finished understanding necessarily, but as a product of utilizing the processing center of what God has given us, our minds.

We can however present the alternative by bringing forth such things to the fore and by responding to them. Appreciate Manfred's efforts in this attempt and others as well, it takes some diligence and endurance as it can be difficult to wean off the natural bents towards controversial, more surface level items and draw in a consideration for so much a better banquet that is available. Am not advocating something of an intellectual elitism in spiritual matters, but that of ...

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, [b]let us go on unto perfection[/b]; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Heb 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Heb 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.

Just as well...

Heb 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Redundantly, just advocating so much more and it is here if a little sweat equity is applied, some digging is done, some treasures unearthed. Keeping in mind that many are coming out of jaded experiences from a modern Christianity that has been cloaked in catch phrases and commercialized to be practically a caricature of what it is in Spirit and in truth. Much patience and forbearance needed, but we can lead on to deeper waters, to changing the 'tastes' from the sweets to real meat indeed. (Heb 5:14)


_________________
Mike Balog

 2005/8/27 11:50Profile
crsschk
Member



Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: The Transcendent Value of the Knowledge of Christ

To the article itself...

Quote:
Words are of value in proportion to the reality of a man’s history — the history that lies behind his words and relates to his words. We may say things, but those things may be worthless, because there is nothing behind them in ourselves. Or we may say things, and those things may carry with them tremendous weight of meaning and value because of what lies behind them in the person of the speaker.



Quote:
Such words were not just words in the case of Paul. This was not some fine flourish of language. Coming from such a man as he was, they carried tremendous weight, not because of who he was, but because of the life out of which the words sprang.


_________________
Mike Balog

 2005/8/27 12:27Profile









 Re:

Chambers is a Great Saint.

Those were very dear posts you both gave.


It is funny, but back in 2002, 'another' time when I was looking for T.A. Sparks, that is when I found watchman.net, because he had a whole site of just Sparks.

Is God neat or what ? And then last month, that's how I found SI.


And just today, the daily email from Chip was this ....

Quote:
In Romans 11:36 Paul sums up the preeminence of Christ into three expressions: "Of Him... through Him... to Him... are ALL THINGS." "OF HIM" says that everything which exists - things in heaven, things in earth, everything that was created, everything that has come into being, everything that will come into being - is created by, and because of, CHRIST. "THROUGH HIM" says that everything which lives, moves, breathes, operates, exists, or functions in this universe, whether animate or inanimate, whether biological, chemical, spiritual, natural, or cosmotological - does so THROUGH CHRIST, Who sovereignly upholds all these things, determines their place, and keeps them in order. "TO HIM" says that everything, no matter how far from God's Thought it may be, no matter how chaotic things may appear, is being directed, summed up, and gathered together INTO CHRIST. As the Alpha, all things flow FROM Him; as the Omega, all things flow TO Him.

That is quite a paragraph. A paragraph like that cannot be grasped in one reading. But that paragraph is, in essence, what Paul means, and what we mean, by Christ having the preeminence in all things. We are talking about Jesus as Lord over us individually, over the Church corporately, and over all creation collectively. We are talking about a preeminent Christ Who is exalted above every principality and power, rule and dominion; things visible, things invisible; things past, things present, things future; things in heaven, things in earth, things under the earth: all things are OF Him, all things are THROUGH Him, and all things are TO Him. That is preeminence.




How faithful God is, when we depend on Him, as just a little child, to lead us to fresh waters and great websites.

Faithful is our God.

Thank you 3 for posting these things.

Refreshed.
Annie

 2005/8/27 15:19
Manfred
Member



Joined: 2005/4/4
Posts: 342
Continental Europe

 Re:

Quote:
It is also easy to miss the tone of such things by making mention of this here. It is not a matter of 'how things ought to be done' that is at stake, but more of... have you considered?. There is enough content available here to revolutionize our thinking as it penetrates into the heart, but it takes time and effort, work, to really begin to think. Someone of the ilk of T. Austin Sparks being a perfect example, a cursory skimming over will avail little, just as doing the same with the scriptures themselves lack substance when they are taken in beggarly doses, stripped of their context and produced as quick antidotes to what is lacking in our makeup.

It is a saddening thing that there isn't in our day more emphasis on taking time to absorb and think things through, not always to a complete and finished understanding necessarily, but as a product of utilizing the processing center of what God has given us, our minds.

We can however present the alternative by bringing forth such things to the fore and by responding to them. Appreciate Manfred's efforts in this attempt and others as well, it takes some diligence and endurance as it can be difficult to wean off the natural bents towards controversial, more surface level items and draw in a consideration for so much a better banquet that is available. Am not advocating something of an intellectual elitism in spiritual matters, but that of ...

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Heb 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Heb 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.

Just as well...

Heb 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Redundantly, just advocating so much more and it is here if a little sweat equity is applied, some digging is done, some treasures unearthed. Keeping in mind that many are coming out of jaded experiences from a modern Christianity that has been cloaked in catch phrases and commercialized to be practically a caricature of what it is in Spirit and in truth. Much patience and forbearance needed, but we can lead on to deeper waters, to changing the 'tastes' from the sweets to real meat indeed. (Heb 5:14)
Quote:


Mike,

You have expressed things better than I could have, but it is exactly how I see things; thank you for sharing these thoughts.

Baruch,

Concerning Keswick, this is not the place to discuss it (this forum is dedicated to TAS); you may want to start a new thread - another one!? Maybe there's something on SI about it already, I haven't checked.

Manfred

 2005/8/27 16:21Profile





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