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"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

Brother Beebe: - As your Correspondent F. refers to me as well as to yourself for an exposition of Phil.3:10-11, and you have seen fit to submit the subject to me, I will give such views as I have of the passage.

Paul having in some of the preceding verses, showed his superior religious advantages in his natural state, over many, in reference to legal or conditional acceptance, and consequently the great advantage he had on the ground of creaturely boasting; then states the great change he had experienced, in being brought to count those religious advantages which he had considered a great gain, a loss, a real nuisance, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, his Lord; and speaks of so accounting them that he might win Christ. The term win is here not used in the sense of obtaining a prize by venture or exertion, but in the sense of esteeming Christ as his prize or gain in contradistinction from those things he formerly counted gain. Then to have Christ would have been esteemed by him as a loss, now, those things he formerly prized, he knows to be loss, and Christ he esteems and desires as his gain. That is, not merely to have Him in name, but - "to be found in Him, not having," he says, "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." How completely does the Apostle here cut off all creaturely means in the article of a justifying righteousness; it is through faith - not of works; it is by faith, not of the preacher or hearer, but of God.

Paul goes on to say in the 10 & 11 verses; "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings; being made conformable unto His death. If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." That I may know Him: Not that Paul did not know Him as the long expected Messiah, as the God of Abraham, the Immanuel; nor that he did not know Christ crucified as the only way of salvation, as the end of the law for righteousness &c. But the sense here may be, the same as he told the Corinthians, "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified;" that is, as the subject of gospel preaching, or the ground of gospel hope, so in reference to himself he desires to know Him as the only ground of his hope and trust. Formerly he knew many things, when under the law, as grounds of hope, such as his circumcision, his blameless life, his zeal &c., but when sin revived and he died, all the goodness of these was destroyed; and now Christ Jesus only does he know, or even desire to know, as his trust and plea for acceptance with God. We may in some measure appreciate the force of the Apostle's expression: "That I may know Him," when we consider how prone we are to look to other things as grounds of our hope and confidence, such as our love, religious zeal, upright walk &c. Again Paul may have desired to know Christ, or God in Christ, in the sense in which he says, "now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known," I Cor.13:12, that is, he desires a more perfect knowledge of the "Only wise God our Saviour." We know but in part in reference to His exalted, glorified state. We have but a faint conception of the putting forth by our exalted Jesus of all the attributes of Jehovah for the salvation of His church and people. If we did but know Him more; know more of His love, truth, power, wisdom, and of the riches of His grace &c., we should not be so often doubting whether He could or would save such poor wandering sinners, who have no other hope. Paul partook of this imperfection of knowledge and was therefore susceptible of a growth in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ; and this he desired.

"And the power of His resurrection." In considering the power of His resurrection, we must remember that He died as the Head and Representative of His people, having all their iniquities upon Him, when He arose, He arose triumphant over their killing power, had expiated them, and left them buried, never to arise for His people's condemnation; and as He represented His people, in bearing sin and dying; so He in His triumph, brought them forth freed from the curse of the law.

Again, He was under the law to redeem His people from under the law; to Him therefore the law looked for the redemption price as standing between His people and its demands; when therefore He came forth from its servitude, having canceled its demand, and was "declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead," He brought them forth with Him, from bondage into the same relation of sonship to God, as brethren and joint heirs with Him; and therefore brought in a dispensation of sonship under the new covenant in the place of legal bondage. There His people were quickened together with Him, and raised up together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. {Eph.2:5 &6.} So that when any are born again, they are born free from the curse, born in a state of justification, of liberty, of sonship and receive the spirit of adoption, crying Abba Father.

No wonder then, that Paul wished to know the power of Christ's resurrection; to have a constant and sweet experience of it, in enjoying the privilege and confidence of a son and heir of God; and to have an abiding sense that all this comes by Christ's resurrection. How much more glorious a state this, than that of legal servitude! What a display does it afford of the grace of God! What confidence does a knowledge of these things give in approaching God; beyond what we could have while dependent on our own faithfulness and acceptance with Him.

"And the fellowship of His sufferings." Christ in His sufferings under the law, on account of sin, and in enduring its penalty, suffered, as has been noticed, as representing His people: They have therefore a mutual fellowship or participation in those sufferings, and the redemption wrought thereby. They have thus through Christ their Head, received what the prophet calls, Double for all their sins; have received full punishment due for them and rendered full satisfaction to law and Justice. {Isa.40:2} No Fullerite evasion of the demands of the law, in this thing. When we so feel our sinfulness, as to query whether a just God can have compassion on such base transgressors; how comfortable to know our fellowship in Christ's sufferings, and that thereby our sins have been expiated, and justice on their account satisfied. We then know that a just and holy God can be favorable to us, notwithstanding our vileness as sinners. Alas, how few and scattered are the moments when, in this day of coldness, we know these things in real heart experience.

"Being made conformable to His death." This is an important consideration. Neither Paul, nor any other subject of grace would be satisfied with knowing the above things, whilst sin had its full dominion over them. We are told of Christ, that, "In that He died, He died unto sin once; but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God." Rom.6:10. In regeneration and the new birth we are in this thing made conformable unto His death. When the commandment comes, sin revives and we die. We so know and feel the exceeding sinfulness of sin, that we fully acquiesce in the justice of the sentence of death, which the law passes upon us. And instead of wishing to live any longer in our sins, we desire to be saved from them. And when born again, or brought into gospel liberty, we are born of a principle of life which lives not unto sin, but unto God. It has no delight in sin, but delights in God, and in a conformity to His will.

This is a source of many doubts, particularly to young christians; these are apt to suppose that this dying unto sin, is a being delivered from the sinful propensities of nature. Hence when they feel these working in them, they fear they have been deceived in their hopes of having passed from death unto life. Paul felt the same propensities, with his flesh he served the law of sin &c. Rom.7:15-25. This death unto sin has often been represented, a being dead to the love of it. But this helps not the matter; for the natural affections are no more changed than in nature itself. Hence we find our affections setting towards that which is sinful, like a current. As Watts expresses it:

"The fondness of a creature's love,
How strong it strikes the sense;
Thither the warm affections move,
Nor can we call them thence."

Christ did not die unto the love of sin; for He never did love it. But He died under the sentence of the law on account of the sins of His people laid upon Him. And if we have been made conformable unto His death, we die daily to all creaturely glorying, and creaturely confidence on account of finding sin mixed in every thing we do; so that we no more have any confidence in the flesh, in our gracious exercises; nor love for it or its doings; but have confidence in God and a desire after Him, and after a conformity to His will. Thus, we see the propriety of the Apostle's exhortation - "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin &c." Rom.6:11-13. No more consider sin your proper element. Again, Christ died unto the servitude of the law, and if we are made conformable unto His death, we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father. And therefore we serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. Rom.8:15 & 7:6. Now when we are thus made conformable to Christ's death, an increased knowledge of the power of His resurrection, and of the fellowship of His sufferings; instead of leading to looseness of life, will lead us the more earnestly to desire to live unto God.

"If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." Not to stop to inquire what any supposable meanings of this text may be, I will inquire what the resurrection of the dead is, and let Paul answer. He says, "it is raised in incorruption; it is raised in glory; it is raised in power; it is raised a spiritual body." I Cor.15:42-44. Who that knows the internal warfare of the christian, does not, when his desires are not benumbed by the world or the flesh, desire like the Apostle to attain to this holy perfection in body as well as in spirit? Not that they are so anxious to be sown, or to be dead and buried; as the Apostle shows by another figure when he says, "For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." II Cor.5:4. Paul with propriety illustrates the extent of the desires of the new man by the idea of the resurrection of the dead, because he well knew, that neither he, nor any other christian would realize the satisfaction of these desires, short of the resurrection of the dead, as says the Psalmist: "I shall be satisfied, when I awake with Thy likeness." Ps.17:15. That Paul designed thus to express his earnest desire after entire perfection in heart and life, and therefore did not rest satisfied with any attainments short of it, is evident, from the further explanation which he gives in the following verses of the chapter, and which those who wish for satisfaction on the subject will do well to read. Here I will stop, lest remarking further on this verse, I should touch on controversy.

Centreville, Fairfax County, Virginia,
Sept. 24, 1846.
S. Trott.
From: SIGNS of the TIMES: Vol. 14 (1846)

Select Works of Elder Samuel Trott
pgs. 342 - 347