“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8–11)
Ah, Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–92)! Man of Essex, “Prince of Preachers” and defender of the faith. What more could you want? Son and Grandson of ministers, Spurgeon took to the ministry soon after his conversion. Such was his prowess, and the depth of his theology, that aged only 19 he was called to be minister of the then famous New Park Street Chapel. Within years congregations could no longer fit in, so the much larger Metropolitan Tabernacle was built which would be filled with six thousand people on both a Sunday morning and evening.
During his lifetime, Spurgeon also founded a training college and orphanage (both of which still exist) and his sermons were published each week. Today, all sixty-three volumes are still being sold, as well as his numerous other books.
This sermon was preached on 21st April 1889 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
What, then, was the great object of the apostle’s ardour? It was “that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection.” Paul already knew the Lord Jesus by faith; he knew so much of him as to be able to teach others. He had looked to Jesus, and known the power of his death; but he now desired that the vision of his faith might become still better known by experience. You may know a man, and have an idea that he is powerful; but to know him and his power over you, is a stage further. You may have read of a man so as to be familiar with his history and his character, and yet you may have no knowledge of him and of his personal influence over yourself. Paul desired intimate acquaintance with the Lord Jesus, personal intercourse with the Lord to such a degree that he should feel his power at every point, and know the effect of all that he had wrought out in his life, death, and resurrection. He knew that Jesus died, and he aspired to rehearse the history in his own soul’s story: he would be dead with him to the world. He knew that Jesus was buried, and he would fain be “buried with him in baptism unto death.” He knew that Jesus rose, and his longing was to rise with him in newness of life. Yes, he even remembered that his Lord had ascended up on high, and he rejoiced to say, “He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” His great desire was to have reproduced in himself the life of Jesus, so as to know all about him by being made like him. The best Life of Christ is not by Canon Farrar, or Dr. Geikie: it is written in the experience of the saint by the Holy Ghost.