Spiritual Basics – Knowing Christ 2

In our last study, we looked at what a teacher of Israel named Nicodemus learned about what it means to ‘know’ Christ.  Knowing Jesus Christ is the first spiritual basic in Christian martial arts.

Today, let’s look at what we learn from a teacher of both Israel and the Gentiles about knowing Christ.

The Apostle Paul thought he knew a lot about God, but later admitted he knew very little until he met Jesus Christ. Paul spent much of his childhood in the early part of the 1st century AD studying to be a Pharisee, which was the strictest sect of the Jewish religion at the time. He rose to a position of authority within the ruling religious class of Israel and led a crusade to wipe out the early sect of people who believed a man known as Jesus of Nazareth was Israel’s Messiah and had risen from the dead. Paul hunted down the followers of Jesus and threw them in prison. The Book of Acts records that when a Christ-follower named Stephen was put to death, Paul cast his vote against them. Paul punished the followers of Jesus often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme. He admitted to being so enraged against the followers of Christ that he persecuted them even to foreign cities.

It was on one of his journeys to a foreign city that Paul met Jesus for the first time.

“… as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” Acts 26:12-18

Paul changed his alliances that day and never turned back. Meeting Jesus will do that – change you forever.

It wasn’t long before Paul was preaching Christ in the synagogues of Damascus saying  – “He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). The Jews who heard Paul were amazed because they knew he had persecuted followers of Christ in Jerusalem and had come to Damascus to arrest people who believed in Christ to take them bound to the chief priest in Jerusalem. “But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 9:22)

Fast forward many years and Paul is preaching Christ in the ancient city of Philippi located in eastern Macedonia. He, along with fellow preacher Silas, were arrested, beaten and thrown into prison. The city magistrates commanded the jailer to keep Paul and Silas from escaping, so the jailer put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in stocks. Paul and Silas were praying and singing when an earthquake struck about midnight. The foundations of the prison were shaken, all the prison doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. The keeper of the prison woke from sleep, saw the prison doors open, thought the prisoners had escaped and drew his sword to kill himself. Paul called out to the jailer with a loud voice saying – “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” The jailer called for a light, ran into Paul and Silas’ cell and fell down trembling before them. The jailer stood up and brought Paul and Silas out of the cell and asked them a question that every human being should ask: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas could have said a lot of things at that moment, but here’s how they responded to the sincere question about being saved – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)

That’s what the jailer did. He believed (trusted) on the Lord Jesus Christ and was saved. Paul and Silas spoke the Word of the Lord to members of the jailer’s household and they also believed “in God” (Acts 16:32-34) and were saved. When people believe on the Lord Jesus Christ they are believing in God.

Why did the jailer ask about ‘being saved’? Paul and Silas had arrived in Philippi only a short time earlier, so how would the jailer know about the need to ‘be saved’?

Paul and Silas went out of the city on the Sabbath day to the riverside where worshippers of Jehovah went to pray. They talked with the women who met there each week. A woman named Lydia listened to Paul and the “Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14). She believed what Paul preached about Jesus and she and her household were baptized.

A slave girl who possessed a spirit of divination followed Paul and cried out – “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17). The slave girl continued to do that for many days until Paul finally commanded the demonic spirit to come out of the girl. The demon left the girl and she lost her ability to tell fortunes. Her masters saw that their hope for profit was gone, so they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the authorities, who brought the apostles to the magistrates. Paul and Silas were beaten with rods and thrown into prison. The magistrates commanded the jailer to keep them secure and “Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.” (Acts 16:18-24) In the process of charging the jailer, the magistrates may have told the jailer the story about the slave girl and what she said about Paul and Silas proclaiming the ‘way of salvation.’ The fact that Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God in prison and didn’t try to escape after the earthquake would have probably added to the jailer’s sense that they were “servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.”

We see in this story important basics about knowing Christ:

  • Paul and Silas obeyed the leading of the Holy Spirit in traveling to Macedonia to preach the Gospel there (Acts 16:6-10).
  • They immediately searched for people to share Christ with and people were saved.
  • Demonic forces opposed Paul and Silas in what appeared to be public ridicule that eventually led to the apostles being arrested, beaten and imprisoned. While that may have been Satan’s plan to stop Paul and Silas from preaching the Gospel, it did the opposite and expanded the outreach of the Gospel message to a government employee and his family.
  • Paul and Silas told the jailer to ““Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
  • Paul and Silas followed up the basic invitation by speaking “the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.” 
  • The jailer and all of his family were saved and ‘immediately’ baptized.

Paul’s message was not the ‘easy-believism’ that many people trust in today. ‘Belief’ as a Christian includes hearing ‘the word of the Lord.’ Paul detailed what it means to believe in these words to Christians in Rome:

But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, ‘Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:6-13

Believing in Christ includes ‘confessing’ Him as Lord and Savior and ‘believing in your heart’ that God has raised Jesus from the dead, then ‘you will be saved.’ Why? “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

‘Knowing Christ’ means knowing Him as He really is, Lord and Savior, risen from the dead. It is not easy, but it is forever.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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