Salvation in the Biblical sense is a matter of the substitutionary identification with a Saviour. Jesus Christ became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21); He died for us (1 Thessalonians 5:10); and He rose again for our justification (Romans 4:25). The Resurrection of Christ then forms a very essential aspect of the Christian faith as we identify with the substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:12-13:3:1, 3).
“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10)
So our salvation is bound up in the Life of Christ. We have to understand then that salvation is secured by His finished work and it is applied to us by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit baptism (Ephesians 3:7). While both of these essential aspects of our New Life in Christ are eternally and judicially settled, there remains a point in every child of God’s life when they must come to the experiential knowledge of such – the Truth must become real to us. I submit this to be Paul’s earnest desire in writing to the church at Philippi.
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ… That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” (Philippians 3:8, 10)
In our text, we see that Paul counted all of his accomplishments as “loss” compared to “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.” Paul goes a step further to de-emphasize his own righteousness for the glory of Christ’s righteousness (verse 9). He then goes into verse 10 with an explanation of this excellent knowledge of Christ. Paul said that his desire is to know Christ, the power of His Resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings. This is more than a theoretical conception; the Greek word “ginōsko” indicates a “knowledge” gained by experience. I believe this is the key to our identity in Christ (verse 9).
As we have seen our salvation to be a matter of identification with a Saviour, we noted that the “finished’ work of Christ is made reality as the individual comes to the experiential knowledge of the Truth. Paul wanted the knowledge of Christ that could only be gained by experience. And so he wrote that the things that were “gain” to him were “dung” in comparison to the experience of his New Life in Christ. Moreover, Paul rejoiced to experience the Power of Christ’s Resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.
What a great Truth this is! By the realization of our secured blessedness, we are able to rejoice in the experience of our blessings. The Bible declares that the substitutionary suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus secured our blessedness, giving us Eternal Life, victory over sin and the grave, power to perform God’s Will in our life, and that “with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The battle is already won; the power is already at work; the healing is already done. We just have to experience them; we have to come to know them.
As we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us also rejoice in the Truth of our own resurrection in Him (Colossians 2:12). Let us rejoice in the knowledge that Christ has suffered all things for us, so that we will have the experience of His victory. Christ did not die so that we would never have trials of suffering, sickness, or death; He died for us as a Substitute, so that through our identification with Him, we can have the experiential knowledge of His Life. This is our fellowship in His sufferings, and the glory of His Resurrection Power.
Another word should be added in regards to the final clause in Philippians 3:10, “being made conformable unto his death.” It is the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ which atones for our sins and so frees us from their death – wages. The Cross of Jesus Christ is the place of judicial justification, where the captives are set free and Eternal Life is secured. Everything in our Christian walk points us to the Cross of Christ, and so our New Life is a crucified life (Galatians 2:20).
And so Paul tells us that the avenue toward the experiential knowledge of Christ’s resurrection power is found in the putting off of the “old man” (Ephesians 4:22); as we “die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31) and are raised to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). The experience of resurrection power is known through its exercise. Through living a crucified life (dying to self), being made conformable to Christ’s death on the cross, we are progressively conformed to His image and likeness, becoming One with Him, “… changed into the same image from glory to glory…” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Yes, as a matter of identification with our Substitutionary Savior (finding our identity in Christ), we have fellowship with one another in His Body. We are made partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We are made One Spirit with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17). As we progressively die to self, we can experience the Power of His Life. We can know Him and the Power of His Resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.