I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death. (Philippians 3:10 NIV)
Do recognize that the Cross is the end of the risen life, and not only the beginning. If you forget everything else, remember that. The Cross is the end of the risen life, as well as the beginning: "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming conformed unto His death." People have been to me with Philippians 3 and have asked: "Why does Paul put death at the end? Surely it ought to be right the other way round – 'That I may be conformed to His death, and know Him in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.'" No, there is no mistake. The order is of the Holy Spirit. The power of His resurrection presupposes that there has been a death, but the very resurrection-life leads to the Cross. The Holy Spirit in the power of the risen life is always leading you back to the Cross, to conformity to His death. It is the very property of Life to rule out all that belongs to death. It is the very power of resurrection to bring us back to the place where death is constantly overcome.
That place is none other than the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ where the natural life is put aside. So Paul says: "...becoming conformed unto His death," which means: to have the ground of death continually and progressively removed; and that, again, as we have said, is the fruit of living union with Him. It would be a poor look-out for you and for me were we to be conformed to His death in entirety apart from the power of resurrection in us, apart from our already knowing the Life of the Lord. Where would be our hope? What is it that is the power of our survival when the Cross is made more real in our experience? There would be no survival were it not that His risen Life is in us. So Paul prays: "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection..." and that means conformity to His death without utter destruction. The end of the risen life is the Cross. The Holy Spirit is always working in relation to the Cross, in order that the power of His resurrection may be increasingly manifested in us.
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