Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for September 26

Joy in Knowing Jesus

Philippians 3:8–21 

Righteousness Gained (8–11)

Before salvation, Paul sought to gain God’s pleasure by strict adherence to the Law. However, when he came face to face with Jesus, he realized all his efforts and works were rubbish compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ (v. 8). Paul discovered that righteousness was gained by faith alone (v. 9).

Followers of Christ will seek a growing identification with Jesus; they will not rest until they are like the One who imputes His righteousness. Paul was clear there is a price to this righteousness; believers share in Jesus’ sufferings and even in His death (v. 10). 

Nevertheless, the power of the resurrection assures that people of faith have strength to walk in fellowship with Him, and guarantees the final glorious resurrection (vv. 1011). Paul does not doubt his salvation when he states, “assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection among the dead” (v. 11). Rather, he is openly voicing his amazement that God grants salvation.

We don’t know how many days we have left, but we know our righteousness is gained in Christ alone!

 Sanctification Begun (12–14)

Even though Paul is living in “the power of the resurrection,” he admittedly had a long way to go. He continued to press on in his knowledge and love of Christ. He wanted to seize that for which Christ took hold of him (v. 12).

Growing in sanctification is explained by two participles. First, believers must forget what is behind (v. 13). The past is the past! Neither the “good ole days” nor blaring failures should paralyze the Christian. Every day with Jesus should be sweeter than the day before!

Second, believers must strain toward what is ahead (v. 13). Continuing the metaphor of a race, Paul brings to mind the difficulty of running when physically exhausted. Even so, he perseveres as he pursues God’s heavenly call (v. 14). Mental and physical discipline is necessary as we grow in the sanctification process. Press on!

Warning Issued (15–19)

Paul warned Christians against becoming complacent and dropping their standards. Believers must not turn back from what they learned (v. 16). Jesus warns, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). To protect them from drifting away, Paul encouraged believers to imitate his and other godly lives (v. 17).

Not everyone who claims to be a believer is truly a follower of Christ. In fact, Paul weeps as he thinks of enemies who have rejected the cross; they are headed for destruction. Beware, believer you are recognized by your fruit! Are you walking according to the pattern of Christ Jesus, or are you looking back? 

Citizenship Assured (20–21)

Unlike their Roman citizenship that was passing away, Christians are assured an eternal citizenship in Heaven (v. 20). Even more, believers are told to eagerly await the second coming of the Lord. Paul assured them that Christ’s coming in power subdues everything and will transform them with a magnificent body like His (v. 21). The resurrection is the climax of the Christian experience.

Today, we need to place our gaze upon our eternal home. Our earthly existence must not be our ultimate concern. One day soon, Jesus is coming, we will receive a new body, and we will have no more tears, sorrows or pain. There is great joy in knowing Jesus and the promises He has for all Christians.

Today is a day to begin again, a day of a new focus on what is eternal. Examine your life. Do you know Christ? Does He know you? Take hold of Christ, and He will take hold of you! Only then will you know the eternal joy in knowing Christ.


Jackson has served in a variety of ministry roles, including pastor and state missionary.

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