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The Surpassing Value of Knowing Christ


But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ

—Philippians 3:7–8

In Philippians 3:4–6, the apostle Paul lists the points on which he might boast, things any devout Jew would count as valuable, even indispensible. But none of these so fundamental to his Hebrew identity were of any worth when compared with the knowledge of Christ.


Now, because this might seem a wonder and hard to be believed, that the apostle should renounce, cast away that which others counted their gain, treasure, ornament, their glory and confidence, that which they thought highly commended them, and made them acceptable in the sight of God, and glorious in the eyes of men; to procure the easier belief, to express further the height of his resolution herein, and the fixedness of his heart in what he had done, he affirms it again, and that with an asseveration, together with divers heightened expressions, ver. 8, ‘Yea, doubtless,’ &c. He did not only count them loss, but he had actually renounced them. It was not only his judgment, but his practice. He did not only count them loss, but dung, filth, excrements, when compared with Christ. He did not only thus account, thus renounce these things fore-mentioned, but all things, even those things that he had done and suffered for Christ, since he knew Christ. Not that he repented of what he had done or suffered, nor that he thought these would not be graciously rewarded, but in point of confidence, in point of justification. If he had brought these before God’s tribunal to be accepted, pardoned, justified, saved for them, he had been lost, they would have proved the loss of his soul. God would no more accept of these as satisfaction for sin, or meritorious of eternal life, than he would accept of dung. And therefore in these respects he did that which the Lord would have done, he counted them loss and dung. He smelt a savour of death in those things which had been his confidence be fore for acceptance and life.

And further, he adds the cause of this strange effect, ‘The excellency of the knowledge,’ &c. It was the discovery of Christ that wrought his heart to this temper. It was his view of a sinner s transcendent advantage by Christ, that made him account all these loss. It was the wonderful excellency of the knowledge of Christ, that made all these things seem as dung. When we are in the dark, we are glad of candle-light, and glow-worms will make a fair show in our eyes; but when the sun is risen and shines in his full strength, then candle-light seems needless or offensive, and the worms that glittered in the dark, make no better show than other vermin. So when men are in the state of nature and darkness, then their church privileges and carnal prerogatives, then their outward performances and self-righteousness, make a fine show in their eyes. They are apt to glory in them, and rely on them, as that by which they may gain the favour of God and eternal life. Ay, but when Christ appears, when the Sun of righteousness arises in the heart and discovers his excellency, his all-sufficiency, then a man’s own sparks vanish; then all his formerly beloved and rich esteemed ornaments are cast off; then all he has, and all he has done, privileges and outward services, are loss and dung. None but Christ, none but Christ, for pardon, acceptance, life. This is the excellent effect of this excellent knowledge.

—David Clarkson, The Excellent Knowledge of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:250.

Posted 2017·10·03 by David Kjos
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Posted in: David Clarkson · Solus Christus · Works of David Clarkson

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