What does it mean to gain Christ? According to the Greek, the noun form of the word "gain" is in verse 7, and the verbal form is in verse 8. Therefore, Darby translates verse 8 this way: "That I may have Christ as gain." To gain Christ means to have Christ as gain. Paul seemed to be saying, "In the past, so many religious things were gain to me. Also, the things I had according to my birthright were gain to me. But on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, I have forsaken all these gains so that I may obtain Christ as my gain." This gain comes by revelation. We need to be unveiled to see Christ in the various books of the New Testament, in John, Romans, Colossians, Hebrews, and Revelation. We need to see that Christ is over all, God blessed forever (Rom. 9:5). But to see Christ is not merely for the sake of seeing Him; to see Him is for the sake of gaining Him. After seeing Christ, we need to gain Him.
Take shopping in a supermarket as an example. You may see many things in the store, but seeing them does not mean that they belong to you. In order for the items to belong to you, you need to pay the price for them. I have no doubt that we have all seen something of Christ. But now we must pay the price in order to gain what we have seen. This is the reason that verse 8 speaks of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ and that at the end of this verse Paul says, "In order that I may gain Christ" (Gk.). Seeing the things concerning Christ causes us to gain Christ. However, simply to see may not cost us anything, for seeing something does not necessarily mean that we have paid the price to gain it. Nevertheless, seeing causes us to gain. In order to gain, we must pay the price. Paul not only saw the excellency of Christ, but paid the price to gain Him. On account of Christ, he suffered the loss of all things. This indicates that he paid the price. In Philippians 3 Paul seemed to be saying, "I have not only counted all things loss, but suffered the loss of all things in order that I may gain Christ." My burden in this message is to help you to see Christ and especially to gain Christ. To see Christ is one thing, and to gain Christ is another.
In gaining Christ we should not go window shopping. When people go window shopping, they look at certain items, but they do not buy them. Some brothers and sisters in the church life come to the meetings in the way of window shopping. They enjoy listening to the messages, but they do not pay the price to gain Christ. To pay the price is to suffer the loss of all things. First, Paul counted as loss all religious gain and all gain by natural birth. Then he counted all things loss and suffered the loss of all things. He did this in order to gain the Christ he had seen. A number of times I have spent a large amount of money to buy a particular item. After purchasing that item and bringing it home, I began to regret the price I had paid for it. However, when I considered the item and realized the excellency of it, I did not care about the price I had paid. This is why Paul said that after suffering the loss of all things, he counted them dung. What he paid to gain Christ was nothing but dung, dog food, trash, rubbish, refuse. He did not regret the price he had paid.
Having spent a great deal of time on Philippians 3, I believe that I have entered into Paul’s spirit in this chapter. Paul suffered the loss of all things and counted them dung in order that he might gain Christ. Even this is simply a gaining by revelation. If a sister buys food at the market, brings it home, and puts it into the refrigerator, she does not yet have the food in reality. No, the food must be cooked and eaten by her and her family. For example, it is not a simple process for me to take some chicken into me, for my wife must go to the market, buy the chicken, bring it home, and cook it. Then I need to eat it. The point of this illustration is that we may see something, pay the price for it, and gain it, but still not actually have that thing because we have not yet taken it into us. This is the reason that after speaking about gaining Christ, Paul said, "And be found in him" (v. 9). To see Christ is one thing, to gain Christ is another thing, and to be found in Christ is still another thing.
Before going on to the matter of being found in Christ, I would like to emphasize more the need to gain Him. I am concerned that many of us have seen something of Christ, but have not gained very much of Him. Here in Philippians 3, to gain Christ is to get Christ through revelation. In Galatians 1 Paul said that it pleased God to reveal His Son in him. Although God is pleased to reveal Christ in us, we still need to receive Christ by paying the price. This was the reason Paul had the boldness to say that he suffered the loss of all things. For Saul of Tarsus to receive God’s revelation concerning Christ was a very significant thing. Paul was a leader in the Jewish religion, he had made a name for himself, and he was very zealous. There was a great deal of gain for him in that religion. Suddenly, God intervened to trouble him and seemed to say, "Saul, what are you doing? I know that you have reached the top in religion, that you are zealous, and that you have earned a name for yourself. But I have come to show you something better. Saul, what you have is just dog food." It was not easy for Saul to give up his position in Judaism and take another way.
I am concerned for those who merely come to the meetings, listen to messages, and read the printed materials. They may see something of Christ, but they may not pay the price to gain what they have seen. Paul received the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and he suffered the loss of all things, thereby paying the price to gain what he saw. He paid and he gained. But this is not all; he also desired to be found in Christ.
(The Experience of Christ, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)