the Son of God in power... by the resurrection of the dead"
"...till we all
attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the
Son of God, unto a full-grown man" (Eph. 4:13).
"I count all
things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ
Jesus my Lord... that I may know Him, and the power of his
resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming
conformed unto His death" (Phil. 3:8,10).
There is a matter that I want to
bring to you now which perhaps, unlike the word of the previous
meditation, will call for a little more exercise on your part,
not just mental exercise, but it will call for some giving of
ourselves intensely to it in order that we shall grasp the great
significance that lies here.
Before we come to that specific
matter or point, may I remind you of the very great value and
importance which the Scriptures attach to spiritual
knowledge. There is all the difference between spiritual
knowledge and mental knowledge or mere head knowledge. We may say
rightly, according to the Scriptures, that everything for the
life of the child of God depends upon spiritual knowledge and is
bound up with spiritual knowledge. "This is life
eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and Him
whom thou didst send, Jesus Christ" (John 17:3). So life
eternal is linked with a certain knowledge, and from that very
first thing in the history of the child of God (that is, eternal
life by knowledge) everything else is linked with a particular,
specific knowledge. That is, we have got to know in a spiritual
way in order to grow in the spiritual life.
You notice how much importance
the apostle attaches to this. "I count all
things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ
Jesus my Lord." And that is not completed even at that
point, for he afterwards follows on by saying as something still
lying ahead — I press on that I may know Him! He is a
man who has a vast knowledge of the Lord but who is so aware of
the tremendous importance and value of spiritual knowledge as to
put all other things which are of account to men aside as
worthless for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Then there is this great
prospect presented and opened out in Ephesians 4. The ascended
Lord gave gifts among men; He gave ministering gifts, apostles,
prophets, and so on, for the perfecting, the building up of the
body of Christ "till we all attain unto the
unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God".
It almost seems as though what is implied is this: that the goal
of this body of Christ of which he is speaking, the Church which
is His Body, is the full knowledge of the Son of God. Everything
must be linked with that full knowledge of the Son of God.
Now, of course we understand
this in a little way from our own spiritual experience and
history. Every one of us who has any real spiritual life and
history knows quite well that we owe our spiritual growth to
spiritual knowledge that has come to us. We say: when I came to know
(whatever it might be) when I came to know in a spiritual way, in
a vital way, when I came to know that, it made all the
difference. From the time I came to know in that way there has
been a difference; I have been different, it has meant a great
deal to me that I came to know! All the differences are made
along that line of progressive, growing knowledge, spiritual
knowledge, inward knowledge.
So the Word would reveal to us
this: that all that God has intended in Christ for the saints,
the great destiny, the great vocation, the great attainment
— and what a calling it is, what an , as Paul
calls it — all that is to be reached by spiritual knowledge,
by a progressively and continually coming to fresh inward
knowledge. We can say: I know, I have come to know, and I am
coming to know, and the Lord is leading me to know! It is like
that, that is the way of it. That is simple, but I simply wanted
at the outset to emphasize and remind you of the great value and
importance that is bound up with spiritual knowledge.
The Law of
Now, the thing which I want to
get over to you, as the Lord alone can enable me, is a law which
is found in the Scriptures throughout; a law of spiritual
knowledge. I have seen that there is a law wrapped up in the
Scriptures which governs this whole matter of spiritual
knowledge. In the Old Testament, of course, it is presented very
largely in a typical way, but the law is a spiritual law and it
governs this knowledge which is spiritual enlargement, growth,
and progress in the life of the child of God. The law is this:
there is a place necessary in order to have the knowledge.
Now, if you go back to the Old
Testament, of course you find it just full of that in type, in
figure. For instance, the light of the purpose of God was only
disclosed to Abraham when he came into the land, not when he was
in Mesopotamia. God told him to get out of Mesopotamia, and it
was not until he came into the land that God disclosed to him His
purpose. It was necessary to be in a certain place before he got
The light of God and of the name
of God was not disclosed to Jacob when he was in Paran (Gen.
21:21), not when he was in the foreign country, but when he was
there on the spot at Bethel. He did not get the light of God, of
the Name of God, until he had got to that place.
The light as to the Divine
dwelling in the tabernacle was never given to Israel in Egypt but
waited until they got to the place where the tabernacle was to be
in the wilderness.
A place was necessary in order
to have the knowledge and the Old Testament is just full of that.
You know that place names in the Old Testament are always
typical. You know how much is bound up with Gilgal. You have to
come to Gilgal in order to have a certain kind of spiritual
knowledge — Bethel, Hebron — and so you go on, and the
Lord fixed places in the Old Testament for the revelation of
Himself. "Where I put My name" (Ex. 20:24), if
you come there you will know Me. You will not know Me out there
somewhere else; you have to come to the place I have appointed,
there I will meet you! That is the type.
In the New Testament, in the
spiritual side of this, of course it is not geographical places,
it is not a certain local gathering. You do not have to go to
Honor Oak or anywhere else before you get the light! It is not
geographical spots or places, but it is a spiritual place that
you have to come to before you get the knowledge.
Well now, that opens a wide,
large field, and we just indicate one or two of these places
which are the places of spiritual knowledge which has to do with
our coming to the full knowledge of the Son of God, to the
(marked out) the Son of God in power, according to the spirit of
holiness, by the resurrection from the dead". The
knowledge, the light of the knowledge of resurrection, demands
that we come to a place and that place is the place of death.
That is simple and well-known, but it is a law. It is a law
written in the Old Testament in type and figure again and again.
The resurrection demands that you come actually to the place of
death. The law is made clear in the New Testament. You have to be
in the place of death and burial before you can know Him and the
power of His resurrection, before you can have that knowledge of
resurrection with which so much is bound up. Oh, everything at
the outset is bound up with that, that we know union with Christ
in resurrection, not as truth, not as doctrine, a creed, but in
an inward way, a spiritual knowledge.
There is a very remarkable
paragraph in Ezekiel 39. Of course, there is the prophetic side
to it, but there is also the spiritual as there always is in
prophecy. Gog and Magog come from the North into the land, and
then the people of God come back from captivity into that land,
and the Lord comes in judgment against Gog and Magog who have
invaded His land and slain many. And then the Lord calls for the
whole people to rise up to bury the dead that have been slain.
They are to bury through a whole period of seven months, a
perfect spiritual work, in burying the dead. All the people are
to do it, but there is to be a certain company appointed to go
through the land, and wherever they find even an exposed bone
they are to set up a mark. And then this appointed company who
come and find this mark over an exposed bone, are to bury it; so
objectionable is anything dead and not buried that He is going to
have it put out of sight. They cannot possess the land, they
cannot come back and enjoy the inheritance while there is
something dead that is not buried.
I remember a brother once
speaking about baptism. He said, "When you came to the Lord
and you saw that Christ died for you, did you not see when Christ
died, you died? Well, why have you not got your corpse buried?!
The only place for a dead person is the grave!" Well, that
is very blunt.
This is the Lord’s thought.
Christ is the inheritance, Christ is the land, all the fulness
represented by Canaan is in Christ, all the wealth, the land
flowing with milk and honey. And the Lord’s people cannot
come in and possess and enlarge their inheritance in Christ, the
full knowledge of Christ, if there is anything dead that is not
buried. The Lord says that we are dead, we were crucified with
Christ (Rom. 6:6), and the New Testament principle is this: that
it has got to be put out of the way, out of sight, before we can
come into fulness, full possession and enlargement. It is simply
emphasizing this law of the Word of God throughout that in order
to know resurrection knowledge, we must come to the place of
death and burial, that is, the putting away firstly of the whole
body of the flesh and then of the whole natural man. It is only
as you and I in the natural life are buried, are put out of
sight, out of the way, that we can know Him. We are standing in
our own light when we are not buried, when we are not out of the
way; when we have not come to the place of death we are
obstructing the light of the full knowledge of Christ.
You know how true it is, when
the natural man is in evidence, the spiritual man is in eclipse.
When the natural mind is active upon the things of God, the Holy
Spirit does not show us the things of God. That natural mind has
got to get out of the way to know resurrection, which is not just
a thing once and for all, but a thing in which much more obtains
for us which is to be known. Paul says, "...that
I may know him and the power of his resurrection" (Phil.
3:10). Paul had been on the road a long time when he said that. "Unto
Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask
or think, according to the power that worketh in us..."
(the power of His resurrection). That depends entirely upon the
working of death, our coming to the place of death. The law is
this: that the more we come to the place of death to the natural
life, the self-life, the more we come to the place of knowing the
full knowledge of the Son of God in terms of resurrection.
The light of sonship demands a
place. You know that that is the whole argument of the letter to
the Galatians. It was a question of sonship, and the apostle is
saying, "Before you can know sonship, you have to come to a
place where sonship is known, and the life of sonship is only
possessed when you come to the place of the Spirit as over
against the flesh." I cannot stay with Galatians along those
lines, but here is the truth. Sonship is something much more than
being born again, than just being a child of God. Sonship is the
coming to the full knowledge of the Son of God, it is
growing up into Him in all things. Sonship is an added thing. You
cannot come to the knowledge of all that sonship means as
something more than childhood unless you come into the place
where the Spirit takes ascendancy over the flesh. It is a place;
it is a place of crisis.
It may be like Jacob’s
Jabbok where that strength of self-life is touched and withered
in its very sinew, in the very strength of the thigh.
Jacob’s self-life is deeply affected from heaven, and then
his name is changed to a heavenly name — Israel, a prince
with God, a spiritual people, no longer carnal. You see, the law
of the knowledge of the Son of God depends upon our coming to a
Does this not say how hopeless
it is to try and get spiritual knowledge by study, by
information? Not one of us have ever got this from books, from
people. This thing has got to come by our coming to a spiritual
position. We have got to get somewhere. We cannot take it on from
others. We may get help from listening and reading, but we cannot
get this full knowledge of the Son of God in that way. We have to
come to a place, we have to have a crisis. The knowledge of
sonship depends upon the place where the Spirit is established as
sovereign Lord over the flesh.
The light of the knowledge of
Christ’s sovereign Headship demands a place. This is
Colossians — the sovereign Headship of Christ, His supreme
authority as a functioning thing. Christ is sovereign Head of the
church, Christ is exalted above all principalities and powers,
Christ is pre-eminent, transcendent. That is great truth, but
that is not good enough for me as a truth. I want that thing to
become an actuality in my experience; that mighty authority and
power of Christ has got to become a reality in dally life.
Somehow I have got to get into that where I can lay hold of it
and appeal to it and it works; where the forces of evil are
overpowered by it in my experience as they assail me; His
sovereign Headship has to cover me, protect me, guard me from
evil forces and deliver me. I have to know His all-authority, I
want to know Him in His sovereign Headship.
To know that, I have to come
into the place of relatedness to the Head in the Body. "Holding
fast the head" — this is the word of Colossians, "...holding
fast the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and knit
together through the joints and bands, increaseth..."
(2:19) I have to get into line with the members of His body in a
spiritual way under that Headship; that is, I have to forsake all
independent, detached and unrelated ground. It is a position. If
the enemy can get you and me detached and unrelated and separate,
he is going to rob us of the benefits of Christ’s sovereign
Headship. If we are going to know the value of Christ as our
sovereign Head in all authority, we have to get into a
relationship with that Head with other members. "Holding
fast the Head, from whom all the body...", every part.
You come to Ephesians "...the
knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man..."
(4:13). What does it demand? Well, if Colossians sees me in
relation with other believers holding fast the Head, Ephesians
sees me in relation to other believers working together
corporately. Colossians is the upward aspect of the Head.
Ephesians is the outward aspect of the body to the other members,
and these are complementary. To come to full-growth and to the
full knowledge of the Son, we have got to come to the place where
the body is a reality, not just a doctrine or a truth. So often
when we speak about this matter of the Body of Christ, the Church
the Body of Christ, the rejoinder from many is: of course! We
take it for granted, all believers are one Body, they are all
members of Christ and we are all one Body! Yes, that is the fact,
the truth, but what about the practical working of it in a
spiritual way? That is something different and something more. It
is a strange thing the people who hold that can still without any
question go on in schisms and divisions and all kinds of
distinctions here on this earth among Christians. They can
be cut up into a thousand denominators and this truth of the Body
is not a working thing which simply rules out all that, refuses
all ground of schism, division, and every kind of human
department amongst Christians. It does not effect that with so
Well, you say, does it matter?
Look at the Church, look at the Lord’s children today. What
about the full knowledge of the Son of God? What about this
growth to the fulness of Christ? Oh, there is an appalling and
tragic ignorance among the majority of the Lord’s people of
the Lord Himself. The ignorance is awful and the result is that
the spiritual power is very small indeed. It does matter to our
coming to the full knowledge of the Son of God, it does matter to
our growth up into Him, to the attaining of the fulness of
Christ, the full stature of Christ. It does matter whether the
truth of the Body is a practical thing, not just theoretical. You
have got to come to the place where you forsake all ground that
is other than the ground of the absolute and working spiritual
oneness of the Lord’s people. To occupy such ground means
limitation and loss, as the history of the church proves, and as
all the activity of the enemy demonstrates. To divide the
Lord’s people is to weaken and limit them. To bring the
Lord’s people in spiritual oneness is to build them up and
make them a force with which the enemy has to reckon.
Will you remember this law? It
is everywhere in the Old Testament. The Lord says in such a place
I will meet you. You can go anywhere in all the universe but that
place, and you will not get that knowledge. Even Saul of Tarsus,
elect from eternity, chosen from the ages to be God’s
apostle to the Gentiles, foreknown and foreordained, will ask the
question: "What shall I do, Lord?" (Acts 22:10),
and the answer will be, "Go into Damascus and it shall be
told thee there." It was not that Damascus was
anything more than any other place, but the Church was there, and
the Lord was not going to meet any man, even a destined apostle,
on any other ground but that. He says, I am in My Body, I
will meet you in My Body! That is a spiritual law. If you have
been wandering the world, ask the Lord to show you that spiritual
place, that spiritual position, where you will find what you are
after. In the case of most of us, the Lord has had to deal with
us in order to bring us to a spiritual place in order to show us
something. When the Lord brought us there, we saw. We found there
the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.