Category Archives: The Knowledge of God

New Covenant Knowledge

As you can see by the last few blog entries, I carry a burden.  I know it is the burden of the Spirit of God. And over the course of the years it has become my own burden as well.  I want to see our daily Christian walk and experience corresponding to our great store of Christian knowledge.  To put that another way, it’s a burden to see a kind of knowledge that is indistinguishable from our experience.  This is the kind of knowledge the apostles had in mind when they talked of the knowledge of God (Col 1.9, 2 Pt. 1.8, 1 Jn. 4.7).

 It is one thing to know and be familiar with a lot of teaching of the word, quite another to be pregnant with that word, so that a living Seed is growing in us.

 I read something in T. Austin-Sparks recently, which I’ll quote.

 “We are in times when the build-up of Christian truth, teaching, and knowledge is immense; and yet the corresponding reality in life is by no means equal in measure.  There is a margin, a gap, between what is known and what is lived….

 “…One thing that you and I have come to or will come to is this: a dread of knowledge that does not lead to something more of Him.  I never in my life have shrank from speaking as I do today, lest it might resolve itself into words only, and so little that corresponds to it.  I do not say that it is all in vain, I do not believe that it is, but it is a wholesome fear to accumulate a kind of knowledge that does not lead to something.  And the one and only thing to which spiritual knowledge should lead is Christ-likeness.

 “Now then, what a knowledge we have of things concerning the Christian life and the purpose of God, and how greatly we fall short in that expression, the personal expression of Christ.  Is it not true that there is a gap between our knowledge and our life so often?”  (T. Austin-Sparks, God’s Supreme Interest In Man)

Then, again, I read the following from The Vision and The Appointment by George H. Warnock.  It’s under a section called, “For we know in part, and prophesy in part.”

 “This should disarm any of us who think we know a lot.  If we truly recognized that our knowledge is very limited, and falls short of real clarity and mature understanding, we would be less likely to argue about deep mysteries, thinking we have greater knowledge than our brother.  Even if we do, it is still just in part, just in small measure.

 “‘And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know’ (I Cor. 8:2).

 “…We know nothing yet, as we ought to know.  ‘But if any man love God, the same is known of Him’ (vs. 3).  He is not really saying that we need more knowledge.  He is saying, rather, that what we know falls short of the picture as it really is.  We need a greater understanding and clarity of the knowledge we now have.  But until we come to the fullness of Love, our knowledge of spiritual things will remain very, very minimal.  God has designed it that way, or pride would destroy us.

 “…But in what way does Love give us knowledge that ‘we ought to know?’  We will only discover that, as we come more and more into those realms of God’s abounding Love…

 “…With our natural mind not yet fully renewed by His Spirit, and with spiritual gifts that only function in part, we must acknowledge that many mysteries will remain beyond our understanding until ‘that which is perfect is come.’  And let us not think we must wait for Heaven to come to that.  Jesus came down to earth to manifest Perfect Love in this world of sin and pain and misery, for this is where it is needed.  And when He went away He made provision by His indwelling Spirit, for His people to walk as He walked when He was here.”  (end of quote)

 …Words from two watchmen whose ministries have meant a lot to me over the years.  T. Austin-Sparks warns we have a lot of knowledge these days, but there is a margin, a gap, between what is known and what is lived.  Add to that what George Warnock says, quoting as he does from the apostle Paul: actually, in all we know, thus far we know so very little.  We know “in part.”

 And so… this burden.  Oh, to see our participation with one another in the body of Christ becoming nothing less than a ministration of Christ Himself, a ministration of the Spirit, of the New Covenant.  There is a kind of knowledge — New Covenant knowledge — in which there is no gap between what is known and what is experienced, what is walked in.

 The encouraging thing is… well, two encouraging things.

 One: we have confidence that the mediator of the New Covenant will not lay His burden down till He has fulfilled it in the lives of His people.

       “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts… and all shall KNOW ME, from the least to the greatest” (Heb. 8.11).

 And, two: because of His faithfulness, we have confidence that we will see the day when we are able with joy to lay our burden down.

They That Handle The Law Knew Me Not

Last time, we quoted that verse from Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of the knowledge…” But we didn’t finish the verse. Let’s do that now, and notice what Hosea said about the priesthood of his day – those that God had made the custodians of His knowledge.

“My people are destroyed for lack of (the) knowledge. Because thou hast rejected (the) knowledge, I also will reject thee that thou shalt be no priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4.6).

Malachi said similar words in his day.

“For the priests lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth” (Malachi 2.7).

That was a reminder of what God had called His priesthood to back in the days of Moses:

“They shall teach Jacob Thy judgments, and Israel Thy law” (Deuteronomy 33.10).

This is what the priesthood was supposed to be all about – teaching the people the law of God in such a way as to cause them to know Him. Yet by the days of Hosea and Malachi, the priests had forgotten God’s law, with the result that the people were utterly cut off from Him.

But if God was grieved that His priesthood of old had forgotten His law of the old covenant… what can He be feeling today? If there has ever been a forgotten covenant, it is the New Covenant of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The New Covenant is not just a matter of forever setting before the people more sermons, more teachings, more Bible knowledge, more understanding of what the Bible says. The New Covenant is a ministration of the Spirit such that the Law of God is written upon the hearts and minds of His people… with what result?

“And they shall all know Me from the least of them to the greatest of them…” (Jeremiah 31.34).

God complained to Jeremiah:

“The priests say not, Where is the LORD? And they that handle the law knew Me not” (Jer. 2.8).

This is, to me, a very provoking and very challenging verse; I dwell on it often. You mean, they handled the law, they were very familiar with the law, yet did not know the God who gave the law? What about me, then? I know my Bible well – certainly not as some do by any stretch, but quite well. I am familiar with the word of God, and its teachings, and from one point of view (a low one) it could be said that I have a substantial knowledge: I am one of those of whom it could be said, “He handles the law.”

But then I read John’s testimony:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of Life…” (1 Jn. 1.1).

And I am undone. How can I settle for any lesser Testimony? I must know this One… as John knew Him! I cannot settle for any lesser Testimony. And I need not settle for a lesser Testimony. For God has made provision for me to have the same Testimony. The Spirit of Truth has been sent from the Throne of God with a commission, and He cannot return till He has accomplished it — to make me familiar with the Word of Life Himself – and cause me to hear Him, to see Him, to gaze continually upon Him, to handle Him with my hands… and know Him!

That is the New Covenant!

How deeply I want to be part of this kind of New Covenant ministry. And how deeply this kind of ministry is needed in this hour! The need is so great. And so whatever we feel we may have attained to thus far in our Christian walk, let us all, in this late hour, open our hearts to a deeper ministration of the Spirit of Christ. Let us anticipate this. I believe our Lord Jesus Christ is preparing to release a new ministration of the Spirit that will bring into being “able ministers of a New Covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit…”

…And as a result of it, the “children” shall hear Him, and see Him, and come to know Him!