THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD
THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD
From: The Feasts of the Lord, by Robert B. Thompson Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
When we are considering reconciliation to God there are three issues that must be dealt with thoroughly: our choice of environment, our personality, and our knowledge of the Lord. Of these three aspects it is the gaining of the knowledge of the Lord that is the unique purpose of life on the earth.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD
A primary concept of "atonement" is reconciliation. The human personality is in the image of Satan and in union with Satan, performing Satan’s works. It is alienated from God. The Divine redemption restores the personality to friendship with God.
But the Divine atonement, or reconciliation, goes beyond the restoring of friendship. The atonement has not been fully wrought until perfect union with God has been accomplished. The Divine redemption removes the individual from Satan and Satan’s works, changes his image to that of God’s image, and brings him into perfect, complete union with God through Christ so the works of God are performed through him.
When we are considering reconciliation to God there are three areas of concern, three issues that must be dealt with thoroughly if we are to enter the rest of God.
Our choice of environment.
Our knowledge of the Lord
Of the three aspects it is gaining the knowledge of the Lord, including faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God’s Word, the conversion of our will to perfect rest in God’s will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Lord, that is the unique purpose of life on earth.
Our environment and personality can be transformed in the spirit realm or on earth, apparently, as we obey the Lord’s commandments. But God uses the dark scenes and problems of earth to teach us how to please God and walk with Him.
We are not speaking of the guilt associated with our choice of environment, with our personality, or with our lack of walking with God; for the guilt was taken care of on the cross of Calvary. We already have been reconciled perfectly to God as far as guilt is concerned, provided we continue to abide in Christ.
Rather, it is that which is satanic and self-willed in the three aspects that must be completely converted until the Father through Christ is All in all to us and in us.
Our choice of environment has to do with our willingness to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, and our rejection of the holy, peaceful Presence of God and His angels. We are not referring to our rejection of the ways of the local churches, for they often are social clubs and abound in the works of the flesh. The Christian churches sometimes repulse people who have the potential for becoming servants of God.
As we pray to the Lord, He gives wisdom and grace so we may be able to come out from the devilish frenzy of the world and lead a holy, meek, quiet life, separated to God. We prepare ourselves for life in the spirit Paradise and in the Kingdom of God.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (II Corinthians 6:7)
Notice that God does not receive us until we take the step of coming out from the uncleanness of the world. The true saint is not at home in the world. He prays, meditates in the Scriptures, and has fellowship with diligent disciples.
Numerous would-be Christians of our day cannot bring themselves to turn away from worldly companions and practices. They are not reconciled to God in this dimension of their personality. It would be cruel of the Lord to bring them to the spirit Paradise for they would be uncomfortable with the kinds of creatures they would find there.
We reveal whether we are candidates for salvation or for Hell by the choices we make concerning our environment. It is folly to speak of being "saved by grace," with the idea of being accepted in the spirit Paradise when we die, while we still love the way of sinners.
Many today receive Jesus only because they desire to escape torment when they die, not because they love the Lord or His environment. Salvation is not meant to be a ticket by which we escape torment, it is a conversion of our choice of environment, our personality, and our knowledge of the Lord.
Watching the television may be the greatest stumbling block in the area of choice of environment. Continual television watching is a curse, a bondage. The true saints of the Lord do not sit in front of the television and gaze at the antics of the demons of covetousness, lust, murder, drunkenness, and sorcery.
The true saint does not fear the torment of Hell as much as he does the environment of Hell. No individual who dwells in joy in the Paradise of God would watch television if it were brought to him. He would recognize immediately that Hell had been brought into Paradise and he would flee from the ugliness, the demonic frenzy, of the sights and sounds.
If we love what we see on the television we do not love God or the environment of God. We still are filled with Hell. We have not been reconciled to God in the area of environment. We are not in the rest of God in this aspect. We still love what God despises. An atonement, a reconciliation, has not occurred in our choice of environment.
If you are bound by television watching, ask God for the strength to turn away from this source of demonic bondage.
We can escape worldliness as we pray to God for help, and make the effort to turn away from the television, and from worldly friends. If God sees that we truly desire His environment He will take us to the spirit Paradise when we die. Also, He will assist us with our earthly environment, although much of it will remain unchanged because His purposes are being accomplished in the midst of the darkness and oppression.
Our personality also is in need of reconciliation to God. The indwelling sin of which Paul speaks is the satanic nature that dwells in the members of our body.
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (Romans 7:17)
Indwelling sin must be removed by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we obey the Word of the Lord, praying without ceasing, meditating in the Scriptures day and night, doing what we feel God would have us do, assembling with fervent saints on a regular basis (if we can find any fervent saints to assemble with), giving, ministering with the gifts God has given us, repenting of our sins and confessing them, then the Lord from time to time will remove part of the garment of sin, part of our fallen nature, and replace it with a robe of righteousness.
And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. (Zechariah 3:4)
"I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee"!
As the indwelling sin is removed, part by part, the pure Nature and Substance of Christ can be formed in us. We keep on being born again, in this sense. Step by step the Divine Nature replaces the fallen adamic nature.
Replacing with the Divine Nature is symbolized as follows:
And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre [turban] upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. (Zechariah 3:5)
The "fair mitre" speaks of the renewing of our mind in the Lord, and the "garments" are the robe of righteous conduct placed on our personality.
. . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; . . . . (Revelation 3:5)
Deliverance from indwelling sin is our reward for serving the Lord faithfully. The crown and robe of righteousness are the rewards that will be given to the overcomer.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24)
Only the Lord Jesus by His authority and power is able to deliver us from indwelling sin. We always are to resist sin with the strength God gives us but the change of raiment must come from the hand of the Lord.
One of the greatest misunderstandings in Christianity has to do with the very nature of redemption. The believers are under the impression they are supposed to go through life trying to be like the Lord Jesus even though they know they will keep on failing to meet His standard.
Since we are unable to keep the Lord’s commandments, it is reasoned, the purpose of God’s grace is to bring people to a godly environment on the basis of forgiveness. As soon as they arrive in the godly environment, Heaven, the spirit Paradise, they will be able to keep God’s commandments.
But God is able to do more than this. Through Christ we can obtain a change in personality even though we still are living in the valley of the shadow of death—the present world.
God does not expect our adamic nature to meet the standard set by the Lord Jesus. God has assigned our adamic nature to the cross of Calvary, to extinction. God is giving us a new nature, the Nature of Christ, that meets God’s standards because it is Divine and not human.
If we would qualify for the removal of the sins of our fallen nature we must pray, read the Scriptures, assemble with fervent saints, obey the Lord, give of our material substance, minister with the gifts we have, and do all else the Scripture commands. We are to do this in our fallen, adamic nature. We are to keep on serving God to the best of our ability even though God as yet has not redeemed us totally from the chains of lust and self-seeking.
To actually meet God’s standards of righteous, holy, and obedient conduct is not possible to our adamic nature, but we are to keep on serving God with the strength we do possess. We can refuse to sin. We can and we must strive diligently and consistently against the desires of our flesh, soul, and fleshly mind.
If we pray consistently, meditate in the Scriptures, do what God has said to the best of our ability, then God will, from time to time, remove from us some of the aspects of our fallen nature and replace them with the Divine Nature of Christ. The redemption of our personality consists of removing sin and rebellion and replacing it with Christ’s Personality.
However, such transformation will take place only as we obey God diligently. It will not take place if we are not faithful with all the opportunities, knowledge, gifts, and spiritual strength with which the Lord has entrusted us.
Our adamic nature can never be reconciled to God. Only Christ in us is accepted of God. If we wish to possess our souls, then we must faithfully do what God has instructed us. Only as we obey the Lord in our present difficulties will He come and give us a change of raiment.
Righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God come to us from Heaven as we faithfully keep the Word of the Lord.
We can be delivered from indwelling sin as the Lord hands us a change of garment. If we are faithful with the righteousness the Lord gave us upon receiving Christ, striving to obey the words of the Apostles, the Lord will keep removing our worldliness, our indwelling sin, and our self-will. He will give us a new heart.
Finally, when He comes, He will review our faithfulness. If we have sought continually to do His will, making full use of the Kingdom life and ability He has given us, He will complete the work of removing the flaws in our personality. He will crown the work of redemption by clothing our resurrected frame with a body of life, a body that seeks continually to walk in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.
To the person who loves God and seeks Him will be given righteousness, holiness, and an obedient heart. To the person who rejects God and His ways will be given delusion, uncleanness of heart and hands, and a spirit of rebellion.
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (II Thessalonians 2:11)
The Divine justice of God requires that those who refuse to accept the Divine transformation be brought into the spirit realm in their untransformed condition. The holy will be holy and the filthy will be filthy.
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (Revelation 22:11)
While we are on the earth we can hide our motives, and also our deeds to some extent. But in the spirit realm our motives as well as our deeds will be open for all to see.
If we are a liar the lying nature will be clearly visible. If we are scheming to gain advantage over others, our motives and deceits will be apparent to everyone, including ourselves.
People are seeking to use the name of Jesus to escape the torment of the flames of Hell. But even more to be feared is to enter the spirit realm dressed in our laziness, our lust, our backbiting, our sorcery.
Perhaps the contempt of other people and of the angels of God, is more to be feared than the torments of Hell.
Notice carefully the following:
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
What would it be like to come forth from the grave and be regarded with shame and everlasting contempt?
God is giving us every chance to repent and experience the Divine change of raiment. If we do, our reward will be great in the Kingdom. But if we do not, we will experience shame and reproach. The expression "everlasting contempt" implies that we never again will have an opportunity to be redeemed from our corrupt personality.
God has placed us on the earth in order that we might gain the knowledge of the Lord. As we stated previously, the knowledge of the Lord includes faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God’s Word, the conversion of our will to perfect rest in God’s will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Lord. The unique goal of life on earth is to acquire the knowledge of the Lord.
Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are blessed already for they shall be filled. Those who hate God and His ways will be given their desire—an eternity without God or His saints. Let the holy be holy and the filthy be filthy—this is Gods’s edict.
The wise person will put seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness above every other interest and pursuit in life.
A change in environment can be accomplished by a sovereign act of God as we are brought from the darkness of earth to the light of Glory.
The transformation of our personality also is accomplished to a certain extent by a sovereign act of God as the garment of sin and rebellion is removed from us and the Life and Nature of Christ are given to us.
However, as we understand it, it is the third area of reconciliation, the knowledge of the Lord, which is the unique purpose of life on the earth. We are placed on the earth so we might come to understand man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Apparently, the knowledge of the Lord, in particular humble dependence on God and stern obedience to God, cannot be learned in the spirit realm to the extent they can in our sin-cursed world.
We know the Lord Jesus was perfect in character. Satan could find no flaw in Him.
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. (John 14:30)
The Lord Jesus was the Passover Lamb. As such, there could be no blemish in him. Pilate testified to this fact.
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: (Exodus 12:5)
Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. (Luke 23:4)
Yet, the Scripture states that Christ was made perfect through sufferings.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10)
In what aspects was the Lord Jesus made perfect through sufferings?
First of all, He became better able to help us when we are tempted.
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)
Second, He learned perfect obedience to the Father. Christ learned obedience by the things He suffered while serving God in human flesh on the earth.
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (Hebrews 5:8)
Let us consider this: The perfect Lamb of God, Christ, The Word of God from eternity, became better able to help those who are tempted, and He also learned obedience to the Father.
We know the Old Testament Prophets spoke first to Christ, and then to the members of His Body. From the statements of the Prophets we believe Christ gained in the knowledge of God, including faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God’s Word, the conversion of His (Christ’s) will to perfect rest in God’s will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Lord.
Christ, the Lord of Glory, was perfect in His Character. But, like all the sons of God, of whom He is the older Brother, He learned to trust God.
Some of the Psalms give insight into the agony of Jesus as He experienced the buffetings we also endure, especially as He hung on the cross.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? (Psalms 22:1)
What is being put to the test here? What area of personality is being perfected so Christ could be the Captain of our salvation?
Faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God’s Word. God had said, "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalms 16:10).
The faithfulness of God’s Word was all that stood between the Lord Jesus and everlasting torment at the hands of Satan. This was a terrible trial—far beyond our ability to comprehend.
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. (Psalms 22:2)
Hear the sufferings of Christ! We are to share His sufferings, for through them we are made perfect in the knowledge of God.
When we cry to God day after day, night after night, and our prayers are not answered, we learn to hope in God, to trust in God, to rest in God.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. (Psalms 22:3)
The Lord Jesus learned, as we also learn, to glorify God even when in an agony of doubt and dread. How could such knowledge be gained in the Paradise of God? How could the everlasting Word, the eternal Logos, while He still was the Light of the ivory palaces of Glory, have had an opportunity to experience the majesty of praising God when all hope is gone,?
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. (Psalms 22:4,5)
The patriarchs have provided us with an example of suffering and patience, and faith in God. Christ and His Body will gain the Kingdom by witnessing the travail of the patriarchs, just as the patriarchs gained the Kingdom by receiving the atonement, and the Glory of the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus; and also as they gain the Kingdom by witnessing the proof of God’s faithfulness in us.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. (Psalms 22:6)
Jesus grew in humility by His life on earth. We too, the members of His Body, must be humbled. Through the Lord Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, our proud nature is brought down to the dust of the ground. We finally come to realize, like Job of long ago, that we are worms.
The Lord Jesus was brought lower than any man; therefore God has highly exalted Him and has given Him a name above every other name. If we are willing to learn humility we too will be exalted according to the will of God.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. (Psalms 22:7,8)
Part of the suffering of Christ is rejection by people, even by our brothers and sisters in the Lord. As we share the suffering of rejection we learn to find our hope and joy in doing the will of the Father.
Trust in the Lord is learned as we are confronted with danger and dread. The Lord learned to trust God and we learn to trust God. When we call on the Lord in the midst of terror, the confidence and courage in God that He gained during His dark hour is given to us. Then we know no power in the heavens or on the earth can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. (Psalms 22:9)
The Lord Jesus hoped in God from the time of His birth. Some of us may learn to hope in God late in our lifetime. But hope in God saves us. As long as we are alive on the earth we know God loves us and is providing an opportunity for us to grow in the knowledge of the holy One.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. (Psalms 22:14-16)
We shall never experience the agony that the Lord suffered. We are not strong enough for such tormenting oppression. But if we have been called to rule with Christ we will share His suffering according to our measure. It is only as we suffer with Christ that we can rule with Him, because it is through our suffering on the earth that we gain the necessary knowledge of the Lord.
The majestic Christ, the Commander in Chief of the sons of God, went before us. He endured pain that we never could bear. But each of us must share Christ’s suffering. As we do, we learn the trustworthiness of God’s Word as He also did. We learn obedience to the Father as He also did. We learn humility to God as He also did.
We are able to learn these lessons because His Life is in us. The Gold of His Divine Nature is given to us. Then it is hammered into shape, like the Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, by the pressures that only life on earth can put on us.
Were it possible to learn faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God’s Word, the absolute conversion of our will from self-will to rest in God’s will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Lord, while dwelling in the spirit realm, there would have been no area of personality in which the Lord could have been made perfect. But only in the valley of the shadow of death that the world is could He, and we, gain these aspects of the knowledge of the Father.
The pressures and problems of life are designed to teach the sons of God to cease seeking their own will, to cease relying on their on wisdom, understanding, knowledge, talents, and strength, and to commit their way to the Lord. The things that come upon us press us until we turn to God, until we learn to lean on the Lord in every matter, great and small.
And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:2,3)
It appears to be assumed in numerous Christian churches that there is no spiritual counterpart of the wilderness wandering of the Israelites. The idea seems to be that we sprinkle the blood of Jesus on our personality while we are in Egypt, in the world, and immediately we are ready for Heaven, for the land of promise (as we understand the land of promise).
However, such is not at all the case. If we are to learn of God, if we have been called to rule in His Kingdom, we must experience the school of the wilderness. It is in the wilderness of life that we learn the knowledge of the holy One of Israel.
When we come home to be with the Lord, and forever after, we are to remember the lessons we learned while enduring the battles and anguish of life on earth in a sinful body. We have been taught these lessons because one day we will be in a place of great responsibility.
Satan was created a perfect being in the hand of Christ. But Satan fell through pride. Christ is calling us to the highest throne in God’s creation. He is making sure that we will be humble of heart and keep all of God’s commandments.
The Lord God has led us through the problems and pains of life in order to humble us. We must come to realize we are worms in God’s sight. Until we do, we cannot be trusted with the powers of the age to come.
The Lord God has led us through anguish and tests of all kinds to see what is in our heart, whether or not we will keep His commandments.
Doesn’t God know what is in our heart? Yes, He does. But it is our actions that God judges. We are judged according to what we do in our body.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
"According to that he hath done."
Many of us might prefer that God would judge us according to our intentions, but this is not what takes place. Our actions prove what is in us. God and we learn what is in us when we are in the fire of pain, dread, and perplexity.
The current overemphasis on imputed righteousness has caused a withdrawal from reality in the churches. The Christian churches no longer are lamps of righteousness. The light of the testimony has been extinguished by sin and self-seeking.
Only the good works of the saints can serve as the light of the world.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Since God judges our heart by our reactions to the pressures and pains of life on earth, it is of great importance that we do not overemphasize imputed righteousness (righteousness ascribed through faith apart from our behavior). There is a place in the plan of redemption for imputed righteousness.
But if imputed righteousness is carried to the point that we do not learn to serve the Lord in the problems of life, preferring instead to act as any unsaved individual, not growing in faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God’s Word, the conversion of our will to perfect rest in God’s will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Lord, then we have missed the whole purpose of our life on earth.
The testimony of Jesus is something God and men can see.
God humbles us and causes us to hunger and thirst after things or relationships or circumstances. He may deny our most intense desires for a season, giving only what is necessary for the moment. This too is part of the curriculum. The delay in giving us the desires of our heart, and keeping us doing that in which we take no joy, shape our attitude toward God until it is acceptable to the Father.
Neither we nor our fathers have experienced previously the "manna" with which God nourishes us and keeps us moving forward. God is God and He always is doing a new thing.
We eventually come to understand no person can truly live only by the things of a material environment. We are to live by every Word that comes from God’s mouth. We are to be humbly dependent on God every moment of every day from now through eternity.
We can learn humble dependence on the Lord only in the valley of tears, of bitterness, through which we are passing.
It is important that we seek a holy environment. If we do, God finally will bring us to the spirit Paradise to be with the Lord, the saints, and the holy angels.
It is important that we keep the Word of the Lord, persevering until He grants us a change of raiment. If we are faithful in the work of sanctification now, then at His coming He will complete our transformation and we will be in His image and in complete union with Him.
Environment and transformation will be perfected in the spirit realm for those who have pleased the Lord by their conduct in the earth, who have shown themselves to be worthy of the Kingdom of God.
Our life on earth especially is for the purpose of giving us the knowledge of the Lord. It is here, by means of the problems and pressures of the world, that our proud strength is broken and we learn to depend totally on the Lord for every aspect of existence.
Our environment, our personality, and our knowledge of the Lord must be perfected before the spiritual fulfillment of the Levitical Day of Atonement has accomplished its intended work and we have been reconciled fully to God.