5. Knowing God
Right now we are filled with all the fullness of God. We are bursting and overflowing with more of God than we can ever comprehend. It will take eternity to know all that God already is right now in us; we will never come to an end of learning the God who fills us full. We cannot have more of God than what fills us right now. How can we have more than all? And that is our problem, not that God is absent; our problem is that we are ignorant of Him. Eternal life is to know God, to know the One who already fills us full.
5. Knowing God
This is the life of the age to come, to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. — He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. — In that day you shall know that I am in the Father and you in Me and I in you. — Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ…
We used to sing a song, “I want more of Jesus, more and more and more” that ended with these words, “I want more of Jesus so I’ll give Him more of me.” We sang it with sincere hearts, of course, and God accepted us in our ignorance, as He always does. Yet as we look at those words now, we are stunned by the blatant unbelief and the humanistic exaltation of self that are in them.
The phrase “more of God” must be removed from our vocabulary, and the concept from our hearts. Neither is our union with Christ conducted in the form of a business transaction as if we walk by sight and not by what God says.
All of God is everywhere all the time. More than that, God has freely given us all things, all things of Himself and all things of His creation.
Right now we are filled with all the fullness of God. We are bursting and overflowing with more of God than we can ever comprehend. It will take eternity to know all that God already is right now in us; we will never come to an end of learning the God who fills us full.
We cannot have more of God than what fills us right now. How can we have more than all? And that is our problem, not that God is absent; our problem is that we are ignorant of Him.
Eternal life is to know God, to know the One who already fills us full.
But let’s start with this premise. Almost all of our knowledge of God at the present moment is a knowledge ABOUT God. I look back at my own years of walking as a believer seeking to know the Lord, and I recognize now that almost all of my knowledge of God was knowledge ABOUT God.
We know God only as the One inside of us filling us full. Christ is revealed in a corporate body only when my knowing God in me touches your knowing God in you. We can love people who do not know God in fullness inside of them, but that is something different from the body of Christ.
Most of our lives are or have been spent avoiding what we find in the center of our persons. We avoid our center because we feel wrong. Much of Christian theology and teaching tries to convince us that our center, our heart, is wrong. We make mistakes and are ashamed of ourselves. I was taught that God does not make mistakes, and therefore, if we are hearing and obeying God perfectly, we will never make a mistake. Therefore, making a mistake is a sure sign that I failed to “hear and obey.” If I failed to hear and obey, I am walking “according to the flesh.” Since I always made mistakes, it was clear that God and I were far apart. This teaching was what the serpent offered Adam and Eve.
So much of human life is an attempt to avoid what we find inside ourselves. Even much of church is an exercise of avoiding our centers. We fill our lives with sports or work or busy activities or reading or TV or even “doing things for others.” Doing these things is not wrong in itself. We have to live. What is not good for us is if they are simply how we avoid what is in us.
The works of the flesh that Paul lists in Galatians 5 – envy, hatred, lust, and so on, these are simply part of how we avoid our center. Most of the things in that list also hurt other people – and only because the person doing the hurt is hiding from the disquiet inside.
And we avoid our center if and because we are ashamed of ourselves.
Here’s the incredible thing. God says that Christ lives in our hearts, in our center.
As an Asperger’s man with a reasonable intellect, I compensated for the lack of intuitively understanding others by “figuring things out.” I was 22 when the shock of realizing there were other people in this world was too much for me. I was 26 before I began to understand that these “other people” were very much like myself. The problem with having to figure things out to comprehend people is that comprehension comes only hours or days or months after the incidence occurs, a comprehension that is immediate and continual for most people.
Yet I am an intuitive person. My imagination is highly developed and colorful. I escaped my center for years by building grand fantasy worlds in my mind. I had to escape my center because I was so utterly ashamed of myself.
John said that the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy. He meant that we declare Christ made personal in us. I can testify with all the truth and understanding that is in me that there is only one way out of this terrible dilemma for me, and by extension, for you as well.
And therefore, there is only one way into knowing God for any human being on this planet.
Christ as me.
When I know that the Lord Jesus Christ, in the garden of Gethsemane, embraced the cup His Father gave Him to drink and thus became ME in all the messiness of my human person. When I know that whatever I was that displeased the Father was ended and buried and forgotten long centuries ago. When I know that regardless of whatever feelings of doubt or discouragement or shame or just being put together all wrong I find inside my heart, that all of it is Christ living as me in this world.
When I know that the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ is the person of my heart, and not only my center, but also my periphery and everything in-between, then, from there and only from there, I can begin to know God.
If I regard sin in my heart, if I see my heart as fallen and deceitful, if I place my mistakes as a barrier between myself and God, if I believe that I must get my “flesh nature” underfoot, if I am always attempting to “do what God says,” if I try very hard to do good and not to do evil, if I see myself as a person separate from the Person of the Lord Jesus, then I maintain a barrier between myself and my own heart, and I CANNOT know the God who fills me to overflowing.
Knowing God begins with knowing that all of my human feelings and doubts, messiness and mistakes do not tell me anything and that from the outside all the way into my center and from my center all the way to the outside IS Christ, and only Christ.
When I turn to my center, to my heart, all I can ever see and know is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, for the first time, I can begin this unending journey of knowing God. Now, I live in eternal life.
Jesus said that as we drink of Him, the life of the age to come, knowing God, springs up in us as an ever-flowing spring. Christ is in us as an ever-bubbling, ever-flowing spring; the Spirit flows out of us as ever-flowing rivers of living water. The knowledge of God is not something we ever hold in a bag, “Hey, I finally have God figured out.” That does not mean that God shifts and whatever He was yesterday, He is something different today. It means that He is alive and new in us every morning. There is always more we have not yet seen.
But there is never more than what already fills us full.
Knowing God begins only with knowing Christ living as me, my entire and very life, right now in this world.
But I have stressed, and now I see it growing in importance, that we learn to see Christ in me both as me AND as Himself. Both, 100%, all the time.
This is so very important. I am not alone; I am never alone.
Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ. “In that day you shall know that …you are in Me and I am in you.”
I cannot comprehend people who want “Christ” without Jesus. I am not strong enough to be “the Christ within” without someOne other than myself upon whose breast I can lean my head. I suspect that Christ without Jesus is just one more way people finagle in their minds to avoid any contact with their own hearts.
Christ as me; the Lord Jesus as Himself, together in my heart as one.
Thus we begin to know the God who already fills us full.
But let me warn you before we go any further. Knowing God is heresy and blasphemy in almost all Christian circles, evangelical, charismatic, and deeper truth. You cannot know God and remain an acceptable Christian.
Every part of knowing God, from its beginning on, is “new age heresy.”
Knowing God is “new age heresy,” yes, but knowing God is not Gnosticism. Gnosticism is that which denies that Christ is come in the flesh. Gnosticism claims that the flesh and the physical creation and the earth and time are all low and bad and down-pulling and, ultimately, evil, and thus to be eliminated with the ending of evil. Gnosticism claims that Christ is spirit and heavenly only and that His appearance in “the flesh” was an illusion. Most of Christianity, therefore, has embraced Gnosticism, placing “Christ” up in heaven and denying that He is come right now in our flesh. Others practice Gnosticism by “spiritualizing” everything God says, denying that there is an earthly manifestation of Christ in us.
If these things are no problem for you, if knowing God is worth rejection in this world, then feel free to continue reading. I do not write because I know what I am talking about; I write to know the glorious One who fills me with all of Himself.
Knowing God is an endless discovery of that which is always filling us to overflowing. We begin to know God in our center; let’s start there.
He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
My spirit is the largest part of me. Everything I am, every other part of me is found only inside my spirit, and my spirit flows through every other part of me. But I am not my spirit. My spirit is that heavenly body God gave to me by which I live in and communicate with all the heavens of God.
I am a living soul. And as a living soul, I am a person. I am a person inside of this union between heaven and earth, between spirit and dirt, as a human being. I am a person in the same way that God is a Person.
Yet, look at me as a person. The old “I” has ceased. Nevertheless, I’m alive, only it is Christ. I, in my person, am Christ living as me. But God, personal in me as the Lord Jesus Christ, is also a Person. God never violates my person, nor do I ever violate His Person.
Yet God’s Person (filling me in all fulness) and my person (Christ as me) are vitally and inseparably joined together.
Take a swimming pool filled with water. Take a cup of water. Pour the cup of water into the swimming pool. What happens to the cup of water? We can know what happens to that cup of water by filling it first with a strong red dye so that it is thickly red. Now pour that cup of red water into the swimming pool. Swim around for awhile, stirring the water. Okay. Now, go looking for that red-dyed cup of water. Can you find it?
It is an indisputable fact that the original cup of water filled with red dye is IN the swimming pool. It is true that, theoretically, if you had the right technologically-advanced equipment, you could go searching through every molecule in that swimming pool and extract from it every single molecule of that original cup of red-dyed water.
But in your search for that original cup of water, you would find its tiny particles scattered from one end of that great pool of water to the other, and in your eye-view of the swimming pool, the original cup of deeply red water does not exist at all.
This is the nature of our spirit immersed into the Holy Spirit. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit does come into us, yes. But it is when we are immersed into the Holy Spirit in the second experience of living in the light of the Holy Place, that this picture of the cup poured into the swimming pool takes place.
Only the Holy Spirit is infinitely larger than the entire universe and all the universe is contained in and is sustained by Him. Yet our spirit is as scattered into that infinite Holy Spirit as the cup of water is scattered into the swimming pool.
That does not make us think, however, that our spirit is “vanished” from us. Not at all. Our union with God is an incredible mystery. God is not someone we can figure out.
Infinite and finite in perfect union; God manifest in the flesh!
Secular people have no problem with the idea of “God” as an impersonal force or consciousness; Christians have no problem with a personal God who is far away up there.
But the Person of God, not only inside of me, but in a perfect union with my person such that we walk together both side by side and inside of each other as persons — that, my dear friend, will get us killed by both the world and the church; it’s what got Jesus killed.
So, we have Christ in me as me, we have Christ in our hearts as Himself, and we are joined in perfect union with this other person, Christ, who is also our person, through our spirit utterly and completely immersed, fused together in all ways as one, in His Spirit.
This is the nature of our walk with Jesus. I am a person; He is a Person; we are intimately joined together.
Now, since my spirit permeates all through everything else that is me, my soul and my body, and since my spirit is completely immersed, lost in, His Spirit, the cords that join me with Him are very large and very strong, which is an understatement.
Yet I am always my own person, Christ as me, and He never violates me, who and what I am, He never goes against my heart. He never goes against my heart because He fills my heart.
My heart is full of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you see why it is so sinful to hold sin in between myself and Jesus? The acts of sin and all human frailty are continually washed away from me by the blood of Jesus; I enter into the very center of God with all boldness; my physical body, my flesh, is washed pure and holy. But if I pause and take sin and human fleshiness and place it in-between this union with Jesus in me and me in Jesus, then I am committing indescribable sin, and death can be the only result.
Yet even that “sin” we abandon in a moment and forget it immediately as something buried long centuries ago. Sin did not come out of the grave with Jesus; we did.
Now, what happens when two souls, two persons, are fused together, spirit to Spirit, walking together in perfect harmony? The unending answer to that question IS knowing God; it is eternal life.
Here is our problem. “Spirit” to us is not really real. We may deny that, but it’s still true. So we turn to story and literature in order to comprehend this union with the Person of Jesus in which we walk. I want to bring in points from two stories: Avatar and Eragon, or The Inheritance Cycle. This kind of story is useful to us because it forces us to reckon with the reality that our spirit is a substantial part of our makeup and that the Spirit of Christ is a substantial part of His makeup.
In the movie, Avatar, the Navi are a race of natives on a far distant planet. The humans invading that planet take on a Navi body through science so they can infiltrate the Navi. Jake is one of those that goes back and forth between a Navi body and his human body. I have likened this illustration to our two bodies, one earthly and the other heavenly, our physical body and our spirit.
In his Navi body, Jake learned to ride a creature very like a horse, as well as one like a dragon. In order to direct this creature he took the end of his mane, which was like a tail, but in the place of his hair. That “tail” had a hairy end. Jake connected that hairy end with the “horn” of the creature. Instantly, their minds were joined together, and Jake could now communicate directly with the creature mind to mind. Jake was in the creature, and the creature was in Jake.
In Eragon, this kind of union takes place between Eragon, a human, and Saphira, a dragon. Saphira is highly intelligent with full consciousness unlike the creatures in Avatar. The union between Eragon and Saphira is person to person. I quote from Brisingr, the third book in the series.
Eragon and Saphira have been separated for a few weeks, something that happened rarely and not at all to their liking. Finally, Saphira is released to fly to where Eragon was sent. This paragraph takes place as she approaches him, but just before she arrives physically.
Redoubling his speed, Eragon opened his mind to Saphira, removing every barrier around who he was, so that they might join together without reservation. Like a flood of warm water, her consciousness rushed into him, even as his rushed into her. Eragon gasped and tripped and nearly fell. They enveloped each other within the folds of their thoughts, holding each other with an intimacy no physical embrace could replicate, allowing their identities to merge once again. The greatest comfort was a simple one: they were no longer alone. To know that you were with one who cared for you, and who understood every fiber of your being, and who would not abandon you in even the most desperate of circumstance, that was the most precious relationship a person could have, and both Eragon and Saphira cherished it.
Now, some Christians, who don’t know God or the heavens in which they live, will call both of these “stories” “new age heresy.” Yet they cannot tell you what the verses I quoted at the beginning of this letter mean, nor many others like them. Their only response is, “We’ll know it all only after we die and go to heaven.” More than that, apart from the Person of the Lord Jesus as the only and continual doorway into any knowledge of the realms of spirit, through His shed blood washing over us, yes, it is all danger and no good.
But that’s just it. Jesus lives in our hearts, and His blood continually cleanses us from all sin.
Paul says, “We have the mind of Christ.” Here is what I mean by my statement that we don’t really believe that spirit is real. We approach these words as an idea; we do not comprehend their reality.
And this is the life of the age to come, to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. — He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. — In that day you shall know that I am in the Father and you in Me and I in you.
Here is the person of me. Here is the Person of Jesus.
Take the picture of the physical/mental connection between Jake and the creatures he rode, take the mental, soul-to-soul connection between Eragon and Saphira, multiply those connections ten thousand times in every conceivable direction. Now you are getting closer to these words:
He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
I am literally bound person to Person with the Lord Jesus Christ through a direct connection, a total fusion between His Spirit and mine. As a result, His consciousness, His mind, is inside of me. And my consciousness, my mind – and every other part of me is literally and substantially inside of Him.
Does He not say that? — In that day you shall know that . . . you are in Me and I am in you.
To what degree are these words not literally true?
The joining of Eragon and Saphira, multiplied a thousand times helps us comprehend the nature and reality of the merging of consciousness, the sweet communion, the walking together that takes place between the Lord Jesus Christ inside our center, and you and me.
Now, Christopher Paolini, the youthful author of Eragon, pointed out that when two intelligent beings are united together in their consciousness, then, over time, they become more and more like each other in their souls. The soul and character of Eragon would become more and more like the soul and character of Saphira, and vice versa.
Jesus said, “Abide in Me and I in you.”
We have always emphasized the need and the reality of our abiding in Him. But we have never really considered the meaning of His abiding in us. A big part of the word “abide” is “to conform.”
Jesus said, “Inside of Me, you conform to Me, and inside of you, I conform to you.”
Some people have a problem with my talking about Asperger’s and autism. Someone wrote to assure me that “Christ is not Asperger’s.” Others say, “Well, it’s just how we ‘see’ things.” Technically, that’s true, but the problem always comes in that, according to them, ME, as I am right now, cannot be Christ. And for me to KNOW Him, I must alter myself, get away from myself, whatever.
If Christ is not my Asperger’s, then I have no hope. If I have to alter my emotional difficulties in order to know Him, then I can never know Him. If I have to be something other than what I find myself to be, then where do I turn? You see, I have decades of knowing that “voice” and all the horror of frustration, all the endless agony that it produces, all the numbing hopelessness. It is not Jesus, though it comes through sincere and good people.
And it’s not just Asperger’s. Every one of us is afflicted with a weakness appointed to us by a Father who does all things perfectly. All of His ways concerning us are perfect.
To deny our weakness is to pretend. Christ is made perfect in our weakness.
All of me, in all of my ups and downs, my ins and outs, my fears and distresses, I am always and totally fused together with the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and He with me in an intimate union of the complete immersion of my spirit into His Spirit and His Spirit into my spirit. His consciousness is inside of me, my consciousness is inside of Him, and we walk together in an utter sharing of life.
Jesus shares my life in all that it is, and I share His life in all that it is. I am saved by His life. And when I say “I,” I’m saying it ONLY so that you are saying “I” of yourself. For you are the same as me.
I went through great emotional and physical difficulty on Friday (in the middle of writing this piece). I was greatly distressed, weeping over my gross inability to fulfill the reality that is in my heart – and to provide for my family’s needs. I felt as if all I long to see accomplished was nothing more than my fleshy fallen ambition and that it could never ever be.
The next morning, when I felt a bit better, I heard the Lord nudging me inside, “You passed the test.” Do you see how foolish it is for us ever to judge ourselves? What had I done that He approved of?
Simple. In all of my weakness and inability, I saw no shadow of separation inside myself between me and Jesus. I looked at my center and saw Jesus. I knew, with no shadow of thought otherwise, that He is my life and that we are joined together in perfect communion, soul to Soul. I knew that He shares all things with me that I am. I knew that I share all things with Him that He is. I knew that we are joined in a perfectly fused union, His consciousness inside of mine, and my consciousness inside of His.
I knew that ME, in all the distress of my weakness and anger and inability and despair, He carries ME inside Himself, and He walks in intimate union with that very me.
“To know that you were (inside of) one who cared for you, and who understood every fiber of your being, and who would not abandon you in even the most desperate of circumstance, that was the most precious relationship a person could have, and both (Daniel) and (Jesus) cherished it.” Christopher Paolini (parentheses mine)
This relationship, this union, IS eternal life. Eternal life is nothing else.