4. To Know the Father
To know God is to know one's true self, for the knowledge of God is the only life we have. In our certainty that God alone fills our hearts, we know that we are the Word that He speaks. All that we do comes out of who He is and we not only please Him, but we know Him even as He knows us. Our union with Him is intimate, personal, and without limit. God reveals Himself through us.
4. To Know the Father
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give the life of the age to come to as many as You have given Him. And this is the life of the age to come, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17: 1-3
Many times I have discussed the knowledge of God as it is found in the life of this present age. Most Christians know instinctively that to know God is much more than knowing about God. Most Christians understand that this is an intimate and personal knowledge of the One who lives on the inside, in our hearts, and that knowledge “about” God is not sufficient.
Yet we know that for many years we continued to see God separate from ourselves; we continued to believe that we had a life separate from God and that “knowing Him” meant hearing His voice and doing what He says.
And so a chart showing the viewpoint of the life of this present age, Christianized, versus the life of the age to come - revealed in us now, could look something like this.
The Life of the Present Age
The Life of the Age to Come
God is distinct and separate from His creation. He can be known only as one knows someone completely separate from one’s self. In that knowledge of God, God speaks to us, either by His Spirit, or in His word, or by the law, and we, even with His help, do the best we can do to please Him and thus to be known by Him.
To know God is to know one’s true self, for the knowledge of God is the only life we have. In our certainty that God alone fills our hearts, we know that we are the Word that He speaks. All that we do comes out of who He is and we not only please Him, but we know Him even as He knows us. Our union with Him is intimate, personal, and without limit. God reveals Himself through us.
Jesus says in His prayer to His Father in John 17 that eternal life, that is, the life of the age to come, is to know the Father and to know His Son. John adds in his first epistle that we already have the life of the age to come for that life is in the Son and the Son is in us.
Now, may I suggest this possibility, that our present knowledge of God is much more the knowledge that is common to the life of this present age than the knowledge that is central to the life of the age to come. Even though most Christians know instinctively that this knowledge of God is not a knowledge “about” God, but an intimate and personal knowledge of Him, yet 99.99 percent of our “knowledge” of God is completely in the “about” category.
In other words, our present knowledge of God that is truly out of the life of the age to come, is but a taste, just enough to excite us and to persuade us to pursue the knowledge of God that is without limit.
That is what we must place in front of ourselves. This knowledge of God that Jesus refers to here in John 17:3 is a knowledge and a personal intimacy that absolutely has no limit.
I know this, the only entrance into this knowledge, to pass from a “taste” to the entire inheritance that is ours, begins with believing Jesus’ words in John 14, “In that day you shall know that I am in the Father and you are in Me and I am in you.” The entrance into this knowledge is the acceptance of the cross of Jesus Christ as being sufficient and complete, not just for God, but also for us, on the one hand, and the acknowledgment and proclamation that Christ is our life, the only life we know, on the other hand.
As I have shared in past letters, this knowing that I am in Jesus and that Jesus is in me means that I know He carries every part of me inside of Himself and that He reveals Himself in every part of the human me. My flesh is His flesh, as Paul says in Ephesians 5. And not only do I know this in all certainty, but I proclaim it with my voice box with all boldness.
Yet, I have read those who rejoice in the wonderful truth that we walk and live utterly in the grace of God, and that Christ is our life, we have no other life, who having passed through the door into the knowledge of Christ, then begin to express the idea that what we presently know, our little old life in this world, is all, really, that God has for us now. And once again, you see the reversion back to the pagan idea that we will know things as they really are only in “heaven.”
And so some have removed the idea that we are involved with God in the proving of anything – since everything is by “grace,” then everything ends up being automatic for everyone. And for many, just knowing Christ as themselves right now, is the only revelation of Christ that God has for them. That is a most wonderful place to live. Yet they think wrongly that if there is anything more, it is reserved entirely for the next age, after life in this age is over.
To know that the cross is sufficient for me and that my life, as I am right now in this present age, is the expression of Christ in me, is the doorway into knowing the life of the age to come, into knowing the Father as He really is.
However, holding to such a limited view of God in us, to such a confined view of the life of Christ revealed through us right now upon this earth, is something that has no appeal to me whatsoever for two reasons. The first is that it denies so much of the life and power, the arena of warfare and the reality of triumph, revealed to us in the New Testament, and the second reason is that I cannot accept or be satisfied with the idea that my present knowledge of God and myself is all there is.
The knowledge of God that is ours inside the life of the age to come that is ours because Christ is our life, we have no other life, that knowledge of God is without limit.
And right now, I know Him only a tiny little bit, only a taste.
To know Him begins with knowing Him as myself, that I am in my weakness an expression of Him. But that is only how it begins.
We cannot know God as He is if we see Him as One separate from ourselves. Yet all that God is in all of His power, wisdom, and divine nature, becomes all that we are in a glorious unfolding inside the reality of that which our eyes see and our hands touch.
We cannot be the image of God without being an expression of Him without limit.
Let’s turn Jesus’ statement here in John 17 into a confession of faith.
“I know God.”
“I know God without limit and without restraint.”
“I know God in all that He is in all of His eternal and infinite being.”
Now, obviously, I am speaking prophetically of that which I am before Him right now. I am calling those things that “be not” as though they are.
My calling is to bring that knowledge of God that God says I possess right now, into the full experience of life on this planet. Yet all I really know of that knowledge is a tiny, tiny taste.
I do not know what I am talking about. Having stepped through the door into the life of the age to come, I am looking at a vast panorama of reality through blinded eyes, through a glass darkly. I have never been upon the path that is before me. I can hardly describe it to you. I certainly cannot indicate to you what is the next step forward for me, for you, or for anyone.
But I can assure you that my Savior, Jesus, the One who fills my heart and yours, does know the path, in fact, He is the path. It is He who holds my hand, who fills my feet and guides them and yours as well.
However, even though I am ignorant of the way forward, I must probe, I must reach, I must seek to know this glorious Being who claims He is my life. I can do nothing else.
We do have three things that help us in our venturing out into the unlimited treasure of the life and power of this God who is our life, to know God in the same way that He knows us.
The brother who first birthed into my heart the vision of the revelation of Christ shared a principle. In looking at where God has us now, I am firmly convinced that this principle holds. He stated that God has given us the patterns in His word, both in the history of Israel and in the life of Christ, as well as the patterns of the natural realms, for us to use in the same way that a dressmaker uses the patterns to make a dress. Anytime you hear a “truth,” you lay it up against the patterns. What fits the patterns you keep, what does not fit you cut away.
The idea that, now that we know that Christ is our life and that we stand in all the grace of God, we no longer are engaged in any form of battle, there is no more “fight,” or victory or winning or overcoming yet to be brought into our experience in this age and in this life, that idea, laid up against the patterns, does not fit. Therefore we cut it away.
My God, the children of Israel, though they fought in the wilderness, did not really know war until they had fully entered into the promised land and had begun to eat solely from its life. After that, the battle began.
A butterfly, encased in a cocoon, is fully a butterfly. It is and has within itself all that it will ever be. What that butterfly does not know is either the full extent of the life that is in it or the reality of the heavens in which it was created to live. It cannot obtain the knowledge of either one unless it struggles with everything that is in it against the cocoon that binds it up. Only by casting off that cocoon does the butterfly enter into life as it was meant to be.
The second thing that God gives us in this journey upon which we have never been, is other brethren who, like us, are standing just inside the life of the age to come and who see that there is so very much more and that God has ordained this incredible passage, this transition, this birth canal experience, this casting off of the curse and all that it means, who see, with us, that this is God’s determination, and are reaching forward to the same thing we reach forward too. These brethren are a confirmation to us and we are a confirmation to them that God is doing this thing.
Let me share one such confirmation that was sent to me, short, maybe, but essential to my strength.
Good reading this morning. I have often said, and it is my bold proclamation, that Jesus is our example... but, just how far does that go? God spoke to me 3 times some time ago and said: “Jesus is the example,” each time speaking it more forcefully into my heart. You have tapped into this same thing and I am thrilled.
There are others who are reaching for the same knowledge of God revealed through us into this age and upon this earth that I am reaching for out of the same word from God birthed in them that is birthed in me. There is in me, when I read or hear them speak, such a leaping of joy and expectation that God really is doing this thing, in my heart, in the same way that the babe in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy at the approach of the Babe in Mary’s womb.
You and I need this level of prophetic confirmation as much as Mary did.
The third thing that we have to guide us is almost a negative thing. It is when we read or hear good Christian teaching, precious brethren sharing from their present revelation and we know that we know that we know, deep inside, that they have found a way to limit God. We know that, though there is good truth in what they share, what you and I must have has to be so much more.
I must know God without limit, now upon this earth. I must know Him or perish.
I have some write assuring me that, although I am sharing some good things, they have the truth, the revelation, that I am missing, and if I would just read their stuff and subscribe to their theology, I will have what I am reaching for. Then I could sit back (or so I suppose) and be happy and not need anything more from God, not need that which God has never yet released upon this earth.
If they would tell me they don’t know what they’re talking about, that they have never been upon the road ahead, I would believe them. But when I do read their stuff, it may or may not be good, it may or may not be something I agree with or even witness to. But seldom is there a leaping in my spirit, a witness of confirmation, that this also is the revelation of Jesus Christ out of the age to come and into this present age. Too often, all they have done is find another way to limit God, to keep all the fullness of His glory and power out of the blood and the dirt and the physical reality of life on this present earth.
But there are enough who are hearing the same word I am hearing, who are reaching for the same fullness of all that God is, revealed through us, that I am reaching for, who understand that these last moments of the birth canal in which we find ourselves are the time of greatest pain, of greatest jeopardy, and of greatest battle. There are enough of these that God has brought me in contact with for me to know that the thing that fills my heart to overflowing is of God and to give me the boldness and the confidence I need to place myself utterly in the middle of His revelation.
God is tearing Himself open, right now, as He has never done before. He is taking His very heart, the reality of all that He is in power and in love, and He is placing that revelation of Himself inside of and out from you and me, right here inside the realms of time and the limitations of the physical earth.
To know the Father is the Apocalypse. It is the unveiling of Jesus Christ.
And there is no clearer pattern to show us where and how we find that knowledge of God than the butterfly, enclosed and held tightly within the chrysalis, limited in every way by that which does not know God.
For many years we lived as a caterpillar inside God’s plan for us. Our job at that time was to eat His word, to take into ourselves everything God is speaking both through the preaching of the word, through walking together with other brethren, and through our own study of the Bible. And we did that, we ate and ate and ate and grew and grew and grew.
Then came the time when God drew us aside into a quiet place, a place set aside, a lonely place. There He bound us up tight. We could no longer minister, we were in one way or another cut off from our brethren. The power we had once tasted seemed to lift away from us.
And in that tight and lonely place, God took us all apart. Oh the tearing, the pain, the tears, as He took apart everything that we were, everything that we thought was Him, threw it all up into the air into a confused mess until we did not know what was truth and what was nonsense, what was ourselves and what was gobbledygook.
Then, wonder of wonders, God spoke a word into that confused mess He had made us to be inside that confined and restricted place. He said, “Christ is your life; you have no other life.” Then we watched in wonder and amazement as God brought everything we are back together again, only this time, all of it is Christ and all of His ways concerning us are perfect. And now we acknowledge nothing except Christ, and we see nothing inside of us or when we gaze into the mirror except Him. We know that we are in Him and that He is in us and there is absolutely nothing else.
Yet we still face the grave. The condemnation of death still circles us and all whom we love with all of its torture and cruelty. We are confined and limited by the curse that remains upon this earth and upon our bodies. We are restrained by the life of this present age. Demons and evil men continue to wreck havoc upon this earth, destroying our inheritance and claiming it as their own.
We know that we are, right now, all that we will ever be in His glory, but we also know that right now, we do NOT know God, not as we must. We know that we have only tasted that knowledge and that we are yet blind and ignorant and so very, very limited. The life that is inside of us has not yet worked its way out into every part of our being.
Do not tell me that you have more knowledge of the truth than I do. Until you are immortal, incorruptible, moving in all the power and unlimited revelation of Almighty God, raising people from the dead, driving demons off of this planet, bringing many into all the fullness of Christ, until then, you are in the same place I am, limited, blind, and ignorant of the life and power of the mighty One who fills your heart.
But in the simple picture of a butterfly, God gives us the path forward, the way He has ordained by which we will KNOW GOD, the life of the age to come.
That butterfly is constrained by a shell that is not itself. Yet that shell keeps it from moving in the full confidence of all that it is. And God has ordained that the butterfly MUST fight against that shell and cast it off. We know what happens when that beautifully formed butterfly presses against the limitation of that outer shell. We know that the life deep inside it moves out into every part of that butterfly. Each time it presses, stronger and stronger, more life flows, and the more that life flows, the stronger the butterfly presses. Until the shell rips open, and the butterfly forces its way out. Then it sits there, momentarily, upon that cast off shell, gathering the awareness that it is forever free, before it flies into all the reality of God.
God will never remove our shell for us.
God will never remove our shell for us.
Those who die and go to heaven discover that the shell remains. God has put Himself inside of us inside that shell because that is the only way that we can ever know Him.
We know Him by casting off the restraint and limitation of the curse that remains still upon our bodies, upon this earth, and upon the life of this present age. We know Him only through the battle, through the travail, through proclaiming the victory in the midst of despair, seeing that which is not seen, declaring that what He is in us as the only reality there is.
To remove the shell from the butterfly so that it no longer must cast if off in order to live is to condemn that butterfly to a slow and horrifying death.
This truth has nothing to do with “achieving” something, or “winning God’s favor” or any such nonsense. All of that is forever gone from us, removed by the cross of Christ.
This truth is to know the unlimited life and power of the God who fills us with all of His fullness, right here upon this earth, in this present age, out from these bodies of mortal flesh until they are swallowed up in the life of the One whose revelation we are.
All that I do now is God in me doing it. To know the Father is the life of the age to come, revealed through us, bringing to an end this present age.