being born again, commandments, dying to self, eternal life, experience, faith, following Jesus, God's love, heart, heart knowledge, intimacy, Jesus Christ, Judgment, knowing God, overcoming the world, spiritual growth, T.A. Sparks, the body of Christ, the cross
I chose the subtitle of my poetry blog that once sprang from 1 Corinthians, chapter 8, verse 3 also as the headline for this article because I believe that the most important thing for us Christians is to really get to know (read ‘love’) the Lord. If we have an intimate relationship with God Who is the Creator of everything, then there is no need for us to worry about anything anymore. Jesus Christ promised eternal life NOW to everyone who, by the grace of God, has been given an intimate knowledge of God in the Spirit. He said,
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (Jn 17:3 ESV)
What kind of knowledge am I speaking of here? In our modern times we are used to gathering information about every single topic we are interested in to come to know MORE. And of course, as Christians we just do the same. In fact, this is not a wrong thing to do. But even if we know our Bibles, all doctrine and teachings very well, still, that has NOTHING to do with knowing God after the Spirit yet.
There are a few Scriptures in which Paul made some mysterious statements. He said for example,
“The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. […] Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” (1 Cor 6:13; 15-17 ESV – emphasis in color added)
We might remember from the Book of Genesis that Adam knew his wife Eve, that is, they became one flesh. However, we might not immediately understand the connection between our body which should be a temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor 6, verse 19) Who indwells us and how this indwelling, if it is really true in our case, makes us a member of Christ, even of His (spiritual) body? 🙄 I am going to offer you another hint from the same apostle below.
“He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Eph 5:28-32 ESV – emphasis in color added)
I am afraid that Christ’s love for His Bride, which is the spiritual, somehow invisible church today, is nothing the intellect can easily grasp. It seems to me that it is only the heart that has learned to love the Lord, despite or even because of continued suffering with Him. At least, we suffer WITH Him, so we are not alone. And His love can become our only comfort in difficult times. As for fellowshipping in the Kingdom of God in this aforementioned invisible church, I dare to re-post a poem I once wrote (1) because I think that that which is beyond explanation can be pictured through poetry a little better.
The Beloved of God – Poem by Susanne Schuberth
There is a church that is unseen
It has no building, pew or screen
To display things of churchly life
Instead, this church is called His wife
You join that church by entering
Into Christ through surrendering
All that you have and what you are
To Jesus who’s the Morning Star
He’ll strip your self off from the heart
And nakedness will be the start
Of fellowship you didn’t know
As long as you sat in a row
With other human bodies there
In buildings where the preachers care
About the sermon for the crowd
Which beefs up faith and leaves no doubt
This new Church, she has come to us
In secret, without a big fuss
On Pentecost, that long ago
Now she is here, at hand, aglow
With Spirit’s fire, love, and more
For everyone who to the core
Was pierced with arrows of His love
Sent by His angels from above
Assembling there is different – yes
And fellowship so special – guess
You meet there those beloved ones
Who live elsewhere on earth, His sons
His daughters, all His children come
Together by His Spirit’s drum
Which calls them every day and night
To fellowship sheer out of sight
They worship God with thankfulness
In heart and mind and pray He’ll bless
All those who do not join them yet
With life eternal where regret
Is over as is doubt and fear
When you see God and Jesus near
With all your brothers, sisters there
Who His love in God’s Kingdom share
Let us also keep in mind that the apostle Paul told us something about divine mysteries through the following words,
“What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived — God has prepared these things for those who love him.” (1 Cor 2:9 CSB)
The apostle referred to our natural senses here. As soon as we have been born into the Kingdom of God we receive spiritual senses, too. Although they need to be trained to get acquainted with this realm of light, we will see that which is invisible to our natural eyes and we will be enabled to hear what others around us cannot hear. With our inward (wo)man we will be able to even touch God, our Father, and Jesus as our hearts have become one with them (cf. 1 Cor 6:17). The apostle John wrote that there is evidence that we have been born from above when the following criteria are met.
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 Jn 5:1-4 ESV)
Beneath there is a quote from T. Austin Sparks on this very issue about knowing the Lord.
“Our standing in the Kingdom of Heaven is simply a matter of knowing the Lord, and if we are going to gain higher place it is not going to be at all by preferences, but by the increase of our spiritual measure. People who count in heaven are spiritual people, and what counts is the degree of their spirituality; and spirituality is knowing the Lord. We may take it that the Lord applies Himself utterly to this matter of bringing us to know Him. That is the thing that really does count.” (2)
We could even put ‘knowing the Lord’ in a negative context when we read how believers approach Jesus, telling Him what they thought they did for Him during their earthly lives while they had no true knowledge of God and His love at the same time. Jesus said,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Mt 7:21-23 ESV)
Isn’t it a tragedy to think we have worked for God all our life and then we are finally confronted with this crushing verdict? It is so easy to confuse our natural soul life with God’s Spirit when we have not come to know Him yet. Then we assume that our goals, plans, and dreams of how to serve Him must be His as well. Blinded by our own greatness, we go on serving a Lord we do not even know. But when the fruit we produce is not good, then the tree cannot be good, either. If our working for God makes us bigger in our eyes and in the eyes of others (see Lk 6:26), then we are in big danger also, dear brothers and sisters. We truly need the cross and suffering with Christ to save us from our wretched old, deceived selves. May it be so with all of us. Amen.
“In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks’ wishes that what was freely received should be freely given and not sold for profit, and that his messages be reproduced word for word, we ask if you choose to share these messages with others, to please respect his wishes and offer them freely – free of any changes, free of any charge (except necessary distribution costs) and with this statment included.”
All images by Susanne and Sarah Schuberth 2021
Susanne, Thanks for sharing this. You have brought up a very important point if we are to truly have eternal life, and that is do we KNOW the Father and the Son. in John’s gospel we read,
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know [Grk. ginosko) you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:1-3, ESV2011)
Here Jesus tells us what eternal life really is, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” It is all in our knowing the Father and the Son. The word translated “know” means so much more in the Greek than it does in our western culture. We tend to approach knowing Jesus as if it is an intellectual pursuit and we “study (the Bible and pulpit commentaries) to show ourselves approved.” But that is not knowing Jesus and the Father in the way that Jesus prayed in the above passage. W. E. Vine nailed it in his “Dictionary of New Testament Words,”‘
“In the NT ginosko frequently indicates a relation between the person ‘knowing’ and the object known; in this respect, what is ‘known’ is of value or importance to the one who knows, and hence the establishment of the relationship, e.g., especially of God’s ‘knowledge,’ 1Co 8:3, ‘if any man love God, the same is known of Him;’ Gal 4:9, ‘to be known of God;’ here the ‘knowing’ suggests approval and bears the meaning to be approved;”
So the person in judgment who is calling Him “Lord,” He says to them, “I never knew you,” He is saying, “You never had an intimate relationship with me! You did all your works out from your religious mindset and not by my Spirit.” To become “one flesh” with Christ as members of His body is to be of one Spirit with Him and thus the works we do are born of the Spirit and not out from the flesh. Religion is a terrible deception that gives us a false sense of security born of our intellects, believing in and keeping doctrines by our own wills and not of the Spirit. This is why our soul life has to be crucified with Christ that we might LIVE in HIS eternal Life and not our own soul life.
Jesus and the Father are after an intimate relationship with each of us and nothing less. It is from that relationship that we can confidently say as Jesus did, “I only do the works I see my Father doing.” These are the ONLY works that count in the mind of God.
Our hope is in Jesus who said of Himself, “You have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.”
“That which is born of the flesh IS FLESH, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit….”
“The flesh profits NOTHING!”
Paul’s prayer for the saints was,
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of [to fully and intimately know] him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” (Eph 1:17-18, ESV2011)
Amen, Lord Jesus, make it so in us.
LikeLiked by 4 people
Susanne Schuberth (Germany) said:
Thank you for adding further explanation as to the true meaning of “knowing” God. Our flesh, indeed, offers us always a false sense of security as long as we trust ourselves or anyone else more than Jesus Christ. Shouldn’t it be sobering for everyone to read that the flesh profits NOTHING? 🙄 Jesus said,
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (Jn 6:63 ESV)
Further below in this chapter after many disciples had left Jesus, Peter replied to Jesus who had asked the remaining twelve whether they wanted to go away as well,
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6:68-69 ESV)
I admit I have been at such a point a few times in my life with Jesus, too. Although I knew there was no alternative to following Him, all my strength to endure and to go on with Him was gone. But then, to my surprise, He carried me through it all.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Allan Halton said:
Amen. Only what springs out from knowing Him, that is, out from relationship with Him, is life and truth, for only this reveals the Truth and the Life Himself.
LikeLiked by 3 people
Susanne Schuberth (Germany) said:
Well put, Allan. Thank you!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Anna Waldherr said:
I recall as a child reading avidly the explanation for our existence given in the Catholic catechism. We are to know, love, and serve God. That may seem simple. But it is extraordinarily profound and a lifelong endeavor.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Susanne Schuberth (Germany) said:
So true, Anna. What was written in the Catholic catechism reminded me of Jesus’ answer to a scribe’s question as to the greatest commandment of all.
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”” (Mark 12:30-31 ESV)
Also, a quote from Augustine of Hippo comes to mind.
“You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”
LikeLiked by 1 person