There is nothing which comes within the compass of the life of the Christian which does not depend upon the knowledge of Christ. But that knowledge is a thing which will never be exhausted here, however long we live, and however rapidly we grow. We shall never overtake the finality of that knowledge. That is why an apostle, at the end of his life, still more than at any other time in all his history, gave expression to the deepest desire and longing of his heart as being to ‘know Christ’ (Phil. 3:10). We may say that for every increase in spiritual life, spiritual strength, spiritual effectiveness, spiritual usefulness to the Lord, some further measure of the knowledge of Christ is essential. We increase by this knowledge; we progress by this knowledge; we are more for the Lord in accordance with the living knowledge of the Lord Jesus which is coming to us.
This knowledge is essentially a spiritual thing. It is a knowledge which is altogether closed to any capacity or ability or faculty, save that of the spirit. The measure in which we represent the Divine thought and fulfil the Divine purpose will be the measure in which we are learning Christ after the Spirit.
That may represent one of two things for different people. It may represent limitation for those who have learned Christ other than after the Spirit; who, therefore, have to unlearn a good deal more than others before they can learn. On the other hand, it may mean everything to those whose knowledge of the Lord is by way of an absolutely new beginning.
This kind of knowledge marks a difference between Paul and the other apostles. They had had a considerable knowledge of Christ which was historical, which was earthly. Paul came from the beginning into his practical knowledge of Christ on a heavenly level. Right at the very commencement of his Christian life, his was a spiritual knowledge of Christ. Every fragment from that point onward was a spiritual knowledge of Christ, and he jealously saw to it that it remained so. He positively refused to go to Jerusalem to get his knowledge of Christ from those who were apostles before him. He maintained stolidly his position that Christ, having revealed Himself to him, COULD and WOULD reveal Himself in the same way. Of course, the other apostles came into that spiritual knowledge later, but Paul had no other in experience.
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