And, again, we have to be very practical on this matter of knowledge. One thing that you and I have come to or will come to is this: A dread of knowledge that does not lead to something more of Him. I never in my life have shrank from speaking as I do today, lest it might resolve itself into words only, and so little that corresponds to it. I do not say that it is all in vain. I do not believe that it is, but it is a wholesome fear to accumulate a kind of knowledge that does not lead to something. And the one and only thing to which spiritual knowledge should lead us Christ-likeness.
Now then, what a knowledge we have of things concerning the Christian life and the purpose of God, and how greatly we fall short in the expression, the personal expression of Christ. Is it not true that there is a gap between our knowledge and our life so often? And I have not come to you at this time just to give you a lot more knowledge as such, or to add to the teaching, but say to you: the occupation of your life and mine, and the knowledge which you and I receive, must be turned to this one account, have this effect: "I must be more a man and a woman like Christ." If that is not true, then the knowledge is false, for it does not really fulfill its intention.
One must underline that again. I think probably that this is why the prophets were so reticent to speak. This is something to take note of. I was speaking to people who were ambitious to preach and to teach; whether there are any such here, I do not know, but I would be very strong about this, for this is one thing that the Lord has said to me very, very strongly and drastically after many yeas in experience. After yeas of being very much in the way of demand, preaching in many quite important, highly standing churches in the country, and having a large sphere of acceptance at conferences and so on, the Lord brought me to the place where He made it perfectly clear to me by very drastic handling that it is the result that matters and not what you are doing. And I could tell you, dear friends, that I have come to the place where I would seek to be an ordinary man in an ordinary job and a menial job at that, rather than be in the false position of public ministry that is only an end in itself, only an end in itself.
No, you look again, and we need to be reminded that the prophets were very reticent men about public ministry. Take Moses for example, God met him, and told him of his vocation, his calling, and he said, "I cannot speak, I cannot speak." God had to really argue with him, but Moses stuck to his point. "Oh, if You can send by anyone, send not by me." Well, it therefore became a matter of divine compulsion that made Moses fulfill his public ministry. Then there is Jeremiah. The Word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah, "Before I formed thee I knew thee ... I have appointed thee a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah immediately says, "I am a child, I cannot speak." You would think he would have leaped at a thing like that. If he had been like a great number of young men that we know, he would have jumped at it, the opportunity of being a prophet of the nations. Jeremiah says, No, "I am a child, I cannot speak." And once more the Lord had almost to compel him, because of the responsibility bound up with this, and these are not the only ones in the Bible. There is a wholesome reticence, a wholesome silence not to have ambition in this way, but to be brought to the place where it has got to be of God or may I be mercifully saved from it. Why? because it is not what we do and what we say, but it is after all, what is affected, what comes of it all, and that is very searching. Well now, if you are not prophets and preachers, or ambitious to be such, we are all those who receive a lot; and there is a great responsibility bound up with everything that we receive. "Renewing unto knowledge, after the IMAGE of Him."
So as we search our hearts before the Lord, and simply ask, "How much of all that I have received, and all that I know in a way is being changed into the likeness of Christ? How much of it is working out in that way? How much is the Holy Spirit able to take hold of our knowledge and bring it into conformity to Christ?" This is an exclamatory word, dear friends, of why the Holy Spirit puts us into the experiences through which we are going. Oh, how drastic are His dealings with us, how painful are our experiences, how deep are our histories in God? You wonder when there will ever be an end of all this that we go through under His hand. Why? Oh, we may not see it all, because it may not be safe for us to see it. We may begin to congratulate ourselves, but here is the object, perfectly and clearly stated, the Holy Spirit's activity and energies in our experiences, deep and terrible, painful experiences of trial, one object in all this is to make us like the New Man. To implant and instill in us these virtues of the New Man Who we have put on. Not just some thing that we have put on, but something that is a new character, that of the Lord Jesus.
Now, that is not an exciting word. It does not in any way cause us to leap for joy at the moment, because no temptation for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous, but afterward it works His likeness. And I think, however heavy this may sound, it could be perhaps a bit of it depressing. I think every heart here says, "After all, whatever it means, by whatever way, my one desire is to be like Christ, that Christ should be fully formed in me."
May we have grace to let Him do it in His own way, and through our sufferings, something more of that meekness and patience and humility and forbearance of the Lord Jesus shall really be a part of our being. It shall be like that!
(continued with # 13 - "The Exclusiveness and Inclusiveness of Christ")