“And this is eternal life; that they should know You, the only true God, and the one You sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).
If eternal life is knowing God, then it follows that there could be nothing more important in this life to anyone, than to know Him properly and truly. Knowing God is something that we must do in this life; there is no halfway house between heaven and earth where we can learn to know God; it is here and now, or never.
It may seem superfluous to suggest to Christians that they need to know God, but the fact is that many people who call themselves Christians don’t really know God at all; at least not in the sense that Jesus was meaning, knowing God as eternal life, not in the future, but here and now. Eternal life must begin in this life; we must take it with us into eternity; there is nowhere else to get it.
Many Christians have an inadequate knowledge of God, because they only know Him as the “God from Whom all Blessings Flow” as the hymn goes. They have only met Him as a Helper, as a Crutch, as the One to whom we turn in times of need. And that is important, life-giving knowledge to have, when we are first-born and immature. But this level of knowledge of God is what is described as the milk of the Word and “everyone partaking of milk is unacquainted with the Word of righteousness, for He is an infant” (Hebrews 5:13). What all Christians need if they are to go on into a true knowledge of God, is the strong meat of the Word, which is for the mature (Hebrews 5:14).
When Jesus fed the 5000 with two fish and five loaves, Matthew records the event in the following way;
“And ordering the multitudes to recline on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up into heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the bread, He gave it to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes” (Matthew 14:19).
We look upon this story as one of the miracles that Jesus performed and so it is, but like all of His miracles, there is more to this scripture than just the recounting, by Matthew, of a miraculous event.
One of the things that it shows is that, with the blessing of God, anything is possible. It was the blessing of God that allowed five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand people; the thing about the blessing of God is that it is unaccountable and unexplainable. It is undeserved and unearned and we cannot properly expect it; instead of our just desserts, we get the blessing of God. It is the unaccountable grace of God in action, like a dollar’s value for a cent’s worth; it just doesn’t make sense. That is the blessing of God.
But there is also a breaking spoken of here, and before the blessing can be made effective, a breaking has to occur; and the breaking is every bit as important as the blessing, both to God and to ourselves. The bread could not feed the five thousand until it was first broken.
During the Last Supper, we are told;
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessing it, He broke it and gave it to the disciples” (Matthew 26:26).
Here again is the figure of blessing followed by breaking. Jesus described the bread as His Body, broken for us. Unless the bread, His body, was broken, it would be of no use to us in terms of eternal life. The disciples might still have the blessing of His presence and His fellowship, but God’s plan of salvation for mankind would not become effective without the breaking first of His body.
Believers, too, are described as His Body; we are the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12); we too, have to be broken before we can be any use to God; broken to self. He takes us, blesses us, breaks us and distributes us throughout the world; we are only effective if we are broken. So we need to know God, not just as the one who blesses us, but as Breaker.
In Judges chapter 7, the story of Gideon gives us another picture of the importance of breaking. Gideon did what so few do today; he made sure, by laying out fleeces on two separate occasions, that God was calling him before he set out to do that for which God indeed had called him, which was to defeat the Midianites and the Amalekites, who were “as numerous as locusts” (Judges 7:12). Gideon had many people with him, but God reduced the number, firstly to 10,000 and finally, to just 300, “lest Israel became boastful and said ‘my own power has delivered me’” (Judges 7:2).
God’s plan was to have torches concealed in earthen vessels, carried by each of the 300 men. At the designated time, the trumpets were blown, the earthen vessels were broken and the torches held up, with shouts and trumpet blasts from the 300. The enemy fled and was defeated.
The moral of the story is that the light of Christ is carried about in earthen vessels, our bodies, but until those earthen vessels are broken, the light cannot be shed abroad and our enemy is not defeated. Paul drew upon this in his second letter to the Corinthians;
“For God, who said, ‘Out of darkness, light will shine’, has shone in our hearts toward the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the presence of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Each believer has this light in earthen vessels so that it can be seen that the power is of God, not of ourselves. But this light, the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in Christ’s presence within each believer, is hidden until the earthen vessel, our self-nature, is broken and the light is able to shine forth.
This glorious light is hidden from the world today because modern Christianity has embraced a religious philosophy, contrary to what the Word of God teaches, in which we don’t have to die to self; we can be improved and become better persons. But this is nonsense and deception; it is “a different gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4 & Galatians 1:6).
As long as we remain unbroken, we are ineffective, concealing the light, which is meant to be a reflection of that “True Light, which enlightens every man coming into the world” (John 1:9).
Christianity is stuck in a groove; it was a wonderful thing to be a Luther in the 16th century, but to be a Lutheran today is meaningless; it no longer meets the need. The tide of the Spirit always flows onward; it never ebbs or stops flowing. The great saints who have gone before us were raised up by God for a specific function that suited the need of the hour. Their legacy was not meant to be wealth in a bank that a later generation can live upon and be content with.
When we turn to Jesus, He takes each one of us personally; He blesses us with the revelation of Himself and the Father’s promises and plans; but unless we are broken to self, those promises and plans cannot be effective; we might as well have remained as we were in our unredeemed status;
“For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, having known it, to turn back from the holy commandment being delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:21).