Increasing In The Knowledge Of God
“Increasing in the knowledge of God.” Col. 1:10
The apostle had just prayed for the Colossians that they might be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; and that they might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful unto every good work” and further still, that they might continue on “increasing in the knowledge of God.” God has not fenced us in, nor cooped us up, nor put a roof over us. If there be restrictions on us to a sane enlargement in the Divine life they do not come from Him. “It is to the enlarged life that God calls us.” Over the whole living creation is written legibly, for all who can read, “Be ye enlarged!” To every seed the Divine Master says, “Be ye enlarged” — become a flower or a tree. To every rivulet He says, “Be enlarged” become a river, and never rest until you have rejoined the sea. To every babe He says, “Be enlarged” — become a man or woman. To every spiritual babe He says, “Attain unto the full-grown stature of a man in Christ” and then go on. “increasing in the knowledge of God.” Men hear this heavenly call and yield partial obedience to it. “They enlarge their eyes by means of telescope and microscope, their estate by means of commerce, their minds by means of science. The only thing they resolutely refuse to do is to enlarge their souls. But what is all other enlargement if this supreme thing be ignored?” — F. C. Spurr
“A soul may be holy without being established in holiness. There is childhood in (entire) sanctification. He who ceases to grow in holiness, ceases to enjoy heart purity. Purity of heart is a stepping stone to religious development. Nearly the whole of growth is beyond heart purity, as growth in grace belongs preeminently to the sanctified state. All obstructions to growth being removed, there is no reason why the pure in heart should not make more rapid progress than when in a lower state of grace.
Unless the soul pants for more of God, more of that fullness of which it has been made partaker, in being made pure; unless faith seeks and secures enlargement, and love increase in intensity, the grace already given will not be retained, but there will be absolute loss. We shall have missed connection, and immediately retrograde on the downward plane until we have passed the point of beginning. Let us, then, not only, “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,” but “add to our faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren (idle margin) nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” — William McDonald
Sheridan Baker, whose writings more specially emphasize progress after entire sanctification than perhaps any other writer on the subject, said:
“Contentment with present attainments in grace, and a feeling of security in their possession, have been the occasion of some of the sacred characters, and many of the pious of all ages, spotting themselves by some sad missteps in the evening of life, and before they left the world. Hence the only safe course for any Christian, however young or old, is to leave his conversion, his sanctification, his past experiences, his former victories and triumphs, and press to new revelations of grace and higher altitudes in the life of faith. And surely this is the Divine order. God commands sinners to repent and believe; He commands justified believers to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit; He commands purified Christians to follow on to know the Lord, to forget the things behind, and press forward. He would have all continually and earnestly seeking the riches of grace, not pardon or purity, or what has already been reached, but what has not yet been reached, more of love, of light, of power, of God. And He would have the farthest advanced in spiritual life seek as earnestly the ideals which He has placed before them, as He would have sinners seek pardon and adoption, or the ideals held up to them. This is a fact fearfully overlooked by many Christians, even those who are supposed to have a deep insight into Divine things. Hence the enfeebled forms of holiness to be met with wherever the doctrine is taught and the experience professed.
Reader, have you ever seriously thought over this matter? Have you been impressed that your obligation to seek holiness, or having sought it, that your obligation to advance in it, is as imperative as the sinner’s obligation to commence a Christian life? Spirit of God, stir the reader and writer. Amen.”
“The Scriptures do not teach any degrees of cleansing the heart from original sin; in every passage where this work is referred to, it is spoken of as a complete, full, entire work, without degrees or gradualism. But the filling of the purified soul with certainty, light, love, unction, energy and all the positive forms of grace, is characterized by the terms, ‘growth,’ ‘increase,’ ‘built up,’ ‘abound,’ ‘enlarge,’ and ‘more and more.’ As when a farmer clears his land, the removal of stones and stumps and all obstructions to culture is the negative work and can be so perfectly finished that he would never find another rock or old root in the field. But the positive side of deepening the soil, fertilizing it, irrigating it, rendering it more productive, can be increased ‘more and more’ without special limit. So it is with the work of grace in the soul.” — Watson
“Many, alas! only stand on the shore
And gaze on the Ocean so wide;
They never have ventured its depths to explore
Or to launch on its fathomless tide.
“Let us launch out on this ocean so broad
Where the floods of salvation overflow,
Oh, let us be lost in the mercy of God
Till the depths of His fullness we know.”
— A. B. Simpson
Andrew Murray, in his book, “The Full Blessing of Pentecost,” asks: “Can the full blessing of Pentecost be still further increased? Can anything that is full become still fuller? Yes, undoubtedly. It can become so full that it always overflows. This is especially the characteristic and law of the blessing of Pentecost. It is the distinction betwixt full and overflowing. A vessel may be full and yet have nothing over for others. When it continues full and yet has something over for others, there must be in it an over-brimming, over-flowing supply. This is what our Lord promised to His believing disciples. At the outset, faith in Him gives them the blessing that they shall never thirst. But as they advance and became stronger in faith, it makes them a fountain of water out of which streams flow to others. The Spirit who at first only fills us will Overflow out of us to souls around us. It is with the rivers of living waters as with many a fountain on earth.
When we begin to open them the stream is weak. The more water is used, the more deeply the source is opened up, the more strongly does the water flow.”
Too Much Expected of the Sanctified.
Sanctified people are only spiritual babes as far as knowledge goes. Many little improprieties of conduct, manner, and habit, which must be corrected, remain. Too much has been expected of them. they have only purity, not perfection of development, of knowledge, nor of conduct. Their characters are not perfect, though their hearts be pure, but only in process of development.
“‘Grow in grace.’ We can grow in the use of it, in the measure of it, and in our love and enjoyment of it. Israel in Canaan serves as an example of all this. At first they scarcely knew what to do with themselves. They were in the land, it was theirs, it had fruit, and herds, and rich stores; but they had at first, little or no access to, or benefit from any of its resources. They were not used to its soil, or climate, or its ways of agriculture. Never had the generation fed on that kind of diet. It was all new to them. They had to learn how to use the blessings into which they had entered.
“Always this is true of persons entering the Canaan of perfect love. About all we knew at the first was that we were over.” How new it all seemed! How new even the Bible was! How strange the world around us! We never had gone that way before. Beyond us, stretching away like the hills of Palestine before the Jewish armies, lay our untried years. Their unknown history contained wider ranges of experience and a world of unexpected testing and blessing. We were to learn by victory at our Jerichos and defeat at our Ais. We were indeed in a big country, and scarce knew what to do with it. Growth in the knowledge of it, and growth as to how to use and enjoy it, as yet were unsolved problems.
“If Israel had nothing to learn after crossing Jordan, then might there be some excuse for such statements as, “Can’t grow any more” (after entire sanctification); can t pray the Lord’s prayer,” “no need for means of grace,” etc., etc. If Israel had not need of the use of means, at Jericho, Ai, and the battle of the kings; then might we stop to consider such objections. But how .different is history of life in the land! So we have found it. We need the constant use of the means of grace. We need daily acquaintance, not only with the land, but experimental knowledge of how to live there. Its fruits are not the same that grew in Egypt. Its agriculture is different. Its climate is of a different order. These things are all true spiritually. Advanced knowledge is essential to life in the land. Holiness people who persist in dwelling by the Jericho fords never possess the land. Holiness means continued advance. There is no stand still place where there is nothing either to learn or to do; nor is there any spiritual health where no exercise is required. In the life of holiness loaves of bread 4o not grow on trees, ready-made, nor the grapes yield their juices without the winepress. Means are as much in vogue in Canaan as in the wilderness.” — Isaiah Reid, in “How They Grow”