Comprehension And Apprehension
For Consideration: Isaiah 43:18,19. 2 Corinthians 5:16.
“Do not [earnestly] remember the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it. and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” … “Consequently from now on we estimate and regard no one from a [purely] human point of view - in terms of natural standards of value. [No] even though we once did estimate Christ from a human viewpoint and as a man, yet now [we have such knowledge of Him that] we know Him no longer [in terms of the flesh].”
It’s imperative to comprehend our reality beneath the surface of what appears to our views largely informed by our finite perspectives, opinions, and the input of our physical senses, and the world - which is the usual modus operandi of comprehension. These are not the eyes of faith which we must have to see, perceive, and enter the kingdom of God (per Jesus in John 3:3-8). However, even when we are given these new eyes of faith by the Holy Spirit, we may for awhile be like the blind man who must receive more than one encounter with the living Christ, lest like him we perceive “people, but they look like trees walking.” Mark 8:22-26. (AVC)
To apprehend means, in this context, to actually lay hold of or grasp the reality of something. We can only apprehend as much as we comprehend. To comprehend means to see or perceive - to behold - as the Lord announces to us through Isaiah, to catch onto this new thing He is going to do - ultimately pointing to the new heart we will receive, and “new creatures” into which we are to be made in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Other synonyms for apprehending: catch onto, cognize, discern, intuit, know, perceive… As we can see, comprehending and apprehending spiritually seem to walk hand in hand.)
Spiritual comprehension comes in “light bulb moments”, epiphanies inwardly experienced in contact with the living Spirit of Christ. They are not necessarily instantaneous, but often like the rising of the sun on a cloudy day - until the clouds disappear and the sun is seen in its fullness, having been there all along.
When we “fathom” something, we plumb the depths of it, and may wind up asking, “Why did I not see this before?” It could be compared to when Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” (Genesis 28:16)
It takes the word of the Lord, the touch of Jesus, a knowing given by God to awaken in us the faith that is interior “sight” - comprehension of a reality of which we were not previously aware. It goes beyond the mental assent or religious programming or training that is commonly called “faith”. These things are but pointers and part of this interior formation.
Faith is an interior comprehension whereby, specifically in the subject at hand, we “see” ourselves and others in Christ as whole and complete in His work, and therefore, relating to one another on this basis: loving as He loved us, forgiving as Christ has forgiven us, as “extensions” of Him in this life. (Related: Ephesians 2:4-10. Colossians 3:1-4. Romans 6:4,5. Colossians 2:12,13. Ephesians 1:3. John 17:21,22. Ephesians 1:17-23. Ephesians 3:14-21.
We cannot apprehend / grasp (let alone appropriate, assimilate, and disseminate) what we do not comprehend / “get” / understand. So of necessity - as St. Paul prayed in the last 2 reference passages - the comprehension or revelation or vision of what is in Christ must be wholeheartedly sought, and prayed for ceaselessly - for (and this is a combined paraphrase of several translations of Proverbs 29:18,19) “Where there is no vision / revelation / redemptive revelation of God, the people are unrestrained / cast off restraint / are unruly / perish; but happy is he who keeps the law. A servant will not be corrected by words alone; for though he understands, he will not answer [the master who mistreats him].”
Knowledge of this kind (redemptive revelation of God) is not based on our own designs or previous understandings. “As Jesus spoke these things, many believed in Him. So He said to the Jews who had believed in Him, If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:30-32.
By the end of that conversation, the same Jews who had “believed” in Him (according to their own comprehensions) picked up rocks with the intent to stone Him for blasphemy. They were ever so “religious,” and outwardly pious, but they had no comprehension / vision / or revelation of their Messiah as the I AM incarnate. This was not unlike the contrast between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. Upon coming into the city, He was hailed with hosannas as the Son of David. In His ignominious departure from the city, bearing the cross outside its walls, He was led away to the cries of “Crucify Him!”
Clearly comprehension according to the flesh is a fickle and dangerous state of mind. Therefore, it behooves us to pray for ourselves and one another for the wisdom of God as St. Paul prayed for it.
“For this reason seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built together in Christ, I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, For Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named [that Father from Whom all fatherhood takes its title and derives its name]. May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality]. May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses [mere knowledge without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!” Ephesians 3:14-19.
It is evident that this comprehension is a prerequisite for theosis, to comprehend ourselves in Christ, and to apprehend what we comprehend.
Is it safe to say that, if we cannot see it, we cannot be it?