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1 Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14.6)
"I am the way and the truth and the life," says the Lord Jesus. This clearly informs us that the way which God gives is Christ, the truth which God gives is also Christ, and the life which God gives is like-wise Christ. Christ is our way, Christ is our truth, Christ is our life. It is through Christ that we come to the Father. In God's heart, that which is related to Him is Christ, who is also His Son. What He gives to us is Christ himself; He has not given us many things outside of Christ.
Oftentimes in spiritual matters, we see and we touch a thing which is merely a term or a letter, void of any spiritual usefulness to us. How we need to ask God to open our eyes that we may know His Son. The characteristic of Christianity lies in the tact that its source, depth, and riches are involved with the knowledge of God's Son. It matters not how much we know of methods or doctrines or power. What really matters is the knowledge of the Son of God. Knowing God's Son is the way, knowing God's Son is the truth, and knowing God's Son is the life. Our power comes from knowing His Son. All that God gives to us is His Son, not a lot of things. Hence the whole question lies in knowing God's Son.
Christ Is the Way
The word of Jesus is, "I am the way." This way may also mean the method. What He here tries to convey to us is that He is the way by which we come to God as well as the method by which to reach God. Having Him, we have the way; and possessing Him, we possess the method. Every true believer must learn this lesson at least once-that is, that the Lord Jesus is the way, the Lord Jesus is the method. If you have been saved, you have at least this experience of trusting the Lord Jesus as your way to God. For He is the way, without whom no one can come to God. All truly saved Christians know how to walk in this way. Thank God, countless real believers have learned at least this lesson, which is, a coming to God by Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. We have travelled in this way at least once. This way is none other than Christ himself. It is not any method outside of Him. We need to see that the Lord Jesus, and not any other method, is the only way by which we come to God initially at the time of salvation and at any subsequent time.
Some Christians are seeking for some spiritual methods. Once after a message was given concerning victory through Christ and not through self, one brother took the hand of the brother who spoke and said, "For many years I have been consistently defeated, but today everything is well." Whereupon the preaching brother asked, "How is this so?" To which he answered, "Because I think I have now got a way to victory. Thank the Lord I have found a method today! Victory is through the Lord, not by myself." But the preaching brother frankly told him in reply that "if all you find is a way of victory, then you will be defeated again." Why did he say this? Because the Lord Jesus tells us, "I am the way." In other words, He alone is the way, the method. The way is not outside of Him, for He himself is the way. If all we get is merely a method, we will soon discover its ineffectiveness. God has not given us a method; He gives His own Son to us.
Frequently we listen to the experience of others and feel its preciousness, but we see only a method instead of seeing the Lord whom the other person has touched. As a result, we suffer defeat after de-feat. The prime reason is that we have not learned the Lord as the way.
Let us understand that to believe in the Lord himself, and to believe a formula, are actually two different motions. By the grace of God, one Christian has his eyes opened to see what kind of person he is; he therefore lays himself down and believes in the Lord, trusting the latter to do within him what he himself cannot do. As its consequence, he obtains release and is fully satisfied before God. Later on, though, another believer comes along. Upon hearing the testimony of the first person, he too asks God to enlighten him that he may know how useless a man he is. He too learns to believe in God and to humbly abandon himself. Yet it strangely turns out that he does not receive the deliverance which the first one experiences. What is the explanation for this? It is because the first brother has living faith which enables him to touch the Lord as well as believe in God, while the second brother has not faith at all but only a "copied faith formula"; and thus he does not reach God. Briefly stated, what this second brother gets is a method, not the Lord. A method has neither power nor effectiveness; for not being Christ, it is simply a dead thing.
Every spiritual thing outside of Christ is dead. Let us underscore this well. Some brothers and sisters are inwardly wondering: "How strange that another person believes God and his prayer is answered, while I too believe and yet am not heard. Why is God gracious to him and not to me?" They seem to charge God with partiality, not realizing that what they believe is but a thing, and therefore dead. Neither formula nor method works; only Christ is living. Even if one has learned a whole set of methods, he is not therefore educated to be a Christian, because God's children must be born, not taught.
"I am the way," asserts the Lord Jesus. Christ is the way, Christ is the method. Dear friends, is Christ your way and is Christ your method? Or is it only a way and a method? Thank God, if Christ is our method, everything will be successful. But if ours is just a method-and however good, accurate and incomparable it may be-it still is dead and has no spiritual value. The reason for many unanswered prayers and ineffective testimonies is found in our not touching the Lord. We have merely copied the method of others; we have not touched the Lord himself.
Once a servant of the Lord gave a message on Romans 6-8 in a certain place. One brother, after hearing the message, said: "Today I understand the way of victory. I now am clear. I believe hereafter I will never be defeated as I was before." Another brother came to the preacher and nodded his head a little. When he was asked how he felt, he replied, "I do not know how to describe it. But the Lord has opened my eyes. Though I cannot say I have seen Him, I dare not say I have not seen Him either." What this second brother obtained was not a method but the Lord himself. Consequently, he firmly maintained the ground, while the first one failed again; for the first brother had only received a method and not the Lord himself; and therefore it had no value.
Many times even the motive behind our hearing a message is erroneous. Instead of asking the Lord for revelation that we may see Him, we try with our brain to memorise a method to take back with us. And even if we follow that method, we will get no-where. Sometimes, though, we seem to catch a glimpse, perhaps without having any great assurance to dare to say that we have seen the Lord. Nevertheless, we do see Him and such insight brings in real change. Thank the Lord, this is the way. Not that we have learned a method, but we have come to know the Lord. It is clearly shown to us that the Lord himself is the method.
For this reason, then, we should, upon hearing a message or a testimony, examine ourselves as to whether we have encountered the Lord or merely understood a method. There is no deliverance in knowing a method as there is in knowing the Lord. Listening to how He helps others will not save us, our trusting in the Lord alone is effectual. Their words may sound about the same, yet their actualities are worlds apart. The Lord is the Lord of life. Whoever touches Him touches life. Touching the Lord alone gives life.
Christ Is the Truth
The Lord not only introduces himself as the way, He also speaks of himself as the truth. The truth does not refer to the words spoken about Christ; it is Christ himself who is the truth. How often Christians take the teaching and the interpretations of Christ as truths, though in actuality truth is not the relating of a thing but is the person of Christ. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," says the Lord (John 8.32). Brothers and sisters just consider how many truths have actually made us free? The word of God states that the truth shall make us free, but how many times truth is merely a doctrine to us. Our eyes have not been opened to see Christ. We may have talked about many doctrines for some ten years, still we have not seen. We may have listened to them for an equal length of time, and yet again we have not seen. People may be able to speak on the doctrine of co-death without knowing the power of this death. Or to converse on resurrection life without experiencing its power. If all we talk about is doctrine, we are handling something dead.
Once a person wrote to a brother as follows: "A brother has sinned against me, and I am not clear whether I should forgive him. I therefore ask you to instruct me. My heart is quite composed before God. If you say I should forgive, I will forgive him. If you think I should not, then I will not forgive him." Brethren, what is your opinion about such a Christian? Suppose the one dearest to me is dead and so I write a letter to another person inquiring thus: "He who is dearest to me is dead; should I therefore mourn? If you say I should cry, I will cry; but if you say no, then I will not cry." Most certainly you will laugh at such an inquiry, for it is absurd. If a person cries or does not cry according as he is told, neither his mourning nor his lack of mourning is real. Both are false, and are therefore dead works and not life. With your brother, you either forgive or you do not forgive. Whenever you act on dead doctrine it is pretension.
Friends, whatever is not Christ living in us or is not Christ as our truth-that is, whatever is done on the basis of a doctrine-is dead work. It has no life, it is not living. Do you see the difference here? It is a difference too vast to go unnoticed. Work requires our memory, but life acts spontaneously. A word spoken out of life is not propelled by our memory, rather is it motivated by a power within us. The Lord, neither doctrine nor teaching, is in control over us. There must be a day when God opens our eyes to perceive that spiritual reality is in Christ. We do not try to remember certain doctrines and act accordingly; it is Christ who lives in us. He is our truth, therefore it is living.
There was once a brother who was offended by another brother. He could not abide the offence, and so he heatedly scolded the offending brother. Afterwards, his conscience was ill at ease. He felt he should go to the offending brother and apologise. But as he recalled how that brother had offended him, his anger was again stirred. Meanwhile, he still felt he owed the other brother an apology. So he decided to write a letter to him. He took up his pen and began to write: "I feel it is wrong for me to have scolded you." But as he was reminded of how wrong that brother was who had so offended him, his anger once more returned. After waiting awhile, he took up his pen and continued to write. During the entire time of writing he felt anger in his heart. Even when he posted the letter, he still was annoyed. By all appearances, this letter looked like one written by a Christian, though we know it was the result of doctrine and not of life. Although he wrote a letter of apology, his heart remained filled with wrath. Should he meet that brother, he might greet him and shake hands, yet inwardly the controversy had not passed away, and so his words could not possibly be natural. Beloved, do we now see the difference? The Lord is the truth. If ever it be doctrine and not the Lord it is dead. May we realise that in all spiritual matters, with the Lord it is life, but without the Lord it is death. If a thing is done as a result of His shining and working in us, then this thing is living.
Christ Is the Life
Following the words "I am the way and the truth", the Lord continues with "and the life." We are mindful of the fact that life issues forth spontaneously in work, but work cannot be a substitute for life. We ought to be crystal clear here that work is not life-for life is effortless, life is Christ himself. How people toil to be Christians! How we are wearied through daily exertion. Most severe are these doctrines, for they demand of us to be humble, gentle, forgiving, and long-suffering. They literally wear us out. Many concede that to be a Christian is a difficult task. This is especially true with young believers. The more they try, the more difficult it be-comes. Upon having tried for a length of time, they still bear no resemblance to a Christian. Brothers and sisters, if Christ is not life, we have to do the work; but if He is life, then we do not need to struggle. Repeatedly we say that life is Christ himself, and work can never substitute life.
There is a grave mistake pervasive among God's children. Many regard life as something which they must do in their own strength, or else there is no life. What all of us should realise is, that if there is life there will not be the slightest need for our own doing, but that life will naturally flow. Consider for a moment how our eyes see and our ears hear. Our eyes see most naturally and our ears hear spontaneously because there is life in them. We must be clear on this point: life flows naturally into work, but work is never a substitute for life. Sometimes work proves instead the absence of life or the weakness of life. Life will issue in good morals, but good morals are no stand-in for life. For example, a brother may be very gentle, moderate and reserved. Someone will praise him, saying, "This brother's life is not bad." No, he has used the wrong terminology. For the Lord says, "I am the life." However gentle, moderate and reserved this brother may be, if these do not come from Christ they are not reckoned as life. It is perfectly true to say this man has a good temper or he rarely causes any trouble or he always treats people kindly and never quarrels; but it cannot be said of him that he has a rich spiritual life. If these things are natural to him they are not life, for they do not come from Christ.
Other people cherish another thought. They conclude that life is power. To have the Lord as our life means to be given power by Him to do good. Nevertheless, God shows us that our power is not a thing; it is simply Christ. Our power is not the strength to do things; rather, it is a Person. Life to us is not only power but also a Person. It is Christ who manifests himself in us, instead of our using Christ to display our good works.
Once a brother attended a meeting at a certain place. He was asked by an elderly Christian, "Why do you go there to meet?" "Because there is life," he answered. The elderly man said, "True, as regards enthusiasm, our meetings are not comparable to that place." "You do not understand," replied this brother. "That place does not have a frenzied atmosphere at all." "What do you mean?" asked the elderly brother. "How can there be life if it is not fervid?" Answered the younger brother, "There is nothing at all noisy about it, and yet there is life. For life does not necessarily have to be emotionally exciting or enthusiastic or fervid or loud." Then the elderly man philosophised, "Perhaps young people like fervour, but I prefer thoughtful words. When I hear profound words, I meet life. I think this indeed is life." But the young brother said in return, "I have many times heard the deep words which you refer to, but I have not met any life." Dear people, from the conversation of these two men, we may see that life. is neither emotional excitement nor thoughtful words. Words of wisdom, clever sayings, logical arguments and thoughtful dissertations are not necessarily life.
Not surprisingly, some will inquire, "How strange that life is neither fervour nor elevating thought. Where, then, can we find life? What is life after all?" We confess we do not have a better way to express this matter of holding forth life. All we can say is that it is something deeper than emotion and more profound than thought. And once one meets it, he will instantly be quickened within. This something is called life.
What is life? Life is more profound than thought; thought never surpasses life. It also is deeper than emotion; emotion is superficial in comparison with life. Whether thought or emotion, it is relatively external. What, then, is life? The Lord Jesus declared: "I am the life." We should not hastily conclude that we have met life when all we meet is a kind of hot atmosphere, such as a so-called spiritually hot atmosphere. We should ask instead, whence does such atmosphere arise? Plenty of experiences confirm to us that many who are skilful in creating hot atmosphere know very little of the Lord, many excitable persons are quite lacking in the knowledge of the Lord. Only Christ is life, the rest is not.
We need to learn the lesson of knowing life. For life depends not on how enthusiastic is our emotion or on how manifold is our thought; it rests exclusively on whether the Lord has manifested His own self. There is therefore nothing more important than to know the Lord. As we are knowing Him, we are touching life. We ought to see before God the meaning of Christ our life. Those who are easily excitable or especially clever are not necessarily people who know the Lord. Knowing Him requires a spiritual seeing. Such seeing is life and it transforms us. If we know the Lord as our life, we realise the utter futility of all natural efforts in spiritual matters. Hence we look to Him alone.
When we first believed in the Lord, we did not realise what looking to Him truly meant. But gradually we learn increasingly to look to Him, having recognised that everything depends upon Christ, and not upon us. In the beginning of our Christian walk we desired to possess one thing after another;
we could not trust Him for everything. After we learned a bit more, however, we received some understanding as to the necessity of trusting Him: not in the sense of believing Him to grant us item after item, but in the sense of trusting Him to do what we are unable to do by ourselves. When we first became a Christian, we were inclined to do everything ourselves, fearing lest nothing would ever be done or matters would fall to pieces if we did not do them. Hence we were working all the time. Later, in having seen the Lord to be our life, we know that all is of Christ and not of us. Consequently, we learn to rest and to look to Him.
Let us keep in mind that instead of giving us one object after another, God gives His Son to us. Be-cause of this, we can always lift up our hearts and look to the Lord, saying, "Lord, you are my way; Lord, you are my truth; Lord, you are my life. It is you, Lord, who is related to me, not your things." May we ask God to give us grace that we may see Christ in all spiritual things. Day by day we are convinced that aside from Christ there is no way, nor truth, nor life. How easily we make things as way, truth, and life. Or, we call hot atmosphere as life, we label clear thought as life. We consider strong emotion or outward conduct as life. In reality, though, these are not life. We ought to realise that only the Lord is life. Christ is our life. And it is the Lord who lives out this life in us. Let us ask Him to deliver us from the many external and fragmentary affairs that we may touch only Him. May we see the Lord in all things-way, truth, and life are all found in knowing Him. May we really meet the Son of God and let Him live in us. Amen.