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4 Christ Is God's Everything.
On the morrow he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world! (John 1.29)
Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6.35)
Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves. (John 6.53)
Again therefore Jesus spake unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8.12)
I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. (John 8.24)
Jesus therefore said, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he. (John 8.28)Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life. (John 11.25)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)But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. (l Cor. 1.30)
Christ, who is our life. (Col. 3.4)
Christ Jesus our hope. (l Tim. 1.1)
Jehovah is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Jehovah is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps. 27.1)
Christ Is Both God's End and God's Means
God's end is Christ, so also God's means is Christ. It is through Christ to Christ. What we may learn before God concerning His purpose is especially opened up to us in Ephesians and Colossians. Let us now view God's purpose by looking into these two books. However, let us note that there is one distinction between them. In Ephesians, we are shown how, according to God's predestined purpose, He has so arranged that at the fullness of the times He is to sum up all things in Christ-both things in the heavens and things upon the earth. Colossians, on the other hand, reveals further that God has not only caused Christ to have first place in everything but even more, Christ is to be all and in all. Hence Colossians discloses to us Christ as the means as well as the end of God. God's end is to let Christ have the first place in all things. In order to realise that goal, God must have Christ as all things. Only by His being all things and dwelling in all things can Christ sum up all things both in the heavens and upon the earth. If Christ is all, naturally all things are summed up in Him. If He dwells in all, what else can all things be?
Remember that in God's eye there is only Christ, not things. He sees neither affairs nor things, He only beholds Christ. The affairs and things which we usually think of are non-existent in the view of God. Today we probably reckon that there are lots of things and affairs in the world. According to our worldly viewpoint, there are affairs here and matters there; but according to God's estimate Christ is all. Consequently there is neither affair nor thing. Christ is all and He is in all. And that will be the day when the eternal purpose of God shall be fulfilled.
I hope you might realise one thing, which is, that Christ will sum up all things in himself. This has already begun to occur today in the church; it need not be something that begins only in the future, nor only becomes true when God's eternal purpose is finally reached.
God is presently opening our eyes to see that in the church Christ is both affairs and things. The church begins to understand this, and the church commences to live in this spiritual world. If the church still sees things and affairs, it merely proves she has yet to behold Christ. But of course, the things and affairs which we mention here do not refer simply to matters and affairs of this world; they point especially to spiritual matters and spiritual affairs.
John's Gospel Reveals Christ as God's Everything
It is rather surprising to find that John sets down many words not found in the other Gospels. The Gospel of John is the most profound of all the Gospels as well as it is the last written. It was written after all the rest of the New Testament had been composed. Other Gospels and many Epistles had al-ready appeared, but at the very last, John came forth to present his Gospel. In it there is finally shown to us what God's estimate of Christ is and in it we are told how we ought to know Christ as God knows Him.
Here do we understand that what God requires is not a lamb, nor is what He gives the bread of life. We also come to understand that God does not provide the way, the truth, and the life, neither does Christ merely use His power to restore man's life or man's sight. In the whole of John's Gospel we see only one monumental fact, which is, that Christ is all these things. He says He is the light of the world- He does not say He is able to give people light. He says He is the bread of life-He does not say He will give us the bread of life. He says He is the way-He does not say He will guide us to walk in the way. He says He is the truth-He does not say He will teach us a truth. He says He is true life-He does not say He will give us a life. When Lazarus died Christ did not tell Mary and Martha He had the power to raise up their brother; instead He declared that He is the resurrection.
Please note that the bread of life is a thing, so too is the light, the way, the truth, the life, the resurrection, or the lamb. But in Christianity there are no things-only Christ! This is the whole of the matter.
What we need to comprehend before God is that in our experience there is neither thing nor affair but only Christ: not that He gives us light, but that He is our light; not that He leads the way, but He is the way; not that He gives us a life, but He is our life; not that He teaches a truth, but He is the truth. Brethren, do you grasp the difference here? Whatever Christ gives is His very own self.
One day I was talking to a group of people about this spiritual fact. As I spoke, many eyes stared at me. I told them I would present a most significant fact to them; namely, that God's Christ is God's everything, for God has nothing else but Christ! God has not given us light, He gives Christ to us; God has not given us food, He gives Christ to us; God has not given us the way, the truth, and the life, instead He gives us Christ. God's Christ is all things; aside from Him God has nothing.
What Paul Understands-That Christ Is Our Hope
I wish you to see that Paul later on says the same thing as did our Lord Jesus. He knows the Lord well and he unveils some marvellous facts. First of all, he says to Timothy, "Christ Jesus (who is) our hope." I love to read this particular word. How about you? He does not say our hope is in Christ Jesus; he instead asserts that Christ Jesus is our hope. It is not a pinning our hope on Christ, expecting to be given hope by Him; rather is it Christ himself our hope.
-That Christ Is Our Life
Then too, Paul writes to the Colossians in the following manner: "When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested." Says Paul, "Christ is our life." Instead of saying, When Christ is revealed, he says, When Christ our life is revealed. Do you now see that a Christian has nothing but Christ?
-That Christ Is Our Wisdom and Righteousness and Sanctification and Redemption
One of the most popular Scripture verses used in our preaching is l Corinthians 1.30 which states that "of (God) are ye in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom to us from God, both righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (literal). God has not given us righteousness, He gives Christ to us since Christ is our righteousness. God has not given us sanctification, He gives us Christ because Christ is our sanctification. God has not given us redemption, He gives us Christ because Christ is our redemption. God has not given us wisdom, He gives us Christ inasmuch as Christ is our wisdom. It is for this reason that we say God's Christ is God's every-thing. God's Christ is God's thing and affair; aside from Him God has neither thing nor affair.
Suppose God tells us today that He will make the Lord Jesus our justifier. How would we think? We would say, He indeed is our justifier. But ac-cording to Paul's writing here God has not made the Lord Jesus our justifier. God causes Him to be our justification. Is not this exceedingly good? Christ is our righteousness.
Neither does God say here through Paul that the Lord Jesus is to be our sanctifier. Instead He says that the Lord Jesus is sanctification. Christ does not come to sanctify us, He comes to be himself our sanctification. Our sanctification is not a thing, an action, or a behaviour. Our sanctification is a person, even Christ.
Nor does God assert that the Lord is our redeemer, but He says that the Lord is our redemption. Does this sound foreign to our ears? For Paul does not say that God has set the Lord Jesus to be the redeemer, he declares instead that the Lord Jesus is redemption.
Thank God, Christ is our redemption as well as our redeemer. He is our sanctification as well as our sanctifier. He is our righteousness as well as our justifier. He is our wisdom as well as the one who makes us wise.
What David Comprehends-That Christ Is Our Salvation
If I were to tell you the Lord Jesus is our saviour, I believe you would all respond with "Truly, the Lord Jesus is our saviour." Is it not rather unusual that Psalm 27.1 declares that "Jehovah . . . is my salvation"? We know the Lord is our saviour, for this is factual to us. But God shows David that the Lord is our salvation. The Lord Jesus is both our saviour and our salvation. That which God gives to us is the Lord Jesus himself.
Living Christianity Has Only One Person
Probably you will ask me, Why do you lay such stress on this point? Because here lies the difference between living Christianity and dead Christianity. The distance between these two ways is incalculable. One is spiritual, while the other is not spiritual. One is of God, but the other is of man's invention. Let me say this: that when you have studied God's word carefully, you will discover that in the Bible there is only a Person, not a thing. And that Person is the Lord Jesus. You cannot find anything except that Person.
A colossal problem exists among God's children today. The Christianity which they know is quite fragmentary. You obtain a little grace, I receive a little gift, and he speaks a little tongue. This man experiences some change in his conduct, that man possesses some measure of love; this one has patience, that one has humility. This is what is commonly known as Christianity. But is this Christianity? It is not, for Christianity is Christ. Christianity is not reward, neither is it what Christ gives to me. Christianity is none other than Christ himself.
Do you perceive the difference? These are two totally divergent ways. Christianity is not any one thing which Christ gives to me; Christianity is Christ giving himself to me. Here is the problem, that people consider today's Christianity to be the endowment of Christ. When I was a sinner, Christ endowed me with grace and mercy. Now that I have become a Christian, He endows me with patience and humility and gentleness and whatever. But this is just not so.
Nothing Impersonal in Christianity
Before God it is not a matter of the endowment of Christ; rather, it is God giving Christ himself to us. God has not granted us humility and patience and gentleness, He grants the entire Christ to us. It is Christ who becomes our humility, patience, gentleness. It is Christ, the living Lord. And this is what is truly called Christianity.
Please take note that there is nothing at all impersonal in Christianity. You cannot find any impersonal element in it. Every matter in Christianity has to do with personality, and the person involved is Christ. To put it another way, our patience is not a thing, ours is a Person-our sanctification is not an experience, ours is a Man-our justification is not a thing, ours is a Personality-our righteousness is not a behaviour, ours is a Being. When we are redeemed and delivered, we do not obtain items as such, for our redemption and deliverance are alive. Our patience, our humility, our gentleness, our love, and so on are the Lord himself, not things. And this is what Christianity really is. In a believer's life today Christ is already all, and needs no waiting until a future day.
Many will ask how we can say Christ is all? Let me tell you that if you truly know a living Christianity you would have no trouble acknowledging Christ as all. Not that He gives all, but that He is all.
Perhaps a problem arises-that so many of God's children suffer considerable defeat. This is due to the fact that what they get before God is gift instead of Christ. They receive from God many fragmentary items but they have not obtained the Christ of God. They possess objects and things but not a "Person". I wonder how much we really see. I can categorically state that the solution to this problem answers all other problems.
At the time we were saved we heard God's word declare that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3.16). We felt the need of being saved. We therefore went to God and prayed, "Lord, You have loved me and given Yourself to me. Will You not also give me salvation? You have become my Savior, will You not now give me salvation too?" How foolish we are to ask for salvation as though the Savior is not sufficient enough. This is nonetheless exactly what many are doing.
What is the gospel we preach? We announce that God has given us the Savior. But when we re-pent and pray we say, "God, give me salvation." Let me tell you, God has but one Son, and this Son is your salvation. In having the Savior you have the salvation. Why do you still beg for the latter? Only the fool will plead, "Since You have become my Savior, now give me salvation also."
"I AM ………"
Today we are Christians. We are saved, and God has given Christ to us to be our life. Nevertheless, we are continually asking God for one thing, two things, three things, ten things, fifty things, a hundred things, ten thousand things, a million things, a billion things. We think these actually count. But God shows us that Christ is our all.
It is for this reason that God reveals in His word that Christ's name is "I AM". We need to understand and experience more of this blessed name.
In the Gospel according to John the Lord says, "I am the bread of life." We ask for bread, taking it as a thing. We are so hungry that we plead with God to give us bread if He wills. Most surprisingly, all who ask for bread never get it; and hence they remain hungry. Now I have not served the Lord too long a time, but I have served Him enough years to be able to say that I have never met anyone asking for bread who got it. You may perhaps retort: Can God's word be wrong? Has not God said that "he satisfieth the longing soul, and the hungry soul he filleth with good" (Ps. 107.9)? My answer is, indeed, "the hungry he hath filled with good things" (Luke 1.53); but what are these good things which are food to the hungry? We should know that what satisfies us before God is not bread but Christ. How often we feel hungry and empty within; believing there is supply with God, we pray and expect food. We do not know how we can get the food. All we know to do is to draw nigh to the Lord more, to believe and receive more of Him and to enjoy Him more. What surprises us is, that though we do not get the food we expect, we are nonetheless satisfied. We do not obtain the food we imagine, but due to our nearness to the Lord we are satisfied by believing and accepting Him. For God's food is Christ. It is not a thing called food, but Christ as food. The Chinese have a proverb: one for all. This can surely be applied to the things of God. Whatever thing we may ask of Him, God always gives us Christ-the one for all.
My Righteousness and Holiness
I always rejoice and feel like praising God for the simple reason that my righteousness is not my own conduct but is a person, even the Lord Jesus. Since my righteousness is the Lord Jesus, therefore not only can I say I have this or that righteousness but also I can talk to my righteousness and praise and give glory to my righteousness. How does this sound to you? You may perhaps wonder how I can give glory to my righteousness. Yet I often give glory to my righteousness, for my righteousness is the Lord Jesus. Neither is my holiness my own behaviour. I frequently praise my holiness. I am not asserting that I praise my own behaviour. On the contrary, I hate my own conduct. Nevertheless I can praise my holiness, because my holiness is my Lord. How utterly contrary are these two: the one is a thing while the other is the Lord.
God's Destroying and Building
In our spiritual experience we discover one fact. After being Christians for several years or for several decades we find ourselves more irritated than when we first believed. I recall a number of people telling me how in the beginning they were quite able to be patient, forgiving, and prayerful, but that now they no longer can. Formerly they could put up with any treatment they might possibly receive in schools, homes, or offices, but that in the present hour they are unable to do so any more. Even though their ill-temper does not explode on every occasion, their in-ward thought is nonetheless to have revenge. Such cases are too numerous to count. Many have told me how they are no longer humble, patient, gentle, loving, or zealous as they once were.
Brethren, just keep in mind that God must take every thing away. For when we first believed in the Lord we asked God for love when we sensed the need o fit. May I say it-and here I will apply "baby talk" to the situation-that God in that instance gave us a dose or a bag of love that we then might love. Love here was an object, though we might have received quite a lot of it. But let me say that God will never allow love to be a thing in our lives forever. He must eventually make Christ our love. And in order to do that He has to take that object or thing called love away from us. Many, being of bad or quick temper before they trusted the Lord, consider patience a gift, a salvation, a thing in itself. If only they have this, then everything will be all right. It may go well with them for one or two years, but by the third or fifth year it has fizzled out.
God performs a similar type of work to this in the lives of many of His children. He will remove everything away, not only the things of the world but spiritual things as well. Before we were saved, worldly objects and affairs usurped the place of Christ; but after being saved, spiritual objects and affairs now tend to occupy Christ's place. Hence God must show us one day that "Christ is my world." Earlier He took from us the things of this world; presently He is taking away our spiritual thing or things. He removes our personal patience, love, power, gentleness, humility. Indeed, He removes all, that we may not live by these good things but live by a Person instead. We are patient not be-cause we have received a power to be so, but be-cause we have got a Person. So is it with humility and the rest: not a power but a Person.
It is for this very reason that God engages in a destroying work daily in the lives of His children that He may also do the work of a daily building up. Daily destroy things and daily build up Christ. This is God's way with His children. Let me tell you that in bygone days God seemed to give you a gift, a power by which to be patient; so that you almost thought your problem of being patient was solved. You then turned to deal with humility, and again God appeared to give you a gift, a power by which to be humble, so that you began to feel your problem of humility was settled. Next you realised yet another problem in your life, for which you asked of God a solution. Each day you tried to solve one or two problems-yet what you were doing was solving fractional problems.
Brethren, God will take away all things in order to give you one Person who is to be simultaneously your humility, your patience, your gentleness, and your love. For Christ is all. And this is what Christianity actually is. God builds incessantly until finally even this universe must confess that Christ is indeed all. Today God desires to work out in us this confession that Christ is all.
Excuse me for referring to myself for a moment. I am concerned and also entrusted with the spiritual life of a number of people. Often I see someone whom I feel needs help, and I will exhort him by saying, "Brother, you lack love. Next time you should show love to your brother." So I encourage him to love. Suppose he listens to my word and succeeds in loving his brethren. We will consider him a good brother and be comforted by the effectiveness of our labour. However, what this brother attains to is love, not Christ. Love to him is not a Person, it is merely a thing-a facet of human behaviour. This I call a behaving Christianity because it consists of exhibiting certain aspects of human behaviour. It is man who is working, asking, expecting, praying, believing, receiving, waiting and succeeding with respect to this matter of love. Because of this, I say that love in his life is but a thing, a mark of behaviour. This is totally different from love being Christ. Love is Christ, not I. It is Christ, not I, who loves. For then it becomes a law of life instead of a behaviour of will. What a distinct Christianity this is!
I wonder if you have grasped hold of this? How do you feel when you help a brother to go on with God and learn later that he is still occupied with the things in Christianity? He has yet to know Christ and how Christ is God's everything.
Let me explain further what is meant by knowing Christ. It means knowing Christ in things and affairs. What can this denote? It denotes knowing Christ as your things and affairs. Some are able to say they know Christ as their patience. This is reckoned as knowing Christ. Others may know Christ as their love; still others know Christ as their humility. Such knowledge will effect a drastic change in life. Henceforth you are able to say that there is no thing in your life. I trust some of you can make this statement, for you recognise what it really means. In your world, even your spiritual world, there is nothing but Christ. For instance, you have no holiness except Christ. This does not imply, of course, that you are not holy, only that Christ is now your holiness. Immediately you comprehend that Christ is all. Hereafter you may be completely delivered from these outward matters. The whole approach is a matter of knowing Christ, not a matter of prayer or exhortation or encouragement.
I wish all servants of the Lord would take note of this fact: that it is neither exhortation nor encouragement but a living knowledge of Christ. In encouraging people, you can only stir them to self-action. But when God opens their eyes, they will know Christ; this alone is effective. Words such as these may be repeated for a hundred times without any result, until God opens our eyes to see that Christ is what we really seek. Many people know Him as the Lord who justifies them, nevertheless they are afraid of God because they do not know Christ as their righteousness. Many know the Lord Jesus as their sanctifier, yet they are wanting in holiness before God. Why? Because they only seek for holiness. Since the Lord is sanctifier, they will ask Him to give them strength to be holy. As they proceed on this course, though, they soon discover their inability to be holy. Only after God opens their eyes and gives them light to see that Christ is their holiness- and not their desire for holiness nor God's granting them power to be holy-is their difficulty surmounted, for Christ has then become holiness in them. Let me tell you that we may lose power but we can never lose Christ. Our holiness rests not on what we do but on what He is to us. When we know Him as all, all our problems are solved. I therefore have no other message than this: Christ is all.
Here is the trouble: I know many people who know Christ as their Lord but do not know Him as their things and affairs. If we only perceive Christ as "er" and not as "tion" we only know His acts but not His own self. We may know Him as redeemer, sanctifier, and justifier, yet God wants us to know Him as redemption, sanctification, and justification.
Do you know the Lord Jesus as your saviour, or as your salvation? your redeemer or your redemption? your liberator or your liberation? your sanctifier or your sanctification? your justifier or your justification? To know Him as "er" is primary knowledge; to know Him as "tion" is further and deeper knowledge.
Today there are too many things in the lives of God's children. All shall be well if one day we know that "He is", and that thus all things have turned out to be one Person. God's eternal purpose is hereby realised.
As long as our sanctification, redemption, regeneration, power, grace and gift remain as objects, we are still standing on the borderline of Christianity. But when we see these not as things but the Lord himself, we begin to know God and enter into God's eternal purpose. Hereafter it is always He, never things.
It is because of this that I mentioned at the outset that the things which many people have are dead. Once they realise this, their things will take up personality and turn out to be Christ. For my re-generation is not a thing; it has a Personality. Christ whom I have is a person, not a thing. All that I have has personality because the Lord is all. One day He led me to know Him, now He further leads me into knowing Him as everything to me. Thus am I delivered out of my own life as well as out of the things of the spiritual world. Hereafter I can truly say that the Lord is all and in all. I can testify that in my daily living He is all. If today I am patient, it is not I but He who lives in me who is patient. If today I love, it is not because I try my best to love, for the power of love is not in me; but it is because there is One who loves in me. If today I forgive, it is not due to my generosity or effort or ability, it instead is purely due to the One who lives in me and always forgives. Indeed, He is my forgiveness. If today I am humble, this does not happen because I remind my-self how proud I am and that therefore I need to be humble. My humility does not come through sup-pressing my pride or through determining to be humble; it is the Person in me who so humbles. Since He is my humility, I therefore am humble. This is called the law of life. What is the law of life? It is none other than Christ becoming our life as well as things.
Consequently, brothers and sisters, I wish us all to ask God to open our eyes that we may actually see that sooner or later all things will pass away but that what remains will be Christ. Therefore, let Christ be all today.