Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Ephesians 5:25-27 presents Christ to us in three stages. Verse 25 says that Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Here we see Christ in the stage of the flesh. Verse 26 speaks of Christ sanctifying the church, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the Word. In this verse we have Christ in the stage of the life-giving Spirit. Finally, a third stage of Christ is revealed in verse 27, which speaks of Christ presenting the church to Himself in His coming back. Hence, in this stage Christ will be the Bridegroom receiving His Bride. The first of these three stages was in the past, the second is in the present, and the third will be in the future. In the first stage Christ was the Redeemer; in the second, He is the life-giving Spirit; and in the third, He will be the Bridegroom.
In this message we need to consider certain points found in these verses. However, I wish to point out that our concern is not doctrinal. In the Lord’s recovery there is no need for us to pay very much attention to doctrine. The important matter is that we see what a Christ we have and come to experience and enjoy Him more and more.
Although Christ is God, He is not God only. If He were simply God, He could not be our Christ. To be the Christ to us, He had to be incarnated. Through incarnation, Christ became a man with flesh, blood, and bones. How wonderful that God put on human nature! Our God is not merely God. In Christ He has become a God-man.
It was in the flesh that the Lord gave Himself up for us. If He had not given Himself up as a man in the flesh, there would have been no way for us to gain Him. We are not spirits; we are flesh. Angels are spirits. God has no intention for us to become spirits like angels. God’s concern is not with angels, but with men of flesh. Nothing is more pleasing to God than a man of flesh. At times we regret that we are fleshly. However, if we see ourselves from God’s point of view, we shall realize that there is a positive aspect of the flesh. According to Hebrews 2, Christ did not take on the nature of angels, but He did take on blood and flesh. Furthermore, John 1 says that the Word which was God and was with God became flesh (v. 14). Great is the mystery of godliness—God was manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16). God cannot be manifest in angels; He can be manifest only in the flesh. The portion of the angels is to behold the manifestation of God in the flesh.
The Word became flesh and God was manifested in the flesh. Yes, we must condemn the sinful flesh. But there is also a positive aspect of the flesh. We are not spirits as angels are—we are flesh! Our Christ did not become an angelic spirit; He became flesh. The Christ who gave Himself up for us was God incarnate.
If Christ had not put on human nature, it would be impossible for us to receive Him into us. The very Christ we take as our person is the God-man. It is impossible for us to take in God directly. Only after God has become the God-man can we take Him into our being to be our life and our person.
Some Christians think that they should behave as if they were angels. They try to live like heavenly beings. In the eyes of God, this kind of living is abnormal. He does not want His children to imitate angels; on the contrary, He wants them to be very human. All the members of the church should have a genuine humanity. For this reason, Ephesians, a book dealing with the church, covers various human relationships: the relationship between wife and husband, between children and parents, between servants and masters. In order to have a proper church life, we must have a proper human life.
The very Christ we have received and gained is not an angel or some kind of heavenly being, but a God-man. It was as a man in the flesh that He gave Himself up for us. Furthermore, it is as a man that He is able to fit into our situation and meet our need. He has put on human nature in order to be like us. Now He lives in us as our life and as our person to be manifested from within us. When a sister takes Christ as her person in submitting to her husband, her submission will be glorious, full of the reality of Christ lived out from within her. Likewise, when a brother takes Christ as his person in loving his wife, Christ will be expressed in his love for her. Such a manifestation of Christ is possible because as the God-man He gave Himself up for us.
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