Life-Study of Hebrewsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to the Captain of our salvation. It is difficult to understand this matter doctrinally. It seems that, logically speaking, for salvation we need Jesus to be our Savior and Redeemer, not our Captain, Pioneer, or Forerunner. Nevertheless, in God’s wonderful salvation, in His “so great a salvation,” we do need such a Captain. A captain is a leader who leads a group of people into a certain place. What is this Captain leading us into? He is leading us into glory.
The glory of God is a most difficult thing for anyone to define or explain. In His prayer to the Father in John 17, the Lord Jesus said, “And the glory which You have given to Me I have given to them” (John 17:22, Recovery Version). What is this glory? The glory into which our Captain is leading us is the glory which He has already given us. Although glory has been given to us already, yet we still need to enter into it. How difficult it is to speak about this glory! Some say this glory is a luxurious state into which we shall enter in the future and which will thrill and excite us very much. When I heard this kind of talk in the past, I was unhappy with it. Deep within, I felt that it was too light, that there was no weight or meaning in it. If you turn the question to me, I would have to say that it is exceedingly difficult to define what is the divine glory which God has ordained for us.
The New Testament tells us that we have been called into glory and that this glory was designed according to God’s wisdom in eternity past. First Corinthians 2:7 says that in eternity past God ordained that we should be brought into this glory. Both 1 Thessalonians 2:12 and 1 Peter 5:10 tell us that we have been called into this glory. And, according to Colossians 3:4, when Christ appears, we shall appear with Him in His glory. What is this glory? Probably most Christians think that glory is merely a kind of shining or brightness. I would not say that glory is not such a shining or brightness, because I have not entered into it and dare not say that this understanding of glory is wrong. However, I would say that such an understanding is too objective and that it is absolutely according to objective considerations. To say that the glory into which we shall enter is merely a kind of radiant shining or brightness may be correct, but it is altogether an objective concept.
We may illustrate this matter of glory by the example of a carnation flower. The seed of a carnation plant is very small. If you sow this seed into the earth, it will grow until it eventually reaches the blossom stage. When the carnation blossoms, that is its glorification. A long process must transpire from the seed stage to the blossoming stage. As the carnation passes through this process, it must do a great deal of fighting. If you were a carnation seed, you would be able to tell us how much fighting you must pass through. The carnation must firstly fight against itself, because the life element within the seed must fight against the shell and break through it in order to come out. Then the carnation must fight against the soil in which it grows. Because the soil helps the carnation to grow, we may call it the growing soil. However, even this growing soil is a frustration to the carnation. Although the plant needs the soil and the soil helps it to grow, it is, nevertheless, a frustration to the growth of the carnation. The carnation must fight against the very soil that helps it to grow. Finally, after much fighting, the carnation reaches the stage of blossoming. That is the glory of the carnation flower. Its blossom is its glory.
Every one of us, without exception, is like a carnation seed. Through regeneration, the life of glory has come into us. We now have a seed of glory within us. The life that we have within us as a seed is the life of glory. This is Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Glory is not merely a radiant shining in the air. That is too objective. If glory were merely an outward shining, it would simply be another vanity. But that is not the glory that the Bible talks about. The glory revealed in the Bible is the very blossoming of God’s divine element. One day, God’s divine element is going to blossom. Does it bother you when I say that the glory into which we shall enter is not merely something objective, but that it is the blossoming of the divine element from within us? If it does, it means that, at least to some degree, you are still clinging to the old doctrines. You need to cross the river.
Consider the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus on the mountaintop (Matt. 17:1-2). When the Lord Jesus ascended to the top of that mountain and was transfigured, did the shekinah glory suddenly come upon Him from the outside, from the third heavens? Did He enter into an outward shining or brightness? No, the glory shone from within Him. That is why it is called the transfiguration. Likewise, the glory into which we shall be brought is the very glory that is within us right now. It is not merely objective; it is altogether subjective. What a difference between this and the traditional teaching about glory! At the time we were regenerated, the seed of glory was sown into us. This is mysterious.
In regeneration a life element came into our being. This life element is not a small thing: it is God’s divine element. All that God is is in this substance, this life element, that has come into our being. Oh, how we all must realize what happened to us when we were regenerated! God’s divine element came into us.
When the children of Israel entered into the land of Canaan, they began to blossom. That was their glory. That blossoming stage was also a fighting stage, for they began to fight almost immediately after entering into the good land. The first battle they fought was at Jericho. After Jericho, they fought continually until David defeated all the enemies and the temple was built. Then the glory of God filled the temple (1 Kings 8:10). Apparently, the glory that filled the temple came down from above; actually, the glory was with the children of Israel. Since the day they crossed the Red Sea, the glory was with them. The glory was in the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire (Exo. 14:19, 24). When they built the temple, the temple was filled with glory. Again I say that the glory did not come from above. It was present already, waiting for the people’s growth and development. When the children of Israel were fully developed, the glory filled the temple.
Likewise, we all had our beginning at the time of our regeneration. That was our Passover. Since the time of our Passover, the time when the seed of glory was sown into us, that seed has been growing. This growing is a fighting process. Even now we are still under the process of entering into glory.
Now we are prepared to understand the Captain of salvation. The salvation of which Christ is the Captain is the very salvation which brings us into glory. The “so great a salvation” brings us into glory, and Christ, our Savior, is the Captain of this salvation. What does this mean? It simply means that our Savior took the lead to fight through into glory. The Lord Jesus did not suddenly enter into glory. During all of His days on earth, a fighting process was going on. The seed of glory was in Him and was fighting its way out. If you read the Gospels, you will see that the life of Jesus was a life of fighting. The story of His life was a fighting story. He was always fighting the battle for the growth of the seed of glory. He fought that the glory might come out and that He might be brought into glory.
Do not think that the Lord entered into glory when He ascended to the heavens. No, before His ascension, while He was still on earth, He entered into glory on the day of His resurrection. Luke 24:26 indicates that Christ entered into glory not by ascending but by resurrecting. His resurrection was His entrance into glory. His whole life, from the time He was born until the day He was resurrected from the dead, was a fighting process. The Lord did not only fight for victory but for glory. He fought for His glorification. His fighting paved the way into glory. In this matter of fighting for glory, He was the Pioneer. He pioneered the way into glory. Therefore, He spontaneously has become qualified to be the leader of those entering into glory. So He is the Captain of our salvation. Today we are following this Pioneer who has paved the way and entered into glory. That glory is now the good land. We must cross the river and enter into this land. In a sense, Christ has crossed the river and is now on the other side, in the land of glory. Although He is in the glory, we are not yet in it. We are on the way, following Him as our Captain.
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