Life-Study of Actsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider a matter that will help us to understand God’s economy in the record of the New Testament. We shall see that in God’s economy certain things, in particular the baptism in the Holy Spirit, have been accomplished once for all.
For the carrying out of the steps required by God’s righteousness, holiness, and glory, the Triune God has passed through incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. In addition to these four matters, we have the breathing of the Holy Spirit into the disciples (John 20:22) and the pouring out of the Spirit upon them.
The incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection, the breathing of the Spirit into the disciples, the ascension, and the outpouring of the Spirit upon the disciples are all eternal. They are not temporal matters; that is, they are not limited by the element of time. Consider the crucifixion, for instance. According to our understanding, Christ was crucified nineteen hundred years ago. But Revelation 13:8 speaks of “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” This indicates that in the sight of God Christ was slain from the foundation of the world, from the time the created world came into being. Christ was crucified from the beginning of the existence of the material world because His redemption must cover the whole of the created universe. Concerning this, Hebrews 9:12 indicates that Christ has accomplished an eternal redemption. His redemption is not temporal; it is eternal.
Suppose we use a circle to signify eternity, and then at a certain place on the circle we place a cross signifying the crucifixion of Christ. Where in relation to the cross on the circle would you put Old Testament saints such as Abraham and Moses, and where would you put all the believers in Christ throughout the centuries? It would be difficult to say, according to such a diagram, who is before the cross and who is after. The point we are making here is that the crucifixion is eternal and covers the entire span of need that began from the existence of the universe, from the foundation of the world. Ever since created things came into being there has been the need of the death of Christ. Therefore, in the sight of God, Christ’s death began from the foundation of the world. This is the reason Revelation 13:8 says that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.
Concerning the Lamb being slain from the foundation of the world, we need to be very careful and accurate in our reading of the Scriptures. Although Christ was slain from the foundation of the world, He was foreknown by God before the foundation of the world. Regarding this, 1 Peter 1:20 says that Christ “was foreknown before the foundation of the world.” Christ was foreordained, prepared, by God to be the redeeming Lamb for His elect according to His foreknowledge before the foundation of the world. This means that Christ was foreknown and prepared in eternity. But His death was accomplished from the foundation of the world; that is, it was accomplished in time. Although it was accomplished in time, Christ’s redemption is eternal. Because what Christ accomplished through His death is eternal, it is called in Hebrews 9:12 an eternal redemption.
Before the crucifixion there was the incarnation, and after the crucifixion there were the resurrection, the breathing of the Spirit into the disciples, the ascension, and the outpouring of the Spirit. All these things were accomplished in time, but without the element of time. Therefore, these things are eternal. (See the two inserted diagrams. [diagram 1] [diagram 2])
Because the crucifixion of Christ is eternal, Paul could say, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). With Paul, we can declare that we also have been crucified with Christ. This means that we were crucified with Christ long before we were born. When were we crucified with Christ? We were crucified with Him from the foundation of the world. Therefore, we were crucified before we were born.
Since Christ was crucified from the foundation of the world, there is no need for a repentant sinner to ask the Lord Jesus to die for him. If this were necessary, then the Lord would need to die again and again. However, He was crucified once for all; He died once for all.
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