Life-Study of 2 Peterby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the previous message we began to consider 1:1-4. We paid particular attention to the words “allotted” and “righteousness” in 1:1. Let us now go on to consider the meaning of faith in this verse.
Faith is the substantiation of the substance of the truth (Heb. 11:1), which is the reality of the contents of God’s New Testament economy. The contents of God’s New Testament economy are composed of the “all things which relate to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3), that is, the Triune God dispensing Himself into us as life within and godliness without. The like precious faith, allotted to us by God through the word of God’s New Testament economy and the Spirit, responds to the reality of such contents and ushers us into the reality, making its substance the very element of our Christian life and experience. Such a faith is allotted to all the believers in Christ as their portion, which is equally precious to all who have received it. As such a portion from God, this faith is objective to us in the divine truth. But it brings all the contents of its substantiation into us, thus making them all with itself (faith) subjective to us in our experience. It can be compared to the scenery (truth) and the seeing (faith) that are objective to the camera (us). But when the light (the Spirit) brings the scenery to the film (our spirit) within the camera, both the seeing and the scenery become subjective to it.
We have pointed out that faith is the substantiation of the substance of the truth. Let us take as an illustration the substantiating of the existence of a wooden table by a blind man through his sense of touch. Although the wooden table is substantial, the blind man cannot see it. But by touching the table with his hand, he substantiates that table to himself. In this way the wooden table becomes real to him. Therefore, his touching is the substantiating, and this substantiating makes the substance of the table real to him. This may be used as an illustration of faith being the substantiation of the substance of the truth.
In God’s New Testament inheritance there are many riches, many blessings. However, our natural mentality is blind to all these riches and blessings. Therefore, God would say, “Exercise your faith. Let your faith substantiate the substance of all of My New Testament blessings.” The reality or substance of God’s New Testament blessings is the truth. Faith is actually the substantiation of the reality of the substance of the truth, and the truth itself is the content of God’s New Testament economy.
Many of us are familiar with the term “God’s economy.” The Greek word for economy, oikonomia, means household management, arrangement, hence, dispensation, plan. God’s economy, God’s plan, is to dispense Himself into us. Therefore, God’s New Testament economy is simply for God’s dispensing. This economy has a content, this content has a reality, and this reality is the truth revealed in the Bible. The Bible is not merely a book of doctrine; it is a revelation of the truth, which is the reality of the content of God’s dispensation. This reality has a substance. Only faith can substantiate this substance. Hence, we see once again that faith is the substantiation of the substance of the reality of the New Testament dispensation.
The content of God’s New Testament economy is composed of the “all things which relate to life and godliness” (1:3). We have seen that this is actually the Triune God dispensing Himself into us as our life within and godliness without. In the Life-study of 1 Timothy we pointed out that the faith is the content of the complete gospel according to God’s New Testament economy. Hence, the faith is objective, as mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:19; 2:7; 3:9; 4:1, 6; 5:8; 6:10, 12, 21; 2 Timothy 2:18; 3:8; 4:7; and Titus 1:13. The truth is the reality of the content of the faith, as mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:4, 7; 3:15; 4:3; 6:5; 2 Timothy 2:15, 18, 25; 3:7, 8; 4:4; Titus 1:1 and 14. Godliness is a living that is the expression of God, as mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:2, 10; 3:16; 4:7, 8; 5:4; 6:3, 5, 6, 11; 2 Timothy 3:5, 12; Titus 1:1; and 2:12. The faith equals the content of God’s economy, of His dispensation. The truth is the content, the reality, of the faith according to God’s economy. Eternal life is the means and power to carry out the divine realities of the faith, and godliness is a living that expresses the divine reality, an expression of God in all His riches. Subjective faith is the response to the truth of the objective faith; it receives and participates in the divine realities.
The like precious faith, allotted to us by God through the word of God’s New Testament economy and the Spirit, responds to the reality of such a content and ushers us into this reality. It makes the substance of God’s economy the element of our Christian life and experience. Such a faith is allotted to all the believers in Christ as their portion. This faith is objective to us in the divine truth, but it brings all the content of its substantiation into us. The substantiating is the faith, and this faith brings into us whatever it substantiates. In this way, faith causes everything substantiated by it to become subjective to us in our experience.
We may use a camera as an illustration. Suppose you want to photograph a particular scene. The scene corresponds to the truth, and our experience of seeing this scene corresponds to faith. Both the scene and the seeing are objective to the camera, for neither has come into the camera. But light makes it possible for the scene to be impressed on the film. The light corresponds to the Spirit, and the film corresponds to our spirit. In this way both the scene and the seeing enter into the camera and become subjective to it. The camera “clicks,” the light gets in, and the scene is brought into the camera and impressed on the film. We are the “camera,” and our spirit is the film. Now the scene and the seeing are subjective to us. This is faith.
Faith implies all the items in the “scenery” of the New Testament inheritance according to the New Testament economy. In the New Testament we see a complete picture of this scenery. But this scenery is outside of us. How can it get into us? It comes in through our seeing and through the Spirit’s work. This was our experience when we were saved and regenerated. We heard the preaching of the gospel, there was a “click” of the shutter of the “camera,” and the light came into us. As a result, the divine scenery was impressed on our spirit.
Sometimes we preach the gospel to others, and they do not experience this “click.” As we are preaching, some may say to themselves, “I don’t agree with what you are saying.” Others may tell us, “I don’t care about this.” Still others may respond, “This person is crazy. What is he talking about?” There is no positive response. But eventually, by the Lord’s mercy, the divine light with the divine scenery may enter into certain ones. The scenery is then impressed on the film and can never be erased. Even if we try to change our minds, we cannot remove the scene that has been impressed on the “film” of our spirit.
Many of us can testify that we came to believe in the Lord for no apparent reason. We heard the preaching of the gospel, and there was a “click” within us. Spontaneously we believed in the Lord. Formerly, we may have argued about God and Christ. We may have said, “Is there really a God? Perhaps there is a God, but how can Jesus of Nazareth be God in the flesh? I don’t believe that the man Jesus is God.” Nevertheless, when we experienced a “click,” we automatically began to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Then we could confess, “I don’t know why, but now I believe that Jesus is God. Hallelujah, Jesus Christ is my God! Praise the Lord!”
Many of us can testify that we have had this kind of experience. At a certain time there was a “click” within us. At that very moment, God’s allotment of like precious faith came into us. From that time onward, we have had faith in the Lord.
I experienced this “click” of faith when I was saved and regenerated. Although I was born into Christianity, I did not experience salvation until I was nineteen. One afternoon, out of curiosity, I went to hear a young woman preach the gospel. While she was speaking, I experienced “click” after “click.” That day I was strongly and thoroughly saved.
We all have had the experience of the divine scenery being impressed on the film of our spirit through the click of the camera. The degree may differ, but the essence is the same. We all have had that little “click,” and now we all have the like precious faith.
This faith is the real portion of God’s allotment. It is the reality of the New Testament economy allotted to us in and by the righteousness of God, which is also the righteousness of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This twofold righteousness—the righteousness of God and of Christ—is the sphere in which and the means by which the New Testament portion has been allotted to us.
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