Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
During my early years as a Christian, no one told me what was the goal of being a Christian. Of course I was taught that we were saved in order to go to heaven. The impression I received was that the purpose of being a Christian was simply to go to heaven. Heaven supposedly is the destiny ordained by God for all who believe in Christ. However, I eventually came to see that the goal of being a Christian is to live Christ. Furthermore, the destiny God has ordained for us in His economy also is that we might live Christ. Christ is our way, our goal, our destiny, and our destination.
I do not believe that even as recently as 1970 Christians were familiar with the term “live Christ.” This expression was not known even among us in the Lord’s recovery. We had heard of living for Christ, living out Christ, and living by Christ, but not of living Christ. This is a new term. To live by Christ and for Christ and to live Christ out are all somewhat different from simply living Christ.
We can be helped to know what it means to live Christ by reading the Gospel of John. This Gospel reveals that Christ, the Word, is God (1:1). One day, the Word became flesh (1:14); that is, God was incarnated. Referring to the Word made flesh, John the Baptist declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29). The third chapter of the Gospel of John speaks of regeneration. Here we see that we must be born of God through the Spirit in our spirit.
In John 14 the Lord Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (v. 9). The Lord also went on to say, “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me” (v. 11). The Lord Jesus was one with the Father. To see Him was to see the Father. In this chapter the Lord Jesus also spoke of the Spirit of reality, telling the disciples that the Spirit of reality abode with them and would be in them (v. 17). The Lord Jesus indicated that when the Spirit of reality came, He Himself would come also. Verse 19 says, “Because I live, you shall live also.” Verse 20 continues, “In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Here we have our living together with Christ. We are in Christ, and Christ is in us. This means that we and He live together. He lives, and we live also. We live in Him, by Him, and with Him, and we even live Him.
In John 15 the Lord gives the very impressive illustration of the vine and the branches. He says, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (v. 5). The branches are the very living of the vine.
After the Lord Jesus entered into resurrection, He came to His disciples. According to John 20:22, “He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.” The Greek word for “Spirit,” pneuma, also means “breath.” This indicates that the Lord Jesus was telling the disciples to receive the holy breath. The Gospel of John begins with the Word and goes on to speak of the Lamb and the vine. Finally, in John 20:22 we see that the very One who is the Word, God, the Lamb, and the vine is also the breath for us to receive. On the one hand, He breathed out; on the other hand, the disciples breathed in.
In 20:22 the Lord Jesus told the disciples to receive the holy breath, the Holy Spirit. We should not analyze the breath, but receive it by breathing it into us. Unfortunately, many of today’s Christians know only to reason and consider; they do not have any experience of breathing the holy breath. A. B. Simpson was one who knew the experience of breathing in of Christ. The opening lines of one of his hymns read: “O Lord, breathe Thy Spirit on me, Teach me how to breathe Thee in” (Hymns, #255).
In the Gospel of John we have a record of the divine process. The Word, who was God, became flesh. Eventually, having passed through crucifixion and resurrection, He became the holy breath for us to breathe in.
If we see the steps of this process, we shall have a proper and thorough understanding of the Gospel of John. According to John 1:1 and 14, the Word, who was in the beginning with God and who is God, became flesh. In verse 29 we see that this Word become flesh is the Lamb of God. On the one hand, He is the Lamb for accomplishing redemption; on the other hand, He is the tree for imparting life. Therefore, we may speak of Him as the Lamb-tree. According to John 15, the branches of the vine are the living of the vine. Ultimately, the Lamb-tree becomes the holy breath. Hallelujah! In our experience we have Christ as the Word, the Lamb, the tree, and the breath. The Word is for expression, the Lamb is for redemption, the tree is for the impartation of life, and the breath is for our living.
We cannot live without breathing. Instead of saying that a certain person has died, the Chinese say that he has stopped breathing. No doubt, to stop breathing is to die. However, to keep on breathing is to live. No matter how many schools we may graduate from, we can never graduate from breathing. No one can say that because he has become so knowledgeable or mature, it is no longer necessary for him to breathe. Rather, the older a person becomes, the more concerned he may be about his breathing. How marvelous that for our spiritual life we have the holy breath for our living!
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