The Experience of Christby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Paul took Christ not only as his life but also as his faith. In Galatians 2:20 he says that he was crucified with Christ, that he lived no longer, and that Christ lived in him; he continues on to say that the life he lived was in the faith of the Son of God, who loved him and died for him. This verse reveals that Christ lived in Paul and that Paul lived not only by Christ’s life but also by Christ’s faith. In himself, Paul had no faith. Even the faith by which Paul lived was the faith of Christ. This means that Paul was found in Christ in the condition that he lived by Christ as his faith and thereby lived out God as his righteousness. His righteousness was not behavior or conduct; it was God Himself lived out of him as his righteousness by faith. It was in this condition that Paul sought to know Christ.
Since Paul already had the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, why was he still seeking to know Him? The excellency of the knowledge of Christ comes by revelation, but the knowing of Him spoken of in Philippians 3:10 comes not by revelation but by experience. According to my experience, the word know here is equal to experience. To know Him means to experience Him, to enjoy Him, to participate in Him, and to partake of Him. Take eating as an example. First you select certain groceries, you pay for them, and then you cook them. By eating what you have cooked, you come to know the food you have bought. In like manner we also need to pay the price to gain Christ and to be found in Him, not having the righteousness which is out of ourselves but the righteousness that is God Himself lived out of our being in faith. In such a condition we are to know Christ through experiencing Him a little at a time. It is not sufficient to listen to messages and to see Christ by revelation.
As one who was raised in Christianity, I heard the stories of Jesus from the time I was a little child. Both at home and in Sunday school, I was taught the stories in the Gospels concerning Christ. For a long time the Gospels were nothing more than stories to me. After I was saved, I no longer considered them as mere stories but viewed them as containing lessons for me to learn. Later, I changed my concept again, this time from lessons to teachings. Along with learning the teachings, I was also told to take Christ as my example, for, according to the lessons and teachings, Christ was to be our example and pattern. Many Christians today consider the four Gospels mainly as stories, lessons, teachings, and examples. However, twice the Lord Jesus said that He is life (John 11:25; 14:6). Thus, whatever is recorded in the Gospels is life, not merely stories, lessons, teachings, or examples.
In the Gospels we see that life is a person, not a thing, condition, or situation. Paul says in Philippians 3 that he wanted to gain Christ and be found in Him. The One whom he wanted to gain and in whom he wanted to be found was Christ Jesus as his life. This means that Paul wanted to be found in life, in the person who was his life. Furthermore, as we have pointed out, Paul wanted to be found in Him in a condition of not having the righteousness that was out of himself according to the law but of having the righteousness that was God lived out of him in faith. Therefore, Paul could say, “I want to be found in the One who is my life, in such a condition that I have nothing out of myself but only the living God lived out of me as my righteousness by the faith of Christ.” The condition in which Paul desired to be found was a condition according to faith, not according to work. Paul could be in such a condition only by believing, not by doing or struggling. He wanted to be in this condition so that he might know Christ, that is, so that he might experience, enjoy, participate in, and partake of all that Christ was to him.
At this point we need to consider the book of 2 Corinthians, which may be considered Paul’s autobiography. Brother Nee once pointed out that the book of Deuteronomy is the autobiography of Moses. If you want to know the kind of person Moses was, you need to study this book. Likewise, if you want to know the kind of person the apostle Paul was, you need to read 2 Corinthians. In this book Paul wrote of his personal life.
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