Lesson 9 – The Four Crucial Elements of the Bible
CHRIST BEING THE CENTER OF THE BIBLE
The Triune God is intimately related to our experience of Christ. Actually, in our proper experience, this Christ is the Triune God. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” According to flesh, Christ came out of Israel, out of the tribe of Judah, yet Romans 9:5 says that He “is God over all, blessed forever.” He is man, and He is also God. He is God the Son, and He is also the Triune God blessed forever. Hebrews 1:8 says, “But of the Son, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.…’ ” This proves that the Son is God, even the God who sits on the throne….When we experience the Son, we experience the Triune God.
The Bible consists of two sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament speaks of Christ with a great part in types and a considerable part in prophecies but nearly with no plain words. This may be compared to the teaching material in kindergarten that consists of very few plain words but many pictures. The teaching material in graduate schools, however, contains very few pictures; instead, it contains many classical writings. Although the Old Testament, like the teaching material in kindergarten, consists mostly of pictures with very few plain words, it is not simple to understand the meaning of the pictures. Therefore, concerning the types in the Old Testament, we need to understand their significance. There are six major categories of types in the Old Testament. The first category is human beings; the second, animals; the third, plants; the fourth, minerals; the fifth, offerings; and the sixth, foods. All these six major categories contain types of Christ.
These verses in the New Testament show us plainly who Christ is. Romans 9:5 says that Christ is God, who is above all and blessed forever. First Timothy 2:5 says that Christ is man, while 2 Corinthians 3:17 says that Christ is the Spirit. First Corinthians 1:30 tells us that Christ is wisdom to us from God: both righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Colossians 3:4 says that Christ is our life, and Ephesians 3:8 says that Christ is One who is unsearchably rich. These six verses give us the way to experience and enjoy Christ. Galatians 2:20 says that Christ lives in us, and 4:19 says that Christ is being formed in us. In Philippians 1:20 Christ will be magnified, as always, in our body, and in verse 21a for us to live is Christ. Philippians 3:8 speaks of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, and verse 10a refers to knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection. These are all very sweet experiences.
THE SPIRIT— THE ESSENCE AND SPHERE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
The Old Testament speaks of Christ by way of allegories and types. Although this makes it easy for people to comprehend, they still cannot easily have a full understanding. A picture is always better than a thousand words. When we look at the pictures in the Old Testament, we can right away understand their apparent, superficial, and literal side. However, unless the Lord opens the understanding of our mind, we really cannot understand the intrinsic, deep, and essential significance contained in them. As we have seen, the Old Testament speaks about Christ with types in six major categories: human beings, animals, plants, minerals, offerings, and foods. The New Testament continues by speaking of Christ altogether in plain words. In speaking about Christ, the New Testament does not mainly use types, such as human beings, animals, plants, minerals, offerings, and foods. Instead, it speaks of Christ as the Spirit. In the New Testament, Christ is presented altogether with the Spirit as the center, the element, and the sphere.
Hence, the Spirit is the essence, the factor, of the New Testament. The New Testament opens with a revelation showing us that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even when he was in his mother’s womb, and then his mother and father were also filled with the Holy Spirit. Then it goes on to show that Jesus was altogether conceived and born through the Holy Spirit’s entering into humanity. He was One who had humanity with divinity and who lived on the earth for thirty-three and a half years, died on the cross, and resurrected, through which He brought humanity into divinity. In resurrection He became such a wonderful One, One who is divinity in humanity and humanity in divinity.
First Corinthians 15:45b says, “The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.” The last Adam is the One who brought divinity into humanity. Then through death and resurrection He brought humanity into divinity, and He became the life-giving Spirit. The Scriptures indicate that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are not separate. When the Son came, the Father came with Him (John 8:16, 29; 16:32). Moreover, the conception of the Son was of the Holy Spirit; He was begotten by divinity entering into humanity. When the Son came out for His ministry, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as His power. Then, through His death and resurrection He brought humanity into divinity. He is such a mysterious and marvelous One. After passing through these mysterious and marvelous processes, He became the life-giving Spirit. The apostle Paul saw such a revelation clearly and boldly declared, “The Lord is the Spirit” (2 Cor.3:17). This means that Christ in resurrection is not only the life-giving Spirit but also “the Spirit.”
The sequence of the four Gospels is wonderful. At the beginning Matthew says that Mary conceived through the Holy Spirit and brought forth a God-man; at the end John says that this God-man became the Spirit and was breathed into His disciples. At the conclusion of the Gospels, the God-man Jesus, who brought divinity into humanity through incarnation and who also brought humanity into divinity through death and resurrection, became the Spirit. As such, He breathed Himself into His disciples as their life and everything and sent them with His commission, qualifying them to represent Him with His authority for the carrying out of His commission (John 20:22-23; Matt. 28:18-20).
After the four Gospels, there is the book of Acts. Acts is altogether a story of the Spirit. Many Bible readers recognize that the Acts of the apostles is the Acts of the Spirit and the biography of the Spirit….After the book of Acts, there are the Epistles….The fourteen Epistles of Paul all speak at some length concerning this Spirit. In Revelation, the last book of the Bible…it speaks of “the Spirit.” …In the beginning of Revelation it was the Spirit speaking to the churches; then it was the Spirit speaking in the church, the believers; and at the end it is the Spirit and the bride, the church, speaking together as one. This indicates that the church’s experience of the Spirit has advanced to such an extent that she has become one with the Spirit. Hence, the entire Bible consummates with the Spirit.
LIFE—BEING THE ESSENCE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
Romans 8:2 reveals that the Spirit is the Spirit of life and that this Spirit of life has a law. This indicates that the Spirit Himself is life because a life is a law. Since the Spirit has become one with life and contains the element of life, He of course is life. Therefore, the Spirit of life is life. Christ is the Spirit, and the Spirit is life….When we were saved, this life entered into our spirit, making our spirit life. This is why Romans 8:10 says, “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness.” However, we still have the psuche life, the soul-life, within us. Our mind, emotion, and will still remain in the realm of the psuche. Therefore, we must continue pursuing to give the Lord the room within us by setting our mind, emotion, and will upon Him. The more we love the Lord and pursue Him, the more room He will have within us. His life will not only fill our spirit but also overflow into our soul to saturate our mind. This is to set our mind on the spirit, and the result is that our mind is life, which issues in peace. This is why Romans 8:6 says, “The mind set on the spirit is life and peace.” When the mind becomes life, the soul becomes life. If we pursue and exercise further, life will grow a little more. The result will be that the Spirit of the One who raised Christ from the dead, who dwells in us, will be able to give life to our mortal bodies, as spoken of in Romans 8:11. In this way our entire person of three parts will be life; our spirit is life, our mind, the leading part of the soul, will be life, and our mortal body will also have life. This means that our entire being will be life.
THE CHURCH—THE END OF THE EXTRACTS OF THE REVELATION OF THE BIBLE
The two ends of the Bible are Christ and the church, and the process in between is the Spirit and life. During the period from the Lord Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement to His second coming, the whole universe is altogether a matter of the Spirit and life to us. Our salvation, our growth, our transformation, and our maturity in Christ are all matters of the Spirit and life. Therefore, the Bible is not a book merely about human history, the creation of the heavens and the earth, or much less morality and ethics. The Bible is a book concerning Christ, the Spirit with the human spirit, life, and the church. Christ is the initiation, the church is the consummation, and the process is the Spirit and life.