WORLD GOSPEL KINGDOM TRACTS
Unlocking the Mystery of Human Life
The Life-Releasing Death of Christ
Scripture Reading: Luke 12:49-50; John 12:24; 14:16-20; 2 Corinthians 5:16
THREE ASPECTS OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST
There are three aspects of the death of Christ. There is the aspect of His substitution for us, the aspect of His identification with us, and the aspect of His releasing His life for us. All three aspects of His death are needed in order to make God’s way of redemption complete. If we only had one of these three aspects, we might feel insecure and might think that God’s salvation was not trustworthy or complete. All three aspects of the Lord’s death are important. First, there is the Lord’s blood. His blood speaks of His death as a substitution for us; He shed His precious blood on our behalf. Second, the Lord’s death on the Cross speaks of His identifying death. We do not have any part in the shedding of His blood, but we can have a part in His Cross, because when the Lord went to the Cross, He brought us along with Him. We have to know what the Bible says, and we also have to know what the Bible does not say. The Bible says that we have been crucified with Christ, but it does not say that we have participated in the shedding of His blood. We cannot say that we have a part in the shedding of Christ’s blood, but we can definitely say that we have been crucified with Him on the Cross.
Third, the Lord’s flesh refers to the aspect of His death that released His life. This aspect of the Lord’s death has nothing to do with God or man. It refers to His flesh being given for the world. The Lord released His own life. The flesh signifies the Lord’s life, the life released through the Lord Jesus’ death. This is why it speaks of His flesh, not His corpse. The Lord Jesus was God. Yet He came to the earth, putting on a body of flesh and having the life of man. In order for Him to release His life, He first had to put off His human physical life. In Luke 12:49-50 He said, “I have come to cast fire on the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how I am pressed until it is accomplished!” The word “pressed” means “constricted” in the original language. “Fire” does not refer to a physical fire that is lit by a match or any other kind of fire. The expression “cast fire on the earth” proves that this fire is not from the earth, but from heaven. The book of Hebrews says that our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Here fire signifies God’s life, which is the life of Christ.
The Lord wanted to see all men filled with His fire, that is, His life. But when the Lord spoke these words, they had not received His life yet. Therefore, He said, “I have come to cast fire on the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindled!” Following this He said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with.” This is a strange word. Was not the Lord already baptized? He was baptized in Luke Chapter 3; it had been done already. He had been baptized at least three years earlier. Why did He say that He had a baptism to be baptized with? We have to realize that baptism in this verse refers to His death on the Cross. The meaning of baptism is death and burial. It was right to say that the Lord still had “a baptism to be baptized with.” This meant that the matter had not been consummated. At that time, the Lord had not passed through death, signified by baptism.
CHRIST’S LIFE-RELEASING DEATH
God’s life originally filled the whole universe. But after Christ was incarnated, it was limited by His flesh and was bound. God had no way to dispense His life to men. First, His life entered the flesh of the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s aspiration was to put off His body through the consummation of His baptism so that He could dispense His life to men. Luke 12:49 and 50 are the two most precious verses in the New Testament. At that time the Lord’s baptism had not yet been consummated, and although the twelve disciples were very close to Him, they could not obtain any life from Him. This is why we say that the third aspect of the Lord’s death has nothing to do with God or man; it was His own aspiration for the release and liberation of His life. We can see this even more clearly from John 12:24, which says, “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The death of the grain of wheat has nothing to do with sin. Neither does it have anything to do with identification. The death of the grain of wheat is a life-releasing death. Life is in the grain of wheat, but this life is surrounded by the shell. If you put a grain of wheat on the table, nothing will ever happen; it will forever remain as one grain. It has to be planted in the ground, allowing the shell to break, fall off, and decay through the action of water. Only then will life sprout forth, take root downward, and branch and grow upward. After two or three months, a hundred grains will be produced. Each of the grains will be impregnated with life, and the life within each grain will be derived from the one grain.
In the same way, when the only begotten Son of God died, millions of God’s sons were produced. Before the Lord’s incarnation, God’s life was abstract and untouchable. After the Lord was born, God’s life was locked in the flesh. However, the Lord went to Golgotha and was crucified on the Cross. This released God’s life. God’s original intention was for His only begotten Son to become the Firstborn Son so that He could have many sons. Through the death of the only begotten Son, His life was released, and this life produced many sons. The one grain has become a hundred grains. There are now one plus one hundred grains. Originally, the one grain was unique. Now it has become the first of many grains. Before the Lord’s resurrection, God had only one Son. After the Lord’s resurrection, God had many sons. Before His resurrection, Christ was God’s only begotten Son. After His resurrection, Christ was God’s Firstborn Son. The Lord told Mary on the day of His resurrection of “My Father and your Father” (John 20:17). Originally, the Father was only the Father to Christ. We were not able to call God our Father. Hallelujah! After Christ was crucified on Golgotha and after His resurrection, He was no longer just the only begotten Son of God; He became the Firstborn Son of God. Hebrews 2:11 says, “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of One, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Just as the Lord Jesus received His life from God, we have received our life from God. Our life is the same as His.
Now we come to another problem. How does God dispense His life to us? We have to read John 14:16-20: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may be with you forever, even the Spirit of reality, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him; but you know Him, because He abides with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. Yet a little while and the world beholds Me no longer, but you behold Me; because I live, you also shall live. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” The word “another” means that there was one already, and that this one is now another. The first Comforter was Christ. The second Comforter is the Holy Spirit. The word “comforter” is paracletos in the original language; it means a helper. The prefix para means to be alongside, just as the words parallel lines mean two lines that are alongside one another. This can be seen from two railway tracks which run alongside one another. Being parallel means maintaining the same distance all the time and being alongside all the time. God has given us a second Comforter, who will be alongside of us forever and help us all the time.
The word “another” also means another in kind, and not just another in number. Another Comforter does not mean the same kind of comforter. The kind that the disciples knew could die and leave them; He could not be with them forever. But the other kind would not be the same as this kind; the other Comforter would be with them forever. John 14:17 tells us who the other Comforter is. The other Comforter is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of reality, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him. Hence, it was impossible for the world to receive Him. The other Comforter was different from the Lord, because the other One could be with us forever. John 14:17 reveals the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Lord could be present with men, but His presence was outward; it was not the kind of presence depicted in the New Testament. In the New Testament, the Lord is present within man; He brings His presence into man. Indeed, this is the real gospel! You and the Lord were two persons. But now you and He have become one, because He is present within you.
THE LORD BEING THE HOLY SPIRIT
The most mysterious part of this portion of the Word lies in the pronoun He in John 14:17, which is changed to the pronoun I in verse 18. Why is this? Please remember that the He is the I and the I is the He. The Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit. I am not denying the doctrine of the Trinity. I am merely saying that the Lord Himself says that He is the Holy Spirit. Today the Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah! The Lord Jesus is now the Holy Spirit. Paul said that from now on he would no longer know Christ according to the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:16). When the Lord Jesus was incarnated and put on flesh, He was immediately limited by time and space. Suppose the Lord was still in the flesh today. If He was in London, He could not be in New York. If He was with the three disciples, He could not be with the other nine. If He was with the twelve disciples, He could not be with the other fifty-eight disciples. If He was with the seventy disciples, He could not be with the one hundred and twenty disciples. If He was with the one hundred and twenty, He could not be with the five hundred.
If the Lord was in Jerusalem, Christians would have to save money to make a pilgrimage once every three or five years to Jerusalem to see Him, just as Muslims make pilgrimages to Mecca. But today the Lord is no longer in the flesh. Before His death, He was in the flesh. He put on a human body in the same way that a man puts on a garment. But after His death, He put off the body of flesh and put on the Holy Spirit. The Lord has put off the flesh and put on the Holy Spirit. Today He is in the Holy Spirit. This is why He can be in us. I have often pondered the completeness of God’s salvation. It is so complete that He Himself has become available to us. Today the Lord is in the Spirit, and the Spirit is omnipresent. Therefore, we can all receive Him. In Acts Chapter 2 the apostle Peter quoted the last verse of Joel Chapter 2, saying, “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). Paul even said that the Lord is near us, in our mouth and in our heart (Romans 10:8). Please remember that the Lord can be such because He is in the Spirit. This is why He can be omnipresent today. John 14:18 says, “I Am coming to you.” This does not refer to His future coming, which will be visible; rather, it refers to His coming in the Spirit. Today the Lord has come to us in the Spirit, and He is even dwelling within us.
KNOWING CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT
Some regret that they were born too late. They think that it would be wonderful if they had been born two thousand years ago because they could have seen Jesus. But I tell such ones that I would not exchange places with Peter even if I could. Although I am quite insignificant, I can say humbly that I know much more than Peter. Peter only knew a Christ in the flesh. But I know the Lord who lives within me. When I was in Europe, I passed through the Mediterranean Sea and was approaching Egypt. A friend invited me to visit the holy land, but I declined the invitation. I asked myself, “Can a man increase his knowledge of Christ by visiting Golgotha, the garden of Gethsemane, or Sychar? No! Absolutely not!” That was why I declined to go. Paul said, “Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him so no longer” (2 Corinthians 5:16). Today we do not know Christ according to the flesh or outward appearance, but according to spirit.
Romans Chapter 8 tells us clearly that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ have nothing to do with Christ (Romans 8:9). Who are the sons of God? They are those who have become God’s many sons through His unique begotten Son. God has neither female nor male offspring. We can be His sons today because we are in His Son. We become the many sons in His Son. All of God’s children in the Bible are male. Second Corinthians 6:18 does say that God is our Father and that we are His sons and daughters. But this verse does not speak of our position in Christ. This is why it says “sons and daughters,” not “sons.” In Christ there is no male or female. In Christ we are all sons of God, and we have all received the life of God’s Son. Hallelujah! The life of God’s Son within us has made us His many sons. The life within the sisters is the same as the life within the brothers.
John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe into His Name.” Receiving refers specifically to receiving God’s life; it does not refer to sinners receiving Christ as Savior for their salvation. Rather, it refers to sinners receiving God’s life to become His children. This verse has been borrowed by many for a long time and has been misused for a long time. We have to claim it back.
Let us summarize what we have covered. The blood and the Cross deal with man as a sinner, whereas the flesh deals with man as a man. The Lord’s blood deals with sin. This is before God and it is a vicarious work of the Lord. It is objective, and it is for cleansing, forgiveness, and justification. It deals with the negative things, and we receive it through believing. The Cross deals with the old man. It is something done within man, and it is the Lord’s identification work. It is subjective, and it is for removing and cutting off the flesh. It also deals with negative things, and it is accomplished through our believing. These two items remove all the barriers. Finally, the Lord’s flesh deals with the person; it is for the dispensing of life. It is something done within man, through which the Lord releases His life. It is subjective, and it is for liberation, supply, sustenance, and reproduction. It is on the positive side, and we receive it also through believing. It is for the accomplishing of God’s purpose. We must learn to thank and praise the Lord even more, because all of God’s works have been accomplished.
Verses and footnotes are taken from The Recovery Version of the Holy Bible and Words of Ministry from Brother Watchman Nee, The Life-Releasing Death of Christ, CWWN, Set 2, Vol. 42, Chapter 54, [with personal enlightenment and inspiration]. Both are published by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA. All Rights Reserved.
Let us walk becomingly as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in fornication and licentiousness, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.
Romans 13:13, 14