THE THREE STAGES OF CHRIST IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
In recent years the Lord has been giving us new messages, and the newest ones are the first three messages given in this international conference of the co-workers and elders. The title of these three messages, "How to Be a Co-worker and an Elder," seems very simple, but the contents are high and profound and not easily comprehended. The first three messages mainly show us the three stages of Christ’s ministry. Many in the world know that Jesus Christ came to the earth two thousand years ago, but very few know what He accomplished on the earth. The New Testament, for example, clearly reveals that this Christ, who was God becoming man, was not only God becoming flesh but also the last Adam becoming the life-giving Spirit. Then Revelation, the last book of the Bible, shows us that He eventually became the seven Spirits. The theology of Christianity wrongly teaches people that Christ had only one "becoming," His becoming flesh, and that He did not have a second "becoming," much less a third "becoming." Such teaching is from the backward theology of degraded and deformed Christianity. To this day we still have traces of these mistakes within us. Some are so far off that they say the Lord Jesus became a man for only thirty-three and a half years, and after His death and resurrection He was no longer a man but returned to His original status of being only God. How absurd it is to say this!
The New Testament clearly shows us that our Lord became something three times. First, as God, He became flesh; that is, as the infinite God, He became a finite man. Next, as the last Adam, a man in the flesh, He became the life-giving Spirit. Third, as the life-giving Spirit, the pneumatic Christ, He became the seven Spirits. In the New Testament we see that Christ has these three stages. The majority of Christians have seen only one age, the age of the New Testament; they have not seen that within this one age there are three stages. In the first stage He was the Son of Man in the flesh; this is the stage of His incarnation in the four Gospels. In the second stage He is altogether the Spirit; this is the stage of His inclusion from Acts to Jude, the twenty-two books dealing with the life-giving Spirit. In the third stage the life-giving Spirit has become the seven Spirits, the sevenfold intensified Spirit; this is the stage of His intensification in Revelation. These are Christ’s three "becomings" in His three stages. His first becoming is in the stage of His incarnation, His second becoming is in the stage of His inclusion, and His third becoming is in the stage of His intensification. This is the New Testament.
I beg you, co-workers and elders, that from this day you would put aside your past understanding of the New Testament and restudy it with the perspective of these three messages, according to what the brothers from Taiwan are doing. They have learned a secret, that is, they pray-read and study the message outlines, they memorize and recite them, and then they speak them. After going through this kind of exercise, they all can say from deep within that the contents of these messages are the teaching of the New Testament apostles.
Brothers, please put aside everything that you have heard in the past. From today begin anew by learning this new culture and new language. Do not consider that you know everything already. I am afraid that you do not really know. You cannot comprehend these things by just listening to them once, nor can you understand them in nine days. You will need at least nine months, the time required for a child to be born; this is God’s law. Today any kind of learning takes time. I hope that you will devote much time and energy to pray, study, memorize, and speak so that you may enter into the reality of these messages.
Now let us come to the message in this chapter. In the following three messages we want to see how to fulfill the obligations of the co-workers and elders.
(How to Be a Co-worker and an Elder and How to Fulfill Their Obligations, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)