ALL THE FULLNESS OF THE GODHEAD DWELLING IN CHRIST BODILY
Paul told the Galatians, “You observe days and months and seasons and years; I fear for you, lest I have labored upon you in vain” (Gal. 4:10-11). The Jews kept the law, practiced circumcision, and observed the feasts. Thus, Paul feared for them, lest his labor upon them be in vain. He said, “I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you” (v. 19). It is not a matter of whether we keep the law, practice circumcision, or observe the feasts; rather, it is a matter of Christ. Has Christ been formed in us? This is the question of all questions. The churches in Galatia had a problem. They brought the service of Judaism and of religion into the church. Hence, Paul showed them that everything related to this kind of service was nothing. In the church there is room only for Christ. The problem with the Greeks was their wisdom. They allowed wisdom to enter into the church. The apostle showed them that their wisdom did not count for anything. Christ alone is everything.
Paul said, “In Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). In other words, apart from Christ we cannot touch God, for God caused Himself to dwell in Christ bodily. Outside of Christ, neither philosophy, literature, nor even religion can enable us to touch or contact God because all the fullness of God Himself dwells in Christ bodily. The passages we have quoted from the Scriptures truly show us that the service that God desires is service that is in Christ. Anything that is outside of Christ, no matter how good or praiseworthy it is in man’s eyes, is nothing and is of no value in God’s eyes. We must see this principle.
“SALVATION” ACCORDING TO RELIGION
If we look at the practical experience of a person’s salvation from a non-theological perspective, we can say that there are two kinds of salvation: the “salvation” of religion and the salvation of revelation. If a person experiences only the “salvation” according to religion but not salvation according to revelation, then basically he is not saved. A person’s “salvation” is according to religion when it is mixed with religious things. Before a person believes in the Lord, he may not be concerned for his soul or think about religion. But after he is saved and begins to be concerned for his soul, his religious concepts come in. What is a religious concept? Some people think that after they are saved, they should repent thoroughly and be delivered from sins. In addition, they feel that from that point on they should look to God for mercy, depend on God’s grace, be good people, never be cold or backsliding, and try their best to please God. In this way they consider that when they depart from the world and go to be with the Lord, the Lord will let them go to heaven seeing that they have had a thorough repentance and that their behavior was satisfactory. Do not think that I am too much to say this. This is the real situation. Many people think that after they are saved, they should wail for three days and three nights—rolling on the ground and shedding many tears—to wash away their sins so that when they see the Lord face to face, the Lord will consider them quite satisfactory, and they will be saved. Some people may not think exactly like this, but they think in a similar way. This is “salvation” according to religion, not salvation according to revelation.
SALVATION ACCORDING TO REVELATION
What then is salvation according to revelation? We may illustrate it in this way. One day after hearing a message, or while praying, reading the Bible, or even walking on the street, the Holy Spirit may mysteriously and inwardly show us that our Savior Christ was hanged on the cross to die for us and that He bore our sins in His body, resurrected from the dead, and released His life to us so that if we would receive such a Christ, our sins would be forgiven and we would receive His life within. As a result we exult, praise, and thank God, saying, “O God, I am a sinner, but You are holy. Thank You for dying for me. Within me there is darkness, but You are full of light. Thank You for Your life, for coming into me to be my life.” Through this we are saved. This is salvation according to revelation.
However, the story is not that simple. According to revelation, some people are already saved, but according to the perspective of religion they are not yet saved. Perhaps you may wonder what this means. A person under the enlightening of the Holy Spirit may see that he needs a Savior and that the Lord Jesus is his Savior who shed His blood and bore his sins on the cross. As a result, he prays, “Thank You, Lord, I was full of sins, but You bore my sins on the cross. Thank You that though I am corrupted, evil, and in darkness, You are bright and holy, and You have become my life.” A person is able to thank the Lord in such a way because he has seen the Christ who died and resurrected. But the strange thing is that after he prays, he may still say, “I am afraid that I may not be saved.” If you would ask him why he says this, he may say, “I heard from someone that when he got saved, he cried and shed many tears so that all his sins were washed away. If I did not shed any tears, how can I be saved?” Then he may continue, “I also heard that when a person is saved, he should feel pricked in his heart and lament over his sins for three days and three nights. But I was not pricked in my heart, nor did I lament over my sins. Do you think that I am saved?” A while later he may also say, “When some people got saved, they prayed continuously until they saw a vision of the Lord Jesus hanging on the cross, shedding His blood for them. Then they wept and were saved. But I have never had these experiences. Am I really saved?” Thus, in terms of revelation such a person has been truly saved, but in terms of religion he has not.
Hence, from here we see that there are two experiences of “salvation”: the experience that is according to revelation and the experience that is according to religion. The experience of “salvation” according to religion occurs when we have a set of concepts that are not the result of revelation and feel that as long as we do certain things, we will be accepted by God. An experience that is according to revelation occurs when the Holy Spirit removes the veil within us and reveals Christ in us, showing us that Christ died for us on the cross. Such an experience is a revelation. As children of God, we should know what it means to have something of religion and what it means to have something of revelation. When we were saved, did we first have revelation or religion? A genuine salvation is a salvation that comes out of revelation. When we see that Christ died for us on the cross and was resurrected for us, we are saved. After we are saved, we can begin to serve God.
(The Path of Our Growth in Life, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)