Christ as the Content of the Church and the Church as the Expression of Christ, by Witness Lee


Now we need to consider what truth is. The law is demanding, but with the law there is no reality. The law tells us to honor our parents, but the law does not give us the real honor. The law demands without providing the reality. The law tells us that we have to be holy as the Lord is holy, but it does not give us the reality of holiness. The law says that the proper human life must be holy, but it does not impart holiness. Thus, with the law there is the demand of holiness but not the reality. This is like having a menu but no food. The law is the menu; the reality is the food. Truth means “reality.” Christ is the reality of the honoring of our parents, the reality of holiness, and the reality of love.

Whatever the law demands is just a picture without anything real. The reality is with Jesus Christ. The picture was given through Moses. The reality came through Jesus Christ. The law demands that we be holy, but holiness came through Jesus. Jesus is the reality of holiness, love, righteousness, and honor. Jesus is the reality of all the contents of the law. If I give you a picture of a brother, you may say that it is nice but that you want the reality. When the brother actually comes to you, you may say, “The picture was given by Witness Lee, but the reality came through this brother.” Moses just passed on a picture to us, but the reality of this picture is Jesus Himself. When He comes, the reality comes with Him.

On the one hand, Christ is grace to us. On the other hand, He is the reality of all things demanded by the law. The law was given through Moses, but grace and reality came through this wonderful Jesus, who is the very God incarnated as a man to bring God into us. This is the central message of the Gospel of John. This Gospel tells us that the Word, who is God Himself, became flesh to bring God into us as the reality of all things demanded, mentioned, and revealed through the law.

In the law there are not only commandments but also regulations. There are regulations concerning the offerings, that is, concerning how the children of Israel had to bring their surplus to worship God. The regulations of the law forbade people to come to worship God with their hands empty (Deut. 16:16). They were required to bring something to offer to God as the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering, the wave offering, and the heave offering. These are different aspects of the picture in the Old Testament, which portray Christ as the reality of all the offerings. We have to enjoy Christ as the real surplus of the land of Canaan.

If we know this principle, we will be able to appreciate the relationship between the New Testament and the Old Testament. In the Old Testament there are the pictures. In the New Testament there is the explanation, the reality. When we look at the picture, everything is made clear. The entire Old Testament presents a full picture of what Christ is to us, showing us how we have to enjoy Christ, experience Christ, and partake of Christ. Christ in the New Testament is the reality of this picture.

Christ is the reality of all things demanded by God in the law. This is the proper meaning of the word truth in the Gospel of John. Truth does not refer to teachings or doctrines. Truth is “reality.” Christ as the embodiment of God is the reality of all things demanded by God in the law. The law was given by Moses; reality came with Christ.

John 4:24 says that God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness, or reality. This means that if anyone is going to worship God, he must worship by exercising his spirit and by realizing Christ as the embodiment of God. Philippians 3:3 says, “We are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.” This verse reveals that we worship God by the Spirit and boast in Christ Jesus. This is the interpretation of worshipping God in spirit and in reality. Truth means “reality,” which is Christ Himself as the embodiment of God partaken of by us.

In John 8:24 the Lord Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” “I am” is God Himself. The Lord was saying that we must believe that He is the great I Am, the reality of God. Whoever does not take this reality by believing in Christ will die in his sins. In verse 28 the Lord said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am, and that I do nothing from Myself, but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things.” Verses 31 and 32 say, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Verse 28 says, “You will know that I am.” Verse 32 says, “You shall know the truth.” Thus, to know the truth is to know the I Am. The truth is the great I Am. This great I Am, the reality, will set us free.

Verses 33 through 36 say, “They answered Him, We are Abraham’s seed and have never yet been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, You shall become free? Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. And the slave does not abide in the house forever; the son does abide forever. If therefore the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” Verse 32 says that the truth shall set you free, but verse 36 says that the Son sets you free. Thus, truth is the Son, and the Son is the embodiment of God.

In John 14:6 the Lord said that He is the way and the reality and the life. The Christian life is not a matter of doctrine or teaching but of reality. In verse 17 the Lord spoke of the Spirit of reality. The Spirit is the reality of Christ as the Son of God. John 16:13 says, “When He, the Spirit of reality, comes, He will guide you into all the reality.” The Spirit brings us not into doctrine but into all that Christ is as the embodiment of God.

Verses 14 and 15 say, “He will glorify Me, for He will receive of Mine and will declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine; for this reason I have said that He receives of Mine and will declare it to you.” This means that the fullness of the Father dwells in the Son, and the Spirit of reality takes of this fullness and declares it to us. All that the Father is and has is embodied in the Son, and all that the Son is and has is declared as reality to the believers through the Spirit.

In John 18 the Lord said to Pilate, “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I would testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (v. 37). The Lord did not testify to the doctrine but to the reality of God. Pilate responded by asking, “What is truth?” (v. 38a). After Pilate asked this question, he went out to the Jews and said to them, “I find no fault in Him” (v. 38b). Pilate understood the Roman law, but he did not understand the divine reality.

In view of the entire revelation of the Gospel of John, truth denotes the divine reality embodied, revealed, and expressed in Christ as the Son of God. In the New Testament we must worship God in spirit with the reality. We do not worship according to the demand of the law. The law is an empty picture. Now we have to worship God, to serve God, with Christ as the reality.

(Christ as the Content of the Church and the Church as the Expression of Christ, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)