CHRIST BEING ALSO SUPERIOR TO ETHICS AND PHILOSOPHY
In China I once met some scholars who studied the works of Confucius and Mencius, and when I preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus to them, they all said very proudly, “You Christians who believe the Western religion preached by the Westerners are very shallow. The Western culture is materialistic and superficial, so why should we follow it? Our upbringing is not like a tree without roots or water without a source, but it is with roots and with a source, as what Wang Yang-ming the philosopher said.” If I had not had some foundation in the truth, I would have been confounded by their speaking. In spite of the fact that the philosophers have good things, the best of their good things is merely brass, and when real gold is brought out, the brass is shown to be worthless. The Lord gave me wisdom, and I would say to such scholars, “Sir, please do not be hasty. Show me the teachings of Confucius and Mencius, and I will also read a few verses of the Bible to you so that we can make a comparison.” Eight or nine times out of ten, this kind of person would bring out The Great Learning because this book is their specialty. It says that the principle of the great learning is in developing the bright virtue, in introducing new life to people, and in attaining the highest good. Even though this is good, it is still merely brass. They brought out the doctrine of the great learning, so I brought out the Word of mystery, saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.…And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us…full of grace and reality” (John 1:1, 14). This is not the bright virtue; this is grace and reality. The bright virtue is the conscience, and to develop the bright virtue is to cultivate the conscience. If the conscience were not cultivated, it would be dimmed; this is to neglect the bright virtue, to disregard the conscience. I said to one person, “Sir, please speak according to your conscience. If your son and someone else’s son both went to take a competitive examination and the other person’s son passed while your son failed, would you be happy or not?” He said, “Of course, I would not be very happy.” He said this even though to be unhappy is to disregard the bright virtue instead of developing it.
The Bible speaks of God, of the Word who was in the beginning, and of the Word becoming flesh. This Word, however, is not the doctrine of great learning; this Word is God. When the Word became flesh, that was God coming to the earth as a man. When God came, both grace and reality came. The Chinese philosophers do not know what reality is. I told the scholars that the so-called ethics and morality were created by God for man. Philippians 4:8 says that we must take account of the things which are true, dignified, righteous, pure, lovely, and well spoken of; this means that we must live these virtues out. These virtues, which were created by God for man and are all in the human nature, are only empty shells and are not the reality; they are empty terms, having only a name and are without reality.
When God became a man, that is, when the Lord Jesus came to be our Savior, He brought the reality of these virtues with Him. Then He died for us, was resurrected, and became the life-giving Spirit to enter into us, His believers, to be our life and our content. In this way He lives out of us a kind of living that is true, dignified, righteous, pure, lovely, and well spoken of. When this happens, man has not only empty terms and expressions, but he also has the reality. The reality is not lived out by us; it is lived out by God from within us—after He became the life-giving Spirit to come into our spirit as our life.
I can testify that some of the Chinese Confucian scholars became truly convinced, and they confessed that the teaching of the Bible is superior to the principles of The Great Learning. Actually, there is no comparison. Paul was originally a “Confucian scholar” and a “Wang Yang-ming” in Judaism. He thoroughly studied the Jewish religion as well as the Greek culture and philosophy, but after he was conquered by the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, he saw that everything in Judaism was an empty shell, just as the tabernacle was an empty shell and was not the reality.
John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Chinese Union Version). According to the Greek, dwelt among us should be translated tabernacled among us. When Jesus came, God came. When God came in the flesh, He dwelt among men as a tabernacle. The tabernacle in the Old Testament was a shell, a shadow; the Lord Jesus is the body or the reality of that tabernacle. John 1:29 says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” The Jews at that time all understood this sentence because every day they slaughtered the lambs and offered them as sacrifices for the daily redemption of sins, but they did not understand that the blood of the lambs which they killed could not wash away their sins because it was only a type, a shadow. It is just like the airplane in a kindergarten textbook. It is a picture, not a real plane. You may teach the children to say that it is an airplane, but it is still only a picture. A plane flying in the air is the reality.
Now the reality has come, and the reality is Jesus. Jesus is God who became a man; His becoming a man is the reality. Thus, He is the virtues, He is the morality, and He is the ethics. What things are true, what things are dignified, what things are righteous, what things are pure, what things are lovely, and what things are well spoken of—Jesus is all these. He is all the virtues: He is our humility, He is our honoring toward our parents, He is our love toward our wives, He is our submission toward our husbands, and He is our love toward all. Without Him, everything is empty and is without reality. Who is He? He is the real and living Creator who was born of a virgin to be a man, and His name is Jesus. He is God, and He is also man. He died for our sins, and then He resurrected and became the life-giving Spirit. Today He is not only in the heavens as the Lord and Christ, but He has also entered into our spirit to be our life (Rom. 8:34, 10).
The meaning of Christ as our life is very deep and mysterious, and it is also very important. Once Christ becomes our life, He becomes our everything. We all know that everything we have depends upon our human life. If I were to die today, everything that is of me would be finished, but while I am living here, I can talk, eat, drink, and put on clothes. I can do this and that. When a person has life, he can do everything. When a person does not have life, everything is finished. The Lord Jesus Christ has come into us to be our life, that is, to be our everything. He has become our love. Our love for others is not our own love; our own love is empty, but His love is reality. Without Christ, all human virtues are empty shells; they are like a glove without a hand in it; the glove therefore is empty. All our virtues, such as love, kindness, goodness, humility, and refinement, should be Christ. Christ is everything because He is our life. Paul said that he was once zealous for religion, killing Christians, and keeping the law in such a way that he was blameless. He had once considered those things precious, but then he considered them as loss, as dung. The religion and law which he had before were like junk, but now he obtained Christ, who is like gold and gems. Christ in him was not an empty doctrine but a reality. The Christ whom he had obtained was the real and living God, the real and living Lord. Because Paul had the One of peerless worth in the universe, he suffered the loss of all things and considered them dung.
(Christ in His Excellency, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)