IV. CHRIST IN REDEMPTION
Christ Having the First Place in Redemption
A few days ago we saw that "Christ is all and in all." What God planned before the foundation of the world is "that He Himself might have the first place in all things." Today we want to see how Christ’s redemption accomplishes God’s plan.
God’s plan has one goal with two aspects: (1) to have all things expressing Christ’s glory, so that Christ may have the first place in all things, and (2) to have man conformed to Christ, having His life and His glory.
Colossians 1 tells us these two things: (1) Christ has the first place in all things, and (2) Christ is the Head of the church.
Ephesians 1 also tells us these two things: (1) Christ is heading up all things in the heavens and on earth, and (2) the church becomes His inheritance.
Revelation 4 and 5 also tell us these two things: (1) chapter four speaks of creation, and (2) chapter five speaks of redemption.
God’s creation is for the carrying out of His plan. God’s goal in creating all things and man, is to have all things express Christ and to have man conformed to Christ, having His life and glory. However, Satan rebelled and came in to interrupt, causing all things to become disjointed and causing man to fall. Therefore, God had to use redemption to achieve the goal of His creation. As a result, Christ’s redemption must (1) reconcile all things to God, and (2) redeem fallen mankind and impart His life to them. To solve God’s problems, Christ’s redemption must also (3) deal with the rebellious Satan, and (4) take care of man’s sin.
Christ’s redemption indeed solved these four matters. It accomplished God’s goals: (1) by reconciling all things to God, and (2) by dispensing His life to man. It also solved God’s problems: (3) by dealing with the rebellious Satan, and (4) by taking care of man’s sin. Two are positive and two are negative.
Accomplishing God’s Two Goals
Before the foundation of the world, the Father had a conference with His Son, in which He asked His Son to come as a man to accomplish redemption. Redemption is not a temporary remedy that God made in time, but a plan according to His predestination. Christ did not come to the world to become a man according to Adam’s image; rather, Adam was created according to Christ’s image. Genesis 1:26 is God’s plan, while 1:27 is God’s execution of His plan. Verse 26 says that it is "Us" that plan, while verse 27 says God created according to "His" image. Verse 26 tells of the plan in the conference of the Godhead, while verse 27 tells of the creation of man according to the Son’s image. Within the Godhead, only the Son has an image. Adam was created according to Christ’s image. That is why Adam is a type of Christ (Rom. 5:14). Christ’s coming to the world was not a temporary remedy; it was out of God’s plan. Christ was anointed before the foundation of the world. He is the universal Man. He is not limited by time and space. He is the anointed One from before the foundation of the world. He is also the Christ who fills the universe. Bethlehem and Judea are both universal. Not only was Christ born in Bethlehem and baptized in the Jordan River; the universe was also born and baptized there. The Christ in the Gospels should be considered as the universal Christ.
The first thing in Christ’s redemption is His incarnation. Christ was incarnated to be a man in order to come from the position of the Creator to the position of the creature. He had to take on a created body before He could die for man and for all things. There must first be Bethlehem before there can be Golgotha. There must first be the manger before there can be the cross.
(1)Christ’s redemption reconciled all things to God. All things were created in Christ (Col. 1:16). When God deals with Christ, He deals with all things. All things are dealt with by God in Christ, just as Levi had offered up tithes in Abraham’s loins (Heb. 7:9-10). Christ tasted death on behalf of everything (Heb. 2:9). On the cross He reconciled all things to God (Col. 1:20). The extent of Christ’s redemption covers not only man but all things as well. All things have not sinned; therefore, redemption is not needed for them. The problem between all things and God is that they are not reconciled. Therefore, they need only reconciliation.
(2)Christ’s redemption gives man His life. Christ’s redemption not only reconciles all things to God, but also causes man to have life and to be like Him. Redemption releases His life. When Christ was on the earth, His divine life was restricted and confined to His flesh. When He was in Jerusalem, He could not be in Galilee. Christ’s death enabled this confined life to be released.
"The grain of wheat" in John 12:24 is God’s only begotten Son. The life of this grain of wheat is confined to its shell. If it does not fall into the ground and die, it will forever be one grain. If it dies, and its flesh is broken, the life within will be released, thus producing many grains. All these grains will be identical to that one grain. We can also say that every grain is in that one grain. Christ died to reproduce us. Before His death He was the only begotten Son. After His resurrection He became the Firstborn among many sons. Christ’s resurrection regenerates us so that we can obtain His life.
"Fire" in Luke 12:49 refers to Christ’s life. When Christ was on earth, His life was confined to His outer shell. Through His baptism—His death on the cross—this confined life was released. Christ’s life was released and was cast on the earth. After being cast on the earth, it was kindled. This caused division on the earth. Christ’s death is a great release of His life! As a result of His death, His life was imparted to us.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), Chapter 10, by Watchman Nee)