The Four Major Steps of Christ, by Witness Lee


About 25 years ago a brother asked me if I had experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I said, "Please excuse me if I do not answer your question until I’ve asked you one! Do you understand the resurrection of Christ?" He replied, "I know that after the Lord died and was buried for three days, He was raised up." I said, "Brother, do you know that this resurrection has something to do with you?" He said, "Oh yes, I know! If the Lord had not been resurrected, He could never be my Savior! He would never have gone to heaven as my High Priest to pray for me!" I said, "That’s true, but that’s only the objective aspect. Can you tell me something subjective about the resurrection?" He replied that he did not know what I meant by the word "subjective," so I changed my question. "Brother, do you have a spiritual life?" He said, "Yes." Then I asked, "What is the spiritual life you have?" He said, "Oh, my spiritual life is the life of God in the Holy Spirit." Then I asked, "What is this life of God in the Spirit?"

If you ask such questions in detail, most Christians cannot answer satisfactorily. Today I hope you will understand that our spiritual life is nothing other than the resurrected Christ Himself. Christ resurrected is our life. To this very moment, Christ is still the resurrected Lord as our life. We usually speak of the life of Christ, but in the Scripture you cannot find such a term. It is not the life of Christ; it is Christ as life.

In 1944, in China, I said to a group of believers, "Suppose you took only the Gospel of John to Mongolia and did not tell the people anything else; you only preached to them according to that Gospel. Then after a time, you asked the believers, `Friends, where is Jesus Christ today? Has He ascended to the heavens or not?’" This would not be an easy question to answer. If they were to say, "No," I would say, "Yes." If they were to say, "Yes," I would say, "No." Luke and Mark tell us clearly that certain days after the resurrection, the Lord ascended to the heavens, but not so the Gospel of John. It seems that the Gospel of John does not mention Christ’s ascension to the heavens. But, be careful. On the day of resurrection, early in the morning, He did ascend to heaven. But He came down again on the same day. In the morning He ascended, but in the evening He came to the disciples. And from then on He has never left His disciples. Read the Scriptures again! In chapter 20, in the morning, Mary of Magdalene tried to touch Him, and the Lord said, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father" (vv. 16-17). Then, on that very day, in the evening, He came into the room where the disciples were (John 20:19-20). After one week, He did the same thing and said to Thomas: "Reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side" (John 20:26-27). The Lord invited Thomas to touch Him, but Mary was forbidden, because He had not yet ascended to His Father. Surely this means that in the interval the Lord had gone to His Father in heaven, but that He did not stay there. It seems He went there secretly and came back secretly.

Suppose you saw me in Los Angeles in the morning and again in the afternoon. You would assume I had been there all the time, for you would not have known that I had flown to San Francisco! I went there secretly, and I flew back secretly. This is what the Gospel of John portrays.

After the Lord came to the disciples in the evening of that resurrection day, there is not a word that He left them again. He came and according to the Gospel of John, He never left them. He had told them, I will not leave you orphans. I will leave you for a little while, but I will come back to you (John 14:18-19). The Lord left them when He died, and He returned after the resurrection. He was gone not more than seventy-two hours.

Before His death the Lord was in a physical body; He could only be among His disciples, never in them. But after the resurrection when the Lord came back to His disciples, He could enter into them. How could that be? While He was in the body, He could not be in them; He would have to be transfigured. Therefore, by death and resurrection He was transfigured from the body into the Spirit. That night when the disciples were gathered together, the doors were closed; yet the Lord came in! And He breathed on them, saying, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). Thenceforth, the Lord never left them, for He was in them. First, the Lord was incarnated to be a man, limited by a human body. Then, by His death and resurrection, He was transfigured from the body into the Spirit. First, He was with us, but now He is in us! Now the Lord in the Spirit is always with us, living in us (John 14:16-17; Rom. 8:9-10). He is our resurrection life.

(The Four Major Steps of Christ, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)