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


Fine Twined Linen

Now we want to consider the tabernacle’s four layers of covering. The first layer was of fine linen. This was the layer of the most fine material. It was embroidered with beautiful colors: blue, purple, and scarlet. According to the type, blue is heavenly; purple is kingly, royal; and scarlet is redemptive. The fine linen signifies the fine human nature of Christ with His fine character and conduct. It typifies the bountiful, fine humanity of Christ. The four Gospels portray a man whose nature and conduct were exactly like the fine linen. This linen was very strong because it was twined, doubled, strengthened. The Lord Jesus was fine yet strong. Nothing with Him was rough. The fine linen was also embroidered with cherubim, which typify God’s glory magnified in His creation. This means that God’s glory was wrought into Christ’s humanity. With Christ’s fine human nature and character, there was God’s divine glory wrought into His creation. Hebrews 1:3 says that He is the effulgence of God’s glory. He is the brightness of God’s shining. The embroidered cherubim were upon Him. He is not only human but also divine. His human nature bears the divine glory.

Goats’ Hair

The second layer was goats’ hair. In Matthew 25 the Lord divides the sheep from the goats (vv. 32-33). The goats signify sinful persons. Second Corinthians 5:21 says that God made Christ, the One who knew no sin, sin for us. The layer of goats’ hair typifies that Christ was made sin for us. He was like fine linen, but He was made like goats’ hair. With Him there was no sin. He did not know sin, but He was made sin for our redemption.

Rams’ Skins Dyed Red

The third layer was rams’ skins dyed red. A ram is a male, and the dyeing of red signifies the shedding of blood for redemption. This signifies that Christ was slain on the cross, shedding His blood to redeem us from our sins. Thus, the first layer typifies that He was sinless; the second layer typifies that He was made sin for us; and the third layer typifies that He bore our sins and shed His blood to redeem us from our sins. He was the sinless One, but He was made sin for us to bear our sins.

Porpoise Skins

The outer covering was porpoise skins, the protection and safeguard for the tabernacle. This layer could withstand any kind of storm or attack. It was very coarse and looked worthless. From the inside the tabernacle looked beautiful and glorious, but from the outside it appeared very coarse. Likewise, Christ did not have a beautiful outward appearance (Isa. 53:2), but within He was divinely beautiful. It is the same with the church. When viewed from the outside by the worldly people, the church seems worthless and coarse like the porpoise skins. But when people come into the church, they will see the beauty and glory of Christ.

This is different from the testimony in today’s Christianity. They have great and beautiful buildings, but when you get inside, there is no spiritual content. Most of the time they are inwardly empty or may even be inwardly defiling and ugly. This is the situation of worldly Christianity. The proper church, the proper spiritual building of God, is divinely beautiful inwardly and coarse outwardly. There is no outward comeliness or beauty with the church, just as it was with Christ when He was on earth.

This shows that we should try to hide ourselves, not advertise ourselves. Today many in fallen Christianity put pictures of certain persons who minister the Word in the newspapers to advertise them. That is not a glory but a shame. That is something of worldly religion. We should not have our names advertised in the paper. Once when someone put up a sign advertising that I would speak in a certain place, I charged him to take that sign down or I would not speak. The Lord Jesus never advertised Himself. Instead, He always tried to keep Himself hidden. The beauty, the comeliness, must be within. The experience of Christ within our spirit is the real beauty before God.

We should even be careful not to build our meeting halls with a very beautiful appearance. In Christianity they build beautiful buildings to attract people. If people are attracted to your beautiful meeting hall, they will end up being a problem to the church. We cannot attract people to the Lord by a beautiful building. Many people are attracted to St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican, but not many of them are saved. There is no use in trying to draw people to the Lord in this way. This is not a pleasure to the Lord but an offense.

Inwardly, Christ was full of beauty. Outwardly, He was simple and humble. Such a Christ must be the covering as the roof of the church. This is not my opinion or concept but the real picture shown by the Word of God. We should not express anything but Christ Himself. The only thing we lift up and exalt as the covering, the roof, of God’s building is the wonderful Christ. Within He is full of the divine beauty and comeliness. Without, in others’ eyes, He is simple and humble. Such a church can endure any kind of attack or temptation. The ones who endure to the end are those who do not have an outward beautiful appearance but who have an inward heavenly beauty and divine comeliness. Christ is both their content and covering, so nothing can damage or overcome them. This is the real building of the church.

We must learn to seek Christ in the spirit. We must learn to discern our spirit to experience Christ as everything to us. Then we will enjoy the riches of Christ to arrive at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 3:8; 4:13). We will be the material that can be built up with others to be the building of God. We will be covered by Christ by exalting Christ as the roof of God’s building. We will have a proper, strong church life that can withstand any attack and endure any trial or temptation to the end for the glory of God.

(Christ as the Content of the Church and the Church as the Expression of Christ, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)