CHRIST VERSUS THE LAW
The apostle Paul told the Galatians that it was God’s pleasure to reveal His Son in him (Gal. 1:15-16), and he told them that Christ would be formed in them (4:19). This was because at that time the Galatian believers were very much influenced by the teaching of the law, the teaching to keep the law (3:2, 5). The law is something from God. It is good, holy, divine, righteous, spiritual, and perfect (Rom. 7:12-14). However, the law is not Christ. We are not bound to the law at all. We are simply bound to Christ. Christ, not the law, is the central thought of God. The law is not the center, but Christ is. So the apostle told the Galatians how he used to be under the law, but one day God revealed His Son in him. That was something other than the law. From that time on he could discern the difference between the law and Christ, and he gave up the law and kept Christ. He told the Galatians that today with us, the Christians, it is not a matter of keeping the law but a matter of living by Christ. He said, “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). He also said, “I through the law have died to the law” (v. 19). He had nothing to do with the law. He was a dead person to the law. As far as the law was concerned, he was dead and finished. He was bound to Christ, and it was Christ who lived in him.
Strictly speaking, no one is teaching the law today, but you have to realize that many times you yourself are like a teacher of the law. Perhaps every morning in your prayer you are a good teacher trying your best to teach yourself to do good. You are the law teacher and the law giver to yourself, and you yourself even become the law. You may set up many laws for yourself to do good. You may set up a law to sacrifice for the Lord and a law to be humble, to love others, and to help others. You may have more laws than the Ten Commandments, and you may be a better law giver than Moses. Do you realize that you have been very much influenced by trying to do good? You must forget about trying to do good. We are not bound to do good. We are bound to Christ. Can you forget about doing good? If you are still trying to do good, you are a “Galatian.”
CHRIST VERSUS RELIGION
Not only so, but there is also the case of the Hebrew believers. Hebrews 1:2 says that God “has at the last of these days spoken to us in the Son,” indicating that the Son, Christ, is the center, the focus, of this book. The Hebrew believers held on to a sound, fundamental, good, and even genuine religion—Judaism, which may even be considered a religion from God and from the heavens. However, it is not Christ. Today we are not bound to any kind of religion, not even to Christianity. Inasmuch as Christianity is a religion, we have nothing to do with it. Christianity is not Christ Himself. Often I tell people that there are the words Christ and Christian in the Scriptures, but there is not the word Christianity. Christianity is a human-manufactured word, and I do not like to use it. Christianity is a dead religion, a religion other than Christ.
In the Epistle to the Hebrews there is a big difference between Christ and all the good things of the genuine, fundamental religion. In that religion there were the angels, the apostles such as Moses and Joshua, and the priests, including the high priest. Furthermore, there were the Scriptures and the temple, including the Holy of Holies, the sacrifices, and the rituals. All the good, sound, fundamental, and genuine things of religion were there, yet all these are not Christ Himself. Anything that is not Christ Himself is not good for the building up of the Body of Christ. The building up of the Body of Christ must be something which is Christ Himself. We have to know Christ in a living way. We have to experience Christ in a real way. Christ must be everything. He is the real Angel from God. He is the real Apostle from God. He is the real Priest, the High Priest. He is the temple and the sacrifices. Christ is everything.
What is the church? The church is Christ. It is not a “New Testament church” but a “Christ church.” Today in this country I have learned that many Christians like to use the term “New Testament church.” The first time I heard this term, I said to myself, “What is the New Testament church? Is this another category of Christianity?” I do not think this is a proper term for us to use. We should not say that we are going to have a New Testament church. We are not going to have a new movement and form a new church. This is something that cannot please God. There are enough movements in Christianity. There are enough kinds of “churches”; there is no need for us to add another one. What we need to see is that we must experience Christ. Everything must be Christ. Even the church life must be Christ. Even the fellowship among us must be Christ, not a religion nor Christianity, but Christ.
(The Central Thought of God, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)