EXPERIENCING CHRIST BY FAITH
I would like to say again that the physical aspect is very evident and easily realized, but the spiritual aspect is altogether invisible and difficult to apprehend. This is also true regarding our experience of Christ. We have Christ in us, but none of us can say that we have physically seen Christ. Though we have never seen Him, we still acknowledge that He lives in us. Some Christians, however, make the great mistake of trying to make the invisible things visible. They may pray for outward miracles, but the result is that they are often cheated. Miracles are taking place all the time in the invisible realm. But some of these miracles are performed by Satan, and others are performed by God. Visible miracles may be something of Satan, so it is easy to be deceived by them.
A great miracle will be performed by the false prophet at the end of this age. The Antichrist, the dragon, and the false prophet will all become one. They will exercise miraculous power by making an image of the Antichrist speak (Rev. 13:15). Throughout human history, idols have never spoken (Psa. 115:5). But in the book of Revelation, the false prophet will make an image of Antichrist speak. By this great miracle which will be very visible, many will be deceived. Antichrist will be the last of the "false Christs" (Matt. 24:24) and will work signs and lying wonders with the power of Satan to deceive the perishing (2 Thes. 2:3, 9-10). We should not put our trust in outward, visible signs and miracles.
Our experience of Christ is by faith. We sometimes think that because Christ lives in us, we should be strong. When we feel that we are weak, we question whether or not Christ is really living in us. Christ is great, immense, and vast. But His living in us is invisible and so abstract that we may doubt at times whether or not He is in us. In my own experience, I have found that the more the Lord is with me, the more I do not have the sense that He is with me. Our sense is very untrustworthy. For this reason, the Christian life in the New Testament is altogether a matter of faith. Faith is the substantiation of the invisible things (Heb. 11:1).
The real experience of Christ is invisible. It is altogether a matter of faith. In Ephesians 3:17 Paul said, "That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith." The phrase "through faith" is very important because we often do not have any sensation that Christ is making His home in our hearts. When Christ came into us, our likes and dislikes changed to a certain degree. But it seems that in many things we remain the same. Often we do not feel anything inside of us. Praise the Lord that Paul added "through faith" to his word concerning Christ making His home in our hearts.
In 2 Corinthians 5:7 Paul said, "For we walk by faith, not by appearance," and in 2 Corinthians 4:13 Paul said, "And having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, I believed, therefore I spoke; we also believe, therefore also we speak." Our speaking for the Lord depends upon faith. Furthermore, whether or not a certain thing becomes our experience depends upon our speaking. If we are full of doubt because of our lack of sensation, our experience of Christ making His home in our hearts will seem to vanish. We must learn to say "yes" to the fact of Christ making His home in our hearts. Christ making His home in our hearts is the revelation of the Bible. We need to say "amen" to whatever is revealed in the Bible.
The word of the Bible is the word of faith (Rom. 10:8). This word is Christ Himself. In Romans 10:6-8, a quotation from Deuteronomy 30:12-14, Paul revealed that the word is Christ. He said that the word was not far away from us; rather, the word is in our mouth and in our heart. In Deuteronomy 8:3, Moses said that man should live by "everything proceeding from Jehovah’s mouth." In Matthew 4:4 the Lord Jesus changed "everything" to "every word," indicating that the words Moses wrote were the things which came out of God’s mouth. The word of the Bible proceeds out of the mouth of God; it is God’s breath, God’s substance, our food. It is also the word of faith.
Why does the New Testament stress the matter of faith? The phrase the "faith of Jesus Christ" used by Paul in Romans 3:22 has caused translators a great deal of trouble. It is difficult to understand its meaning. Based upon my experience, I have found that the faith of Jesus Christ is just Jesus Christ Himself. We believe in Jesus Christ by the faith of Jesus Christ. We were saved by the faith of Christ. The faith of Christ is just Christ Himself. All the positive things in the spiritual realm are God Himself. Although we cannot sense or see them, they are nevertheless real. What is needed on our side is to say "yes" to every word of the Bible. When we say "yes" to the words of the Bible, we believe. But if we say "no," at the very least, we doubt. We must learn to say "yes" to whatever the Bible says. When the Bible tells us that the devil, Satan, is the ancient serpent, we have to say "yes." When the Bible says that we all can prophesy one by one (1 Cor. 14:31), we must say "yes." When the Bible says that Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14) or that Jesus died for us (Rom. 5:8), we must say "yes." Then Jesus is God to us, and His death is for us. When the Bible says that Jesus as the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b) and that He is indwelling us (Rom. 8:9-11), we must say "yes." We should not go any further by asking the Lord to show us something in a physical and visible way. The way of faith is to read the Word and believe it without seeing anything.
Inspiration alone is untrustworthy. It is like the wind. You may feel it for a time, but it does not last. When we have a time with the Lord in the morning in His Word, we should not expect to have a spectacular feeling. At the same time, I cannot say that when we read the Word of God, there will be no feeling. We may have some feeling, and we may call it inspiration, but we should not expect a spectacular or extraordinary feeling. We must be careful because an extraordinary experience may be very deceiving. We should not put our trust in anything extraordinary or spectacular. Instead, we must learn to have faith in whatever the Bible says.
To live Christ is always by faith. Christ is with us and within us. He is living within us, and we should live by Him. Under this kind of realization, we say "yes" to whatever the Bible says. When we say "yes" to the word of the Bible, we are brought into the experience of Christ. In this way we will become very normal spiritually. Our spirituality will be regular and normal without anything spectacular. Day by day we need to live in this way. In John 14:19 the Lord Jesus said, "Yet a little while and the world beholds Me no longer, but you behold Me; because I live, you shall live also." The Lord lives in us that we may live Him. His living in us is not visible, but it is a fact. We behold the Lord Jesus and we see Him today, not by our physical eyes, but by faith in the fact that He lives in us and we live Him. We must take the fact revealed in the Lord’s trustworthy Word and reject our untrustworthy feelings.
(Messages to the Trainees in Fall 1990, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)