Four Crucial Elements of the Bible, The—Christ, the Spirit, Life, and the Church, by Witness Lee


The Bible begins with God and man. Genesis 1 tells us that after creating the heavens, the earth, and all things, God created man on the sixth day. He had a particular way in creating man; He created man in His image and after His likeness. Image and likeness indicate that man was created not only to be exactly like God but also to be a vessel to contain Him. Romans 9 says clearly that we are God’s vessels. We were created not as God’s instruments but as His vessels. A vessel, a container, is not for doing things or for working but for holding something. We may use a glove as an illustration. A glove is made according to the shape and likeness of a hand. Even if you did not know how a glove should be used, as soon as you saw one you would clearly realize that it was made to contain your hand. A glove is made exactly like a hand for the purpose of containing the hand. Likewise, God created man exactly as He is for the purpose of containing Himself.

Genesis 1:26 speaks of God’s creation of man, and then 2:9 speaks of the tree of life. The former deals with the container, and the latter deals with the content. After the creation of man, God planted a garden eastward in Eden and put man there. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden. Moreover, there was a river flowing out to water the garden, and in the river were gold, pearl, and onyx stone. We can illustrate the purpose of God’s design in creation by a table arrangement. When we have guests coming to visit us at our home, we first arrange the table, then we set a pitcher of water on it, and finally we set the cups out. With one look the guests can readily tell that the cups are for holding the water. Likewise, man was the “cup” created by God and the tree of life was the “water.” When God put man in front of the tree of life, that indicated that He wanted to be received as life into man as a vessel. The Bible opens with this matter, and as the Bible progresses it also stresses this matter.


Some people in Christianity today have only a shallow understanding of biblical truths, yet they slander us, accusing us of teaching heresy. A certain group issued a statement declaring that the fundamental doctrines in the Bible are only the words spoken by Jesus Christ to His twelve disciples on the earth; everything else is not fundamental. They speak boldly and confidently as if they have all reason on their side, but in actuality this exposes their ignorance. Not only has this group made such a statement; some in a major Eastern denomination have also said nearly the same thing. Some among them have said, “We care only for the four Gospels; we do not care for the Epistles.” This shows us that in facing such a situation, the Lord’s recovery is definitely fighting the battle for the truth.

In John 16:12-13 the Lord Jesus clearly said to His disciples, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of reality, comes, He will guide you into all the reality.” If the fundamental teachings include only the words spoken by Jesus Christ to His disciples on the earth, would not the Lord’s word here be self-contradicting? The speaking of the Lord Jesus indicates that He had yet many important things which He could not say to His disciples at that time because they could not understand. They had to wait until later when the Spirit of reality would come and tell them. According to the Bible, after the Spirit had come, through whom did He speak? It was mainly through Paul. The New Testament consists of twenty-seven books, and Paul alone wrote fourteen Epistles. If only what Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples on the earth is counted as fundamental teachings while Paul’s fourteen Epistles are not, then the New Testament would be reduced by half and thus be incomplete.

For the sake of defending the truth, we have published a booklet, What a Heresy—Two Divine Fathers, Two Life-giving Spirits, and Three Gods. In this booklet we have pointed out that, concerning the Triune God, many Christians care only for traditions; they do not care for the plain, accurate words of the Bible. In order to keep the traditions, they even believe in two divine Fathers, two life-giving Spirits, and three Gods. First, Isaiah 9:6 says plainly that the Son is called the eternal Father. Yet some twist this verse by saying that, according to the Hebrew, eternal is not an adjective but a noun; therefore, the eternal Father means the Father of eternity, just as we say that George Washington is the father of the United States and Thomas Edison, the father of electricity. Hence, the eternal Father is another Father, they say, not the Father among the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Second, in 1 Corinthians 15:45b Paul says, “The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.” The last Adam, who is Christ, became a life-giving Spirit in resurrection. However, some also twist this verse, saying that it refers to a life-giving Spirit, not the Holy Spirit. In other words, in addition to the Holy Spirit, they believe that there is another life-giving Spirit. Third, concerning the truth of the Triune God, they say that the Father is a God, the Son is a God, and the Spirit is a God, and that the three are separate from one another because They are three persons. This shows us that their knowledge of the truth is altogether shallow and even erroneous. Due to their ignorance concerning the truth, they even ask, “How can Christ, who is the great sovereign Master, abide in the believers? How can our body, which is so small, contain Him?” It is evident that these people simply do not know the truth.

In Chinese theology there is the teaching of “three persons, but one body.” Generally, people understand this phrase as denoting three persons with only one physical body. In a major Eastern denomination, some display a picture depicting a figure with one body and three heads; this is their so-called Trinity. According to the theological history of earlier days, the Western missionaries, in their translation of theological terminology, created the phrase “three persons, but one body” through the help of their Chinese teachers. However, body does not refer to a physical body but to substance. Hence, “three persons, but one body” should be understood as “three persons, but one substance.” Colossians 2:16-17 says that eating, drinking, feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths are all shadows, but the body (substance) is of Christ. This is the proper usage of the word body in the expression “three persons, but one body.” I have the confidence to say this since I have thoroughly studied the Bible and searched through theological history.

There are also others who say that teaching people to eat the Lord Jesus is a heresy. However, the teaching concerning eating the Lord Jesus is not my teaching; it was taught by the Lord Himself in John 6:57. He said, “He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.” The translators of the Chinese Mandarin Union Version did not dare to translate this verse literally, so they rendered it as “He who eats My body.” Their basis is that the Lord twice says, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood” (vv. 54, 56), and that He also says, “And the bread which I will give is My flesh” (v. 51b). However, to render verse 57 as “He who eats My body” creates a problem because it leads people to believe that the Lord’s physical body is edible. They do not see that in verse 63 the Lord explains, saying, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” This means that the Lord does not give His physical body for people to eat because that profits nothing. What He gives to people is the Spirit who gives life, that is, Himself in resurrection. Not only so, but the Lord’s word in verses 54 and 56, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood,” implies His death. The separation of blood and flesh indicates that the Lord gave His body and shed His blood for us that we may have eternal life. We have also pointed out that eating the Lord is a figurative way of speaking; it means to receive the Lord into us to be our life supply. This is the true meaning of eating the Lord. Without looking into this matter, however, the opposers are quick to say that eating the Lord is a heresy. Actually, the real heresy is to say that we eat the Lord’s physical body. That is a lie by which Satan deceives people in his operation in Christianity.

(Four Crucial Elements of the Bible, The—Christ, the Spirit, Life, and the Church, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)