I. PASSING THROUGH THE PHYSICAL REALM OF CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY
First, we must pass through the physical realm of Christ’s earthly ministry. To be sure, what is physical is also earthly. We should not linger in this realm but should pass through it quickly, like those who are taking an express train.
A. In the Physical Realm of His Earthly Ministry, Christ Being the Christ in the Flesh
Have you ever heard that when Christ was on earth, He was the Christ in the flesh? In the Bible flesh is a very negative word. According to Genesis 6:3, when man fell to such an extent that he had become flesh, God decided to destroy man from the face of the earth. Nevertheless, John 1:14 says not that the Word became a man nor that the Word became a person but that the Word became flesh. Because flesh is something condemned by God, many Christians do not have the boldness to teach that Christ was flesh. Some may say that God became a man, but the Bible says that God became flesh. In Romans 8:3 Paul tells us that the Son of God came “in the likeness of the flesh of sin.” Christ had the likeness of the flesh of sin but not the nature of sin, just as the brass serpent had the form of a serpent but not the poisonous nature of a serpent (John 3:14; Num. 21:4-9). The New Testament clearly reveals that Christ was flesh, yet without sin; He never sinned (Heb. 2:14; 4:15). We are told even that God made Christ sin for us: “Him who did not know sin He made sin on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:21). This is the genuine, clear, and pure revelation of the Word of God.
1. From His Incarnation to Become the Flesh to His All-inclusive Death
Christ was in the flesh for thirty-three and a half years, from His incarnation to become the flesh to His all-inclusive death.
2. In His Flesh Christ Carrying Out His Earthly Ministry by Accomplishing God’s Judicial Redemption
In His flesh (Col. 1:22) Christ carried out His earthly ministry by accomplishing God’s judicial redemption. This redemption resulted objectively in God’s forgiveness of the believers’ sins (Eph. 1:7), washing away the believers’ sins (Heb. 1:3), justifying the believers (Rom. 3:24), reconciling the believers as His enemies to Himself (Rom. 5:10a), and sanctifying the believers in their position unto Himself as His holy people (Heb. 13:12; 10:29). All these matters are very good, but they are physical, earthly, judicial, and objective.
3. As a Procedure of the Complete Salvation of God
What Christ carried out in His earthly ministry was a procedure of the complete salvation of God for the believers to participate in God’s organic salvation as the purpose of the complete salvation of God. This procedure can be compared to an escalator which brings us from one level to another. An escalator is useful, but one should not stay on an escalator for a long time. However, most of today’s Christians are lingering on the “escalator” of the procedure of the complete salvation of God. Some are not even on the escalator but are still on the “ground floor”; they have not yet begun to experience the procedure.
It is extremely important that we differentiate between the procedure of God’s complete salvation and the purpose of His complete salvation. The procedure is judicial, and the purpose is organic. Furthermore, the procedure is in the physical realm, and the purpose is in the mystical realm.
B. One Who Has Experienced God’s Judicial Redemption Being Considered Saved
One who has experienced God’s judicial redemption may be considered saved by being redeemed only, but he still needs to be saved more by God’s organic salvation in the accomplishing of God’s economy.
(The Divine and Mystical Realm, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)