The Centrality and Universality of Christ, by Witness Lee


The New Testament principle is that something from within the spirit flows out to reach others. It is not something from outside of us. That is the Old Testament principle. In the Old Testament, the Spirit of Jehovah, the Spirit of the Lord, always came upon certain persons, and they would speak something for the Lord, saying, "Thus saith the Lord." "Thus saith the Lord" is not the principle of the New Testament but of the Old. Today the enemy, Satan, is trying his best to bring the New Testament believers back to the Old Testament. The Old Testament principle of prophesying is "Thus saith the Lord" (Isa. 10:24; 50:1; Jer. 2:2; Ezek. 2:4). But you cannot find this kind of speaking in the New Testament. Of all the Epistles written by the apostles, not one has this tone.

In 1 Corinthians 7:10 Paul said, "But to the married I charge, not I but the Lord." This is the New Testament principle of incarnation. The Lord does not speak from the heavens above us, but He speaks within us. Whatever we say, He says with us, through us, by us, and in us. Whatever we do, He does it through us and by us. This is the New Testament principle.

The Catholic Church has brought Christianity back to Judaism by mixing a lot of Old Testament forms with the things of the New Testament. Some Christians are trying their best to bring the New Testament believers back to the Old Testament principle, not in forms but in certain teachings and movements. That is wrong. We must remain in the New Testament principle.

The Lord has come down and entered into us to be one with us. All the Epistles were written in the tone of their writers. "I (Paul) tell you. I (Peter) tell you. I (John) say this. It is not I but Christ. The Lord speaks in me." In the Old Testament, the Lord was an objective Lord, doing things in miraculous ways outside of His people. But today in the New Testament, the Lord is the subjective One. He does not pay attention so much to the outward manifestation, but He pays His full attention to the inward working.

Paul had a thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7), which I believe was a kind of physical suffering in his body. He went to the Lord three times, asking the Lord to remove it (v. 8). But the Lord said to him, "My grace is sufficient for you" (v. 9a). The Lord would not remove the thorn outwardly, but He would be the sufficient grace to Paul inwardly. Paul had to learn to experience the Lord Himself as the inward grace, not the Lord’s performing of an outward miracle. This is the New Testament principle.

The subtle enemy, Satan, is trying his best to bring the New Testament believers back to the Old Testament time. Do we want to still be wandering in the wilderness? Of course not. May the Lord be merciful to us. Let us come into the rest in the Holy of Holies, into the good land, into the spirit, and learn to know the Christ who is with us in our spirit. "My grace is sufficient," but where is the Lord’s grace? Galatians 6:18 says, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen." We have to realize that grace is not something outward in miracles, in signs, and in physical or material things. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with and in our spirit. We have to experience His grace in our spirit inwardly, not in something else outwardly. I believe the apostle Paul is the best example of all the believers. We have to follow him. We have to be the New Testament believers, not the Old Testament people.

(The Centrality and Universality of Christ, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)