THE CHURCH FROM TWO DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS
My purpose in giving this further word concerning the sign of the newborn child in John 16 is to prepare you to face those who may oppose this biblical truth. You may meet a Bible teacher who will say to you, “How can you claim that the church as the new man was born with Christ in resurrection? Let us study chapter two of Acts. According to this chapter, the church had not come into existence before the day of Pentecost. Why, then, do you say that the church was born with Christ?”
If you meet such a person, you may want to say, “I believe what is recorded in the book of Acts. However, the record of Acts emphasizes the human side, the physical side, which is easily seen. Anyone reading the New Testament can see that on the day of Pentecost the church came into existence. But another side, the divine, spiritual side, is revealed in the Gospel of John.”
It is possible to read this Gospel many times without seeing the significance of the birth of the new man in John 16. The reason for this difficulty is that the new man is a divine entity. The history of the church, on the contrary, is something human, physical, and outward.
Concerning the church we need to see both the human side and the divine side, both the physical side and the spiritual side. Yes, in Acts we see the physical side. Nevertheless, there is still the spiritual side revealed in the Gospel of John.
Many readers of the Bible see only the physical side of the church; they do not see the divine side. As we have pointed out, John’s writings emphasize the divine side, the spiritual side. We may take the Lord’s incarnation as an example. In Matthew and Luke we are given a historical account of Christ’s incarnation. In this account we are told how the Lord was conceived, how He was born, and where He was born. But in the Gospel of John we are not told anything about the conception and birth of the Lord Jesus. Rather, this Gospel says, “In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us” (John 1:1, 14). John says nothing concerning when, where, or how. In other words, John does not give us an account that is merely historical.
History is concerned with the physical side. Regarding the incarnation of Christ, John gives us the divine facts. Incarnation is a divine fact, not merely a story of something that happened in history. In Matthew and Luke we have the historical record of the physical side, but in John we have a revelation of the divine facts. The reason for this is that John shows us the side of the divine life. With the divine life there are not the elements of time and space.
It is very important for us to see this matter. In order to get into the depths of the truths in John’s writings we must get beyond the elements of space and time and see things from the divine point of view. Although the church did come into existence on the day of Pentecost, according to the divine point of view, the church as the new man, including Christ as the Head and the members as the Body, was born in resurrection. Praise the Lord that we are now in the new man that has come into being through the death and resurrection of Christ!
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 48, by Witness Lee)