Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

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In this chapter we shall see something concerning the experiences of life. Although Christians today speak concerning spiritual experiences, they very seldom say that we experience life or that we have experiences of life. What are the real experiences of life? If we realize that life is the Triune God Himself, we must realize that the real experience of life is the experience of God.

If a person says that he has had some Christian experiences, he may simply mean that he has repented. Formerly he was a sinner, but now he has repented and turned to God. However, there are at least two different kinds of repentance. One kind of repentance is merely a human repentance without experiencing God. There is another kind of repentance: while someone is repenting, he can experience God within him. What is the difference between the repentance of a worldly person and the repentance of a true Christian? According to the general teachings in today’s Christianity, repentance is merely a change of direction and a dropping of the old life. I do not say that this definition of repentance is right or wrong. I would simply beg you to forget about the general teaching of today’s Christianity. What we are presenting here is something real of life, which is different from the general teachings. It is something genuine and real in the Scriptures.

Real repentance is a repentance in which we experience God, a repentance in which God passes through us and we pass through God. It is a repentance in which we have been met by God and we meet God. After this kind of repentance, something of God Himself is mingled with us. We may compare this with our drinking of water, after which the water is mingled with us. For Christians, real repentance is the way in which, with which, or by which we experience God. God passes through our being—through our heart, through our spirit, and even through our understanding—and we pass through God. We experience God in such a repentance.

I can testify that I have had these two different kinds of repentance. When I was eighteen or nineteen years old, I had a repentance that was one hundred percent a human repentance. At that time I felt that as a young man, for the sake of my future, I had to give up playing in ball games and spend all my time in study. I had such a repentance, and I succeeded in that matter. However, I repented by myself, and in that repentance I experienced nothing of God. After more than one year, I went to a gospel campaign. There the Lord truly met me. The Lord passed through me, not merely outside of me, but within me, and I passed through the Lord. I experienced God in that repentance. That was a real repentance in the way of experiencing God. This is a genuine experience of life. The real experience of life is the experience of God Himself.

Formerly a brother may have been very proud and careless. One day he receives the feeling that he is wrong to be this way, so he makes up his mind to adjust himself to be humble and careful. This is a repentance, and it is a repentance experienced by a Christian. However, do you believe this repentance is a real experience of life? It is not. Such a repentance has nothing to do with God. A real repentance as an experience of life is one in which God one day meets someone, and he meets God. Then, in the presence of God he has the feeling that he is proud and careless. God passes through him, and God brings him to pass through Him. He does not make up his mind to be humble or careful. He simply tells the Lord, “Lord, here I am. I am this kind of person, Lord, but I praise You that today You have met me and I have met You. O Lord, praise You, I have met You here!” After this there is a real change within him. This is the real experience of life in the matter of repentance. The real experience of life is that we experience God, we let God pass through us, and we pass through God. It is something in which we and God are mingled together. It is not that we alone do something. It is God Himself mingled with us to cause us to have a change. This is a real repentance as the experience of life.

Many Christians today talk about love. There are also two different kinds of love. One is the human love, while the other is the divine love, that is, God Himself experienced by us. One day we may hear a message saying that we have to love one another. After we hear this, we may repent and make up our mind that from now on we will love our brothers. We may pray, asking the Lord to help us, “Lord, I am weak in this matter. Please help me to love my brothers.” Then we will try our best to love others. The first day we may truly succeed. Then the second day we may succeed about seventy percent of the time, the third day sixty percent, the following week only twenty percent, and after three weeks we may succeed only one percent of the time. We all know this story. Is this kind of “Christian love” a real experience of life? No, it is not. A real experience of life is the experience of God.

One day, perhaps while we are praying, studying, reading the Word, or even walking on the street, God may come to visit us. God meets us, and we meet God. Something penetrates and permeates us. Something of God passes through us. After this, even if we have not made up our mind to love others, we will unconsciously love others very much. We will have love, and this very love is nothing other than God Himself experienced by us and expressed by us toward others. What is the mutual love among Christians? It is God Himself expressed by us toward one another. This is a real experience of life. It is the experience of God Himself.

(Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)