THE EXTRACTS OF THE BIBLE BEING CHRIST, THE SPIRIT, LIFE, AND THE CHURCH
Christ is complete and perfect, and He has passed through all His processes to become the life-giving Spirit—the Spirit, who is life. Christ, the Spirit, and life produce the church. Our publication entitled The Basic Revelation in the Holy Scriptures covers seven main points concerning God’s plan, the Son’s redemption, the Spirit’s application, the producing of the believers, the believers becoming the church, the church being the reality of the kingdom and bringing in the kingdom, and the ultimate consummation being the New Jerusalem. The extracts revealed in the holy Scriptures are Christ, the Spirit, and life. However, the scriptural revelation does not end with these three items; it ends with the church, that is, with the New Jerusalem as the consummation of the church.
Therefore, we have a very clear picture. Our vision has been not only enlarged and advanced but also strengthened and brightened. The two ends of the Bible are Christ and the church, and the process in between is the Spirit and life. During the period from the Lord Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement to His second coming, the whole universe is altogether a matter of the Spirit and life to us. Our salvation, our growth, our transformation, and our maturity in Christ are all matters of the Spirit and life. Therefore, the Bible is not a book merely about human history, the creation of the heavens and the earth, or much less morality and ethics. The Bible is a book concerning Christ, the Spirit with the human spirit, life, and the church. Christ is the initiation, the church is the consummation, and the process is the Spirit and life.
THE OUTLINE OF REVELATION
There are two books in the Bible which speak specifically concerning the church. One is Ephesians and the other is Revelation. Ephesians shows us the origin and the existence of the church. It tells us how the church is produced, how the church should have its living, and how it passes through a process. Nevertheless, the book of Ephesians does not show us the conclusion of the church. The conclusion of the church is in Revelation.
Throughout the generations, most Bible scholars and teachers have given people the impression that Revelation speaks only about the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the seven bowls, a dragon, and several beasts, the most dreadful one having seven heads and ten horns. Furthermore, they say that Revelation speaks about Hades, the lake of fire, and the last judgment. However, if we study Revelation carefully, the impression we receive of chapter one is that of the seven golden lampstands, signifying the seven churches. Then in chapters two and three we see the seven epistles written to the seven churches—one epistle to each church respectively. This proves that the first three chapters of Revelation speak emphatically concerning the churches. They show us that the churches as the golden lampstands before God are the objects of the Lord’s speaking in this age, the objects of the Lord’s work. We can never separate the Lord’s speaking from the Lord’s work. Whatever the Lord speaks shall be done. The Lord’s speaking equals the Lord’s work. Therefore, the Spirit’s speaking to the churches equals the Lord’s working on the churches, and the Spirit’s speaking concerns the Lord’s work.
In Revelation, the section from chapters four through twenty is an insertion. The first three chapters are a simple explanation concerning the church. Revelation does not speak of the producing of the church. This was spoken of in Ephesians. From the very beginning of Revelation, we can see that the churches are already existing as the golden lampstands illuminating and shining in this dark age. However, during this period of shining, instead of always remaining normal, the church has become somewhat abnormal. Therefore, there is the need of the High Priest—the Son of Man, Jesus Christ—to walk in the midst of the golden lampstands, tending and trimming the golden lampstands. This corresponds with the type in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the priests had to enter the Holy Place every morning and evening to tend and trim the golden lampstands, that is, to clear out the wax, trim the charred wick, and add fresh oil. In the first three chapters of Revelation, Jesus Christ as the High Priest is there to tend the golden lampstands by trimming the charred wick and supplying fresh oil. All the seven epistles are there to clear up the wax and trim the charred wick so that the seven lampstands can all shine forth and illuminate in a normal way.
However, there are many other stories in the universe. The Bible shows us that the universe is divided into three levels: heaven, earth, and under the earth (Phil. 2:10). In heaven, there is Satan resisting God’s work; on earth, there are fallen men rebelling in an uproar. Furthermore, Revelation shows us that under the earth, in the abyss, there is no serenity. The spirit of Antichrist is awaiting the opportunity to overthrow God’s governmental administration. Therefore, all the three levels in the universe are chaotic and in upheaval and unrest. Thus, there is the need of the insertion from chapters four through twenty to deal with and clear up these things.
Revelation 4 shows us that God is sitting on the throne. Regardless of the uproar in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, nothing can overthrow the throne in heaven. God is still sitting high up on the throne, having everything under control. He will deal with all the rebellions: the rebellion in heaven, the rebellion on earth, and the rebellion under the earth. Finally, He will deal with the leader of the rebellions, that is Satan, the devil, the ancient serpent, the great dragon. In chapter twenty God first binds Satan, the great dragon, and casts him into the abyss for a thousand years. At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be temporarily released, and he will rebel even more. Eventually, God will capture him and cast him into the lake of fire to utterly terminate him. In this way, all the negative things in the universe, whether in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, will be swept into the lake of fire. Then the new heaven and the new earth will be brought forth.
In Revelation 21 to 22, concerning the new heaven and the new earth, the revelation is once again on the church. However, what we see now is the aggregate of the church. In the new heaven and the new earth, the church is an aggregate—the New Jerusalem. The church in the old heaven and old earth is only a miniature of the New Jerusalem, but in the new heaven and the new earth we see the ultimate consummation of the New Jerusalem. This is the vision of the church in Revelation.
Therefore, we should not be influenced by traditional Christianity. We should be clear that Revelation speaks of the church. The first three chapters tell us how the church shines forth as a golden lampstand in the old heaven and old earth. The last two chapters tell us how the church is consummated in the new heaven and new earth. The old heaven and old earth may be compared to the night, whereas the new heaven and new earth are the real day. The old heaven and old earth are a long, dark night, and in this long stretch of night the church is a golden lampstand. The first three chapters of Revelation show us how the church as the golden lampstand passes through the long, drawn-out night of the old heaven and old earth. Then the insertion of seventeen chapters follows, telling us how in this long stretch of night God on the throne is taking care of everything in order that all things can be cleared up properly. God uses the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls as judgments to clear up the whole universe, and eventually everything negative is cleared up and swept into the lake of fire. In this way, the whole universe is cleared up and purged. Then, in the last two chapters, the old heaven and old earth are renewed into the new heaven and new earth. At that time, the church will be not only a golden lampstand but also a holy city, the New Jerusalem. This is the outline of the entire book of Revelation.
(Four Crucial Elements of the Bible, The—Christ, the Spirit, Life, and the Church, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)