THE INWARD AND OUTWARD ASPECTS OF THE TRUTH
With the truths in the Bible there are two aspects: an outward, visible aspect and an inward, invisible aspect. We have been opposed by those who hold only the outward aspect, the outward view, because we have both the outward and inward aspects. The outward aspect or view of the truth is mainly a matter of doctrine, but the inward aspect is for experience. If we have only the outward aspect of a particular truth, we shall not have any experience of that truth. In particular, if we hold only to the Lord’s visible presence, how shall we be able to experience Him? Physically, He is in the third heaven, and we could not experience Him if that were His only aspect.
The majority of today’s Christians have an objective religion of objective doctrine. They have little subjective experience of the indwelling Christ. For this reason, we in the Lord’s recovery have been emphasizing the inward aspect of the biblical truths. I can testify that I care very much for the inward aspect, the inward view, of the truth.
ENJOYING THE LORD IN HIS INVISIBLE PRESENCE
Which aspect of the Lord’s presence do you treasure more, the aspect of His visible presence or the aspect of His invisible presence? If we answered this question frankly, most of us would have to admit that we treasure His visible presence more than His invisible presence. Because this is our situation, if the Lord were suddenly to appear in His visible presence, most of the saints would be frightened rather than excited. The reason for this reaction would be that they have not had sufficient experience of the Lord’s invisible presence. If we experience the Lord’s invisible presence adequately, then we shall be excited when we are brought into His visible presence. The experience of the Lord’s invisible presence is a preparation for us to meet Him in His visible presence, which will then become a genuine and practical enjoyment to us.
Too few of today’s Christians pay adequate attention to the Lord’s invisible presence. Because this is the situation, we are burdened concerning this matter.
Because the Gospel of John emphasizes the Lord’s invisible presence, in this Gospel there is no record of the Lord’s public ascension. What is emphasized in the Gospel of John concerning Christ after His resurrection is His invisible presence.
After His resurrection He became the pneumatic Christ. Hence, He is no longer the Christ in the flesh. When He was on earth, He was given a wonderful name—Emmanuel. But today He is not Emmanuel in a physical way; instead, He is the indwelling Spirit. Do you prefer the Lord as Emmanuel, as the One with you outwardly, or as the life-giving Spirit, the One dwelling within you? We all need to treasure the indwelling Spirit. The wonderful indwelling Spirit is actually the Lord Himself in His invisible presence.
By the Lord’s mercy I can testify that day by day I enjoy the Lord in His invisible presence. Even though I may sometimes be weak, I still treasure His invisible presence. Of course, I am waiting to meet the Lord in His visible presence. But while I am waiting to meet Him in this way, I need more experience and enjoyment of His invisible presence.
TWO ASPECTS OF THE SPIRIT
We have seen that with the Lord’s presence there are two aspects, the visible presence and the invisible presence. The Gospel of John also reveals two aspects of the Spirit. John 14:16-17a says, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may be with you forever; even the Spirit of reality.” According to these verses, the Lord Jesus prayed that the Father would give us another Comforter, and this other Comforter is the Spirit of reality.
According to this chapter, the Spirit, being another Comforter, would seem to be another person, because a comforter is a person. The Lord Jesus was the first Comforter. Because He as the first Comforter is a person, then the other Comforter, the Spirit of reality, should also be a person. Therefore, in John 14 we have two Comforters, the Lord and the Spirit of reality, and it seems that these two Comforters are two persons.
The other Comforter, the Spirit of reality, is the Spirit spoken of in 7:39. The Lord’s promise concerning the giving of another Comforter was fulfilled on the day of His resurrection, when the Spirit was breathed into the disciples as the holy breath. According to 20:22, the Lord Jesus breathed into the disciples and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Here the Spirit is presented not as a person, another Comforter, but as the breath of Christ. Therefore, in chapters fourteen and twenty we have two aspects of the Spirit: the Spirit as another Comforter and the Spirit as the breath of Christ. How can a person’s breath be regarded as another person? This is impossible. Hence, whereas the Spirit as another Comforter is a person, the Spirit as the breath of Christ is not a person separate from Christ.
Actually, these two aspects of the Spirit denote an outward and inward aspect of the truth concerning the Spirit. The Spirit as another Comforter is the outward aspect, and the Spirit as Christ’s breath is the inward aspect.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 63, by Witness Lee)