THE MANIFESTATION OF THE DIVINE CHARACTERISTICS THROUGH ALL THE CREATED THINGS IN THE UNIVERSE
Romans 1:20 says, “For the invisible things of Him, both His eternal power and divine characteristics, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world.” Here divine characteristics denotes the special features, the characteristics, as the outward manifestations of God’s nature or substance which can be seen and appreciated by men. If you want to know God, just look at the universe with all the created things because the entire universe expresses the divine characteristics. When you see that the universe is full of light, you know that God is light; the universe is beautiful, so God is a God of beauty; the universe is full of vitality, so God is brimming with life; the universe is orderly with the heavenly bodies revolving in their proper orbits, so God is orderly and without confusion. Therefore, you know the characteristics of what God is through the manifestations of all the created things in the universe. Although knowledgeable people may know God as the Creator of the universe by observing the universe itself, they do not truly know who God is and what the Godhead is because their knowledge of God is merely according to the outward expression of the universe.
CHRIST AS THE EXPRESSION OF THE GODHEAD
Who is this God with the Godhead? This needs to be explained and expressed by the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Lord Jesus came, He did not just show us the manifested characteristics of God, but even more He fully declared God Himself with the Godhead. This is because all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in this incarnated Jesus bodily (Col. 2:9). God was the Word in eternity past (John 1:1). Although He had the fullness of the Godhead, to the naked eye this Godhead is not concrete, not “bodily.” It was not until the time when the Word became flesh as Jesus of Nazareth, who lived on the earth among men, that the Godhead was manifested in Him bodily. Before God became flesh, He was the Word without a bodily form; when He became flesh, He assumed a bodily form. Christ is the mystery of God, the embodiment of God, because all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily.
CHRIST’S BECOMING THE SPIRIT TO BE OUR LIFE
Colossians 3:4 says, “Christ our life.” Here it says that Christ is our life; it does not say that Christ is to be our life. It may sound better in Chinese to say that we experience Christ to be our life, but this utterance is not accurate. The accurate way is to say that we experience Christ as our life. The book of Colossians covers the matter of Christ as our life in the aspect of truth. Therefore, there is the need for the book of Philippians to go on to tell us how Christ is our life and how we can experience this Christ as our life.
Philippians 1:19 says, “Through…the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” The Spirit of Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ. To God, Christ is His mystery; to us, Christ is the Spirit. The mystery of God, Christ, reaches us as the Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus Christ does not mean that Christ is one person and the Spirit is another person. In Greek, the expression the Spirit of Jesus Christ means that the Spirit is Jesus Christ; hence, the Spirit of Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ. Similarly, 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” The first part of the verse says, “The Lord is the Spirit,” and the latter part says, “The Spirit of the Lord.” If you do not understand the spiritual significance of this verse, or your study of the original text is inadequate, you will think that the two statements contradict one another. The first part says, “The Lord is the Spirit,” meaning that the Lord and the Spirit are one; then the verse goes on to say, “The Spirit of the Lord,” seemingly implying that the Lord and the Spirit have become two entities. Actually it is not so. “The Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is…” shows good sentence construction. In contrast, it is neither smooth nor grammatically correct to say, “The Lord is the Spirit where there is….” Furthermore, in verse 18b Paul also says that we “are being transformed…even as from the Lord Spirit.” This proves that the Lord and the Spirit are one. The compound title the Lord Spirit does not mean that the Lord is one person and the Spirit is another person. The Lord Spirit is one person, not two. This is just like the compound title the Father God, indicating that God and the Father are one person, not two.
In order to be our life Christ had to become the Spirit, and indeed He has become the Spirit. “The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45b). Jesus became flesh, lived on the earth for thirty-three and a half years, died on the cross, and resurrected; in resurrection He became the life-giving Spirit. Many Christians get lost here because they do not have the light.
The Lord Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and was born of the virgin Mary with a body which was physical and belonged to the old creation. He lived on the earth for thirty-three and a half years and was crucified, but God raised Him from the dead. After passing through the process of death and resurrection, His body, which was of the old creation and physical, became a resurrected and spiritual body. This matter is clearly explained in 1 Corinthians 15. Through resurrection the body of the old creation which the Lord Jesus had put on was brought into the Spirit. Therefore, after His resurrection His body became a spiritual body. Thus, today Christ, who is the Spirit, is our life.
(The Subjective Experience of the Indwelling Christ, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)