THE PNEUMATIC CHRIST
Through my years in the Lord’s ministry, I have learned that if we speak of “Christ in the flesh,” people understand that Christ Himself became flesh. However, if we speak of “Christ in the Spirit,” most do not have a proper understanding. They regard Christ as separate from the Spirit. They think of Christ as the second Person of the Godhead and the Spirit as the third Person. Furthermore, they may think that the Second is in the Third. When they hear of Christ in the flesh, they do not regard Christ as separate from the flesh. Rather, they realize that Christ in the flesh is actually Christ Himself. But if we were to speak of Christ in the Spirit, due to traditional teaching, they would regard Christ as separate from the Spirit instead of realizing that Christ Himself is the Spirit. This is the difficulty in speaking of Christ in the Spirit.
Some writers use the expression “pneumatic Christ.” Derived from the Greek word pneuma, “pneumatic” means spiritual. However, the pneumatic Christ is not a spiritual Christ; the pneumatic Christ is the Christ who is the life-giving Spirit. The Christ who gives life is the pneumatic Christ. He is not Christ in the Spirit; He is the Christ as pneuma, as the Spirit. The actual Christ, therefore, is the pneumatic Christ.
We have seen that many Christians have only a doctrinal Christ or a historical Christ. They do not have the actual and practical Christ. It is crucial for us to see that it is the pneumatic Christ who is real and practical to us in our daily life. It is the pneumatic Christ, the actual and practical Christ, who is the reality that sets us free. Do you have this reality? We all should strongly reply that we definitely have this reality, which is the actual, practical, present, pneumatic Christ. In brief, this reality is the life-giving Spirit.
Who can set us free from the bondage of sin? Only the reality which is the life-giving Spirit, the pneumatic Christ, can set us free. This is the One who is the eternal God becoming a man, passing through crucifixion, entering into resurrection, being lifted up to the heavens, and becoming the life-giving Spirit. This One is the reality that sets us free.
THE GREAT I AM
This reality includes the great I Am. The words “I Am” are the significance of the name Jehovah. Jehovah means “I Am that I Am,” In John 8:24 the Lord Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins.” Then in verse 28 He went on to say, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am.” Here the Lord seems to be saying, “After you have lifted me up as the Son of Man, you will realize that I am. You think that I am merely a man. After you have put me to death on the cross, I will come out of the tomb. At that time you will know that the One you have crucified is not merely a man, but is the eternal God, Jehovah.”
The name “Jesus” means Jehovah our Savior. Hence, the name Jehovah is included in the name Jesus.
Now do you see what is the reality that sets us free? This reality is the eternal God who became a man, who passed through crucifixion and resurrection, who is now in ascension, and who comes to us as the life-giving Spirit. Within this reality there are the elements of the great I Am and the elements of the Son of Man, incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.
The fact that the Lord Jesus is the great I Am implies that He is the eternal One. In 8:57 the Jews said to the Lord, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” The Lord Jesus, who was not more than thirty-three years of age, replied, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham came into being, I am” (v. 58). Apparently the Lord’s word is wrong grammatically. Instead of saying, “Before Abraham came into being, I was,” He said, “Before Abraham came into being, I am.” The Lord Jesus spoke the fact, the fact that He is the eternal I Am. As the One who is the I Am, to Him there is no past tense; every time is present. But although the Lord is the eternal One, He became a limited One in time. He is the Son of God who became the Son of Man.
A PRACTICAL WAY TO BE SET FREE FROM SIN
How in a practical way can we be set free from sin? For example, how can we be delivered from our temper? If you want to be free from your temper, do not go to the Lord and make up your mind that from now on you will never lose your temper. That is vain. You need to realize that you have the extract of Christ, the life-giving Spirit, within you, and that this Spirit is the universal reality. The life-giving Spirit is the extract of the all-inclusive Christ, the One who is the great I Am, the Son of God, and the Son of Man. He is the One who died on the cross, who resurrected from the dead, and who is now in ascension. This One is in us, and the reality, the extract, of the all-inclusive Christ is the life-giving Spirit. He is living, capable, and powerful. He is in you, and He sets you free. Therefore, instead of making up your mind not to lose your temper, simply say, “O Lord Jesus, I worship You, I honor You, and I respect You. Lord, I love You and enjoy You. As the life-giving Spirit, You are in me to do everything for me.”
The life-giving Spirit, the extract of Christ, is our spiritual medicine. We should simply take this “medicine” and then rest and be at peace. The medicine will solve the problems within us. Praise the Lord for our “medicine”! Our medicine is the life-giving Spirit, the extract of the all-inclusive Christ, who is the universal reality within us.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 23, by Witness Lee)