THE REAL CHURCH LIFE
After God’s firing and replacing of everyone and everything with Christ, there will first be the restoration for the kingdom, and then there will be the restoration for the new heaven and new earth for the New Jerusalem. That will be the real church life. The real church life is a life in which all the saints are fired and replaced with Christ. This will make Christ everything in the church. This is the vision of God’s economy hidden in Isaiah 1—23, and I hope that we will all see it.
NOT EXCHANGE BUT REPLACEMENT
In Christianity it is stressed very much that Christ is our substitute, who died a substitutionary death for us on the cross, bearing the judgment that we should have received. Although it is true that in the divine revelation concerning God’s salvation Christ is our substitute, He is more than our substitute. Christ unites Himself with us and replaces us. This is something which goes further than the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. Because Christ joined Himself to us, uniting Himself with us, when He died on the cross, we died with Him and were terminated (Rom. 6:6).
Regarding this matter, the inner-life Christians use the term exchanged instead of replaced, saying that Christ’s life is exchanged for our life. However, if one thing is exchanged for another, there is no uniting of the two. The teaching concerning an exchanged life is not accurate according to the truth. Replacing demands union, whereas exchanging annuls union with Christ.
A Grafted Life
In the New Testament, Christ’s replacing of us is altogether a matter of a grafted life. This grafted life is the highlight of God’s salvation in John 15. Christ is the vine, and we are the branches (v. 5). As wild olive branches, we have been grafted into Christ (Rom. 11:17). Thus, we are united with Christ, and in this union Christ replaces us. He replaces us by living in us, with us, by us, and through us. We live, yet not we, but Christ lives in us, and we live by the faith of the Son of God. This indicates a union with Christ.
The Struggle concerning Replacement
In the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, there is a struggle between God and man. Man likes to replace God. In his reaction to God, man tries to replace God, to put God aside, to expel God. But in His reaction to man, God does not put man aside or expel man; rather, He puts man in a terminated position so that man can live by another person, Christ.
Although God desires to replace man, man does not agree with this, because Satan is behind man. According to Isaiah 14:12-14, Satan was the first one to attempt to replace God, to expel God and take God’s place, by uplifting his throne and making himself like the Most High. Now Satan is behind man, trying to do away with God and expel God. Even when man wants to do something for God, he does it by putting God aside. This is a crucial matter that we all need to realize.
(Life-Study of Isaiah, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)