THE REALITY AND THE EMANCIPATOR
Some may say that because they are saved, they are no longer slaves of sin. Doctrinally speaking, this is true. But in our actual experience we may still be slaves of sin. Whether or not we have been freed from the slavery of sin depends on how much the dear Lord Jesus is to us. Therefore, we need to consider from this chapter what this precious One is to us.
In this chapter the Lord Jesus indicates that He is the reality and the emancipator. In verse 32 He says, “And you shall know the reality, and the reality shall set you free.” Then in verse 36 He goes on to say, “If then the Son shall set you free, you shall be really free.” To be set free by the reality is to be emancipated. If we compare verses 32 and 36, we shall see that the Son of God is the reality. Verse 32 says that reality sets us free, and verse 36, that the Son sets us free. This indicates that the Son is the reality that sets us free.
What does it mean to say that the Son of God is the reality that sets us free? In the previous message we pointed out that we may say that the reality of the universe is Christ. However, to say this may be to utter something vague and ambiguous. We need to see that the reality here is related to God incarnate, to the eternal God becoming a man.
In verse 28 the Lord Jesus speaks of the lifting up of the Son of Man, not of the Son of God. As we shall see, in verse 58 the Lord indicates that He is the I Am. In order for the Son of God to be the reality that frees us from sin, He had to be incarnated. He had to be a man. If He had not become a man, He could not be the reality, and He could not set us free. The universal reality is God incarnate, the eternal God becoming a man. This incarnated God is both the tabernacle and the aggregate of all the offerings. Therefore, the reality in chapter eight includes the eternal God incarnated to be a man, and this Man is the tabernacle and the aggregate of all the offerings. This is the reality that sets us free.
CHRIST IN ACTUALITY AND PRACTICALITY
The Christ whom we enjoy today is this reality. He is God incarnate to be the tabernacle and the offerings. The Christ we enjoy is One who includes God, incarnation, humanity, human living, crucifixion, and resurrection. This One even includes His descent as the Spirit. As we pointed out in the foregoing message, today in His extract this Christ is the life-giving Spirit. Do we not have this life-giving Spirit within us? We all need to realize that today Christ as the life-giving Spirit dwells in our spirit. The power to overcome sin is in this extract, in this life-giving Spirit. We need to see that the life-giving Spirit is the actual and practical Christ.
Fifty years ago, I came to know that Christ is the One who sets us free from sin. However, I did not enjoy freedom from sin. I had Christ, but I did not have much enjoyment of Him because I did not realize the elements, the ingredients, of Christ. I did not realize that the extract of this Christ is the life-giving Spirit. Just as anyone who is not a doctor or a pharmacist may not know the ingredients, elements, and extract of a certain medicine, so we may not know the ingredients, elements, and extract of Christ. As a result, we may have Christ in doctrine, in terminology, but we may not have Christ in actuality and practicality. I do not ask if you know a doctrinal Christ, but if you know the practical and actual Christ. Who is the actual Christ? Who is the practical Christ? The life-giving Spirit is the actual and practical Christ.
Today many Christians know only a doctrinal Christ. Some of those who hold to traditional teachings concerning the Trinity even oppose the truth that Christ is the life-giving Spirit. It is foolish to oppose this biblical truth. If we do not have the life-giving Spirit, we cannot have Christ in our experience. As the extract of an herb is actually the herb itself, so the life-giving Spirit as the extract of Christ is Christ Himself for our enjoyment.
The extract of an herb may be used as medicine for those who are ill. The extract is not needed in order for the herb itself to exist. In order for the herb to exist it is sufficient that it be an herb. In a similar way, in order for Christ to exist, there was no need for Him to become the life-giving Spirit. But in order for us to enjoy Him and participate in Him, it was necessary for Him to become the extract, to become the life-giving Spirit. Today we experience Christ as this life-giving Spirit. For this reason, we say that the life-giving Spirit is the actual, practical Christ.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 23, by Witness Lee)