THE SAVED ONES’ HOPE BEING TO BE ABLE TO IMPROVE THEMSELVES
God’s hope is that the more Christ lives in us, the more He will be able to gain ground in us and be expressed through us. However, our hope is that the more Christ lives in us, the more we will be improved in ourselves. We have to see that there is a significant discrepancy between these two hopes. Every saved one hopes that God will grant him more strength to help him reform himself so that he can do good deeds. This is good from the human perspective, but those who know God realize that this is contrary to God’s hope in us. When we live foolishly, not knowing what is good or bad, we do not have any expectation. But when we have been revived in the Lord, somehow we begin to have a desire to get rid of all our shortcomings. This is where the problem lies: God hopes that the more Christ lives in us, the more He will be able to gain ground, but our hope is that the more He lives in us, the more we will be able to improve ourselves. God hopes that Christ can have more ground in us, while we hope that we can improve ourselves; these two hopes are totally different.
GOD’S SALVATION BEING FOR CHRIST TO ENTER INTO US
We have been saved, and Christ has entered into us; we have been lost in Him, and He has become one with us. Please consider: When we were saved, was it because we were merely subdued in our thoughts and preferences or because we were saved by the Lord Jesus? Since it is the Lord Jesus who has saved us, our thoughts and preferences must be dissolved in His thoughts and preferences, and our will and inclination must be dissolved in His will and inclination. What is God’s salvation? God’s salvation is that God wants our entire being, including our mind, emotion, and will, to be completely dissolved and lost in the Lord Jesus, just like sugar which has been dissolved in water is completely lost in the water. Now the two, the Lord and we, have become one and cannot be separated. This is to be a genuine Christian.
GOD’S SALVATION BEING A STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS
Do not think that God’s salvation is simply to admonish people to do good. Rather, God’s salvation is for us to be lost in Christ. From the day we were saved, God’s salvation is simply the Lord Jesus Himself coming into us and being mingled with us. The Lord Jesus is in us as our salvation. He is saving us step by step until He saves us to the full extent. Our regeneration is the initial step of our being saved. We will be saved to the full extent when we are completely dissolved in Him. When our thoughts, insight, preferences, and disposition are completely dissolved in Christ, His insight becomes our insight, and His preferences become our preferences; then on that day we will enjoy God’s salvation in full.
CHRISTIANS BEING FULL OF CONTRADICTIONS
Before the day comes when we fully enjoy God’s complete salvation, our Christian life is a life of contradictions. We have said that Christians possess four things—Christ, the Bible, the church, and fellow Christians—and that Christians are also peculiar. But this is not all; Christians are also full of contradictions. When a person first becomes a Christian, he begins to experience a life of countless contradictions from morning to evening. Prior to his salvation, his inner being is consistent, without any ups and downs and without any conflicts. For example, he goes east if he wants to go east, and he goes west if he wants to go west; he does whatever he wants. However, strangely enough, from the day he is saved and becomes a Christian, he begins to experience inner contradictions. It seems that whenever he has a certain feeling, he will have another feeling, and the two feelings usually are contrary to one another.
If as a Christian a person does not experience contradictions, his being a Christian is questionable. For example, when you and another brother are discussing a certain matter, after saying just a few sentences, you have a sense that it is better not to say anything more. Thus, a contradiction arises from within you. In the early stage of salvation, a normal Christian is filled with contradictions; if this is not the case, perhaps he has not yet been saved. We all have this kind of experience. Whenever we love a certain person, a certain thing, or a certain matter beyond a certain degree, there arises from within us a feeling which limits and restricts us, causing us to resist that kind of love. This inner sense of disapproval gives rise to a contradiction in us.
There are times when a brother admonishes or prohibits us from doing a certain thing, yet we may find one, two, or even ten reasons why we should proceed. Although the brother has advised against it, we still think that we should do it. While we are rationalizing, however, the inner sense begins to oppose us. When we present our first reason, the inner sense refutes it. Then we present our second, third, fourth, and even tenth reason, but the inner sense refutes each one of them. We say with our mouth that we still want to do it, but something within us disagrees. There is a contradiction within us.
Sometimes we submit inwardly but disobey outwardly, and sometimes we submit outwardly but disobey inwardly. Sometimes we may even say, “I sense within that I should not say anything, but I also feel that I have to say something in order not to let my opponent off lightly.” This is the contradiction in a Christian. Here is a Christian who argues and contends outwardly yet is met with disapproval inwardly. Every Christian experiences this type of contradiction between the inward sense and the outward action. Thus, when a Christian couple quarrels, there is no need for anyone to arbitrate. When the argument is getting out of control, something within them will bother them and not allow them to go on quarreling. This kind of contradiction proves that they are genuine Christians.
(The Pursuit of a Christian, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)