III. THE THIRD ITEM OF THE VISION—THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF CHRIST
In this chapter and the following chapter I feel burdened to speak to you concerning another basic truth—the accomplishments of Christ. On man’s side, mankind has close to six thousand years of history. On God’s side, God has been existing since eternity past. What are the things accomplished by Christ in time? This is a matter that we must see.
A. Creating All Things— Forming the Universe
According to the records of the Old and New Testaments, God made a plan and established His economy in eternity past, but then He did not do anything. It was decided that all the things that God wanted to do in His economy would be carried out by the Son. The Son came as Christ to receive the commission. The Greek word for Christ is Christos, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah. Christ was God’s Messiah, God’s Anointed, the One appointed by God to carry out God’s commission. The Lord Jesus was not appointed after He was born as a man; rather, He had already been appointed in eternity past. In eternity past the Triune God decided that the Lord Jesus would come to accomplish everything. He was the One who would fulfill the mission of God’s economy.
We must see that in the universe there are “eternity” and “time.” Eternity is without beginning and without ending, whereas time has a beginning and an ending. When did time begin? It began from God’s creation. When Christ created the universe and when the created things began their existence, that was the beginning of time. John 1:3 says, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not one thing came into being which has come into being.” Came into being means “came into existence.” Actually, the Lord Jesus did not create from things already existing; rather, He commanded something into being out of nothing, calling the things not being as being. When He spoke, “Let there be,” then all things came into being, came into existence, at once. Originally, the heavens were not there, but He said, “Let there be the heavens!” and the heavens came into existence out of nothing. In the same way the earth also came into being. All things were brought forth in this way out of nothing. Once the heavens and the earth came into existence, time began.
As God’s appointed One, Christ bore the responsibility of carrying out God’s commission. The first thing He accomplished was the creation of all things. Then, after the beginning of time, He went on to have many more great accomplishments. All of us who serve the Lord must see this. The purpose of His creation of all things was to bring in the universe and to form the universe. In Chinese, universe implies time plus space. The Hebrew expression for universe refers to the totality of all the ages in succession. Hebrews 1:2b says, “Through whom also He made the universe.” Bible readers often come across expressions that are not so easy to understand. I believe that very few Bible readers understand the meaning of universe; therefore, I added a note to this verse. The definition given in this note is based upon Vincent’s definition. After studying this word for a long time, I considered his definition as the best, so I excerpted it into a note in the New Testament Recovery Version. The note says, “Lit., ages. The ages is a Jewish expression that means the universe. Ages here does not refer to the matter of time but to creation (the universe) unfolded in time through successive ages.” Hence, we see that the universe is composed of ages, that is, the successive ages in time.
Most Christians know that Christ created the heavens, the earth, and all things. But very few know that after His creation He is still continually forming the ages, age after age. Hence, the universe refers not only to the heavens and the earth but also to all the ages in the heavens and the earth. For example, after the creation of the heavens and the earth, Adam was created; thus, there was the age of Adam with all its stories. When the age of Adam was over, the age of Noah with its stories began. After the age of Noah, the age of Abraham with its stories occurred. When the age of Abraham was over, the age of Moses came, at which time the law was decreed. When the age of Moses was over, the age of David came. Then after all the ages of the Old Testament, there was the age of Jesus Christ, the age of the New Testament. These ages did not take place by development or evolution; rather, they were founded, instituted, by the Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus not only created the heavens, the earth, and all things. After creating the heavens and the earth, He instituted the ages, age after age. If there were only the heavens, the earth, and all things, without the succession of ages, then none of the stories could have happened, and there would be no universe. Hence, the universe includes not only time and space but also all the stories that happened in time and space. This is just like the scenes in a movie. In every scene the characters do not just stand still; rather, they are acting out the story according to the script. Every scene is an age. The Lord Jesus not only created the roles for us but also established the content of each scene; thus, the universe came into existence. This is the entire history of the human race.
The universe is a play with many scenes, and the Lord Jesus is not only the Director but also the Producer. The purpose of His forming the universe is to afford God the opportunity to obtain what He wants. People do not understand why a big war is going on today or why a small battle will transpire tomorrow. Many things have happened age after age, but people in the world do not understand the mysteries hidden in all these occurrences. Yet, these things that have happened successively have given God the opportunity to gain us one by one. If it were not for the changing scenes in the world, none of us would be a Christian today. Among the saints who are sitting here, some are from other countries and some have a different color of skin. Yet we can use either Chinese or English both in singing or in praying, without much need for translation. Who can gather and blend us together in this way? Only the Lord can.
The Lord in His sovereignty raised up the environment for us to be saved. Some of you might not be saved if you had not been born in Taiwan; others might not be saved if they had not gone to America. I met some Chinese students in America who said that when they were in Taiwan, they were not interested in the gospel and they disliked hearing about Jesus. Yet when they went to America, they just wanted Jesus. The Lord was not able to capture them in Taiwan, but He captured them in America. All these things happened in the universe. The universe creates the opportunity for God to gain what He wants.
I very much appreciate the training here in Taiwan, in which the East and the West are blended and have become one family. In China forty years ago, to travel from my hometown, Chefoo, to Shanghai, one could take only the boat, and it would take forty-eight hours. Today it takes only twelve hours to fly from Anaheim in the United States to Taiwan. Eighteen hours ago I made a telephone call from Taiwan to Anaheim and told the saints who were coming to Taiwan the things that I needed; now they have brought these things to me. It is really convenient. This morning the ministry station announced that while I am releasing a message here, thirty-six places in the United States would be able to listen in English and twenty-six places would be able to listen in Chinese simultaneously. I hope that one day we will be able to transmit by man-made satellites. Then the messages that are released here can be simultaneously heard in Japan, Indonesia, and other places. This is the way we will take so that the messages that are being released in one place can be heard at the same time throughout the whole earth. All these things belong to the realm of the “universe” accomplished by Christ.
(The Revelation and Vision of God, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)