CHIRST IS THE RESURECCTION AND THE LIFEPrint This Page.
Scripture Reading: John 11:25
WHAT HE DOES VERSUS WHAT HE IS
Chapter eleven of the Gospel of John shows us how the Lord Jesus gave life to a dead person; it shows us how the Lord Jesus resurrected a person from among the dead. The Lord can resurrect man, but He did not say, “I will resurrect the dead.” Instead, He said, “I am the resurrection.” After He said these words, He resurrected a man. Both Martha and Mary were there on that day. To them, it would have been better for the Lord Jesus to say, “It does not matter that your brother has died; I can resurrect him.” We like to hear this kind of word. Our desire and hope is that God will do something for us. We often pray, hope, and wait before God for a word concerning what He will do for us. But the Lord does not want to show us what He will do; He wants to show us what He is. What He can do is based on what He is. Martha believed in the Lord’s power. She said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (v. 21). Martha believed in God’s power, and she also believed in the Lord Jesus’ power, but she did not see that the Lord Himself is the resurrection and the life. We must see that everything God can do is included in what God is. The reason a man does not have God’s power is that he does not know what God is. “He who comes forward to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). All the power that God has is based upon what He “is.”
In John 11:25 the Lord Jesus was not saying that He can preserve a man’s life, but that He Himself is life. He was not telling us of His ability to resurrect men, but of the fact that He Himself is resurrection. May God open our eyes to see who the Lord is. We must see that in God’s eyes, Christ is our everything. Once we have this kind of understanding, it is possible to have genuine growth in spiritual things. We must realize that in God’s eyes, there is not any other object; the only object is Christ Himself! Whether or not we grow spiritually depends on whether we have truly touched spiritual reality. In other words, do we just know the individual things that God has done, or do we know God Himself?
John 11 does not say that the Lord Jesus resurrected Lazarus. Instead it says that the Lord Jesus was resurrection to Lazarus. Brothers and sisters, do you see the difference? The Lord was resurrection to Lazarus, and then Lazarus was resurrected. The Lord did not give resurrection as a thing to Lazarus; He became resurrection to Lazarus. In other words, what the Lord does is only the appearance; what He is is the reality of the matter. We are not saying that the Lord did not resurrect Lazarus. We are saying that Lazarus resurrected because the Lord was resurrection to him.
We must remember that everything that God does in Christ is done in this principle. When the Lord is something to me, that something comes into existence. First He “is,” then He “has.” Many Christians separate the Grace-giver from the grace given by God. One day we will find out that the Grace-giver is the very gift given by God. God has not given us many things; He has only given us the Lord Jesus Himself. All spiritual things and all of God’s gifts are but Christ Himself. God does not give us something piece by piece. God has given us Christ Himself. One day God will open our eyes to see that everything is in Christ. How wonderful it will be if we see this.
In declaring who He is, the Lord said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He is the resurrection. This is why His delaying did not cause a problem in the resurrection of Lazarus. In raising up Lazarus, the Lord was trying to lead men to the knowledge of Himself. The resurrection of Lazarus was not the greatest thing; the greatest thing is to know that the Lord Jesus is the resurrection. Many people believe that the Lord Jesus is the Life-giver. But it is altogether different to believe that the Lord Himself is life. He is not only the Life-giver; He is also the life. He is the Life-giver, and He is the life which He gives. He is not only the Lord who resurrects; He is resurrection itself. Once you see this, you will see that everything in Christ is living. God has only given Christ to man. We hope that at least a little light will shine on us so that we can know that the Lord is everything and know Him as such a Lord. He is the Grace-giver, and He is also the grace given. Our Lord said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Resurrection and life encompass the whole Bible. It is wonderful to know the resurrection and the life. Let us now see what life is.
CHRIST IS THE LIFE
God placed the man whom He had created in the garden of Eden. There were two options before the man. One was to receive life, and the other was to die. If man ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the result would be death. But if he ate of the fruit of the tree of life, he would receive life. The man created by God was good, but there was still one unresolved question—the question of life and death. In the garden of Eden man could think and act, but he did not have life. We are not saying that he was not alive. As far as his natural life was concerned, man was alive. Genesis 2:7 speaks of man being a living soul. Nevertheless, as far as the life represented by the tree of life was concerned, man did not yet have life. The life we are speaking of is this life represented by the tree of life. At the time of Genesis 2, although man was alive, he had no life. Man had sound thoughts and sound feelings (these two being the most important elements of man’s soul), but he did not have the life represented by the tree of life. From this we see that life is deeper than feelings and thoughts.
In Christianity, there are counterfeits to everything. There is false repentance, false confession, false salvation, false zeal, false love, false spiritual works, and false spiritual gifts. Everything can be counterfeited; even life can be counterfeited. Many Christians think that good feelings are life. They think that an exciting atmosphere and loud noises are life. If you ask them what life is, they will not separate life from feelings; they always mix the two together. They do not realize that life is deeper than feelings. Other Christians do not take feelings as life, yet they take mental activity as life. This means that if there are enough ideas in a message to invoke mental activity, enough words to stir up one’s interest, and enough doctrines to inspire admiration, they think that this is life. But those who are experienced and who have learned some lessons tell us that life is deeper than feelings and mental activities. Neither is life a kind of activity. We cannot say that just because a person is lively, energetic, and active, he has life. These are merely activities; they are not life. They are merely the performing of some activities; they are not the living of a life. We are not saying that life does not express itself in mental activities, feelings, or actions. We are saying that life is not feelings, mental activities, or actions. The words that come out of one person’s mouth may be life, while the same good words out of another person’s mouth may only be nice ideas. One may just touch excitement in one person, while he may touch life in another person. Many brothers think that when they feel a certain way, they have life. But an experienced brother will tell you that this is not life. Many brothers think that when they have a certain idea, they have life. But an experienced brother will tell you that this is not life. Two brothers may understand and expound a scriptural passage in the same way, but the strange thing is that an experienced Christian will sense a difference. One has both the right thought and life, while the other merely has the right thought. It is true that one often can touch life and mental thoughts at the same time. But we must not presume to think that touching the mind is equivalent to touching life. These are two different things. Many people think that because two people speak the same thing, they are therefore the same. But this is not necessarily true. It is possible that in one person we have the mind, while in the other person we do not have the mind, but life. Life is much deeper than mental activity; it is something deeper than good ideas. The Lord said, “I am the life.” Life is the Lord Himself. Life is not something other than Christ. If it is a thing, it is dead; it is not life. To many Christians, life is something they can produce out of themselves. But the Lord told us that He alone is the life.
We need the Lord’s mercy before we can see something concerning this matter. We can identify something as mental activity, we can identify something as feelings, and we can identify something as works. But we cannot identify what is life; there is no word to describe life clearly. We can only ask the Lord to show us what life is. Brothers and sisters, one day when the Lord opens our eyes, we will know what life is, and spontaneously we will touch the Lord.
CHRIST IS THE RESURRECTION
Let us consider again what resurrection is. Whatever encounters death and still exists is resurrection. Resurrection is that which withstands death and endures death. After man ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, death came in and man died. Those who enter the grave never come out again. Once they go in, they never return. In the whole universe, of all men, only one came out of death. This One is our Lord. The Lord said, “I am...the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living forever and ever” (Rev. 1:17-18). The Lord is the resurrected Lord. Resurrection is that which passes through death but is not imprisoned by death. In the Bible, the authority of death is described as a kind of imprisonment. To imprison someone is to confine him and not release him. Once man enters death, he cannot come out anymore. Death imprisons everyone who enters it. But death cannot imprison Him. This is the meaning of life, and this is the meaning of resurrection. Resurrection is the life that passes through death and rises above death. Our Lord Jesus is the life. He became dead and was in Hades. He was in the deepest place of death. But death could not imprison Him. Death was unable to detain or keep Him. He came out of death! When life passes through death and is not imprisoned by death, this is resurrection.
Resurrection means that a life bears the mark of death, yet still lives; it is living, yet it also bears the mark of death. This is what is meant by resurrection.
Many people ask why is it that after His resurrection in John 20, the Lord Jesus left the mark of the nails in His hands and the mark of the spear in His side for Thomas to touch (v. 27). We have to realize that this is what is meant by resurrection. The Lord Jesus was not showing Thomas one who had never been wounded and one who had never died; He wanted Thomas to see that He was wounded but now alive. He wanted Thomas to see that He had died but now lived. The Lord has the mark of death in His body, yet He is now living. This is what is meant by resurrection.
We can apply this principle to ourselves. There are many things in us that do not have the mark of death; they cannot be considered as resurrection. Resurrection must be something that has the mark of death and yet is still living. Do not think that as long as you have eloquence, cleverness, and talent, everything will be all right. It is possible for you to have eloquence without the mark of death. It is possible for you to have wisdom without the mark of death, and it is possible for you to have talent without the mark of death. Whether or not others see the mark of death in our eloquence, cleverness, and talent determines whether we have resurrection. A brother may be very competent, capable, and apparently lively. However, he is too self-confident and self-assured. He thinks that everything put in his hands will be handled well. There is no mark of death with this person; one does not see any mark of death in his competence. Although he is self-confident, self-trusting, self-assured, and very energetic, the mark of death cannot be found in him. This does not mean that a person who has passed through resurrection has no ability in himself. It merely means that with such a person, there is the mark of death. He can still do things, but he dares not trust in himself anymore, and he has lost all confidence. His own energy has been weakened. This is resurrection.
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth and said, “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3). This was spoken by a man who knew God. What a pity that among Christians, there are too many strong and self-confident ones! However, here is a man who said that he was “in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.” His body bore the mark of death, the seal of death.
Therefore, resurrection can never be separated from the cross. The cross removes something from us. Many things that originate from the self will not rise again once they have passed through the cross; they are lost in death. Whatever remains after it has passed through death, and whatever has the mark of death and is still living is resurrection. Resurrection must be something that has passed through death and whatever has passed through death must have suffered deprivation and loss. Brothers and sisters, if you really see what resurrection is, you will see what the cross is. You will see the stripping power of the cross. If you really know what resurrection is, you will find many things removed from you as you pass through the cross. If you really know what resurrection is, you will become another person; many things will be stripped from you. Only those things that have life will resurrect. Without life there is no possibility of resurrection. Suppose we cut a piece of wood into small segments and bury them into the ground. After some time, they will decay and become worthless. However, if we cut down a branch from a tree and plant it in the ground, after some time, it will germinate. In one case the sticks become rotten. In the other case the branch germinates. Anything that is dead rots, and anything that has life resurrects after it passes through death. Hence, the Lord’s resurrection was based upon His life. Because there is an incorruptible life in Him, death cannot imprison Him. Since there is something in Him which cannot die, death was cast away even while He was put into death. When we go through the cross experientially, many things will remain in death and not come out. Only the things which are of God will resurrect. When we touch the cross, we ourselves will be eliminated. The cross is a big minus; it subtracts many things.
Many brothers and sisters often ask, “How do I know whether I am dead or not? How do I know that the Lord has done something within me through the cross?” It is quite easy to answer this question. If the Lord has done something within, you should have lost many things. But if you have been the same since the day you were saved, and if you are still as full as you were before, the cross has not done anything within you. If the cross has truly done something within, you will find that a great elimination work has been done; you will find that the Lord has done a thorough cleanup job in you. The result of this elimination is that you can no longer do what you could do before, and you are no longer capable of the things you were once capable of. You are no longer sure of what you had such assurance of before. Where you were bold before, now you become fearful. This proves that the Lord has done something within you. If resurrection is within you, many things have been left behind in the grave, because these things could not pass the test of death. Nothing in Adam can live once it passes through death. Anything that belongs to resurrection belongs to the Lord’s life, the life which has passed through death and which has come out of death. Some things are lost through death, but are given back to us by the Lord. This is like the cutting of a branch from a tree. The branch seems to be dead. But when it is planted in the ground, after a period of time, it grows up again. This is resurrection. When we speak of having the mark of death on our body, it does not mean that we cannot speak or move anymore. Instead, it means that when we speak and move, we will not be as loose and self-confident as before. If a man has been touched by the Lord and dealt with by the cross, he will be weak, fearful, and trembling. He will not say, “I will do it,” “I can do it,” or “I can make it.” From that time on, he will still work, but he will be very fearful of God when he works. He will still walk, but his walk will be a walk after God just as Abraham walked step by step with God. You will see the mark of the cross on such a man. Such a man will have been penetrated and pierced by God. He will not be as whole as he was before. There will be the mark of death on his body. This is resurrection.
Today God communicates with man in resurrection. Yet this resurrection includes the cross. Therefore, nothing that we have can contact God without passing through death. Everything in the natural realm has to pass through death. If we are not in resurrection, God cannot fellowship with us. He cannot contact us except on the side of resurrection. Hence, we have to pass through death to enter into resurrection. The life we have received is the resurrected life, and whatever we have that has to do with God is in resurrection.
One problem frequently encountered in the spiritual realm is that man’s service to God is often based on natural things. Seldom do we see his service based on things in resurrection. Many people are very enthusiastic, but few have an enthusiasm in resurrection, an enthusiasm that has passed through death and that is still alive. Much enthusiasm is the first enthusiasm, not the second enthusiasm. We can find many brothers who are diligent and capable, but their capability is the first capability, not the second capability; such capability has never passed through death. If we live before God by the things in the natural realm, we are not living in resurrection.
Some have asked what the Body of Christ is. The Body of Christ is none other than the place where His resurrection is testified. In other words, anything that is not in resurrection cannot share a part in the Body of Christ. The church is not the place where you bring one thing and I bring another thing. It is not the place where you contribute your cleverness and I contribute my ingenuity. The church is not the place where you contribute something natural and I contribute something natural. The church shuts out all natural things and accepts only the things that belong to resurrection. Whenever natural things come in, the church will no longer be the church. In the church we cannot have anything that does not belong to resurrection. Many brothers ask how the church can be one. We need to know that oneness can never come through man’s ways. The oneness of the church can only be achieved when God’s children know the cross and deal with the flesh and natural things. If a man does not know the cross, whatever way he tries is useless. If the church resorts to natural means and human ways, nothing will be achieved. The church cannot have the flesh, and the church cannot have anything natural. If the flesh and natural things are brought into the church, the church will no longer be the church. It is true that the church needs people who consecrate themselves and who are useful, but the mark of death must be there. When we are useful, and when we also have the mark of death on ourselves, we have resurrection. We need to see that not only has the Lord Himself resurrected, He wants a church in resurrection also.
In order to have such experiences, we must look to God to work in us. We may be very familiar with many doctrines. However, if the Lord does not give us a fundamental blow, we will remain the same. Sometimes we fall and suffer pain, but this pain lasts only a couple of days or a few months. However, if we are broken by God in a fundamental way, and if we are broken deeply enough, we will not suffer pain for a few days or a few months, but we will have a scar over our entire life. We will remain crippled in God’s eyes the rest of our life, and the mark of the cross will always be with us. Paul saw the vision once on his journey. Many years later, he still testified, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). If some day the Lord has mercy on us and gives us a severe blow, our self will never rise again, and the scar will remain on us forever. We can touch the nail scars in the resurrected Lord’s hands and the wounds in His side. Today scars will be found on those who know the Lord and who experience the Lord as their personal resurrection as well. These scars will not pass away, and these scars will strip them of all their boastings; they will not dare to be self-confident, self-assured, or boastful of their own strength. Once a person is knocked down by the Lord, he will never be able to rise again. We hope the mark of the cross will become more and more apparent on us. It cannot be a performance or a pretense. Performance and pretense are useless. Whatever we do by ourselves is easily forgotten after a short time. However, once we are put on the altar and killed by the knife, we will never be able to rise up again. If we experience a fundamental blow, we will see that we can do nothing, we are nothing, and we are finished. If there is the mark of death on us, that mark will be a proof that we know resurrection. Those who know the cross know resurrection. Resurrection is whatever remains after passing through the cross. Many things will never rise up again once they pass through the cross. They are gone forever. Resurrection is whatever can pass through the cross. Only these things have spiritual value. Many things are brought into the grave and stay in the grave; these things are dead. However, many things pass through the grave and are brought to the other side; they bear the mark of the cross, and they are the things of resurrection.
May the Lord grant us the true knowledge of Christ as our resurrection. May we not only know Christ as our life, but also know Christ as our resurrection. May the Lord eliminate the many things that belong to us. May the Lord not only grant us more life and more of the things which are of Him, but may He eliminate all that we should not have. Many times we still live by our natural life and have not been broken by God. We have not seen God’s discipline and have not known the cross. May the Lord have mercy on us. May the natural things in us be eliminated more and more, and may the things of resurrection be expressed more and more. May life and resurrection be a fact and not an ideal to us. Whenever we stretch out our own hands, may the Lord show us that there is no resurrection, but only naturalness and the flesh. May He show us the flesh by the way of resurrection. If we do not see this, may the Lord have mercy on us and grant grace to us. Amen!