CHRIST IS GOD’S MATTERS AND THINGS
Scripture Reading: John 1:29; 6:53; 8:12, 24, 28; 11:25; 14:6; 1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 3:4; 1 Tim. 1:1; Psa. 27:1
GOD’S GOAL AND MEANS—CHRIST
God’s goal is Christ, and Christ is also God’s means. God uses Christ as the means to reach the goal, which is Christ. We can know and see God’s goal particularly from the books of Ephesians and Colossians. In this message we would like to consider God’s goal from these two books. There is one difference between these two books: Ephesians shows us that according to the economy of the fullness of the times, God wants to head up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth (1:10); Colossians shows us that God has not only made Christ to be Head over all things, but God has made Him all and in all (1:18; 3:11b). Colossians shows us that God’s goal is Christ, and His means is also Christ. God’s goal is for Christ to be Head over all things. In order to arrive at this, God must make Christ to be all. He must be all and, at the same time, He must be in all. Only then will all things be headed up, for if Christ is all and if Christ is in all, all things will be headed up spontaneously.
Please remember that in God’s eyes, there are not many things. In God’s eyes, there is only Christ. In God’s eyes there is no matter and no thing; in God’s eyes there is only Christ. What we ordinarily think of as matters and things do not exist in God’s eyes. We may consider that there are many matters and things in this world. According to our worldly view, there are matters and there are things. But in God’s eyes, Christ is everything. There is no matter, and there is no thing. Christ is all the matters, and Christ is all the things. When the day comes that Christ is in all matters and in all things, God’s eternal purpose will be fulfilled.
I hope that you can see that Christ has headed up all things in Himself. This does not begin in the future when God’s eternal purpose is fulfilled; it begins today through the church.
Tonight I will not go too deep; I will only touch this matter briefly. God has ordained that all matters and things will be headed up in Christ in the future. How can all things be headed up? God says that Christ is all things. He is all, and at the same time, He is in all. When this happens, we will only see Christ in the world; we will not see matters and things anymore, because all matters and all things will have passed away.
Today in the church, God is starting to show us that Christ is all matters and things. When the church sees this, it will begin to live in the realm of the spirit. If the eyes of the church are set only on matters and things, it has not seen Christ yet.
The matters I am referring to are not the matters of the world, and the things I am referring to are not the things of the world. The matters and things I am referring to are spiritual matters and things.
THE REVELATION OF THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
Christ Being the Things of God
I would like to point out a very interesting thing here. The Gospel of John is the deepest Gospel; it is also the last Gospel written. It is the last book written in the New Testament. Many Epistles and books were written before the Gospel of John was written. John wrote his Gospel last. He wrote many things which are not found in the other Gospels. At the end he said that our understanding of Christ should be the same as God’s understanding of Christ.
What we see in this book is not God’s requirement for a lamb, or His gift of the bread of life. What we see is not just God’s provision of a way, a truth, or a life. It is not a matter of the Lord having the power to restore man’s life; it is not a matter of resurrection. It is not a matter of the Lord Jesus being able to give light, restore sight, and lead those who follow Him out of darkness. In the whole Gospel, we see only one great fact. This fact is that Christ is all things. The Gospel of John says that He is the light of the world; it does not say that He gives us light. It says that He is the bread of life; it does not say that He gives the bread of life. It says that He is the way; it does not say that He can show us the way. It says that He is the truth; it does not say that He can teach us a truth. It says that He is the life; it does not say that He can give us life. After Lazarus died, the Lord did not tell Martha and Mary that He had the power to resurrect their brother. Rather, He said that He is the resurrection.
Please remember that the bread of life is a thing, light is a thing, the way is a thing, truth is a thing, and life, resurrection, and the lamb are all things. But in Christianity, we do not find individual things. In Christianity, there is only Christ! Christ is what it is all about.
Today we have to see one thing before the Lord. We have to realize that in our experience there are not many matters and things. In our experience, there is only Christ. He does not give us the light; He is our light. He does not lead us to a way; He is our way. He does not give us life; He is our life. He does not teach us to understand a truth; He is the truth. Brothers, do you see the difference? All that God has given us is Christ Himself.
One day I told a group of people a spiritual fact. As I was speaking, many eyes began to stare at me. I said, “Let me tell you one crucial fact: God’s Christ is God’s matters. God does not have matters; God only has Christ! He has not given us light; He has given us Christ. He has not given us food; He has given us Christ. He has not given us a way, a truth, and a life; He has given us Christ. God’s Christ is all things. Apart from Christ, God does not have any thing.”
WHAT PAUL KNEW
Christ Being Our Hope
I would like to point out that not only does the Lord Jesus’ own word testify to this, but Paul said the same thing. He knew the Lord, and he showed us one very interesting thing. He said to Timothy, “Christ Jesus our hope” (1 Tim. 1:1). I like this word. Do you like it? He did not say that our hope is in Christ Jesus. Rather, he said Christ Jesus is our hope. We do not put our hope in Him, and we do not draw hope from Him. Rather, Christ Jesus is our hope.
Christ Being Our Life
Again he said to the Colossians, “When Christ our life is manifested...” (Col. 3:4). He did not say, “When Christ is manifested.” Rather, he said, “When Christ our life is manifested.” He said that Christ is our life. A Christian does not have many matters; a Christian only has Christ.
Christ Being Our Wisdom:Righteousness, Sanctification, Redemption
This is not all. In these messages, the one verse that we emphasize more than any other verse is 1 Corinthians 1:30. What does it say? It says, “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom to us from God: both righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” God has not given us righteousness; He has given us Christ. Christ is our righteousness. God has not given us sanctification; He has given us Christ. Christ is our sanctification. God has not given us redemption; He has given us Christ. Christ is our redemption. God has not given us wisdom; He has given us Christ. Christ is our wisdom. This is why we say that the Christ of God is the things of God. God’s Christ is God’s matters and things. Apart from Christ, God does not have any matter or thing.
Christ Being Our Righteousness
If God were to say to us, “I have made the Lord Jesus the Lord of righteousness; He is the One who justifies you,” what would you say? You would say “Yes, He has justified us.” But God has not asked the Lord Jesus to be the Justifier; He has asked the Lord Jesus to be our righteousness. Is this good? This is excellent. He is not the Justifier, but our righteousness. He is our righteousness.
Christ Being Our Sanctification
Paul did not say that the Lord Jesus has become “the One that sanctifies.” Rather, he said that Christ is sanctification. The Lord Jesus is not sanctifying us; He Himself is becoming our sanctification. God has made the Lord Jesus our sanctification. Our sanctification is Christ. Our sanctification is not a thing; it is not an act or a behavior. Our sanctification is a person—Christ.
Christ Being Our Redemption
Again Paul did not say that the Lord is our Redeemer. He said that the Lord is our redemption. Is this not strange? First Corinthians 1:30 does not say that God has appointed the Lord Jesus to be a Redeemer. Rather, it says that the Lord Jesus is redemption.
Thank the Lord that our Redeemer is Christ, and our redemption is also Christ. The One who sanctifies is Christ, and our sanctification is also Christ. The One who justifies is Christ, and our righteousness is also Christ. The One who gives wisdom is Christ, and that wisdom is also Christ!
WHAT DAVID KNEW
Christ Being Our Salvation
If I stand here and say to you, “The Lord Jesus is our Savior,” you will respond, “That is right. The Lord Jesus is our Savior.” But Psalm 27:1 tells us that the Lord is our salvation. It shows us that the Lord is our salvation and not our Savior. It is a fact that the Lord is our Savior. But God showed David that the Lord is our salvation. The Lord is our Savior, but He is also our salvation; He is that very thing. The Lord Jesus is the things of God. He is God’s matters and God’s things. The Lord Jesus Himself is the very thing that God has given us.
I have no intention of remaining too long on the exposition of the Bible. I am merely laying a foundation. If you spend some time to consider God’s Word, you will see that Christ is God’s things. God has not only given Him to be our Savior and our Redeemer. He has not only given Him to be the Lord of sanctification and the Lord of righteousness. He has given us Christ to be our things. Righteousness is a thing, sanctification is a thing, and justification is a thing, or a matter. But Christ is these matters or things.
THERE BEING ONLY ONE PERSONIN THE CHRISTIANITY OF LIFE
You may ask, “Brother, why do you have to spend so much time on all this?” I must tell you that this is the very difference between a Christianity of life and a Christianity of behavior. There is a vast difference between these two kinds of ways. The gap between these two ways is very great. One is spiritual, and the other is not. One is of God, and the other is of man’s mind. These are two entirely different things. If you study God’s Word, you will find that there is only one person in His Word; there are not many things. There is only the person; there are not matters and things. There is only one person—the Lord Jesus. Other than this person, one cannot find any other matter or thing.
The biggest problem with God’s children today is that the Christianity they know is a fragmented Christianity. One person receives a little grace. Another person receives a little gift. A third person picks up tongue-speaking, while a fourth person experiences some changes in his behavior. Some have love, some have endurance, and some have humility. You may consider this as Christianity. Indeed, this is the Christianity that man speaks of today. But actually, this is not Christianity. Christianity is just Christ. Christianity is not a gift; it is not Christ giving you something. Christianity is just Christ Himself. Can you tell the difference between the two? These are absolutely two different ways; they are two entirely different ways. Christianity is not Christ giving you something. Christianity is Christ giving Himself to you. The problem is that in today‘s Christianity, man thinks only in terms of Christ’s gifts. When he was a sinner, Christ gave him grace and mercy. Now that he has become a Christian, Christ gives him endurance and Christ gives him humility and meekness. It seems as if Christ is giving him many things.
THERE BEING NO NON-PERSONIFIEDTHINGS IN CHRISTIANITY
In God’s eyes, what is important is not the gifts of Christ. In God’s eyes, He has given us Christ Himself. God has not given us humility or endurance; He has given us the whole Christ. Christ is becoming our humility, and Christ is becoming our endurance and meekness. It is Christ, the living Lord. This is Christianity.
Please remember that there are no non-personified things in Christianity. We must never receive a merely non-personified thing. In Christianity, all things are personified, and that person is Christ. In other words, our endurance is not a thing; our endurance is a person. Our sanctification is not an experience; our sanctification is a person, something personified. Our justification is not an experience; our justification is a person. Our righteousness is not an act; our righteousness is a person. Our redemption and deliverance are not something that we receive at one time; our redemption and deliverance are a person. Our endurance, humility, meekness, love, etc., are the Lord Himself; they are not things. This is Christianity. Christ is everything to the saints today. There is no need to wait for that day to come.
Many people ask how we can say that Christ is all. If you know the Christianity of life, you will acknowledge that He is all. He does not give all, rather He is all. These are two entirely different things.
Why is it that God’s children fail so much today? They fail because they have only received a gift before the Lord; they have not received Christ. They have received fragmentary things before the Lord; they have not received the Christ God has given them. They have received only matters and things; they have not received a person. I do not know how much you have seen before the Lord. But I can say that when this question is resolved, all questions are resolved.
When we were saved, many of us heard God’s Word, which says that He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that we will not perish, but will have eternal life. When we heard such a word, we felt that we needed to be saved, and we went to God and prayed, “Lord, You have loved me and given Yourself to me. Can You give salvation to me also? You have become my Savior. Can You give me salvation also?” How foolish we were! We felt that having a Savior was not enough and that we needed salvation also! Many people have done this. And what do we do in our gospel preaching? We say that God has given us the Savior, yet when we repent, we pray, “God, grant me Your salvation.” However, God has only one Son, and this Son is salvation. When we have the Savior, we have salvation. Do we still have to ask for salvation? Only a foolish man would say, “God, You have given me a Savior. Now please give me salvation.”
Today we are Christians, and we are saved; God has given Christ to us to be our life. But we constantly ask for one thing after another; we ask for one, two, three, ten, fifty, a hundred, ten thousand, a million, and ten million things. We think that these individual things are important. But God shows us that Christ is our everything.
This is why God’s Word shows us that Christ’s name is “I am.” Perhaps I should not be speaking so much of this matter outside the Bible; we should consider more of what the Bible says about this.
In the Gospel of John, the Lord said that He is the bread of life. We often ask God for food; we think that there is something called food. We are hungry, and we ask God, saying, “Please give us food.” But it is so strange that those who ask for food never receive food. Those who ask for food are always hungry. Those who beg for food are the ones who are always hungry. I cannot say that I have been serving the Lord for many years. But I can at least say that I have been serving Him for some years. During these years, I have never met a person who asked for food who received it. You may say, “Does this mean that God’s Word is wrong? Does not Luke 1:53 say that He will fill the hungry with good things?” I say, yes, it is true that the hungry ones will be filled with good things. But with what are the hungry ones filled? We have to realize that what fills us is not food, but Christ. We often feel hungry, and we have a need. We feel empty and believe that God has food. So we pray and hope to receive food. But we do not know how we can get the food. All we know is that we should contact the Lord, believe more, receive more, and enjoy more. But the amazing thing is that when we believe more, receive more, and look to Him more, we do not get the food that we hoped for, yet we are filled. We do not receive the food that we expected to receive. But through our looking to the Lord, and through contacting and receiving Him, we are filled. God’s food is Christ. His food is not just food. God has no matters; His food is just Christ. The Chinese have an idiomatic expression “Chien-pien-yi-lu,” which means “a thousand pages of the same thing.” It is not a good thing to be all the same. But before the Lord, all the things of God are “a thousand pages of the same thing.” No matter what we are seeking before the Lord, what He gives us is the same—Christ; He is “a thousand pages of the same thing.” He is the One who meets our need; things do not meet our need.
Righteousness and Sanctification
Many times, I can praise and rejoice for one reason only: my righteousness is not my conduct; my righteousness is a person, who is the Lord Jesus. Because the Lord Jesus has become my righteousness, every time I mention my righteousness, I can say that not only do I have righteousness or justification, but I can speak to my Righteousness, praise my Righteousness, and give glory to my Righteousness. Is this not a wonderful word? You may wonder how one can give glory to his righteousness. Yes, I often give glory to my Righteousness, because my Righteousness is the Lord Jesus. My sanctification is not my work. When I praise my Sanctification, I am not praising my work. No, I hate my work. Yet I can say that I praise my Sanctification, because my sanctification is my Lord. These are two entirely different things. Can you see this? It is not things but the Lord.
GOD’S TEARING DOWN AND HIS BUILDING UP
We can find one fact in our spiritual experience. Some people have been Christians for one, two, three, five, or even twenty or thirty years. The strange thing is that when they first became Christians, they were very patient. But the more they went on as Christians, the more they could not control their temper, and the worse they became. I remember many people telling me that at the beginning, they were very patient; they could forgive, they could pray, and they could suffer any treatment from others. Others could treat them any way they wanted in school, at home, and at work. But now, they could not tolerate the same things anymore. In the past, they could do everything; now they cannot do them anymore. Sometimes they managed to hold back their temper, but something within them wanted revenge. We have seen too many examples of this kind. I can tell you a thousand, even ten thousand, stories like this one. Many people can testify that once they were humble, but they cannot be humble anymore. Once they were patient, but they cannot be patient anymore. Once they were loving, but they cannot be loving anymore. Once they were meek, but they have become stubborn. Once they were zealous, but they have become cold. They cannot explain this.
Brothers, we have to remember that God must take away everything that we have. When we first believed in the Lord, we felt that we lacked love, and we asked God for love. To put it in simple language, God gave us a “dose” of love, or a “packet” of love, so that we could love. It was a thing to us. We may have received plenty of these things. But God cannot allow love to remain forever as a thing in us; He has to put Christ into us. Therefore, He removes that love. Many people had a bad temper before they believed in the Lord; their temper was quick. After they picked up patience, patience became a thing, a gift, a salvation, or a spare part to them. As long as they had such a thing, they could work. During the first, second, and third year, these things may have served well. However, by the fifth year, or even as early as the third year, the situation began to change; the things themselves were gone. Today God is doing the same work in many of His children; He is removing all the things. Not only will He remove the worldly things; He will remove the spiritual things as well. Before you were saved, the matters and things of the world took the place of Christ. After you were saved, spiritual matters and things took the place of Christ. One day, God will show you that “Christ is all the world to you.” Once God took away the things and matters of the world from you. Now he is taking away spiritual things and matters from you. He will take away your patience, your love, your power, your meekness, your humility, and everything that you have. He will show you that you do not live by patience but by a person. You will be patient because you have received a person, not because you have received a power. You will be humble, not because you have received a power, but because you have received a person. All the spiritual things have to go away. All the “its” have to go away.
For this reason, God’s tearing down work, as well as His building work, goes on daily in many of His children. Daily “things” are torn down, and Christ is built up. This is the way God deals with His children. In the past, God might have given you a thing; He might have given you a power for endurance. You were so sure of this experience that you could almost write down the words: “My problem with endurance is over.” Next you had to deal with humility, and God gave you another thing; He gave you the strength to humble yourself, and you were able to say that the problem of humility was also settled. When another thing is not settled, you pray daily before the Lord to try to solve it. You are always busy solving this and that problem. You are always trying to deal with this and that question. You are always dealing with individual problems. Brothers, God will take away many “things” from you; He will only give you One; He will only give you a person. This One will be your humility, your endurance, your meekness, and your love. He is the One who is. When you have Him, you can truly say, “God, You are the I am.” This is Christianity. God is continually tearing down and building up. He will continue this work until one day we can say that Christ is everything. One day the universe will confess that Christ is everything. But first God wants us to confess within ourselves that Christ is everything.
Forgive me for speaking something about myself. I care much for many people and bear much of the responsibility for their spiritual condition. When I met a brother who was wrong, I often tried to exhort him. But I could only say, “Brother, you are lacking in love. Next time, you have to love your brother.” He may have succeeded in loving, and I may have felt great that I saw some result to my work. But actually, what he acquired was love and not Christ. Love to that brother was not a person but a thing, a behavior. This is a Christianity of behavior. It is human conduct; it is man who is working, seeking, hoping, praying, believing, receiving, gaining, and acquiring something called love. This is why I say that love is only a thing and a behavior to him. But if that love is Christ, it is a totally different story. Christ alone is everything; it is not him. Christ is loving; it is not him who is loving. This makes love a law of life instead of an act of the will. This is a different kind of Christianity.
I do not know whether you have seen the difference. What do you feel when you render some help to a brother and open his eyes and help him to go on with the Lord? The most difficult thing we face today is that many people are merely involved in the things of Christianity; they do not know Christ and have not realized that God’s thing is just Christ.
THE SECOND STAGE OF KNOWING
What does it mean to know Christ? I may say that knowing Christ is to know Him through matters and things. What does it mean to know Christ through matters and things? It means knowing that Christ is our matters and Christ is our things. Some people can say that they know Christ as their patience, Christ as their love, or Christ as their humility; this is knowing Christ. Once a person has this knowledge, he will have a thorough change. Once he has this change, he will say that his world does not consist of any thing anymore. I believe that some among us can say this, and some among us know what this means. In my world, my spiritual world, there are not many things. In my spiritual world, there is only Christ. I do not have any holiness; I only have Christ. But this does not mean that I am not holy; it means that Christ has become my holiness. If you have this experience, you will immediately see that Christ is the One who is. This is the focus of everything—Christ is the One who is. If you have this experience, you will be delivered from all the outward things. The only question now is whether or not you know Christ. It is not a question of prayer, exhortation, or encouragement.
I wish to see my co-workers paying more attention to this matter. It is not a matter of exhortation or encouragement. If you try to encourage someone, at the most you will stir him up to do something by himself. But the only thing that counts is God opening man’s eyes to know Christ. Even if I could repeat the things I have said a hundred times, it would still be useless. If God opens our eyes to see that Christ is the one thing we lack, everything is solved. Many people know Christ as the Lord of justification, but they still fear God and do not know that Christ is their righteousness. Many people know Christ as the Sanctifier, but they are still not sanctified. This is because they think that they lack sanctification. They think that the Lord is the One who sanctifies them, and they ask Him to give them the strength to become sanctified; they want to be sanctified. But while they are doing this, they find that they cannot make it. They cannot do it; they cannot be sanctified. Then God opens their eyes and gives them the light to see that Christ is their sanctification. God is not asking them to be sanctified; He is not giving them the strength to be sanctified. Rather, Christ becomes their sanctification. Christ in them has become their sanctification. When this happens, all problems will go away because He will be the “I am.” I can afford to lose my power. But I cannot afford to lose Christ. My sanctification is not something I do in myself. My sanctification is something He has done in me. Once I know what Christ is to me, all the problems are solved. Christ is the One who is. I have nothing else to say. I have only one thing to tell you: Christ is the One who is.
The problem is that although many of us know that Christ is our Lord, we do not know that Christ is our matters and things. All those who know Him only as the Redeemer, Justifier, Sanctifier, or any other “-er,” only know His work; they do not know what He is. But God wants us to know Him as redemption, sanctification, and righteousness.
Let me ask a question: Is the Lord Jesus you know your Savior or your salvation? Is the Lord you know your Redeemer or your redemption? Is He your Liberator or your liberation? Is He your Sanctifier or your sanctification? Is He your Justifier or your righteousness. Those who know Him as the “-er,” only know Him in a superficial way. Those who know Him as matters and things enter the second stage of their knowing of Him, and their knowing of Him is higher and deeper.
The problem among God’s children is that there are too many things. When we know the Lord as the One who is, our things will become a person, and everything will be settled. Then God’s purpose, which He intends to fulfill in eternity, will be fulfilled in us.
Whenever our holiness, redemption, regeneration, power, grace, and gift only remain as things, we are barely touching the periphery of Christianity. When we no longer see these things as things, but as the Lord Himself, we will begin to know God. Then we will begin to enter the goal of God’s eternal purpose. From that point on, we will no longer see the many things of this world. We will see the Lord alone. He will become the One upon whom all the issues hinge.
This is why I said at the beginning that many people have things that are dead. Only when they understand what we are speaking of here will their things become personified. It is Him. Our regeneration is not a thing, but a person. We have a personified One, not a thing. Everything that I have is personified, because everything that I have is the Lord. First, the Lord leads us to know Him. Then He leads us to know that He is our things. When we are led to know Him as all things, we will be delivered from our own life, and we will be delivered even from the spiritual world and spiritual things. From that day on, we will truly say that the Lord is all and in all. We will truly say that He is everything in our living. If I am patient today, I am not the one who is patient, but Christ is my patience within me. When I love today, I am not the one who is trying to love. The power of love is not within me; rather, a person loves within me. If I can forgive today, it is not because I am forbearing, it is not because I have made any effort of my own, and it is not because I am capable. If I can forgive today, it is because there is One within me who is always forgiving. He is my forgiveness. We are humble not because we have told ourselves that we are too proud and that we have to be humble. We do not become humble by suppressing our pride or by making up our mind to be humble. Rather, a person is living out humility within us; He is our humility. This is why we can be humble. This is the law of life which we have been speaking of during the past few months. The law of life is nothing other than Christ becoming our things and Christ becoming our life.
Brothers and sisters, may the Lord open our eyes. We pray that He would truly open our eyes so that we would see. All things will eventually pass away, and only He will remain. Therefore, here in this place, we should only have Him alone.