Chapter 5 THE PERSONS OF GOD AND THE PARTS OF MAN
THE PERSONS OF GOD AND THE PARTS OF MAN
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in those who are perishing, in whom the god of this age has blinded the thoughts of the unbelievers that the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us. (2 Cor. 4:3-7)
These verses tell us that Satan, the god of this age, blinds the thoughts of the unbelievers that the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ might not shine on them. The enemy is afraid of the shining of the gospel of the glory of such a Christ. The gospel of the glory of Christ in verse 4 corresponds to the knowledge of the glory of Godin verse 6. The treasure in verse 7 is the very God in Christ who has shined Himself into us, the earthen vessels.
We have seen the economy of God and the mark of God’s economy. We have pointed out that the main thing in the economy of God is that God intends to work Himself into us. God works Himself into our different parts through His different persons. If we read the Scriptures carefully, we will realize that this is the main thing.
God created man for the unique purpose that man might be His container. Romans 9:21 and 23 and 2 Corinthians 4:7 clearly show that God created us to be His containers so that we might contain Him. We are merely empty containers, and God intends to be our only content. To illustrate, bottles are necessary to contain beverages, and light bulbs are necessary to contain electricity. If we look at the bottles made for beverages and the light bulbs made for electricity, we will realize that these “peculiar” containers are quite specific articles; they were made for a particular use. We human beings are also “peculiar” containers, for we too were made for a specific purpose. After being made, the light bulbs must contain electricity; otherwise, they will be meaningless and good for nothing. Likewise, if the bottles never contain a beverage, they will become meaningless. Man was made purposely to contain God. If we do not contain God and know God as our content, we are a senseless contradiction.
Regardless of how much education we may obtain, what kind of position we may have, or how much wealth we may possess, we are still meaningless, since we were purposely made as a container to contain God as our sole content. As containers, we must receive God into our being. Although this word may seem simple, it is the exact word needed to point out the main thought of the whole Scripture. The basic teaching of the whole Scripture is simply this: God is the very content, and we are the containers made to receive this content. We must contain God and be filled with God.
THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE SPIRIT
In order that God may put Himself into us as our content, He must exist in three persons. We can never adequately understand the mystery of God’s three persons. We are told clearly in several places in the Scriptures that God is only one God. First Corinthians 8:4 and 6 and 1 Timothy 2:5 declare this. But in the first chapter of Genesis the pronoun used for God is not the singular I but the plural Us.
Let us read Genesis 1:26 and 27: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...God created man in His own image.” Verse 26 uses the plural pronoun Our, whereas verse 27 uses the singular pronoun His. Please tell me, is God singular or plural? Who can explain this? God Himself used the plural pronoun for Himself: “Let Us make man in Our image.” But if you say that God is more than one, you are a heretic, because the Bible tells us that God is uniquely one. In the whole universe there is not more than one God. Why, then, if God is uniquely one, is the plural pronoun used?
Everyone who is familiar with Hebrew can tell us that the word God in Genesis 1 is in the plural number. The Hebrew word for God in verse 1 is Elohim, which is in the plural number. However, in Hebrew the predicatecreated is in the singular number. This is very strange. The grammatical composition of this verse contains a subject in the plural number but a verb in the singular number. No one can argue with this; it is proven by the Hebrew.
Now let us read Isaiah 9:6: “For a child is born to us, / A Son is given to us;... / And His name will be called... / Mighty God, / Eternal Father.” This verse does not say “mighty man” but “Mighty God.” A little child is called Mighty God. All Christians agree with the prophecy of this verse. The child mentioned here refers to the child born in the manger at Bethlehem, who is not only named Mighty God but also Eternal Father. As a child born to us, He is called Mighty God, and as a Son given to us, He is called Eternal Father. This is very strange. When the child is called Mighty God, is He a child or is He God? And when the Son is called Eternal Father, is He the Son or is He the Father? If you try to figure it out, you cannot do it. You must take it as a fact, unless, of course, you do not believe the Scriptures. If you believe the authority of the Scriptures, you must accept the fact that since the child is called Mighty God, the child is the Mighty God, and since the Son is called the Father, the Son is the Father. If the child is not the Mighty God, how could the child be called Mighty God? And if the Son is not the Father, how could the Son be called Eternal Father? In view of this, how many Gods do we have? We have only one God, because the child Jesus is the Mighty God, and the Son is the Eternal Father.
Furthermore, 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “The Lord is the Spirit.” According to our understanding, who is the Lord? We all agree that the Lord is Jesus Christ (4:5; Phil. 2:11). But 2 Corinthians 3:17 says that the Lord is the Spirit. Who is the Spirit? We must admit that the Spirit here must be the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Son is called the Father, and the Son, who is the very Lord, is also the Spirit. This means that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one. We emphasize this matter because it is by His different persons that God works out His economy. Without these different persons—the person of the Father, the person of the Son, and the person of the Spirit—God could never bring Himself into us.
Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This verse does not say, “Baptizing them into the name of any one divine person,” nor does it say, “Into the names.” Rather, it says, “Into the name [singular] of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” What does it mean to be baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Spirit?
Let me illustrate it in this way: If you buy a watermelon, your intention is to eat and digest this melon. In other words, your intention is to work this melon into you. How can this be done? First, you buy the whole melon; second, you cut it into slices; and third, before this melon enters your stomach, you chew it until it becomes juice. The sequence is: melon, slices, and finally juice. Are these three different things or one? This is an illustration of the Divine Trinity in God’s economy.
Most melons are larger than our stomach. How can we swallow a large melon when our mouth is so small and our throat is so slender? Before the melon can become the proper size for us to eat, it must be cut into slices. Then, once it is eaten, it becomes juice. Are the slices not the melon? And is the juice not the melon? If we say that they are not, we must be most ignorant.
The Father is illustrated by the whole melon, the Son by the slices, and the Spirit by the juice. Now we can see the point: The Father is not only the Father but is also the Son, and the Son is not only the Son but is also the Spirit. In other words, the melon is also the slices to eat and the juice within us. The melon disappears after it is eaten. Originally, the melon was on the table, but after being eaten by us and our family, the melon is in the whole family.
In the Gospel of John the Father is seen in the first chapters, the Son as the expression of the Father is seen in the succeeding chapters, and eventually the Spirit as the breath of the Son is seen in verse 22 of chapter 20. This one Gospel reveals the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. First, this book says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us” (1:1, 14). This very Word, who is God Himself, one day became a man and dwelt among us—not within us but among us. Then He lived on the earth for thirty-three and a half years. He eventually died and was resurrected. This is mysterious, miraculous, and wonderful; we can never fathom it. In the evening on the day of His resurrection He came to His disciples in His resurrected body. All the doors were shut, yet He entered the room bodily and showed the disciples His hands and His side. This is incomprehensible. He came in a very miraculous and mysterious way. Finally, He breathed into the disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit (20:19-22). That very breath was the Holy Spirit, like the juice of the melon.
After He came to the disciples, this Gospel never mentions the ascension of Jesus to the heavens. Then where was this wonderful One at the end of this Gospel? Like the watermelon in our stomach, Jesus was within the disciples through the Spirit as the breath.
God’s economy is to work Himself into us by means of His three persons. There is the need of the three persons of the Godhead, for without these three persons God could never be wrought into us. In the illustration of the melon, without being cut into slices and received as juice, the watermelon could never be wrought into us. God can be wrought into us only by His three different persons.
THE MIND, THE HEART, AND THE IMAGE
Let us now turn to ourselves and consider what we are as containers. We should not think that we are simple. The medical doctors can tell us that the human body is very delicate and complicated. A human being is not a simple container, like a bottle containing a beverage; on the contrary, man has many different parts. This is the reason that we must know the different parts of man as well as the three persons of God in order to hit the mark of God’s economy. God’s economy involves His three persons, and the mark of His economy involves our different parts.
Those who drive a car know that it is impossible to drive a car unless we know some of its parts. We must learn at least the parts that are essential to its operation. For example, we need to identify and locate such parts as the brake pedal, the gear shift, the ignition switch, etc. If we do not know the parts of a car, we will not know how to operate it. Likewise, in order for us to realize how we can contain God, we must know the different parts of our being.
Consider how many parts are found in a short passage in 2 Corinthians 4. In verse 4 there are the thoughts, which are related to the mind, and in verse 6 there is the heart. At least two parts, the mind and the heart, are found in this passage. Perhaps you have been a Christian for many years, and up to this very time you do not know the difference between the mind and the heart. We read in these verses that the thoughts of the mind can be blinded by the enemy, and the heart can be enlightened by the light of God. The god of this age blinds the minds of the unbelievers, but God shines His light in the hearts of the believers. Perhaps you thought that you understood this part of the Word, but you might never have considered that in this verse two parts of the human being are mentioned.
Before defining the mind and the heart from the Scriptures, let us use a camera as an illustration. A camera is made to take something in. To take a picture means to take something into the camera.
In order for us to take a picture into a camera, three main things are needed: a lens without, film within, and light. If we have these three things, an object can be taken into the camera.
Many times when an unbeliever comes to hear a good message of the gospel, we think, “Tonight this man will surely be saved.” But eventually, he is still “blank” because the enemy of God has blinded his mind. The mind is the understanding organ, and Satan has blinded the understanding of this listener. Regardless of how good the message is and how much he has heard, his understanding has been blinded, or covered. His mind is still a blank; nothing has been taken in.
Thirty years ago Brother Watchman Nee was preaching the gospel, telling people that God’s intention is not for us to do good. Good does not mean anything to God. He stressed this point so much that it was very clear. A brother had brought a friend to the meeting, and looking at his friend from time to time during the message, he noticed that he was always nodding his head positively as if he understood. The brother was very happy, thinking that his friend was listening carefully and taking everything in. After the meeting, the brother asked his friend, “What do you think about the message?” He replied, “Yes, all religions encourage people to do good.” However, in his message Brother Nee had stressed very clearly that God has no intention to require man to do good. This man’s reply indicated that his understanding was blinded by the enemy. Many times we need to pray that God will bind the god of this age and bind his blinding work during a message. To pray in this way is to pray that the cover will be taken off the lens.
After the cover is taken off, we need the right kind of film. Without the proper film, even though the lens is right, it will not work. We cannot receive a proper picture if we are using the wrong film. The film illustrates our heart. Our mind is like the lens, and our heart is like the film. Therefore, our heart must be tuned and adjusted properly. We need the lens, and we also need the film. We need an understanding mind, and we need a receiving heart. The heart must be pure, clean, right, and adjusted.
Yet even if we have the lens and the film, we still need the light. We need the light to shine through the lens and onto the film. The divine light of God’s glory shines in us to give us the image and picture of Christ. This very image of Christ is the treasure in the earthen vessels (v. 7). Through this illustration we can realize the way to deal with our mind and our heart. It is just like using a camera: we must know how to adjust the lens and how to use the film. If we do not know how to handle the lens and the film, we can never receive a proper picture.
Spiritual experiences are like taking pictures. We ourselves are the camera, and we must learn how to use our camera in order to receive God in Christ as the picture. It is regrettable that many dear Christians simply do not know how to handle their mind and their heart. In fact, they do not even know that they themselves are like a camera.
Strictly speaking, Christianity is not a religion that teaches people to do this and to do that. It is simply Christ Himself, the living One, being wrought into us. He is the very object, the very figure, and we are the camera. As the object, He must be wrought into us by the shining of the divine light through the lens of our mind onto the film of our heart. Day by day and moment by moment we need the divine light to shine more of the image of Christ through the understanding of our mind that we may receive Him into our heart. Therefore, we must learn how to adjust our mind and our heart.
Spiritual experiences are simply the pictures of Christ taken into us, the camera, and impressed upon our spiritual film. With some Christians the lens is nearly always covered, and the film is usually improperly adjusted. If you look at their “film,” you will find no “picture”; the entire film will be blank, because they have no experiences of Christ. But if the apostle Paul came and we opened his “camera” and took out the “film,” we would find that every “photo” is a picture full of Christ.
Everything depends on how much we adjust the lens and take care of the film—that is, how much we deal with our mind and properly tune our heart. If we do this well, whenever the divine light shines in us, the image of Christ will be shined into us. We will have a beautiful picture of Christ. This is God’s economy with its mark.
Now we know the importance of learning our different parts. We were made to contain God in every part. We must go on to know all our different parts—more than even our mind and our heart. In the next chapter we will consider in detail all the parts of man, and later we will consider how they function and how to adjust them.