Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. He came into the world almost two thousand years ago and lived on earth as a genuine man. His life was a perfect human life that exemplifies the highest standard of morality. After thirty-three and a half years of sinless human living, He was nailed to the cross to take away the sin of all mankind (John 1:29). In this booklet we will see what happened after He accomplished the wonderful work of redeeming mankind.
The Bible says that Christ went into death for three days, but He did not remain there. On the third day He resurrected spiritually and physically (1Cor. 15:3-4). The abundant witnesses to His resurrection, who saw and talked and walked with Him, are a strong testimony to a historical fact that has remained unshaken for the past two thousand years (1 Cor. 15:5-7). Socrates died; Napoleon died; Alexander the Great died; Karl Marx died; and Mohammed, Buddha, and Confucius all died. But Jesus Christ is alive! His tomb is an empty tomb, and He lives within the spirits of millions of people today.
In nature we can see the principle of resurrection every day. When a grain of wheat is planted into the ground, apparently it dies. Actually, what dies is only the outer shell. Soon the wheat germ germinates, and the wheat life comes out in a better and more glorious form. A caterpillar goes through its cocoon stage. Apparently, it dies and ceases from all outward activity; but the life within the creature continues to operate, and in a short time it emerges in full splendor and glory as a butterfly. Similarly, in His resurrection Christ was not only made alive but was also changed to another form. The Bible says that He was changed to a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45). When He was on earth, He was in the flesh. In resurrection He became the Spirit. The flesh was His form before His resurrection, and the Spirit is His form after His resurrection. Paul the apostle tells us that the first form, the flesh, was "in dishonor," "in weakness," and "earthy," but that the second form, the life-giving Spirit, is "in glory," "in power," and "heavenly" (1 Cor. 15:43, 48).
The best way to understand the Spirit is by way of illustration. Consider the air around you. It is everywhere and is available to everyone. Whether you are in the East or in the West, in a closed room or at the marketplace, the air is always with you. The Bible compares the Spirit to air. In fact, the word for Spirit in Greek is pneuma, which can also be translated "breath" or "wind." On the evening of the Lord's resurrection , He came to His disciples and did something rather strange to them: He breathed into them and said, "receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). The divine breath that He breathed into the disciples was just Himself in resurrection as the life-giving Spirit.
When Christ was living on earth, He was not fully available to the disciples. When He was in Galilee, He could not be in Jerusalem. He was limited by time and space. He could not be present with all the people all the time. But after Christ was resurrected, He became a Spirit. As the Spirit, He can now be with His disciples all the time. This is why after His resurrection He could say that He would be with His disciples "all the days until the consummation of the age" (Matt. 28:20). Today, our Christ is not limited by time and space. He can dwell within all those who believe in Him.
There is nothing more simple than breathing. A person may not understand many deep mysteries, but as long as he is a human being, he can breathe. Breathing is the most universal ability; any living creature can breathe. Christ has made Himself so available that anyone can receive Him and experience Him.
Human beings are like a rubber tire, and the Spirit is like the air. Many people live with "flat tires" in their lives; they are depressed and plod along life's journey in a bumpy way. What we need is the heavenly air - the life-giving Spirit of Christ. When we have Him, our ride will be smooth, and we will be filled with the heavenly pneuma!
The Spirit can also be illustrated by electricity. In modern civilization nearly every home has electricity installed in it. We need electricity to drive the fan, the clock, the refrigerator, the telephone, the doorbell, the television, and many other appliances. Without electricity our lives would nearly come to a standstill. Although electricity is so applicable, the source of electricity is far away from us in the hydroelectric power plant. God is like the awesome power plant up at the head of the river; He is most powerful. In order for that mighty power to be applied to us, there is the need of power lines to convey the current of electricity to us. The incarnated Christ as a man with His humanity is like the power line; He came from God the Father to us to bring God to us in our human situation. The resurrected Christ as the life-giving Spirit is like the electrical current that carries the mighty hydroelectric power from the power plant into our homes. The elec5trical current applies the power and turns it into sound, light, heat, and other useful forms in our homes. In the same way the Spirit as the current of the heavenly electricity applies all that God is to us. Through the Spirit we have love, light, truth, joy, power, and all the attributes of God. If we do not have the Spirit in us, our lives will be full of darkness, weakness, and suffocation. But the Spirit applies the Triune God to us and makes our life meaningful and full.
Many people think that to be a Christian is merely to improve their behavior or to be religious. They even build large cathedrals in which to worship God. Yet the most necessary thing is not to be outwardly good or religious. It is foolish for anyone to clean his lamps or adorn his television set without applying electricity to them. The only thing that matters is to apply alectricity to the appliances. What man needs is not bigger buildings or more religious ceremonies; none of these will give him the inward power. What man needs is the Spirit, because the Spirit is the application of God Himself to man.
When a person believes in the Lord Jesus, the Spirit comes into this person and lives within him. Second Timothy 4:22 says that the Lord Jesus Christ is with our spirit. We do not need to go to heaven to find God, and we do not need to make any pilgrimage on earth to touch Him. The most holy place is now in our spirit. When electricity is installed in a house, all that a person has to do is to turn on the switch. Today, the Spirit is "installed' in this universe - Christ has accomplished all the work, and as the life-giving Spirit, He is now everywhere. Whenever we call on the Lord's name, our spirits are "switched on," and we can experience all that God is.
We can explain the mystery of the Spirit by yet another illustration. One day in the summer I bought a watermelon from the market. The melon was large, and I perspired a lot in bringing it home. My intention was to eat and digest that melon. In order to do this, first I had to cut the melon into slices. To make it even easier to receive the melon, I then squeezed the melon slices into melon juice. That big melon became so enjoyable to me through the melon juice. Originally, God was in heaven. He can be illustrated by the big, uncut melon. One day He became a man and was crucified on the cross. Through His crucifixion He was "cut into slices." But the process did not stop there; after His death He resurrected and was transformed into the form of the Spirit. This is like squeezing the melon slices into melon juice. The Spirit is like the juice of the melon. Through this process God became accessible to us. Today, the God whom we worship is not the "uncut" God. He is a "processed" God. In other words, He has passed through a process to become the life-giving Spirit. Now we do not need to sweat and struggle to reach Him; He has become so enjoyable and accessible to us.
In the Gospel of John, at the end of the greatest religious festival of that day, Christ stood up and said that if any man was thirsty, he could come to Him and drink. Then Christ said, "He who believes into Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38). In saying this, Christ was speaking about the Spirit. It is strange that the people could still be thirsty at the end of a great religious festival. But the truth is that no outward religious observances can satisfy a man's inner thirst. The more we observe religious practices, the more we will be thirsty. What we need is a drink of the living water. Here the Spirit is likened to "rivers of living water." This living water was not there at the time Christ spoke these words, because He had not been processed through His death and resurrection. But after His death and resurrection, the process was completed, and today the Spirit as the living water is here. Now we can freely drink of the Spirit. This living water fully quenches our inner thirst.
At the time of Jesus the Jews were a religious people. They were very concerned about correct outward practices. But after practicing their religion for so many years, they were still empty and void of life. When Christ came, He told them that "it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing" (John 6:63). The flesh here refers to the flesh of the Son of God. In this universe there is no physical thing more sacred than the flesh of the Lord Jesus. It is more sacred than all icons and frescoes and relics and crucifixes in the whole world added together. Yet the Son of God said that even this sinless flesh "profits nothing." What gives life is not these physical things, but the Spirit. The Lord was turning the religious Jews from the outward physical things to the Spirit.
"It is the Spirit who gives life." But what is this life that the Spirit gives? We know that there are many forms of life. In this world there are the plant life and the animal life. The plant life is lower and the animal life is higher. Even higher than these two kinds of life is the human life. Today, various forms of plant life and animal life abound on this earth, and men with the human life also fill the entire globe. All these forms of life are wonderful; but there is a fourth kind of life - the divine life, which is God's uncreated life. The lower life exists for the higher life. Thus, the plant life exists for the animal life and supports the animal life, and the animal life is for the human life. In the same principle, the human life exists for the divine life. In fact, the plant life, the animal life, and the human life are merely shadows and pictures of the divine life. The beauty of the spring flowers points to the beauty of the divine life; the luxuriance of the forests is a picture of the abundance of the divine life; and the wisdom of the human life is a picture of the intelligence of the divine life.
What are the characteristics of this highest life? First, this life of God is divine. Being divine means being of God, having the nature of God, and being transcendent and distinct from all others. Only God is divine, so His life is divine. Furthermore,k God's life is eternal. God's life is uncreated; it has no beginning and no end. All of us were born at a certain time and on a certain day, and all of us realize that our human life will have a definite ending in death. However, God's life has no beginning, and it will continue in perpetuity. For centuries men have tried to build machines that will prolong their lives, but none has succeeded. But God is self-existing and ever-existing. His life is unfailing and unchangeable. God's eternal life not only endures forever, but in quality it is absolutely perfect and complete, without any shortage or defect.
This eternal life is also indestructible and indissoluble. A piece of soap can be dissolved by placing it in water, and even gold and silver can be dissolved in some solutions. But nothing can dissolve the indestructible life of God. It will remain the same forever. If you put the human life into the grave, it will soon decay and decompose. But if you put the eternal life into the grave, the grave will burst. If you place this life in any negative situation , that situation will be powerless to hold it down. The eternal life of God is an indestructible life, and nothing on earth, in heaven, or in hell can destroy it.
This is the life that Christ as the Spirit gives to us. It is much better than the religion that man has invented. In the Gospel of John this life is seen to overcome all kinds of human weaknesses and swallow up all kinds of death. In chapter three of John there is a religious person named Nicodemus. He wanted the Lord only to teach him to be moral and to be good. The Lord showed him that what was wrong with him was not his outward, wrong behavior, but a wrong life that he had. What he needed was another life - the divine life. This religious man had been born once of the human life, but now he needed to be born again of another life. The divine life does not improve our own life but regenerates us with another life.
In chapter four there is a sinful woman who came to draw water at a well. When she met Christ there, she persisted in religious questions concerning the place where men should worship God. In spite of her interest in places of worship, she was not satisfied. The Lord told her that if she would ask Him, He would give her "living water," the water of life, and that when she had this life, she would not be thirsty anymore. Empty religious worship makes a person thirsty, but the divine life causes a person to be satisfied.
In chapter five an impotent man was lying by a pool in Jerusalem. Around him were the holy city, the holy feast, the holy temple, the holy Sabbath, and the miracle waters. But in spite of all these so-called holy things of the highest religion, the man lay impotent there for thirty-eight years; he did not have the strength required for him to be healed. When Jesus saw him, He spoke to him the work of life and the man was healed. This is a picture of the divine life enlivening man and enabling man to do what religion cannot do.
In chapter six the Jews boasted about the manna that their ancestors ate in the wilderness. But Christ told them that He is the real manna and the bread of life, and that those who eat Him will not hunger anymore. A person who eats any earthly or physical bread will hunger again, even if that bread is a miracle sent from God. Only the heavenly bread, the Lord Jesus Christ, will satisfy a person and cause him to hunger no more.
In chapter seven there was again a great religious feast. Men were celebrating the feast outwardly but were not satisfied inwardly. Jesus stood up on the last day of the feast and called the thirsty ones to come to Him and drink. No religious feast can satisfy man's inner thirst. Only the Spirit as the water of life will quench man's thirst and fill his innermost being with life. Christ satisfies man's inner thirst and fills man with the heavenly rivers of life.
In chapter nine Christ healed a man born blind and restored his sight. The Lord declared that He is the light of the world and that those who follow Him will not walk in darkness but have the light of life (9:5; 8:12). We are all born spiritually blind, unable to see the divine things of God. But when we receive Christ as life, His life enlightens us and gives us sight. In spite of all that the blind man was taught by the Jewish religionists, he remained blind. But when Christ came to give this man life, his sight was restored. Religion blinds man, but the divine life enlightens man.
In chapter eleven we see a dead man, Lazarus. This is a picture of the end of human life, which is death. In such a situation of death the Lord declared that He is the resurrection and the life. Religion cannot bring a dead man back to life, but Christ as the divine life has the resurrection power to overcome death and give life to man.
Just as our human life is sustained by eating food and drinking water, so the divine life is received by the way of eating and drinking. For this purpose God has created for man a receiving organ.. The organ for us to receive physical food is our stomach. The organ by which we can receive spiritual food and drink is our spirit. God has created a spirit for man, which is designed particularly so that man can receive God. Man's spirit is different from man's body, and it is also different from man's soul. It is a part that is deeper than man's soul and lies hidden within man's soul. The Bible calls this part the spirit of man.
Christ as the Spirit and life is real today, but He cannot be realized by means of our soul, that is, our mind, emotion, and will. If you try to understand Him with your mind or feel Him with your emotion, you will not be able to experience Him. The proper organ to receive Christ is our spirit. Our spirit is our spiritual digesting organ. With our spirit we can eat an drink Christ as life to us. Two very important things related to life are eating and drinking. Without eating and drinking, man cannot survive physically. Every day we must eat and drink. The same is true with our spiritual life. In the Bible there are the river of life and the tree of life. The river of life is for our drinking, and the tree of life is for our eating. The river of life is a picture of Christ as the Spirit of life, and the tree of life is a picture of Christ as the supply of life to man in the form of food. God has no intention for us to worship Him in a religious way. His intention is that we would take in Christ as food and drink. By enjoying our God as food and drink, Christ as the Spirit and life comes into us.
The best way to eat and drink of Christ is to pray by calling on His name and to read the Bible by praying with the words of the Bible. This is not a religious exercise or a legal duty, but a way to enjoy Christ as our life.
When the divine life comes into us, we are regenerated; we have God's life, and we become God's sons. To be a Christian is not a matter of fulfilling certain religious obligations or reforming our behavior. One does not become an American be reforming himself, but by being born with a life from American parents. In the same way, we do not become sons of God by doing anything, but by receiving God's life into us.
In our human life, after we are born we continue to grow by eating and drinking. In the same way, by eating Christ as the spiritual food and drinking the Spirit as the water of life, our spiritual life will grow. Day by day as we eat and drink of Christ, we will grow in the divine life. In this way we will be a people who are filled with God and will eventually express God in our living. This is the meaning of the Christian life.
This article is taken from a series of gospel messages given in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia in 1992. They have been instrumental in bringing over 7,000 people to the knowledge of God, the Bible, and the Christian salvation.
The entire series comprises six articles with the following topics: 1) The Bible, 2) There Is God, 3) Christ Is God, 4) Christ Is Spirit and Life, 5) Christ's Redemption and Salvation, and 6) The Meaning of Human Life.