Prayer: Lord, we thank You that by Your mercy and grace we can be here, gathered together into You. Lord, we believe that Your oracle will be here again. Speak to us. Open us to You as You are open to us. Lord, we need Your clear sky. Take away all the veils. We need to see something that is deep within You. We do not want knowledge; we do not want doctrine. We desire to touch Yourself as the life-giving Spirit, as the transforming Spirit, as the glorifying Spirit, as the Lord Spirit. We do not want to touch anything else. Hallelujah! You are such a Spirit, and You are now in our spirit. We thank You and worship You for these two spirits, the divine Spirit and the human spirit mingled together as one spirit. Tonight we believe that we are in this one spirit. Speak to us in this spirit. Even, Lord, speak in our speaking. Amen.
The burden for the messages in this book can be expressed in the following two sets of statements, the first set concerning the God-men (plural) and the second concerning a God-man (singular):
The God-men, as the regenerated children of God, constitute the new man, as the new creation of God, with the divine life.
The God-men, as the spiritual household of God, build up the Body of Christ, as the Triune God’s organism, with the transforming life.
The God-men, as the royal priesthood of God, struggle to be the overcomers, as God’s Zion in Jerusalem, with the reigning life.
The God-men, as the chosen race of God, consummate the New Jerusalem, as God’s eternal expression, with the glorifying life.
A God-man who knows the excellent Christ should live a life conformed to the death of Christ by the power of His resurrection (Phil. 3:8, 10).
A God-man who has Christ living in him should live Christ and magnify Christ by the bountiful supply of His Spirit (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:19-21).
A God-man who has been freed by Christ as the Lord Spirit should be transformed and conformed to the glorious image of Him as the firstborn Son of God (2 Cor. 3:17-18; Rom. 8:29).
To reign by grace in life in this age and to triumph in Christ unto glory in the next age.
The subject of the messages in this book can be expressed in just two words: the God-men. The six chapters of this book cover four major topics: the first, the God-men and the new man; the second, the God-men and the Body of Christ; the third, the God-men and the overcomers; and the last, the God-men and the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is the conclusion of the entire sixty-six books of the Bible.
Some may ask, “In what book, what chapter, and what verse can you find this wonderful term the God-men?” The answer is very simple. Although we cannot find the term the Triune God in the Bible, nearly all Bible students recognize that the entire Bible reveals the Triune God. In the same principle, although we cannot find the term the God-men in the Bible, the fact, the reality, of the God-men is in the Bible. Initially, the Bible speaks of the God-man. Today this God-man has become the God-men. The God-man is Jesus Christ, who is God incarnated to be a man. As such a One, He is the God-man. Furthermore, He is the model God-man, the prototype for the producing of many God-men (Rom. 1:3-4; 8:29), including all the dear saints throughout the world. Regardless of our nationality, and regardless of whether we are male or female, young or old, we all must believe that we are God-men. We are all God-men, and each one of us is a God-man.
I. THE GOD-MEN
A. Born of God to Be His Sons
The first qualification of the God-men is that they are born of God to be His many sons (John 1:12-13; Heb. 2:10). Originally, we were merely created men. After being created, we became fallen sinners. We were not sons of God. But praise Him, according to His eternal economy, four thousand years after He created Adam, God came out of eternity and entered into time, and He became a man. This man is Jesus Christ. In the past two thousand years of human history, Jesus Christ as the God-man has influenced the entire world. Today He is still doing the same thing, but He is doing it not by Himself alone but by thousands and even millions of God-men, who are the mass reproduction of Him as the prototype.
Although we are of different races and nationalities, by His mercy we have all become the same: we are all God-men. A God-man is one who has been born of God. In Christianity there is a theology that tells people that we believers became sons of God not by birth but by adoption. According to this theology, we were not born of God but were merely adopted by God. However, according to the Scriptures, we, the believers in Christ, were all born of God to be His sons. As the sons of God, surely we are God-men. We are the same as the One of whom we were born. It would be impossible to be born of God and not be the sons of God. Since we are the sons of God, we are God-men.
B. Having the Divine Life
As sons of God and as God-men, we have the divine life (John 3:15, 36a). Many Christians realize that they have eternal life, yet they do not know what eternal life is. Furthermore, they do not know what the divine life is. They do not know that, as regenerated ones, they have another life in addition to their own human life. We all need to realize that in addition to our natural life, we have another life, the divine life. The natural life makes us a natural man, and the divine life makes us a divine man. We all can boast that we are divine persons because we have been born of the divine life. Since we have been born of the divine life and possess the divine life, surely we are divine persons. We have been born of the divine life; therefore, we are divine. It is a pity that the majority of regenerated people do not know that they have God’s life in addition to their own life. Our own life is a human life; thus, we are all human. But through regeneration we have received another life, which has been added to our natural life. This life is not only holy and heavenly but also divine. Thus, we have all become divine.
Although we are divine men, we need to ask ourselves whether we live, act, and behave ourselves as divine men. Some of us may feel that we are not qualified to be even a human man, not to mention a divine man. Because of our poor behavior, we may consider ourselves “turtles” and not men. Nevertheless, because we have been born of God and have the divine life, we can say that we are not only higher than the turtles, but we are even much higher than the top human beings. We may feel that we are not qualified to say this, but actually we are more than qualified. My burden in these messages is to help you to see a vision from the heavens. Do not look at yourself. We are not worthwhile to look at. We must look away to the heavens. In the heavens the angels are rejoicing because they see that all the believers are divine. The angels have only the angelic life; they are not divine. What an honor and what a glory that we human beings can be divine!
In our recent crystallization-study of the Epistle of James, I pointed out that the Christian perfection stressed by James is not the genuine Christian perfection revealed in the entire divine revelation of the New Testament. I said that the perfection stressed by James is a pretense and is the product of self-cultivation, by the natural life endeavoring to develop the “bright virtue” in the man of the old creation. This is in contrast with the genuine Christian perfection, which is produced by the believers with the rich element of all that Christ is, by the bountiful supply of the all-inclusive consummated Spirit, and through the power of Christ’s resurrection and the death of Christ’s cross. The Bible, according to God’s economy, teaches all God’s chosen ones, who have believed in Christ and have been regenerated by the Spirit and who have become the God-men, to be divine persons (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:19-21a).
C. Having the Divine Nature
As those who are born of God, the God-men have not only the divine life but also the divine nature. Thank God that in the Bible, among the sixty-six books, there is one verse, 2 Peter 1:4, that says that we are partakers of the divine nature, which is the nature of God. We should mark such a verse in our Bibles so that whenever we open the Bible, that verse will stand out. We are not turtles, because we do not have the turtle nature. We are men, for we do have the human nature. But we have also been born of God; we are God’s sons, God’s children. Thus, we have God’s nature. Since we have God’s nature, are we not God? In fact, we are God in His life and His nature, but not in His Godhead.
D. Having Two Lives, Human and Divine, Living Together as One Life
As God-men, we also have two lives, human and divine, living together as one life. We may wonder how two lives could live together as one life. The answer is very simple. In grafting, a branch from one tree is grafted into another tree. The two are joined together, and the two lives live together as one life. In the same principle, we, the believers, have been grafted into Christ (Rom. 11:17-19) and are living in an organic union with Him. In such a union the human life and the divine life are joined as one so that they live together as one mingled life and one living.
E. Having Two Natures, Humanity and Divinity
The God-men not only have two lives, but they also have two natures, humanity and divinity. This is marvelous. Today’s Christianity makes God’s salvation merely a religion. Religion does not teach people to be God-men by receiving God into them. Religion always cultivates man’s natural capacity in order to build up the self. Education does the same thing; it merely builds up the human being. Apparently, the Bible also does this, but actually it does not. The Bible does not build up the natural man; rather, it builds up a God-man. We are born of God, and we are children of God. The Bible builds us up to be proper God-men.
My burden in the Lord’s ministry is not to build you up to be a nice man, a good man, or a gentle man, but to be a God-man. I have given thousands of messages on how to be a Christ-man, a God-man. In the Lord’s recovery our teaching is not to raise up good men. Our teaching, absolutely according to the Bible, is to raise up God-men.
Eventually, the Bible builds up a corporate man. Ultimately, this corporate man will be enlarged to be its consummation, the New Jerusalem. The issue of the Bible’s teaching is just one entity, the New Jerusalem as the aggregate of all the God-men.
We need to know by seeing that we have God’s life and possess God’s nature. There is such a fact that the divine life is mingled with our human life. Therefore, we must learn how to live not by our human life but by God’s life mingling with our human life to make us divine.
F. The Human Life (the Old Man) Being Crucified for the Living of the Divine Life with the Resurrected Human Life (the New Man)
Our human life (the old man) has been crucified for the living of the divine life with the resurrected human life (the new man) (Gal. 2:20a; Eph. 4:22-24). Our old man, the natural man, should not be cultivated. Rather, it should be cut off; it should be crucified. It has been crucified already with Christ on the cross (Rom. 6:6). Christ has crucified all His believers so that His believers may live not by the crucified life but by the divine life in a humanity that is resurrected. Now the divine life is living not in the natural humanity but in the resurrected humanity. That is the new man. We all need to see such a vision. Because I have seen this, I always hate my own humility. I hate my humility much more than my pride, because both my pride and my humility belong to the old man. We should always be reminded that our old man was crucified. Then, in regeneration our natural humanity was resurrected. Regeneration is a resurrection (cf. Acts 13:33). To be regenerated is to be resurrected with the divine life. Therefore, today we should live a life conformed to the death of Christ (Phil. 3:10) that the divine life may have an opportunity to live with our resurrected humanity.
G. For the Manifestation of God in the Flesh as the New Man
This is for the manifestation of God in the flesh as the new man (1 Tim. 3:16; Eph. 2:15). First Timothy 3:16 says, “And confessedly, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was manifested in the flesh.” According to the context of this verse, godliness here refers not only to piety but also to the living of God in the church, that is, to God as life lived out in the church. Godliness means that God becomes man and man becomes God. This is a great mystery in the universe. God has become man so that man may become God to produce a corporate God-man for the manifestation of God in the flesh as the new man.
H. Growing Up for the Purpose of Building Up the Organic Body of Christ for the Fulfillment of the Eternal Economy of God
This corporate God-man grows up for the purpose of building up the organic Body of Christ for the fulfillment of the eternal economy of God (Eph. 4:12-13, 15-16). The manifestation of God is possible by the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is just the manifestation of God for the fulfillment of the eternal economy of God. Regardless of how much our natural self can be built up, and regardless of how much our natural capacity can be cultivated, we can never be the manifestation of God, and we can never be a part of the Body of Christ. This must be the responsibility of the God-men. The God-men are born of God to have God’s life and God’s nature, to live by a mingled life in a mingled nature, to build up the Body of Christ as God’s manifestation. This is the revelation of the Bible. The natural concept we have received from human philosophy and religion is not the revelation of the Bible. The Bible does not teach this. The Bible teaches that a man must be born of God to be a God-man, and this God-man must be raised up, must grow up. Then the God-men know how to build up themselves to be the Body of Christ for the manifestation of God and for the fulfillment of God’s economy.
II. THE NEW MAN
The Bible never says that there are many new men. The Bible tells us that there is only one new man (Eph. 2:15). This one new man is not an individual; he is a corporate man, and this corporate new man is the aggregate of all the God-men. When we put all the God-men together, we have one man. This one man is called “the new man” (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), referring to the new mankind. Adam was the old mankind. All his descendants are one with him to be the old man. Today we, the believers in Christ, are all one with Christ to be the new man.
A. Created by Christ
The new man was created by Christ (Eph. 2:15). To understand how the new man was created, we need a detailed definition. We were born the old man. One day we heard about the Lord Jesus and we believed in Him, and we received Him into us. He is the very embodiment of God (Col. 2:9). This means that when the Lord Jesus entered into us, God came into us; God was imparted into us. On the one hand, the divine element was brought into our being, and on the other hand, Christ terminated our old nature on the cross. Hence, Christ terminated our old nature and imparted God into us as the new element. By these two things Christ created us to be the new man. To create us, the sinners, to be the new man, our natural person, our natural being, had to be crossed out, and God Himself had to be imparted into us. This is the constitution of the new man.
B. With the Jews and the Gentiles as the Materials
According to Ephesians 2:15, Christ used the Jews and the Gentiles as the materials in His creating of the new man. Christ created the new man by imparting the divine nature into the redeemed humanity of the believing Jews and Gentiles.
C. In Himself as the Divine Element
Ephesians 2:15 says, “…that He [Christ] might create the two in Himself into one new man.” The new man was created in Christ as the divine element. When we were the old man, we had the human element but did not have the divine element. Since God Himself has been imparted and added into us, we now have the divine element in us. Since we have the divine element, we have become something new. This new thing in its totality is the new man.
D. Through His Death on the Cross
The new man was created through Christ’s death on the cross. Thousands of Christians have read Ephesians 2:15; 4:24; and Colossians 3:10, and they have seen the term the new man according to the letter, but they do not know what the new man is. Our becoming the new man was not merely a matter of our repenting and being sorry for our past and thereby becoming new. This is the teaching of Confucius; it is not the teaching of the Bible. In the creating of the new man, first our natural man was crucified by Christ on the cross, and then through the crossing out of the old man, Christ imparted God’s element into us. Thus, we became an entity that is different from the old man, because we have God’s element in us.
Ephesians 2:15 tells us that Christ did this creating work on the cross. We usually consider that Christ’s work on the cross was related only to negative things, to cross us out, to crucify us. But Ephesians 2:15 tells us that on the cross Christ did something positive, to generate us, not to put us to death. This divine thought is clearly seen in Ephesians 2:15. The cross of Christ not only destroys and kills; it also generates and brings in something divine.
The new man was created by Christ with two kinds of materials. The first is the redeemed created man; the second is the divine element. On the cross Christ put these two materials together to produce a new man. If a grain of wheat is sown into the earth, on the one hand the grain of wheat will die. While it is dying, it is growing. The death of the grain of wheat brings forth a new plant. What was once only a grain of wheat eventually becomes a new plant that bears many grains of wheat (John 12:24). Through the death of the grain of wheat, the grain of wheat is terminated. At the same time, something is germinated that grows up to be a new plant. This is an illustration of what was accomplished in Christ’s death. While He was on the cross, Christ was terminating, and He was also begetting.
First Peter 1:3 says that God the Father begot us through Christ’s resurrection. According to this view, we were crucified on the cross and were germinated in Christ’s resurrection. Thus, it may seem incorrect to say that Christ begot us on the cross. However, we should never separate resurrection from the cross. Christ’s death is always linked to His resurrection. His death brings in resurrection. In John 12:24 the Lord Jesus said, “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The one grain of wheat falls into the earth to die, but this death causes the grain to grow and become a hundred grains of wheat. In the death of the one grain we can see two things: the dying of the grain of wheat and the bringing forth of a new life. Similarly, when we receive Christ into us as our Savior and life, He is always with His death and resurrection.
Furthermore, the Lord’s resurrection includes His death. His death power is implied and included in His resurrection. His resurrection cannot be separated from His death. When we receive Him as our life, that life is resurrection (John 11:25), and in that life there is also the element of death. On the one hand, it imparts life to us, and at the same time, it crucifies us. Therefore, to be a believer as a God-man is not to cultivate anything of our natural life. We must realize that we have received Christ as our life (Col. 3:4a), and this life is in resurrection. Moreover, in that resurrection there is continually a putting to death.
We all know from our experience that the more we pray to the Lord, the more we contact the Lord, the more we allow the Lord to impart Himself into us, on the one hand, the more we become spiritually alive, and on the other hand, the more we desire to terminate our old self. After our proper prayer, the issue is always that we become living and at the same time are put to death. This kind of experience produces the new man. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 2:15 that Christ created the Jews and the Gentiles together on the cross into one new man. Therefore, Christ’s crucifixion was a creating.
E. To Be the One New Man for the Body of Christ
The one new man is for the Body of Christ (Eph. 2:16). To build up the Body, the God-men as the constituents of the new man must be raised up by growing up (Eph. 4:15). The spiritual raising up is not like the natural cultivation. It is to raise up the God-men to grow unto maturity, so that these God-men will do the work of building up the Body of Christ (vv. 12, 16).
F. Having the Believers as His Constituents, Who Are Christ and in Whom Is Christ
The constituents of the new man are the believers, the God-men, who are Christ and in whom is Christ (Col. 3:10-11). According to Colossians 3:11, Christ is all the members of the new man and in all the members. He is everything in the new man. Actually, He is the new man, His Body (1 Cor. 12:12). In the new man He is the centrality and universality. He is the constituent of the new man, and He is all in all in the new man.
G. To Be the Corporate Christ
All the God-men are the corporate Christ. This corporate Christ is in all the constituents, the members, of the new man. This means that the new man, as the totality of the God-men, becomes the corporate Christ. What kind of teaching could cause us to become Christ and even the corporate Christ? Only the teaching of the Bible. The Bible teaches the God-men to constitute the new man, and the new man is the corporate Christ.
H. By the Believers Putting Off the Old Man and Putting On the New Man through the Renewing of the Spirit in Their Mind
The new man was created by Christ, but the believers need to partake of this creation. To bring forth this new man, first Christ’s creating work on His cross was needed. Christ has already accomplished that work. In addition, every day we need to put off the old man and put on the new man through the renewing of the spirit in our mind (Eph. 4:22-24).
Our spirit is mingled with the divine Spirit (Rom. 8:16). Today our spirit is not a single spirit; it is a mingled spirit. This mingled spirit can enter into our mind. By our loving the Lord, by our praying to the Lord, and by our reading the Bible, our mind is filled with the mingled spirit. This changes and renews our mind. Our renewed mind then becomes a renewing mind. After I was saved I began to love the Lord, to pray to Him, and to read His Word year after year. This brought the mingled spirit into my mind, and this mingled spirit within me changed my mind, my view, and my thinking. Such a changed mind renews our entire being. This is to complete Christ’s creating of the new man.
Christ created the new man, but this creating has not yet been consummated. Christ has created us to be a new man, but after we are saved, we need to partake of this creation by putting off the old man and putting on the new man by having our mind filled with our mingled spirit. All these words are a heavenly language; they have nothing to do with philosophy or human logic. This is the divine revelation from the Bible. We all need to see this. Because I have seen this, no one can change me in my vision.
I. To Be the New Creation of God
The new man, created by Christ on the cross and consummated by our putting off the old man and putting on the new man through the renewing of our mind by the mingled spirit, eventually becomes the new creation of God. The God-men constitute the new man, and the new man eventually becomes the new creation.
1. In Christ as the Element
The new creation is in Christ as the element (2 Cor. 5:17). The very Christ is the element, the factor, of the new creation.
2. As the Unique Accomplishment in God’s Economy
The new creation is the unique accomplishment in God’s economy (Gal. 6:15). The consummate point of God’s economy is the new creation. This new creation eventually becomes the New Jerusalem as the ultimate consummation of God’s divine work (Rev. 21:2) carried out through four ages of humanity by God Himself in Christ and through the Spirit as the Triune God. By God in Christ through the Spirit in our spirit, this new creation is consummated to be the New Jerusalem. This will show God’s wisdom, as a shame to God’s enemy Satan in his cosmos (Eph. 3:10).
THE INTRINSIC CONTENT OF THE TEACHING OF THE BIBLE
In this chapter we have covered three main things: the God-men, the new man, and the new creation. The God-men are the believers in Christ, who are reborn of God to be His sons. These sons possess God’s divine life and His divine nature. They live by this divine life with this divine nature to constitute the new man.
According to the Bible the new man was created by Christ on the cross and is consummated by the Spirit in our spirit. Christ created the new man in His death. In His death He terminated the old, fallen man and redeemed the original man created by God. At the same time He released the divine life from within Him and imparted this divine life into the redeemed humanity. The new man was created in this way. However, according to the Bible, the new man still must be consummated. The new man is consummated by the Spirit, who is the reality of Christ’s resurrection, which is a continuation of His death. Such a Spirit works in the believers to put off the old man, which Christ crucified on the cross, and to put on the new man, which Christ brought forth by imparting Himself as life into the redeemed humanity. The Spirit consummates what Christ created as the new man, in the way of renewing the believers by putting off the old man and putting on the new man through the renewing of their mind, which is saturated by the Spirit in their spirit, which becomes the mingled spirit in their mind to renew their entire person. Today in the universe there is such a man, on the one hand constituted of the God-men, and on the other hand created by Christ through His death and consummated by the Spirit through the renewing within the believers.
This new man needs to work, to move, and to carry out something. To do this, the new man needs a new universe. This new universe is the new creation. The new man is the person to carry out something in the new creation as the new universe. In this new universe, which is the new creation, the new man as a corporate person, the enlarged and corporate Christ, brings forth the Body of Christ, which is the very good pleasure and heart’s desire of God. This one Body of Christ consummates the New Jerusalem as God’s ultimate goal to fulfill God’s eternal economy.
For the past nineteen centuries thousands of Bible lovers have studied the Bible. If they were asked what the Bible teaches, they would give many different answers. What I have presented to you in this chapter is the highest standard of what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches only five things: the God-men, the new man, the new creation, the Body of Christ, and the New Jerusalem. The first three—the God-men, the new man, and the new creation—are the factors to bring forth one object of two aspects—the Body of Christ and the New Jerusalem. The God-men, the new man, and the new creation are for the producing of the Body of Christ, which will consummate the New Jerusalem as God’s ultimate goal. This is the real and intrinsic understanding of what the Bible teaches.
In the past seventy-three years, from 1922 until the present, the Lord in His recovery has used us to develop the intrinsic understanding of His Word. In these seventy-three years Brother Watchman Nee’s ministry occupied the first thirty years, from 1922 to 1952, the year he was imprisoned. During that period Brother Nee laid a very good foundation. From 1952 until today, a period of forty-three years, we, the co-workers of Brother Nee, have continued to develop what he laid as a foundation. In the past two years we have reached the ultimate consummation of our development. This development consummates in the God-men, the new man, the new creation, the Body of Christ, and the New Jerusalem. This is the conclusion of our seventy-three years of labor on this Holy Book. I believe that nothing could be higher than this. In the past two years I have been occupied with this day and night. To release this high revelation, there is a need to put out the crystallization-study of the holy Word.
The intrinsic content of the teaching of the Bible is the God-men, the new man, the new creation, the Body of Christ, and the New Jerusalem. In this chapter we have covered the first three of these items—the God-men, the new man, and the new creation. We need to receive a clear impression that we believers are the God-born God-men to grow in order to constitute the new man. The new man was created by Christ through His death and is consummated by the Spirit through His renewing. This new man becomes a person to move and work out God’s purpose in a new universe, that is, the new creation.
Source: God-Men, The, by Witness Lee