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Introduction: A Survey of the Broad Themes in this Book

Becoming a new person

The good news proclaimed in the Gospel (which means “good news”) is that no one is condemned to remain shackled to an old and futile way of life, but that everyone can be redeemed and made new in Jesus Christ. Man no longer needs to eke out his earthly existence in the gloom of perpetual spiritual darkness, unable to see the meaning of life or free himself from a sense of futility. This amazing mess­age of hope is expressed in the revolution­ary declara­tion, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2Cor.5:17, NIV). We need to let these words be absorbed into our compre­hension so as to feel their power and signifi­cance. We need to savor these words until their meaning dawns on us. We can then take hold of them and experience their reality.

Man has long aspired to something better and more enduring in life. How much blood has been shed through wars and revolutions in the hope of establishing a better world? But how can human society change for the better unless man himself is changed?

But man cannot change himself. He can make self-improve­ments, but these never add up to a funda­mental transform­ation. “Can the leopard change its spots?” (Jer.13:23) We can no more change our­selves than we can change our own skin. Only God can transform us from the inside out and make of us a “new creation”.

The message of the New Testament is that God has made this possible through Jesus Christ, calling us “out of darkness into His mar­velous light” (1Pet.2:9). “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). He frees us from the enslavement to sin which con­trolled our old way of life, in order that we may enter “the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom.8:21). He liberates us from the powers of evil which dominate life in this world, and empowers us towards a new life in Christ.

In becoming a new person, we “die” to our old life and life­style. Our old ego — the “old self” (Rom.6:6) — is terminated through our being united with the crucified Christ. Then we will receive a new identity as God’s children through the risen Christ living in us.

“New creation” and “regeneration”

The New Testament has two ways of describing this remarkable pro­cess of be­coming a new person. First, it is described as a new birth, a birth from above, a spiritual birth, in contrast to physical birth (Jn.3:3-7). This is what is called “regen­eration”. The other way it is described, especially in Paul’s letters, is “a new creation” or “a new creature” (2Cor.5:17; Gal.6:15), that is, a whole new person created in the image of Christ.

Whichever description is used, the emphasis is on the newness of the person in Christ. In the New Testament, only a new person — a regen­erated person created anew in Christ — is a “Christian”. Being a Christian is not merely a profession of faith, or church membership, or the preserving of observances, or a cultural heritage, but what one is. In the New Testament, no one is a Christian who does not have the life of Christ in him or her, or in whom the Spirit of God does not dwell.

Grace and faith

The transformation of the old into the new is nothing less than a miracle of God’s power to save. The old is under the curse of death; everything in the world which is alive will become old and die. But God reverses this process by bringing life out of death through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Those who live in the bond­age of death can now receive the life of Christ, when God fashions out of the clay of the old life a whole new person. Such a person has “passed out of death into life” (1Jn.3:14). This amazing gift of life and transformat­ion is what the New Testament calls “grace”. The one who places himself in God’s hands, believing that He can make us new persons as we obey Him wholeheartedly, is the one who has what the New Testament calls “faith”. This faith is a living relationship with the living God who gives us new life.

Faith recognizes that to establish this new relationship with God, the old relationship with our old self, or ego, has to be terminated. The old “I” has to die so that the new person in Christ can live. The old and the new are incompatible, with no compromise between them ever possible, a fact that is borne out in practical experience. Because this matter of dying is of the utmost importance, we will address it in the first two chapters.

No one will ever enter God’s kingdom unless he or she has been regener­ated by God’s power in Christ. That is to say, only those who have been made new will be saved and receive the fullness of eternal life.

God is carrying out, quietly and powerfully, an eternal plan to create new people in the midst of an old and dying world. Those who, by His grace, have experienced His transforming power will know this to be true. This hidden process, which Jesus describes as seed growing in the earth (Mt.13:3-9), is also what Paul describes as God’s mystery being revealed in this present age (1Cor.2:7; Eph.1:9, 3:3,9, 6:19; Rom.16:25 etc.).

Perfection is integral to regeneration and renewal

Looking at the three words, regeneration, renewal, and perfection, one might suppose that these refer to the past, the pre­sent, and the future of salvation neatly summed up. But in this study, we will discover that this is not exactly the case. Perfection is actually involved in all three stages of sal­vation.

The letter to the Hebrews tells us that the new life in Christ begins with our being “perfected” — that is, freed from both the guilt and the power of sin through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, without which there is no possibility of regen­eration or renewal.

Christ is the standard of perfection. It is in God’s eternal pur­pose that we be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). His conforming us to Christ’s image requires the process of renewal, which has final perfect­ion as its ultimate goal.

We reach final perfection when we “attain to the fullness of the stature of Christ” (Eph.4:13). Hence perfection is not a topic that can be relegated to a footnote in a dis­cussion on salvation, but one that overarches, or underlies, all three stages of salvation. It is for this reason that perfection takes up a substantial portion of this book.

It emerges from all this that perfection cannot be relegated to the sphere of moral theology or ethics, and then left to wither in the shade of neglect, as is happening today. Since perfection is connected to every aspect of salva­tion in the New Testament, a failure to understand the Biblical teaching on perfection will result in a failure to understand the Biblical teaching on salvation as a whole.

Biblical perfection serves as the standard, direction, goal, and vision of the new life in Christ. Its neglect inevitably results in the poverty, even bankruptcy, of the Christian life.

Regeneration and renewal

The word “regeneration” is found only twice in the New Testament (Mt.19:28; Titus 3:5), but it conveniently serves as a term to describe the starting point of the new life in Christ. Since life begins with birth, we can describe its beginning using terms such as “born from above,” “born anew,” or “born again,” as in John chapter 3. A new beginning can also be described as a new creation or a new creat­ure. The term regeneration comprehends all these ways of depicting a new beginning.

Whereas regeneration denotes the one-time inception of the new life in Christ, renewal encompasses the ongoing growth and develop­ment of the new life from its nascence to its final maturity. Renewal spans our earthly sojourn, with Christ as the model or template of the renewal process. Re­newal is the process of being perfected or being conformed to Christ’s image, according to the Father’s predestined or predetermined plan.

Perfection as Christ-likeness

Since Christ in the New Testament defines the content and meaning of perfection, I had considered the possibility of replacing the word “perfection” with “Christ-likeness”. But it soon became apparent that this could not be done without causing some confusion. For example, in the statement, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt. 5:48), the word “perfect” cannot simply be replaced by “Christ-like” without further ado, because the result, “as your heavenly Father is Christ-like,” would be problematic. The same is true of the word “perfected” in Heb­rews and elsewhere. There­fore, although Christ is the substance of perfection, the word “perfect” is not redundant and still serves as a useful vehicle to convey the treasure within it.

The use of the words “church” and “churches”

In this work the term “church” refers to the body of Christ on earth, without specific reference to denominational or local expressions of his body, whereas “churches” refers to the local or regional express­ions of the church on earth. The term “the body of Christ on earth” is used with the intention of emphas­izing that we are not referring to the spiritual or “mystical” church of Christ.

When this book expresses criticism of the spiritual state of the church or churches, it is not meant as a censure of all churches except my own! No lambasting of any particular denomination or group of churches is ever intended. The intention is rather that of self-criticism in order to bring us to an awareness of the spiritually impoverished condition of the church of God on earth at the present time. The hope is that such aware­ness will motivate and even propel us in the heavenly direction to which God has called us.

In recent years, several scandals have been given wide pub­licity in the news media. Prominent among these are those of televangelists (Protestant, Charismatic) and those of priests (Roman Catholic). It would not be right, however, to argue that the acts of corrupt elem­ents within a church (whether Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox) proves that the whole church is corrupt. But it also cannot be denied that these could be symptoms of deeper prob­lems in the churches. Our concern is with the general failure of Christians to live up to the standards so clearly laid down in the Scriptures, and to find the root causes of this failure so that these may be treated. The substandard Christ­ianity that characterizes the church generally is a cause of alarm to all who love her and love the Lord who redeemed her with his blood.

“Baptized heathen”

Some time back, a striking phrase in a book by an eminent European scholar seized my attention and became stuck in my mind ever since. In the book he lamented that the churches in the West are filled with “baptized heathen”. The situation, alas, is almost universal. But the fact that these people re­main “heathen” even after being baptized is not always, or entirely, their fault. The problem is that the church leaders often fail to teach what being a true Christian means. But again this is not necessarily entirely their fault either, for they too were not pro­perly taught. Regeneration, renewal, and perfection are not usually taught in theological colleges as standard topics.

How then can churches avoid being filled with “baptized heathen”? This book seeks to address this deadly problem which threatens the life of the church at its core, not in terms of its being a cultural or religious entity but as the living and effective body of Christ.

Reputable colleges and universities admit students only after they have met certain standards such as passing certain examinations; and the better the academic institution, the more stringent the require­ments. The church is not an academic institution, but is spiritual in character. The requirements are therefore spiritual, not academic. But does it mean that being spiritual involves no requirements or stand­ards? Is it not the case that spiritual require­ments are no less impor­tant than academic ones, but in fact more so? Is it any less important to repent of sin than to pass an examination? Is moral excellence any less important than academic excellence? Is being spiritual any less important than being learned? Why then are we so lax in our spiritual standards?

If good academic institutions have stringent entrance require­ments, how is it that many churches have virtually no spiritual requirements to speak of? Are these requirements not clearly stated in the Scriptures? Why then do we ignore them to the extent that people are admitted into the church of God with the greatest ease, meeting only superficial requirements, if any? Bap­tism is often administered without serious preparation on the part of the candi­date. This being the case, we must ask again: How can the church avoid being filled with “baptized heathen” and thus become hea­thenized? How can the church avoid sinking into conform­ity with the world, and losing its spiritual identity? “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Mt.5:13).

The passive view of grace

Another cause for concern is that the dynamic view of grace has given way to a passive view of grace in many sections of the church, notably Protestant churches. But is the passive view more God-centered? Or is it more self-centered? We shall see that it is the dynamic view of grace that is God-centered.

Is the statement, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), limited to giving to men but not to God? Is it supposed that we have nothing to give to God? What about the giving of our very selves to God, not to men­tion our possessions, gifts, time, energy, love, obedience, wor­ship, and praise? All that we are and have, we have received from Him as the gift of grace. But is our offering to God of the gifts of His grace not the result of His grace at work in us “to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil.2:13)?

Is grace counted as grace only when it is something we passively receive, but not when it inspires and empowers us to love God with our whole being and our neighbor as ourselves? In other words, is loving God and neigh­bor our own achievement, or is it a crowning work of God’s dynamic grace in us? If the latter is true, then the Lord’s words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” are true on both the horizontal level of human relationships as well as the vertical relation­ship with God. This is the cruciform character of grace. This is not to deny that it is also blessed to receive, for if we had received nothing from God, we would have nothing to give. But having received, it is more blessed to give than to keep for ourselves what we received.

Rivers of the “living water” of God’s grace

Giving leads to another divine principle: “Give, and it will be given to you” (Lk.6:38). If we keep to ourselves the grace we have received, that will be all the grace we will receive, and even that we may not be able to keep. It is in giving that we receive even more. This becomes a cycle of receiving and giving, giving and receiv­ing: an ever expanding flow of the rivers of grace. It is ever expanding be­cause what will be given us after we have given what we had first re­ceived, will not be the same as what we have given, but far more: “It will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over” (Lk.6:38). What begins as a trickling stream of grace will grow into a mighty river of God’s grace, and even many rivers. This is the picture in John 7:38, where “living water” beautifully portrays God’s grace, while “rivers” depict its overflowing abundance.

Here we glimpse the purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Just how much more abundantly is largely determined by our attitude; we can’t blame God if we don’t find ourselves enjoying the promised abundance. How much we receive depends on the measure of our giving. If we give stingily, though we may receive more than we have given, we will receive less than if we had given gener­ously: “By your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Lk.6:38). A stinting attitude towards God and man will diminish the abundance of grace we will experience. We urgently need, therefore, to be delivered from the passive attitude of a “give me” view of grace, to a dynamic “give me to give” attitude of grace.

God’s grace in us is active, transforming our lives and ener­gizing us to live for His glory. When we receive the gift of life in Christ, it will express itself in all that we think and do. If we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, how can we not produce the fruit of the Spirit? Are love, joy, peace, gentleness and self-control purely passive qualities?

Regeneration, renewal and perfection constitute a progress­ion from grace to grace, or “grace upon grace” (Jn.1:16). It is to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Pet.3:18).

The use of the word “Christian”

The word “Christian” appears three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1Pet.4:16). But already in New Testament times, there was the possib­ility of a believer or Christian conducting him­self in so substandard a manner that he could be described as “worse than an unbeliever” (1Tim.5:8). The use of the term “Christian” does not of itself guarantee that the person described by it is one who meets the Biblical standards of being a new person in Christ.

Today the term “Christian” may, on the one hand, mean nothing more than that one belongs to a Christian society or culture, or is a member of the Christian religion, but who in reality may have no religious convictions at all. On the other hand, the word “Christian” is also applied to a person who has a deep faith in Christ. This wide range of meaning makes the word vague and imprecise, rendering it almost useless.

Yet we cannot completely avoid using the term “Christian” because there is no commonly recognized word that distinguishes genuine Christians from nominal Christians. We could use the word “saint” in its Biblical mean­ing, but most are unfamiliar with its true meaning. “Believer” is not a lot more precise than “Christian”. With­out qualifi­cation, even the word “disciple” does not necessarily imply that a per­son so described is a faithful believ­er. We recall that Judas was a disciple of Jesus, even an apostle. We are there­fore obliged to use words such as genuine, committed, or true to qualify “Christian”. The difficulties that beset the term “Christian” are symp­tomatic of the problems that beset the lives of Christians in general.

Understanding “perfection” in the Bible

It is essential that we grasp Biblical perfection clearly and accurately, for there is general confusion on the subject, one that is detrimental to the Christian life. For example, many are unable to tell the differ­ence between perfection and what is called “perfectionism”. For this reason, we will discuss perfectionism later in this book. The failure to under­stand and apply the Biblical teaching on the vital subject of perfection will leave the Christian life in a state of spiritual paralysis seen in a lack of goal, direction, and motivation.

But as soon as we try to understand perfection, we are confronted by what appear to be contradictions. But the apparently contradictory statements are actually markers that define the nature of perfection. For example, in Philippians 3, Paul speaks of his being perfect and not perfect almost in the same breath! He uses the same basic word for “perfect” in two places (in the original Greek text): verse 12, “not that I have already become perfect”; but also verse 15, “let us as many as are perfect”. Similarly, John says that those born of God do not sin (1John 5:18), yet John also speaks of confessing our sins and receiv­ing forgiveness (1:9).

Even Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church seems unable to provide a better solution than to suggest different levels of perfection, without explaining what this means exactly. Without a satisfactory explanation, the sugges­tion only complicates the problem, for a low level of perfection is, by its own admission, less than perfect and cannot be pro­perly called “perfection”.

In contrast to a confused attempt at a resolution, the Bible’s answer is remarkably clear and consistent. But to grasp the answer, it is necess­ary to know that Scripture distinguishes between volition and action, the in­ternal and the external, the heart and the body, the mind and the flesh. The distinction comes out sharply in Romans chapter seven, “for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (v.18, NKJV). The chapter is summed up in the concluding words, “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (v.25).

This highlights the crucial distinction between the intention of the heart and its implementation in action. It is possible to be perfect in the heart, the intention, and the will, without these translat­ing into perfect action or a perfect life. That is because of the flesh, in which sin dwells. Yet the very next chapter, Romans 8, say that in Christ the dominion of sin is broken and we are no longer under bondage to it. But even the one who is freed from bondage to sin must go on “putting to death the deeds of the body” (v.13). The flesh will keep on fighting the spirit or the Spirit in us, as is stated in Galatians 5:17 and as we know from our own experience.

Hence it is possible to be perfect on the level of the heart in our com­mitment to God, loving and serving Him with all our hearts, yet find that in the implementation of that perfect intention, the result is less than perfect. Yet we also know that the implem­entation improves as we gain vic­tory after victory over the flesh in our lifelong battle with it. The believer is in the paradoxical situation of being perfect and imperfect at the same time, though in different respects.

It is now clear what Paul means when he says that he is perfect — perfect in his total and unconditional commit­ment and devotion to God — while on the other hand he is imperfect. He must battle with the self in the form of an ever lurk­ing pride, for which the Lord had provided him with a thorn in the flesh to help subdue it (2Cor.12:7).

John says that those who are born of God do not want to sin because their hearts are perfect towards God, yet they do sin because of “the one who is in the world” (1John 4:4), referring to the evil one who tempts them through their spiritual immaturity, in order to put in their hearts a place for idols, the things (even good things) which take over God’s central place in the heart. In fact John’s letter ends with a warning about idols. The strategy of the evil one is to go straight for the heart and lure it away from God, to destroy their perfection of heart. That the enemy has succeeded in doing this to many people can be seen from the fact that antichrists have gone out from the church (1Jn.2:18,19).

To repeat, perfection in the heart often means — and does mean — less than perfect in deed. It is this truth that I aim to bring out when I repeat, at var­ious points in this book, that perfection does not mean the total eradication of sin in us, but victory over sin. Despite having a perfect heart, we often fail for lack of spiritual knowledge. Hence it is vital that we grow in knowledge and understanding, even if we, in the process of growing, make mistakes and fall into sin. On these occas­ions, we con­fess our sins, and thank God from our hearts that we have an Advocate with the Father, namely, Jesus our Lord (1Jn.2:1).

Biblical perfection: both present and future

Beyond the vital distinction between intention and deed in which perfection in the former is possible but not always in the latter, there is another distinct­ion which explains the paradoxes seen in Paul and John.

In speaking of perfection in Scripture, it is crucial to distin­guish between perfection of love and perfection of character. The former is realizable in the present age, the latter only in the age to come.

The “perfect love” spoken of in 1John 4:12 (“God abides in us and His love is perfected in us”) has to do with the present time, not with something that will become a reality only in heaven.

Perfection of love. Matthew 5:48 (“be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”) is pivotal to Jesus’ teaching on love, including love for the enemy, which is possible only when love is “perfected” (1Jn. 2:5). The perfection mentioned in Matthew 5:48 pertains to love, and is realizable in the present age by God’s power. Indeed, Jesus requires it of his disciples. It is a wholehearted obedience to the command to love, by God’s grace (Mark 12:29-31). This can and must be done in the present age. Since God has made that love available to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), we are without excuse if we do not obey His call to perfect love.

Perfection of character. In Philippians 3, Paul aspires to a perfect conformity with Christ even though it will mean conform­ing to his suffering and death (v.10), which Paul gladly accepts. Conforming to Christ means conforming to his perfect character, a process which Romans 8:29 describes as conforming to his “image”. But Paul acknowledges that he has not yet attained it (v.12); indeed it is not fully attainable until the final resurrection and transformat­ion of our bodies in the age to come (Phil.3:21).

That we cannot attain perfect Christ-likeness in the present age is related to the fact that we cannot attain sinlessness in the present age. Christ “committed no sin” (1Pet.2:22) in his body of flesh. But so long as we are still in our bodies of flesh, the battle between flesh and spirit will continue to rage all through our earthly lives. But if we gain victory over the flesh day by day through the Spirit, we will grow in Christ-like­ness until we are granted his perfect likeness in the age to come.

Spiritual insights of a martyr

Shortly before completing this manuscript, I provid­entially came across some valuable insights on perfection in a message preached over 50 years ago by Yu Chenghua, a physi­cian who was an elder of a large congreg­ation in Shanghai. Dr. Yu was martyred for his faith in 1956 for refusing to deny the Lord and betray his fellow church leaders. The depth of his spiritual insight can be seen in his collected messages now made available under the title, Walking with God. An English transla­tion is not, to my knowledge, available at present. Walking with God is my own translation of the title, Yu Shen Tong Xing. I have also trans­lated the following extracts from his book which are his comments on obeying the command to be perfect and attaining to perfection, that is, to Christ-likeness:

Someone may ask, “Is it at all possible for our lives to grow to the full­ness of Christ’s stature? Can being perfect like Christ become a real­ity in our lives?” My answer is: It is possible, definitely possible! Because:

Firstly, when God does things He does not play around, saying something but is unable to do it. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus.” We should take “work­man­ship” to mean “masterpiece,” that is, “God’s finest piece of work” or “God’s most glorious work”. Just how great God’s capab­ilities are will be revealed in this work, and will count as God’s “masterpiece”. It is a work that will demon­strate for the principalities and powers in heaven to see: How good, how beau­tiful, how perfect, how glorious, how like Christ is God’s work. Such a work is definitely worthy of being called God’s masterpiece.

This being the case, brothers and sisters, do you still think that God is unable to accomplish it, that He cannot make us Christ-like? The work is wholly in God’s hands. If you think that God cannot achieve it, how offensive and dishonoring to God is such a thought! If you have any reverence for God, this notion, that God is unable, must not be entertained in your mind for one moment. Please remember, is there any­thing too difficult for the Lord to accomplish? God’s plan is that those “whom God foreknew” must “be conformed to the image of His Son” — become like the Son [Rom.8:29].

Secondly, look at Matthew 5:48, “Therefore you must be per­fect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This is a command. Those who know God will know that all God’s com­mands are God’s prom­ises. So whatever He commands you to do, you will cer­tainly be able to do it. God will never command you to do some­thing you are unable to do. You can say that God’s commands are His promises because God will certainly enable you to do them. It is a command to be per­fect in love like the heavenly Father. This is possible to do because the Lord would never com­mand a two-year-old child to carry a hundred-pound load. Since God has commanded us, we are certainly capable of it. Remem­ber that God is almigh­ty, and that all things are possible to him who believes.

Thirdly, let me tell you in all earnestness that we the church are Christ. We are the “much fruit (many grains of wheat)” produced by the one “grain of wheat” — Christ — which fell to the ground and died [John 12:24]. Every grain among these many grains of wheat is like that original grain of wheat. If you plant beans you get beans, if you plant melons you get melons, if you plant Christ you will get Christ. We are not only like him, we are actually him — the church is an embodiment (or manifestation) of Christ; and if we “are him,” how can we not be like him? [Yu Chenghua 俞成华, Walking With God 与神同行, 1999, pp.176-177, Chinese Christian Testimony Ministry, Alhambra, CA, USA.]

“We are Christ”

Dr. Yu’s last point is interesting for its boldness. He goes be­yond stating that we can be like Christ; he wants to establish that we “are” Christ. If the latter is true, then the former is self-evident, as Yu himself says, “If we ‘are him,’ how can we not be like him?”

But to state that we “are” Christ without further clarification than is given in that excerpt could lead to misunderstanding. In itself the point being made is clear enough. Brother Yu bases his case on the truism that what you sow is what you reap. He quotes a Chinese proverb about beans and melons, but he could just as easily have quoted the apostle Paul, “whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Gal.6:7). The point is simply that in reproducing itself, every grain of wheat is genetically replicated in the grains which spring forth from it. What the first grain was, those which spring forth from it are. Hence we “are Christ” and replicas of Christ, having been replicated from him. Or as Yu puts it, we are his “embodiment”.

It would have been sufficient for estab­lishing Christ-likeness to say that every seed that springs forth from the original seed is com­pletely like the original seed genetically. Yet it must also be noted that the many grains which spring forth from the original grain are not the original grain itself. Even so, they do contain the life, and with it the genetic code, of the original seed. This guarantees that the many seeds which spring forth from the original one will be exactly like it.

It is this likeness that brother Yu describes as our “being Christ,” perhaps like the case of identical twins: the one can fully represent the other in terms of likeness, and “is” the other in terms of represent­ation. Even so, one identical twin is not the other, for he is a different individual. That the one can fully represent the other does not mean that they are the one and same person.

Dr. Yu may have overstated his case, yet I find it to be thought provoking and imbued with something of great value. The inescapa­ble fact remains, even after the overstate­ment has been recognized, that the life of the original seed — Christ, in this case — is now in us who have sprung forth into life through him. Or, put in another way, it can be incontrovertibly stated that “Christ is our life” (Col.3:4). His life is embodied in us, and is manifested through us. If we manifest his life, what else would that mean but that we are seen to be like him? Christ-likeness necessarily stems from Christ’s life in us. If it is true that “Christ lives in me,” then it is also true that he must be seen in me.

It seems that this is really what brother Yu wants to affirm. He goes beyond saying that it is possible to become like Christ, asserting that it is inevitable. This is an insight of great import­ance, one which is convinc­ingly demonstrated in his exposition of the seed. With the assurance that if Christ is our life, we will inevitably become like him, we proceed to the main body of this book. 

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