Over the last couple years I have been greatly helped in my Bible reading by tracing certain themes as I read. This has opened up new vistas of revelation and new avenues of experience and has greatly enriched my Bible reading. Like gourmet food, what determines how rich the Bible is to us is not how much we’ve scarfed down, but how much we’ve savored. Slow eating, rejoicing in each bite, is much better than binging.
Searching the Scriptures
I’m on a slower-paced Bible reading schedule, and this has given me the time to do more searching and musing. The first thing in studying the Bible is to search it (John 5:39). Watchman Nee has a memorable comment on this verse:
If we want to find out anything from the Bible, we have to search for it in the Scriptures themselves. We have to look for it like rummaging through our closets for a lost article of clothing… To search means to read with deliberation and to devote time and care to our reading.
Much of the richness of the biblical revelation is lost on casual or rushed readers. What is needed is a spirit of discovery, and discovery requires exploration, attention, and time (and of course prayer!).
Another helpful point is knowing what to look for in the Bible. Rummaging through your closet will lead to major distraction if you don’t know what you’re looking for. You may find many things, none of which are important. If I don’t have a subject I’m looking for as I read, I may notice some connections in the text but it’s hard for me to notice anything comprehensive or holistic (or maybe even important).
Trunk, Branches, Leaves
So what are we supposed to look for in the Bible? Well, really, everything. But the greater the topic, the greater the benefit in finding what the Bible has to say about it. Everything the Bible talks about is important, but not everything is equally important. If you think of a tree analogy, the biblical text is made up of a trunk, branches, and leaves. While all three are components of a tree, there is clearly a hierarchy of importance. A leafless tree in winter is not as beautiful or complete as a tree in spring, but it is still a tree. Take away a branch or two, and, again, it’s still a tree. Take away the trunk and it’s a different story. The trunk is of central importance to the identity of the tree. Without a trunk, we would hardly call a collection of leaves and branches a tree.
The trunk of the Bible is the central line of the major subjects of the Bible, mainly, the Word of God, the Triune God, the economy of God, the all-inclusive Christ, the life-giving Spirit, the Body of Christ, and the New Jerusalem. These are the most important and impressive revelations the Bible contains and these are the most important subjects for us to study.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been tracing a theme in each book of the New Testament—the all-inclusive Christ. This is a term coined by Witness Lee in attempt to capture and convey the fullness of the revelation of Christ presented in the Bible. In short, it means that Christ is everything in God’s economy. It is a central focus in Lee’s ministry, and was even the topic of the first conference he gave in America in 1962. You can pick up a free copy through Bibles for America.
Christ is shockingly all-inclusive. Equally shocking is the paucity of revelation and experience in most believers of the very Christ the Bible relentlessly reveals. Christians are notorious for majoring in the minors when it comes to what the Bible talks about. Rather than talk about Christ, we talk about everything else. Or maybe we do talk about Christ, but only a few aspects, like Redeemer, Priest, King. And then, even in these well known aspects, we may remain on the surface level of what the Bible has to say.
When I started tracking every aspect of Christ in the New Testament, I was shocked at the fullness of the revelation of Christ that is presented by the New Testament writers. I started praying that the Lord would enlarge my vision of Christ and deepen my experience of Christ. I was reminded of the Lord’s word to Joshua, “Very much of the land remains to be possessed” (Josh. 13:1). I think most Christians would agree that their present knowledge, experience, and possession of Christ falls far short of the biblical presentation. God wants to reveal His Son in us and then work Him into us so that we live and express Him. Getting just a glimpse of how rich this Christ is revolutionizing. Witness Lee once said,
Never underestimate the value of seeing a proper view of a certain matter. The view changes us; it affects our entire being.
With all this in mind, here are 35 aspects of Christ I have discovered in Acts. All of these items are for our knowledge and experience of Christ in God’s economy. Enjoy! And let me know if you find any others!
The All-inclusive Christ in Acts
- The One in resurrection—1:3; 2:24
- The One in ascension—1:9-11; 2:33-34
- The coming One—1:11
- The poured out Spirit, the Spirit of the glorified Jesus—2:1-4, 17-18, 33, 36, 38; 3:26; John 14:26; 1 Cor 15:45; Eph 1:19-23; 1 Cor 12:12-13
- The Nazarene—2:22; 3:6; 4:10; 10:38; 22:8; 26:9
- The Lord—2:36; 4:26; 10:36; 17:24
- The Christ—2:36; 4:26; 9:22; 17:3; 18:5, 28
- The object of our faith—2:21; 9:42; 11:17; 16:31; 18:8; 20:21; 24:24
- The sphere and ground of our baptism—2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5
- The Healer—3:6-10, 16; 4:10, 30; 9:34
- God’s Servant—3:13, 26; 4:27, 30
- The holy One—3:14; 2:27; 13:35
- The righteous One—3:14; 7:52; 22:14
- The Author of life—3:15
- The seasons of refreshing—3:20
- The Prophet raised up by God—3:22-23
- The seed in whom all the families of the earth will be blessed—3:25
- The cornerstone—4:11-12
- The Leader—5:31; 17:26-27
- The Savior—5:31; 13:23
- The Son of Man—7:56
- The Son of God—8:37; 9:20
- The content of the gospel—8:35; 11:20; 26:18
- The corporate Christ—9:4-5
- The Judge of the living and the dead—9:42; 17:31
- The seed of David, the promised One—13:22-23
- The firstborn Son of God, begotten in His humanity through resurrection—13:33
- The holy and faithful things, the sure mercies, of David—13:34
- The One in whom we are justified—13:39
- A light of the Gentiles—13:47; 26:23
- The Spirit of Jesus—16:6-7
- Another king—17:6-7; 2:30
- The purchaser of the church—20:28
- The believers’ inheritance—26:18