HWMR – MEETING GOD’S NEED AND PRESENT NEEDS IN THE LORD’S RECOVERY (Week 1)
God’s Need in the Present Age
Rev. 5:10 And have made them a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign on the earth.
Some may ask: Why doesn’t God Himself cast Satan into the bottomless pit or the lake of fire? Our answer is: God can do it, but He does not want to do it Himself….God wants to use man to deal with His enemy, and He created man for this purpose. God wants the creature to deal with the creature. He wants His creature man to deal with His fallen creature Satan in order to bring the earth back to God.
Many times the work of saving souls is not necessarily the work of God. Saving souls solves the problem of man, but the work of God requires that man exercise authority to have dominion over all things created by Him. God needs an authority in His creation, and He has chosen man to be that authority. If we were here just for ourselves as mere men, then all our seeking and longing would be to love the Lord more and to be more holy, more zealous, and save more souls….These things are [good but are] concerned simply with the benefit of man; God’s work and God’s need are entirely neglected. We must see that God has His need….Thank God that He has committed the ministry of reconciliation to us, but even if we have saved all the souls in the whole world, we have not yet accomplished God’s work or satisfied God’s requirement. Here is something called God’s work, God’s need. When God created man, He spoke of what He needed. He revealed His need to have man rule and reign over all His creation and proclaim His triumph. Ruling for God is not a small thing; it is a great matter. God needs men whom He can trust and who will not fail Him. This is God’s work, and this is what God desires to obtain.
Brothers and sisters, this requires us to pay a price. We know how the demons can speak. A demon once said, “Jesus I know, and with Paul I am acquainted; but who are you?” (Acts 19:15). When a demon meets us, will he flee or not? Preaching the gospel demands that we pay a price, but a much greater price must be paid to deal with Satan.
This is not a matter of a message or a teaching. This requires our practice, and the price is extremely great. If we are to be men whom God will use to overthrow all of Satan’s work and authority, we must obey the Lord completely and absolutely! In doing other work it matters less if we preserve ourselves a little, but when dealing with Satan, we cannot leave one bit of ground for ourselves. We may hold on to something of ourselves in our study of the Scriptures, in preaching the gospel, in helping the church or the brothers, but when we are dealing with Satan, self must be utterly abandoned. Satan will never be moved by us if self is preserved. May God open our eyes to see that His purpose demands that we be wholly and absolutely for Him. A double-minded person can never deal with Satan. (CWWN, vol. 34, “The Glorious Church,” pp. 10-12)
HWMR – KNOWING THE TRUTH, BEING ABSOLUTE FOR THE TRUTH, AND PROCLAIMING THE TRUTH IN THE PRESENT EVIL AGE (Week 6)
Knowing and Spreading the Up-to-date Truth of the Highest Gospel of God’s Eternal Economy according to the Ministry of the Age
Rom. 1:3 Concerning His Son, who came out of the seed of David according to the flesh,
Rom. 1:4 Who was designated the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness out of the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord;
Jesus in His humanity, in that part, was not the Son of God. He was of the old creation, the old man, having the flesh, which is involved with Satan, sin, and the world. So this part had to be made divine, to be sonized, designated, that it might become a part of the Son of God.
It is very hard to say what the word designated means in Romans 1:4….Christ is a wonderful person. He has two parts: the man-part, the part of man, and the God-part, the part of God. The part of man is human. The part of God is divine….His resurrection uplifted the humanity of Jesus into the level of divinity. Here is the essence of the person of Christ.
This is very, very deep. Jesus’ divinity is the Spirit of holiness, having the divine power and the divine element to transform Jesus’ humanity, making it divine. This is what it means to designate, and this is to sonize. This is the fulfillment of the prophecy in typology in 2 Samuel 7:12-14. (CWWL, 1994-1997, vol. 1, “Crystallization-study of the Epistle to the Romans,” pp. 216-217)
Those responsible for the crucifixion of Christ did not realize that crucifixion was the best way for Him to be designated, to be glorified….If [a carnation] seed is put to an end by being buried in the soil, it will eventually sprout, grow, and blossom. In the same principle, through death and resurrection Christ “blossomed” as the Son of God. Satan expected the crucifixion of Christ to mark His termination, but the Lord Jesus knew that this was actually the beginning, that it would lead to His designation according to the Spirit of holiness out of the resurrection from the dead….Hallelujah, in resurrection Christ was designated the Son of God in power! (Life-study of Romans, p. 551)
In His resurrection, all His believers were born, regenerated, with Him as His millions of “twins” to make all these twins the same as He is (1 Pet. 1:3)….The prototype is the firstborn Son of God, and the reproduction is the many sons of God. The Firstborn indicates that more sons are coming.
He is such a prototype to produce millions of God-men. These millions of God-men are the mass reproduction who are exactly the same as the wonderful person Jesus Christ. This mass reproduction of the prototype becomes the members of the prototype to be His Body, the Body of Christ, and this Body of Christ consummates in the New Jerusalem, which is the corporate expression of the Triune God, processed and consummated in Christ and becoming the life-giving Spirit. (CWWL, 1994-1997, vol. 1, “Crystallization-study of the Epistle to the Romans,” pp. 236-237)
HWMR – KNOWING THE TRUTH, BEING ABSOLUTE FOR THE TRUTH, AND PROCLAIMING THE TRUTH IN THE PRESENT EVIL AGE (Week 5)
Upholding the Truth and Testifying to the Truth That the Church Is the Pillar and Base of the Truth and the Corporate Manifestation of God in the Flesh
2 Tim. 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, an unashamed workman, cutting straight the word of the truth.
First Timothy 3:15 says that the church is the pillar and base of the truth. In ancient architecture a building was supported by a pillar, which rested on a base. The church is the pillar and base that bears the truth. The pillar and base of the truth are not the elders but the church, which includes every brother and sister. Every member of the church is part of the pillar that bears the truth. Whenever a new one or a young one asks a question related to the truth, we should all be able to answer. Someone may ask what holiness is. We not only should know that holiness is Christ, but we also should be able to find the verse that proves this (1 Cor. 1:30) and expound it. However, many saints know a certain amount of truth, but their knowledge is not thorough or adequate. In order for the churches to be strong, every brother and sister must bear the truth by learning the truth, experiencing the truth, and being able to speak the truth. (CWWL, 1978, vol. 3, “The Healthy Word,” p. 221)
Everyone…who has passed through all kinds of tests and who was not only never shaken but also never affected is a real benefit to the Lord’s recovery. Whatever the storm was, they remained steadfast, and they went on with the Lord and are still here. They have not been a damage or a problem. Everyone like this is one who loves the Word and has a sound foundation in the truth. There is not an exception to this either on the positive side or on the negative side. All those who became a problem never had a solid foundation in the Word. We must do our best to get ourselves into these truths and to get these truths constituted into our being. This cannot be done within a short time, but this must be our practice. I also am burdened that all the leading ones, either the elders or the serving ones taking some kind of lead, should have a real burden to pray for the saints in your locality that the Lord may stir up their interest, their seeking heart, and their spirit to seek after the Lord in His truth. The truth is nowhere but in the Bible, yet the Bible needs an opener. We need to lead the saints into the real, right, and proper realization of the need of the Bible and also of the help of the Life-study messages and the Recovery Version. We should help the saints to build up a practice or a habit that every day they would spend at least thirty minutes in the Word. This can be done by taking ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes in the evening, and another ten minutes before going to bed. We all need to build up such a practice to spend at least thirty minutes a day to get into God’s Word. (CWWL, 1984, vol. 2, “Elders’ Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision,” pp. 323-325)
HWMR – KNOWING THE TRUTH, BEING ABSOLUTE FOR THE TRUTH, AND PROCLAIMING THE TRUTH IN THE PRESENT EVIL AGE (Week 4)
The Recovery of the Subjective Truths in the Gospel of John
John 4:14 But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall by no means thirst forever; but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into eternal life.
The Triune God flows in the Divine Trinity in three stages. John 4:14b says, “The water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into eternal life.” When the fountain springs up, that is the fountain emerging. Then a river flows. The Father is the fountain, the Son is the spring, and the Spirit is the river.
This flowing Triune God is “into eternal life.” The Greek preposition translated as “into” is rich in meaning. Here it speaks of the destination. The eternal life is the destination of the flowing Triune God. A fountain is in us springing up as a river into a destination. This destination is the eternal life. The New Jerusalem is the totality of the divine, eternal life. The eternal life eventually will be the New Jerusalem. Thus, into eternal life means into the New Jerusalem….The entire Bible is needed to interpret John 4:14. The Father is the fountain as the source, the Son is the spring, the Spirit is the flowing river, and this flowing issues in the eternal life, which is the New Jerusalem. The Gospel of John opens by saying, “In the beginning was the Word” (1:1). The Word is for speaking, and speaking is the start of God’s flowing. Speaking is flowing, spreading is flowing, and dispensing is also flowing. God flows through speaking, through spreading, through dispensing.
When we drink of this water, it becomes a fountain in us….This fountain emerges as a spring, and the spring flows out as a river for the New Jerusalem. This is the key to open up the entire Gospel of John. This is the divine speaking, divine spreading, divine dispensing, of the Divine Trinity. The Father as the fountain, the Son as the spring, and the Spirit as the river flow into us. When He flows into us, He flows with us. He will flow us into the New Jerusalem to be the New Jerusalem. The preposition into also means “to become.” Into the New Jerusalem means “to become the New Jerusalem.” If we are not becoming the New Jerusalem, we can never be in the New Jerusalem. We have to be the New Jerusalem; then we can be in the New Jerusalem. This is the intrinsic significance of the Gospel of John and Revelation. (CWWL, 1994-1997, vol. 4, “Crystallization-study of the Gospel of John,” pp. 455, 457)
Life-study of Colossians (Message 65)
Persevering in Prayer
Col. 4:2 Persevere in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving,
Persevering in prayer has many benefits. By prayer we set our mind on the things above. In fact, prayer is the only way to have our mind set on the things in heaven. When we set our mind on things above by praying, we shall not pray for trivial matters. Instead, our prayer will be occupied with Christ’s heavenly intercession, ministry, and administration. Because Christ is interceding for the churches around the world, we also pray for the churches. Let the Lord take care of all the small matters in our living. Our responsibility is to seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness. Since the Father knows our need, He will take care of us and meet our need.
When we set our mind on the things above during our times of prayer, we become a reflection of Christ’s ministry in the heavens. Through our prayer, Christ, the Head, is given a way to carry out His administration through His Body. When we pray, we are a heavenly ambassador on earth with the extension of God’s kingdom. However, when we are gossiping, we are not a heavenly ambassador at all. Only when we pray do we become an ambassador of the heavenly kingdom on earth in a practical way.
When we pray, we enter into the Holy of Holies and approach the throne of grace. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come forward with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace for timely help.” Prayer is the way to come forward to the throne of grace. Coming forward to the throne of grace, we receive mercy and grace to meet our timely need. When we pray, approaching the throne of grace, mercy and grace will become a river flowing in us and supplying us. How rewarding this is! Receiving the flow of grace in prayer is actually more important than having our prayers answered. Whether or not our prayer is answered is secondary. The primary thing is that grace flows like a river from the throne and into our being.
To receive this river of grace is to have our spiritual battery charged with heavenly current. The heavenly current, the divine electricity, is the Triune God as grace flowing out of the throne and into us. The supply and enjoyment this brings is unspeakable.
Christians today are weak because their spiritual batteries are not charged. Because they are short of prayer, they are short of the heavenly transmission. Again and again during the day, we need to be charged with the divine electrical current. This surely is a reward for persevering in prayer.
Another benefit of praying is related to fellowship with the Lord. We all love the Lord’s presence and anointing, and we all love to have fellowship with Him. But how can we enjoy the Lord’s presence and have fellowship with Him? The only way is to pray. When we pray, we enter into fellowship with the Lord and become conscious of the fact that we are truly one spirit with Him and that He is actually one spirit with us. The more we pray, the more we experience being one with the Lord, and the more we enjoy His presence and have fellowship with Him. What a marvelous reward!
It is always difficult at first to have a proper prayer life. But if you practice this for a long period of time, it will get easier and easier, for you will realize the rewards of praying.
We have seen that for a normal Christian walk we need to set our mind on things above, have the renewing of the new man, have the peace of Christ arbitrating in us, and allow the word of Christ to inhabit us. These four matters, however, all require prayer. To practice them and to experience them we need to pray. Prayer ushers us into the reality of these four things and keeps us in this reality.
HWMR – KNOWING THE TRUTH, BEING ABSOLUTE FOR THE TRUTH, AND PROCLAIMING THE TRUTH IN THE PRESENT EVIL AGE (Week 3)
Being Constituted with the Truth and Being Absolute for the Way of the Truth and the Propagation of the Truth for the Consummation of the Divine Economy
1 Tim. 4:6 If you lay these things before the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, being nourished with the words of the faith and of the good teaching which you have closely followed.
You must dive into the Recovery Version with the footnotes and the Life-study messages. It is not an easy task to be built up in the truth. You must study the text and every footnote. If possible, it is helpful to take care of the cross references. Then you need to study the Life-study messages. You need to get into these messages not like you are reading a newspaper or a reference book. You must consider the text of the Recovery Version with the footnotes and the Life-study messages as a textbook. Because this is my work, I know the nature of it. I am fellowshipping this with you to let you know the way our publications were written. If you merely read them in a light way, you cannot get into them. You must study them as a textbook.
If you merely read the Life-studies, you will receive only a temporary nourishment. That will become only a kind of inspiration to you. An inspiration is like a vapor in the air. When what we read becomes a truth in our being, this nourishment remains forever. What I have received is not all the time inspiration, like a vapor. What I have received from the Lord is always the solid truth, so it remains in me, nourishing me all the time. You must have the truth. The only way for the truth to get into you is through your mentality. Then it remains in your memory. If you do not understand, the truth cannot get into you….If the truth gets into your memory, it becomes a constant and long-term nourishment. Then you have an accumulation of the truth, and you are a person continually under the constant nourishment. You will then know how to present the truth to others, not merely to inspire them or to stir them up but to make them solid and constituted with the truth.
While the issue of nourishment is forever, the nourishment itself remains only temporarily. Once the truth has been constituted into someone, however, it will remain there forever, and its remaining is its supply. Our need for the long run is this kind of education with the truth, which is really something solid, living, and existing. We need this. Do not expect to have an overnight success, which is like a factory making artificial flowers. Overnight you can produce many flowers, but in a genuine nursery or garden it takes time to grow flowers….You may have the thought that within two years a great number of people will be added to the church. Most of these people, however, may be empty. This is mushrooming. We must take care of the church in a way of growing gradually by life and by truth. (CWWL, 1984, vol. 2, “Elders’ Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision,” pp. 312-313, 336)
Life-study of Colossians (Message 63)
The Peace of Christ Arbitrating in Our Heart
Col. 3:15 And let the peace of Christ arbitrate in your hearts, to which also you were called in one Body; and be thankful.
For the peace of Christ to arbitrate in our hearts, it must rule in us. It must be enthroned as the ruler and decider. I believe you all have experienced that Someone has been enthroned in you to rule you and make the final decisions. Let us take as an example a brother who is offended by one of the elders. In my early ministry, I would have encouraged the offended brother to love the elder and not to be offended by him. However, from experience I learned that the more I did this, the more the offended one accused me of taking sides with the elder. Eventually I learned that the best thing is simply to pray that the Lord will have mercy on the brother who has been offended. In His mercy, the Lord will come to him and cause him to set his mind on the things above so that once again he can experience the divine transmission which gives rise to the arbitrating peace of Christ. Then, ruled by the peace of Christ, the brother will admit that even though the elder might have been wrong, he himself was wrong to a greater degree. Immediately he will confess to the Lord, receive grace, and have love for that elder. Through the arbitration of the peace of Christ, our problems are solved, and the friction between the saints disappears. Then the church life is preserved, and the new man is maintained in a practical way.
The church life as the life of the new man is preserved not by mere teachings, but by setting our mind on the things above and allowing the heavenly transmission to impart the divine element into us. Then we shall have the renewing of the new man and experience the peace of Christ ruling within us. The peace of Christ is actually Christ Himself in a particular aspect. Hence, the arbitrating of the peace of Christ is Christ working within us to exercise His rule over us, to speak the last word, and to make the final decision. In the case of the brother offended by the elder, Christ’s word is to love that elder, to seek him out for fellowship, and to enjoy the Lord with him. This is Christ enthroned as peace ruling, deciding, and uttering the last word.
In order to have a proper Christian walk and preserve the church life, we need the arbitrating peace of Christ. Otherwise, there will be no way for friction to be dissolved. Only the heavenly Christ, the One who is interceding, ministering, and administrating, can solve our problems and resolve the friction. If a brother and his wife set their mind on Christ in the heavens, they will experience the divine transmission. Then the peace of Christ will arbitrate in them.
In meeting after meeting and in message after message, we desire to minister Christ to the saints. As the saints see the revelation of Christ and experience the arbitrating peace of Christ, the church life will be preserved in freshness.
When the peace of Christ is enthroned in our hearts to be the unique umpire within us, we shall have peace with God vertically and with the saints horizontally. We praise the Lord that we are enjoying peace, and in this peace the church life as the new man is preserved! As the peace of Christ presides in our hearts, the renewing of the new man takes place continually. If we stay under the ruling of the enthroned peace of Christ, we shall not offend others or damage them. Rather, by the Lord’s grace and with His peace, we shall minister life to others. The oneness in a local church and among the churches is not maintained by human endeavoring. It is maintained only by the arbitrating peace of Christ. The management and maintenance of the Lord’s recovery are not our responsibility. All the churches and the recovery as a whole are under the arbitrating peace of Christ. In us Christ is the supplying grace and the arbitrating peace.
Life-study of Colossians (Message 64)
The Word of Christ Inhabiting Us
Col. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God.
In 3:16 Paul charges us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. The Greek word rendered dwell means to be in a house, to inhabit. This indicates that the word of Christ should be able to make its home in us.
If a certain place is to become our home, we must have the freedom to make all necessary arrangements. If we want to keep a certain item, we may do so. But if we want to throw something else away, we are free to do that as well. If we do not have this kind of freedom, it is not possible for us to make that place our home. In like manner, if the word of Christ is to make its home in us, we must give it the full liberty, freedom, and right. We need to pray, “Lord, I offer my whole being to You and Your word. I give You access to every part of my inner being. Lord, make my inner being a home for Yourself and Your word.”
We all must confess that many times the Lord’s word has come to us, but we did not give it adequate room within us. Instead, we limited the word of God and restricted it. Sometimes we do receive God’s word, but we do not give it the freedom to make its home in us. Let me ask you, in your experience is the word of Christ first, or are you first? I do not believe that anyone can say that first place is always given to God’s word. Sometimes we may give preeminence to the word of Christ and allow it to be first. However, much more often we ourselves are first. In a secret way we keep the first place for the self. Outwardly we may act as if the first place is reserved for the word of God. But secretly the first place is for us.
Suppose you are reading Matthew 19:16-22, where the Lord Jesus tells the young man to sell all that he has, give to the poor, and follow Him. As you read this portion of Scripture, the Lord may tell you to give away certain things. That would be a test of what is first—the self or the word of God. Many of us have learned from experience how difficult it is for us to give first place to the word of God. For this, we need the Lord’s grace. We need to turn to the Lord and say, “Lord, I cannot do this, but, Lord, You can. Lord, I trust in You for this.”
We need the arbitrating peace of Christ to preserve us in oneness that the Lord may speak to us. Then we need to give first place to the word of God. If we do this, we shall experience the functions of the word of God: enlightening, nourishing, quenching our thirst, strengthening, washing, building, perfecting, and edifying. What benefit we receive from the word of God!
In 3:16 Paul speaks of “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God.” This indicates that when we are filled with the word of God, we should be filled with joy. If we receive God’s word and yet have no joy, something must be wrong. When we receive the word of God, we actually receive the Spirit. Receiving the Spirit should stir us up and cause us to be joyful and to sing.
HWMR – KNOWING THE TRUTH, BEING ABSOLUTE FOR THE TRUTH, AND PROCLAIMING THE TRUTH IN THE PRESENT EVIL AGE (Week 2)
Being Sanctified by the Truth to Move out of Ourselves and into the Triune God for the Genuine Oneness
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
We cannot sanctify ourselves. The more we try to be sanctified, the more involved we become with things that are common. But when the word mingled with the essence of the Triune God is imparted into us as the truth, this truth sanctifies us.
Suppose the young people touch the Word with the Spirit in morning watch and then go to school. Throughout the day at school this word of truth will work within them to separate them and make them different from their classmates in their behavior, actions, work, thoughts, and feelings.
By taking the Word in this way, we have the clear conviction that something of the Lord has been wrought into us. This is not the mere knowledge of the Bible or of things concerning the Lord. It is the reality of the Triune God living, moving, working, and separating us. This makes us different from the worldly people….What a blessing! Every morning we can touch the living Word and have the divine reality infused into our being. In this way the Triune God is transfused into us.
This transfusion of the element of God frees us from such negative things as temper, jealousy, hatred, and pride. It sets us free from every kind of falsehood. This is real liberation, real freedom. As we are being set free, we are also sanctified, separated, made holy to God, not only positionally but also dispositionally. We become one with God because His very essence is being wrought into us. This is what it means to be sanctified by the word of truth.
Like breathing, we cannot do this once for all; rather, it must be a continual exercise. We need to be sanctified unceasingly every minute of the day. This is the reason we need to come to the Word every morning and, if possible, at other times as well. When the word is mingled with the living Spirit in our spirit, we are sanctified with the essence of God….Our crucial need is to have the Triune God infused into us through the Word. This…works to sanctify us and transform us….By contacting the Word in this way, God is added into us day by day. As a result, we are permeated with God and made one with Him. (CWWL, 1978, vol. 3, “Truth Messages,” pp. 327-328)
Life-study of Colossians (Message 61)
One with Christ in the Things Above
Col. 3:1If therefore you were raised together with Christ, seek the things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
The things above mentioned in Colossians 3 are the things related to the heavenly ministry of Christ, to Christ’s ministry as our High Priest and God’s Minister. We should not be occupied with earthly things and with the elements of the world, but should realize that we are hidden with Christ in God. We should then seek the things above and set our mind on them. We should set our mind on Christ’s intercession and on His ministry for the building up of His Body.
As we seek the things above, the new man will be renewed in a full way. In a very practical sense, the new man comes into existence through our seeking the things which are above. Therefore, if the new man is to be expressed on earth, we need to see Christ as our High Priest and heavenly Minister and also experience the two-way traffic between the heavenly Christ and us.
We need to be those who respond to Christ’s heavenly ministry. For centuries, Christ has tried without adequate success to get a people to respond to His ministry in the heavens. By His mercy and grace, there is on earth today a group of people in the Lord’s recovery responding to Christ’s heavenly ministry. Let us be those who tell the Lord that we are one with Him in this ministry. Day and night, we need to respond to the Christ who is above all. When I respond to the Lord, saying, “Amen, Lord,” I have the conviction deep within that Christ is interceding and ministering, that He is transmitting His riches into me and infusing me with the element of God. Because of this transmission and infusion, I am filled and stirred for the Lord’s interests. Sometimes I am so beside myself with joy that I hardly know what to do. This is what it means to seek the things above.
If we seek the things above and are one with Christ in the things above, we shall not care for religion, philosophy, or ethical teachings, all of which are elements of the world. Rather, we shall care only for Christ’s intercession for His Body and for the transmission of His riches into His members. I have the full assurance that many of the saints in the local churches are experiencing the transfusion of the riches of Christ. Because we have such a transfusion, we do not need ethics, culture, or religion. We simply need more and more oneness with Christ in His heavenly ministry. Praise Him for His intercession, for His ministry, and for the traffic between heaven and earth!
We need to be impressed with the fact that the Christ who is in heaven is very busy. Consider how many local churches He takes care of throughout the world. Christ’s ministry in heaven is all for the goal of building up the Body and forming His Bride. However, Christ’s ministry in heaven requires our response. We need to become on earth the very reflection of that heavenly ministry. When we seek the things above, we respond to the Lord’s heavenly ministry and reflect it. Our experience testifies of this. If in our prayer we are willing to forget insignificant matters and care for the things above, we shall become conscious of the traffic between us and Christ in heaven. We shall sense a current flowing back and forth between Him and us. By means of this kind of prayer, the divine riches are transfused into us. This enables us to be one with others and to be right with everyone. This also issues in the renewing of the new man. Through the heavenly transmission and transfusion, the new man comes into existence in a practical way. Hence, the new man is not produced by teaching; the new man is produced by the heavenly traffic, transaction, and transfusion.
Life-study of Colossians (Message 62)
The Renewing of the New Man
Col. 3:11 Where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all and in all.
In 3:11 Paul goes on to say, “Where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all and in all.” According to this verse, in the renewing of the new man there is no room for any natural man—no room for Greek or Jew, for religious or unreligious, for cultured or uncultured. In the renewing of the new man, Christ is all and in all.
In Greek the first “all” is neuter gender and denotes things. But the second “all” is masculine gender and denotes persons. Therefore, in the renewing of the new man, Christ is all things, and He is in all the members. This indicates that in the renewing of the new man, Christ truly is all-inclusive. On the one hand, He is in all the persons, the members of the new man; on the other hand, He is all things in the renewing of the new man.
Perhaps you are wondering what are all the things in the renewing of the new man. At least, all things must include all virtues and attributes. Love, patience, and humility are all excellent virtues. All these virtues are Christ Himself. In the renewing of the new man, Christ is all the wonderful virtues, all the good things, and all the positive attributes.
How can we, the New Testament believers, realize the life of the universal new man in a practical way? Among those Christians who set their mind on the things on earth, there is no renewing of the new man and no possibility of having the life of the new man in a practical way. But when we set our mind on the things above, spontaneously the new man grows and is renewed within us. This causes our whole being to be renewed and transformed. Then wherever we may be, we can have the practice of the new man. Recently I heard of a young brother in the Navy who visited a number of churches in the Far East. He enjoyed good fellowship with the saints. To be sure, this brother experienced the life of the new man. Although he was from the United States, he could be merged in the spirit of fellowship with so many saints from the Orient.
If we are not willing to set our minds on the things above and thus do not open the way for the new man to increase within us, it will be very difficult for us to experience the life of the new man in a practical way. But if we set our mind on the things above, the new man will spread from our spirit into our soul. Then no matter where we may be with the saints, we shall realize the life of the new man.
Colossians is definitely a book on the all-inclusive Christ. However, in this book Paul also speaks of the new man. The practical life of the new man comes out of the revelation of Christ and the experience of Christ. When we have the revelation of Christ with the adequate experience of Christ, the new man will appear among us in a practical way, and we shall realize the life of the new man.
God’s goal is to have this one new man, which ultimately will consummate in the New Jerusalem. Therefore, the New Jerusalem will be the final consummation of the one new man. When we are in the New Jerusalem, we shall enjoy the life of the universal one new man. Today we may have a foretaste of this enjoyment by setting our mind on the things above and giving a free way for the new man in our spirit to spread into our whole being.
HWMR – KNOWING THE TRUTH, BEING ABSOLUTE FOR THE TRUTH, AND PROCLAIMING THE TRUTH IN THE PRESENT EVIL AGE (Week 1)
Knowing the Truth, Being Absolute for the Truth and for Upholding the Absoluteness of the Truth, and Testifying to the Truth in the Present Age of the World
2 Tim. 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, an unashamed workman, cutting straight the word of the truth.
Today the whole earth needs the truth of the Lord that is in His Word. Regrettably, however, the Bible, the divine Word, has not been fully opened to the world….At the most, Christians are able to boast that the holy Word of God has been published into many languages and propagated over the whole earth. Yet they are not able to say that after reading the Bible, regardless of which language, they have been able to truly understand the deep mysteries within it….The mysteries of the truths in the Bible are very deep and profound. We need the enlightening of the Spirit of God to understand them, and we also need to spend time to dig them out (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-14). The Lord’s recovery is the recovery of all the truths in the Bible that were lost….The Lord’s recovery depends upon the recovery of the knowledge of the truth.
The New Testament says repeatedly that we should know the truth. Moreover, when referring to this matter, Paul repeatedly says that we should come to the full knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25; 3:7; Titus 1:1). This means that we must know not just a small part or one aspect of the truth but rather the truth in its entirety and in all its aspects. Paul also said that the church is the pillar and base of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). This implies that the truth in the Bible is like a large building that is not one-sided but complete on all sides with a foundation and a roof. If we are going to spread the Lord’s recovery today, we must know the truth and be able to expound the truth. For this reason we must know every side of the truth without any biases or particular leanings.
The truth not only has many sides but also includes many crucial items. For example, the Bible speaks about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the believers, the church, the kingdom, and the New Jerusalem. The Bible begins with God, then continues with God’s creation, man’s fall, God’s redemption, and God’s entering into man to be man’s life for man to be regenerated, sanctified, renewed, transformed, conformed to His own image, and ultimately brought fully into glory. In the midst of all these matters, the Bible also shows us the believers and the corporate church. This corporate church brings in the kingdom, consummating in the ultimate expression, which is the New Jerusalem in the new heaven and new earth. All these aspects are included in the truths of the Bible.
We must diligently learn all these things, obtain the knowledge of them, and be able to speak them clearly to others. (CWWL, 1984, vol. 5, “Truth, Life, the Church, and the Gospel—the Four Great Pillars in the Lord’s Recovery,” pp. 393-394)
Life-study of Colossians (Message 59)
One Position, One Life, One Living, One Destiny, and One Glory with Christ
Col. 3:1If therefore you were raised together with Christ, seek the things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
It is very easy for us to understand the matter of the Christian life in a natural way. We see a sister who is gentle, quiet, and kind, and we think that because she has such characteristics she is full of life. Seeing a brother who is an eloquent and powerful speaker, we may take his power and eloquence as signs of life. However, in both cases what we see may be the natural life, not the life that Christ has, the life hidden with Christ in God.
A certain sister may be nice, gentle, and kind; however, all this may be in the natural life, a life that has not been crucified. This is proved by the fact that when she is insulted or mistreated, she breaks down and cries. Her tears indicate that she is living in the natural life. Her life is not a crucified life.
When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He always lived a crucified life. Although He was severely criticized and insulted, He did not weep for Himself. Instead, He could say, “Father, I thank You that this is according to Your will.” His life was a crucified life.
If a person is truly one in life with Christ, his life will be a crucified life. The life we have received of the Lord Jesus is not a raw, unprocessed life; it is a crucified life, a life that has been processed and thoroughly dealt with. If we truly know this life, we shall not weep when we are insulted. Instead, we shall thank the Lord and even praise Him in a genuine way.
Sometimes when we are in the flesh and others insult us, we may say “Amen” or “Hallelujah!” However, our “Amen” and “Hallelujah!” is fleshly. If we are truly living a crucified life when others insult us, we shall not say anything. Those who are on the cross say neither “Amen” nor “Hallelujah!” They do not say anything at all. The life we should live today should be such a crucified life.
The one life we share with Christ is also a resurrected life. Nothing, including death, can suppress it. Furthermore, in resurrection there are no tears. Suppose a sister begins to cry when she is criticized for the way she cleaned a room in the meeting hall. Is this the resurrected life? Certainly not! In the resurrected life there is no place for weeping. But if this sister lives a resurrected life while she is cleaning in the meeting hall, she will not be troubled if someone criticizes her work. This is another difference between the resurrected life and the natural life.
If our natural life has not been dealt with, our service in the church will not last long. If we serve in the natural life, we shall be easily offended, and eventually we shall stop serving. But if our life in serving is a life that is crucified and resurrected, nothing will be able to defeat it.
Furthermore, the life Christ has is a life hidden in God. As we have pointed out, only the divine life can be hidden in God. I appreciate this word hidden (3:3). The life Christ has is not a showy life; it is a hidden life. If you serve by this life, you will not want to be seen by others. On the contrary, you will prefer to serve in secret. Our natural life is the very opposite of this, for it is fond of making a show. Today’s religion appeals to this element in the natural life. For example, it is a common practice in raising funds to give public credit to those who donate large amounts, whereas little or no mention is made of those who donate a small amount. Religion nourishes the natural life, but in the church the natural life is put to death.
Life-study of Colossians (Message 60)
Christ as All the Members and in All the Members in the New Man
Col. 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is being renewed unto full knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
Col. 3:11 Where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all and in all.
In the new man Christ is every member. Concerning this, Paul says in 3:11, “Where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all and in all.” This means that in the new man there is no place, no room, for any natural person. There is no place for regional, cultural, or national distinctions. For example, in the new man there cannot be Chinese or Americans, Californians or Texans. Likewise, in the new man there is no room for Jew or Greek, for religious ones or nonreligious ones, for cultured ones or uncultured ones, for freemen or slaves. There is no room for any race, nationality, culture, or social status. In the one new man there is room only for Christ. Christ surely is all the members of the new man.
Perhaps you are wondering how Christ can be all in the new man. For this to be a reality, we must take Christ as our life and live Him, not ourselves. If Christ is the living of all the saints, then only He will be in the new man. Those from America will no longer live an American life, and those from Japan will no longer live a Japanese life. All the saints, whatever their nationality may be, will live Christ. Then in a way that is real and practical, Christ will be all the members of the new man. Christ will be you, and Christ will be me. Because we all live Christ, not ourselves, Christ will be all of us, every member of the new man.
In the local churches we are not concerned with helping others improve their natural life. We would rather help them to crucify their natural person and bury it so that they may live Christ. The death of our natural person will usher us into resurrection, where we can take Christ as life. I can testify that the more I experience crucifixion with Christ, the more I take Christ as my life in resurrection and live Him.
In 3:11 Paul says not only that Christ is all, but also that He is in all. In other words, on the one hand, Christ is all the members, and on the other hand, He is in all the members. Since Paul says that Christ is all, why is there the need for him to say that Christ is in all? If Paul did not say that Christ is in all, only that He is all, then we may think that in the new man Christ is needed and that we are not needed. We should not think that, because Christ is all the members in the new man, we are nothing and are not needed. On the one hand, the Bible does say that in the new man there is no place for the natural person because Christ is all the members. Yet, on the other hand, Paul says that Christ is in the members. The fact that Christ is in the members of the new man indicates that the members still exist.
When we take Christ as our life and live together with Him, seeking the things which are above, we have the sense deep within that we are one with Christ and that Christ is us. But simultaneously we have an even deeper sense that Christ is in us. Therefore, it is true to say that Christ is both in us and that He is us. We are part of the new man with Christ in us. We continue to exist, but we do not exist without Christ; we are those indwelt by Christ. Now we can rejoice and say to the Lord, “Lord Jesus, when I take You as my life and live together with You, You are me. I am altogether one with You. But, Lord, I am still here, for You are in me. I am here, but I am here with You.” According to our experience, we all can give such a testimony. When we live Christ and are one with Him, we say, “Lord Jesus, this is not me—it is You.” However, at the same time, we have the sense that we are with the Lord and that He is in us.
HWMR – Crystallization-study of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (Week 12)
Taking the Way of Life in the Lord’s Recovery
Rom. 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.
The proper understanding of death is that it denotes separation from the enjoyment of God. This means that if we do not have the enjoyment of God, we are in death. Likewise, if we are separated from the enjoyment of God, we shall die….In Romans 8:6 death is separation from the enjoyment of God. Life is the opposite, for it is the enjoyment of God. When we have the enjoyment of God, there is no separation between us and God, we are in life, and life operates in us.
In distracting the believers from the tree of life, Satan seeks to separate us from the enjoyment of God as our life. For centuries the subtle serpent has been using teachings to keep God’s chosen people from enjoying Him as their life. For the most part, these teachings are related to knowledge, good, and evil. But such teachings result in separation from God.
The best way to discern a matter is to discern according to life or death. We need to ask questions like this: Does this teaching help me to enjoy the Lord more and bring me into life, or does it cause the poison of death to be injected into me? You may find that if you accept a certain kind of teaching or preaching, taking it into you, immediately your inward enjoyment of the Lord is cut off. Some things function like insulation that stops the flowing of the divine electricity. Therefore, we must learn to discern, to differentiate, matters by life and death.
Thank the Lord for the secret of real discernment. This secret is to discern a preaching or teaching by whether or not it helps us to enjoy the Lord and gain more life supply. If anyone’s preaching cuts us off from the enjoyment of the Lord, that preaching must be of the serpent, of Satan….Many of those who have left the Lord’s recovery have neither the life supply nor the enjoyment. This is an indication that they have taken in something that is not of the Lord. The genuine ministry of the Lord always strengthens us in the enjoyment of Him as our life supply.
Anything that cuts you off from the enjoyment of the Lord is of the serpent. But anything that causes your enjoyment of the Lord to increase is of the Spirit and of the New Testament ministry. (Life-study of 2 Corinthians, pp. 468-470)
Life-study of Colossians (Message 57)
Having Died with Christ from the Elements of the World and Having Been Raised with Christ to Live with Him in God
Col. 2:20 If you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances:
The compound, life-giving Spirit is an all-inclusive drink containing many elements. By drinking the Spirit, we spontaneously take in all the elements included in the Spirit. The effectiveness of Christ’s death is one of the elements in this Spirit. This is what enables us to experience Christ’s crucifixion. As the Head, Christ today is the all-inclusive Spirit in our spirit. In order to hold Him as the Head, we must be in spirit.
In Colossians 2 Paul speaks of being rooted and of holding the Head, and in John 15 the Lord Jesus speaks of abiding in the vine. Abiding in the vine is equal to being rooted in the soil, and being rooted in the soil is equal to holding the Head. On the one hand, Christ is the vine in which we abide; on the other hand, He is the soil in which we are rooted. But He is also the Head. Christ is the vine, the soil, and the Head. We abide in Him as the vine, we are rooted in Him as the soil, and we hold Him as the Head. In every case the principle is the same: we absorb Christ’s riches into us. As branches, we absorb the life juice from the vine; as plants, we absorb the riches of the soil; as members of the Body of Christ, we absorb the nourishing element from the Head. By absorbing the riches of the Head, the Body grows with the growth of God (2:19). As we have indicated, the riches we absorb include crucifixion, being buried, and being raised up with Christ. When we hold Christ as the Head, we absorb all these elements into us.
In 2:20 Paul says, “If you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why as living in the world do you subject yourself to ordinances?” The Greek word rendered “if” may also be translated “since.” Since we have died with Christ, we should not live in subjection to ordinances. It is a fact that we have died with Christ. But although Christ died more than nineteen hundred years ago, our participation in this death takes place moment by moment in the present as we are enjoying Christ, holding Him as the Head. Our experience of Christ’s crucifixion is not once for all. On the contrary, it is a moment by moment matter. Perhaps last night you experienced Christ’s crucifixion. But today you are not happy with your husband or wife, so you purposely come down from the cross in order to argue and vindicate yourself. You have been provoked, and you can no longer bear to remain silent. Last night you were in the death of Christ, but now you are very much alive in yourself. In one of his hymns, A. B. Simpson says, “Oh! It is so sweet to die with Christ.” Last night this was sweet to you, but now you do not wish to remain in Christ’s death. This indicates that whenever we are not in the spirit, we are not in the experience of the death of Christ. But when we are in spirit, we are dead with Christ. Whenever we are not in the spirit, we are in ourselves, living according to our natural life. From our experience we know that when we hold Christ as the Head in spirit, we have the experience of being crucified with Him. At such a time, we can declare to all, even to the Devil, that we have died with Christ.
In 4:2 Paul says, “Persevere in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving.” If we would stay in the spirit, we need to watch and pray, even to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17). Only by praying without ceasing can we stay in the spirit. Many years ago I did not appreciate the Lord’s word about watching and praying (Matt. 26:41). But in recent years I have come to see the importance of this word. We need to watch whether or not we are in the spirit and to pray that we may be preserved in the spirit. Are you tempted to exchange words with your husband or wife? Watch! Do you intend to go shopping for a certain item? Watch to see whether you are shopping in the spirit or in the flesh. We need to be on the alert that we may stay in the spirit.
We also need to pray, “Lord, grant me the preserving grace to remain in the spirit. Lord, keep me in spirit.” If we stay in the spirit, we shall experience the death of Christ in the all-inclusive, compound Spirit. There is no need for us to reckon or even to believe that we have been crucified with Christ. All we need to do is to abide in the spirit by watching and praying. In the spirit we experience the death of Christ and are released from all the elements of the world.
Life-study of Colossians (Message 58)
Seek the Things Above and Set Your Mind on Them
Col. 3:1 If therefore you were raised together with Christ, seek the things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Col. 3:2 Set your mind on the things which are above, not on the things which are on the earth.
At this point we may ask how we can enjoy Christ and have Him constituted into us when He is in heaven and we are on earth. The answer lies in the fact that there is a transmission taking place from Christ in heaven to us on earth by means of the all-inclusive Spirit. By means of this transmission, the electricity from the heavenly power plant flows into us, just as electricity flows from the power plant into our homes and into the meeting hall. Hallelujah for the transmission from the third heaven into us! “There’s a Man in the glory Whose Life is for me” (Hymns,#505). Christ is the Man in the glory, but His life is for us. We all need a vision of the heavenly transmission from the glorified Christ into us. Furthermore, we need to stay open to this transmission so that it will not be cut off. Even a small amount of insulation will cause this transmission to cease. Between Christ as the fullness of God and the one new man, there is our experience of the heavenly transmission. May there be no insulation to hinder this divine transmission.
John’s writing is like Paul’s in this matter. John 1:16 says, “For of His fullness we all received, and grace upon grace.” The fullness of Christ is the very fullness of God. Of this fullness we have all received grace upon grace. Ultimately, the issue of our receiving of Christ’s fullness will be the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem revealed through John’s ministry will be the ultimate consummation of the new man revealed through Paul’s ministry. On the one hand, Paul begins with the fullness and goes to the new man; on the other hand, John goes from the fullness to the New Jerusalem.
In Hebrews, Ephesians, and Revelation there are windows through which we can see the things above. The first aspect of the things above is found in Hebrews 2:9. According to this verse, we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. On earth, He was crowned with thorns. But on the throne in heaven, He is crowned with glory and honor. As the One crowned with glory and honor, Christ is far more precious than Judaism or Greek philosophy. To set our mind on such things is to set it on “the things which are on the earth” (Col. 3:2). Judaism and Greek philosophy are things on the earth. Let us look away from these things and look to the resurrected and ascended Jesus who is enthroned and crowned with glory and honor. Since we have been raised with Christ, we should seek the things above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God (3:1). Let us forget our natural virtues and look at the Lord Jesus. Instead of appreciating our natural attributes and character, we need to appreciate the One crowned with glory and honor. According to Paul, our attention must be concentrated on the Lord Jesus. We should not be attracted by anything else.
In Acts 2:36 we find another aspect of the things above. Here Peter declares, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, has been exalted by God to be the Lord over all and the Christ. How marvelous! If the believers in Colosse truly had realized this, they would not have been distracted by Judaism or Greek philosophy. Today Jesus is God’s Christ, God’s anointed One, the Lord of all.
In Ephesians 1:20-23 Paul says that God raised Christ from among the dead; seated Him at His right hand in the heavenlies, far above all rule, authority, power, lordship, and every name; has subjected all things under His feet; and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church, His Body. The power exercised by God in raising Christ from among the dead has made Him Head over all to the church. Christ has been crowned with glory and honor, He is the Lord of all and the Christ of God, and He is the Head over all things to His Body, the church. To be sure, the vision of such a Christ should cause us to forget our natural virtues and characteristics, all of which are things on the earth, not things which are above.
HWMR – Crystallization-study of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (Week 11)
Boaz and Ruth Typifying Christ and the Church
Ruth 4:10 Furthermore Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, I acquire as my own wife so that I may raise up the dead man’s name upon his inheritance and the dead man’s name may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his place. You are witnesses today.
The book of Ruth tells us that Boaz redeemed Ruth; he also redeemed the birthright for her. This means that Christ, as our real Boaz, has redeemed both us and the birthright.
Boaz redeemed his kinsman’s inheritance and married the man’s widow (Ruth 4:1-17); hence, he became a notable forefather of Christ, a great associate of Christ. As a brother and a Boaz, you should take care of others’ birthright of Christ….In other words, you should not only take care of your own enjoyment of Christ, but also others’ enjoyment of Christ.
Ruth and Naomi had lost the enjoyment, the birthright, but according to God’s regulation there was a way to restore the birthright, to redeem it. But it had to be redeemed by someone else. The principle is the same in the church life today….Quite often, some dear ones lose their enjoyment of Christ. In a sense, they become Naomi or Ruth. If so, you need to be a Boaz, able to redeem the lost birthright and marry the redeemed one.
To lose the husband means to lose the enjoyment of the birthright….Thus, I need you, as my brother, to redeem my birthright. But you need to be somewhat richer in Christ….Then you pay the price to regain my birthright, and you also marry me. This means that you become involved with me. This kind of spiritual involvement will produce Obed, the grandfather of David. Boaz became one of the great forefathers of Christ. In a spiritual sense, he was the one who enjoyed the largest and richest portion of Christ. If a brother becomes a Boaz to me, he will be the one with the greatest enjoyment of Christ. Because he redeemed my birthright and became so involved with me, our involvement in the Lord will eventually bring forth the full enjoyment of Christ.
In the church life today we need to have a number of Boazes….Some brothers should take care of me, the poor Ruth, but they are selfish in the spiritual enjoyment of Christ. Even in the spiritual enjoyment of Christ it is quite possible to be selfish. However, a Boaz will be generous and pay the price to redeem my birthright. All this indicates that we should take care of not only our own birthright, but also others’ birthright. Day by day we should take care of others’ enjoyment of Christ. The more we do this, the better. (Life-study of Matthew, pp. 32-33)
Life-study of Colossians (Message 55)
Not Defrauded of Your Prize of the Enjoyment of Christ
Col. 2:18 Let no one defraud you by judging you unworthy of your prize, in self-chosen lowliness and the worship of the angels, dwelling on the things which he has seen, vainly puffed up by his mind set on the flesh,
In our daily living it is easy for us to be more concerned about our behavior than about the enjoyment of Christ. As those who love the Lord and seek Him, we have a natural desire to uplift our behavior. We earnestly desire to have an upright daily life. Whenever we fail the Lord in our daily walk, we are full of regret and we confess to the Lord and ask Him to forgive us and cleanse us. Although we may be very exercised in matters like this, we may not care adequately for the enjoyment of Christ. Oh, we need to enjoy Christ in our daily living!
We have seen that we need to enjoy Christ in the daily matters of eating and drinking. The fact that we eat and drink a number of times during the day indicates that we should not be content to enjoy Christ just once a day. Eating and drinking are shadows. If we eat and drink more than once a day, then we should also enjoy Christ more than once a day. We should experience Christ not only daily, but many times throughout every day.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul says, “Pray without ceasing.” To pray in a genuine way is to enjoy Christ. I regret to say that much of our prayer is not genuine, for we often do not enjoy Christ as we pray. Whenever we pray properly in the spirit, we enjoy Christ. To pray unceasingly actually means to enjoy Christ without ceasing. We need to enjoy Christ continually. However, not many of us have been helped to live a spiritual life in the way of constantly enjoying Christ. For this we need to pray that the Lord would grant us the grace to enjoy Him daily and throughout every day.
In Paul’s word about shadows we have a hint as to how we may enjoy Christ in a practical way. Since such things as eating and drinking are shadows of which Christ is the substance and reality, we need to be reminded whenever we eat and drink that the real food and the real drink are Christ. When you eat your food, you should simultaneously eat Christ. When you drink some beverage, you should also drink Christ. As you put on your clothing, you should be reminded that Christ is the real clothing, and you should experience Him as such. As you put on your material clothing, you should also put on Christ. It is easy to enjoy Christ in this way. Whatever we do day by day should remind us of Christ as the reality of that thing. Even our breathing should remind us of the necessity of breathing Christ spiritually.
If we follow the practice of taking Christ as the reality of all the material things in our daily life, our daily walk will be revolutionized and transformed. It will be full of Christ. When we eat and drink, we shall take Christ as our spiritual food and drink. Everything we do will remind us to contact Christ, to enjoy Christ, to experience Christ, and to have Christ as our everything. To practice this day by day is truly to enjoy Christ.
Life-study of Colossians (Message 56)
Holding the Head, Out from Whom All the Body Grows with Growth of God
Col. 2:19 And not holding the Head, out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied and knit together by means of the joints and sinews, grows with the growth of God.
To understand properly what it means to hold the Head, we need to consider 2:16 and 17, where Paul tells us that Christ is the body, the substance, the reality, of all the shadows. Eating, drinking, Sabbaths, new moons, and feasts are all shadows of things to come, whereas Christ is the body, the reality, of these shadows. Based upon this fact, Paul warns us not to allow anyone to purposely defraud us of our prize. His warning in 2:18 and 19 is based upon the fact, revealed in verses 16 and 17, that Christ is the reality of all positive things. Those who seek to defraud us are the ones who stand on things which they have seen and who do not hold the Head. Thus, there is a connection between Christ as the body of the shadows and holding the Head. In other words, the very Christ who is the reality of all positive things is the One who is the Head of the Body. If we would know what it means to hold the Head, we must know what it is to enjoy Christ as the reality of all positive things. Without enjoying Christ in this way, we cannot experientially hold Him as the Head. With this as the background, we can now say that to hold the Head is simply to enjoy Christ as the reality of all positive things.
The genuine Christian life is a life of enjoying Christ. We need to enjoy the Lord all day long. We have seen that in speaking of eating, drinking, Sabbaths, new moons, and feasts Paul refers to matters of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly enjoyment. Actually, we eat and drink several times a day. In Paul’s use of illustrations in 2:16, he covers the whole span from the hourly enjoyment of Christ to the yearly enjoyment of Him. This indicates that we should enjoy Christ continually. When I drink a glass of water, I should remember to drink Christ. When I eat my food, I should enjoy Christ as the real food. Whenever we enjoy Christ in this way, we automatically hold Him as the Head. Thus, the best way to hold Christ as the Head is to enjoy Him. There is no better way to hold Christ than to eat Him. Just as we hold food by taking it into us and eating it, so we hold Christ by eating Him.
In 2:16-19, Paul takes a great leap, from Christ as everything for our enjoyment, which is on the ground floor, to Christ as the Head, which is the top floor of our experience. As we enjoy Christ as food, drink, air, and everything to us, we are uplifted by a divine elevator to the very height, where we hold Christ as the Head. But if we stop enjoying Christ, we immediately stop holding Him as the Head. Only when we enjoy Him do we also hold Him. This is not a doctrine learned from theology books. It is a fact of Christian experience. From my experience throughout the years I have learned that to hold the Head is to enjoy Christ continually. We are vessels made to contain Him, and we hold Him by eating, drinking, and breathing Him. By this we see that holding Christ as the Head is a very subjective matter.
In 2:17 Paul says that the body is of Christ, but in verse 19 he speaks not of Christ, but of holding the Head. The reason for the change in terminology from Christ to the Head is that our enjoyment of the Lord causes us to become conscious of the Body. If we are those who enjoy Christ continually, we shall not continue to be individualistic. The saints who are individualistic are those who do not consistently enjoy the Lord. The more we enjoy Christ, the more we become Body-conscious. We should touch the Lord in the morning, but in the evening we should come to the church meetings. It is not normal to enjoy the Lord during the day and neglect the meetings of the church, which is His Body. Even if your environment does not allow you to attend all the meetings, inwardly you should have the sense that your whole inner being is with the saints in the church meeting. This consciousness of the Body comes from the enjoyment of Christ.
What we enjoy of Christ day by day is actually something of Him as the Head. This is the reason that when we enjoy Christ, He causes us to become conscious of the Body. According to our experience, we know that the more we enjoy Christ, the more intense is our desire for the Body. However, if we fail to contact the Lord for a period of time, we shall automatically neglect the church life or lose interest in the meetings. The less we contact the Lord, the more critical we become of the church or of the saints. We have an eye for the faults and shortcomings of others. This shortage of the enjoyment of Christ opens the door for the enemy, Satan, to come in to make us critical of other members of the Body. But if we begin again to enjoy the Lord, the door will gradually close. Eventually, if we are constant in our enjoyment of Christ, the door will be completely shut. Then, instead of criticizing the church, we shall praise the Lord for the church life, and we shall testify how much we love it. What brings about such a change is not admonition or correction, but the recovery of the enjoyment of Christ.
The dear, precious One whom we enjoy as our food, drink, and breath, is the Head of the Body. Because Paul had a thorough realization of this, he could leap from Christ as the reality of all positive things for our enjoyment to the matter of Christ as the Head. Since the Christ we enjoy as our everything is the Head of the Body, the more we enjoy Him, the more we become Body-conscious. This indicates that the enjoyment of Christ is not an individualistic matter. It is a Body matter. We need to enjoy Christ as members of the Body in a corporate way.
HWMR – Crystallization-study of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (Week 10)
Ruth’s Choosing for Her Goal, Exercising Her Right, Seeking for Her Rest, and Receiving a Reward for God’s Economy
Key Point – The book of Ruth portrays the way, the position, the qualification, and the right of sinners to participate in Christ and to enjoy Christ;
Col. 1:12 Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you for a share of the allotted portion of the saints in the light.
Ruth, as one who had returned to God from her heathen background, exercised her right to partake of the rich produce of the inheritance of God’s elect. Ruth, a Moabitess, had come to the good land as a sojourner. According to her threefold status as a sojourner, a poor one, and a widow, she exercised her right to glean the harvest. Although she was poor, she never became a beggar. Her gleaning was not her begging; it was her right.
The book of Ruth portrays the way, the position, the qualification, and the right of sinners to participate in Christ and to enjoy Christ. According to God’s ordination, we have been qualified and positioned to claim our right to enjoy Christ. This means that today we do not need to beg God to save us. We can go to God to claim His salvation for ourselves. We have the position, the qualification, and the right to claim salvation from God. This is the highest standard of receiving the gospel.
As a narration, the book of Ruth is lovely, touching, convincing, and subduing. In the aromatic story in chapter 2, four types are implied. Boaz, rich in wealth (2:1), typifies Christ, who is rich in the divine grace (2 Cor. 12:9). The field of the God-promised good land (Ruth 2:2-3) typifies the all-inclusive Christ, who is the source of all the spiritual and divine products for the life supply to God’s elect (Phil. 1:19b). Barley and wheat (Ruth 2:23) typify Christ as the material for making food for both God and His people (Lev. 2; John 6:9, 33, 35). Ruth, a Moabitess (Deut. 23:3), a heathen sinner, alienated from God’s promises (Eph. 2:12), given the right to partake of the gleaning of the harvest of God’s elect typifies the “ Gentile dogs” who are privileged to partake of the crumbs under the table of the portion of God’s elect children (Col. 1:12; Matt. 15:25-28). (Life-study of Ruth, pp. 14-15)
Life-study of Colossians (Message 53)
In Christ Made Full, Circumcised, Raised, and Made Alive Together with Him
Col. 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,
Col. 2:10 And you have been made full in Him, who is the Head of all rule and authority.
The section of Colossians which includes 2:8-15 is rather complicated. It contains a number of important points. Many of these points are related to Christ as the good land, as the rich soil in which we have been rooted. The expression “having been rooted” in verse 7 implies that there is soil. Verses 8 through 15 are a full description of Christ as the soil in which we have been rooted. Having been rooted in the soil, we grow with the elements we absorb from the soil. We know that Christ as the soil is in our spirit. Now we must go on to see, from verses 8 through 15, a description of the very soil in which we have been rooted. These verses present a full description and definition of the soil.
The first aspect of this very special soil is found in verse 9: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” We have been rooted in the One in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily. We should not allow anyone to carry us away from such a soil. To be carried away from this soil is to be uprooted from it. When the book of Colossians was written, some were trying to uproot the believers from Christ. The believers had been rooted in Christ as the good land, as the One in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells. Instead of allowing anyone to carry us away from this soil, we must stay rooted in it.
In 2:10 Paul continues, “And you in Him are made full, Who is the Head of all rule and authority.” Here we see more concerning the substance of Christ as the soil. One aspect of the soil is that of the fullness of the Godhead; another aspect is that Christ is the Head of all rule and authority. In Christ as the good land we have a number of different elements. The first element is all the fullness of the Godhead, and the second is the Head of all rule and authority.
In verses 11 through 15 we find more elements. Verse 11 says, “In Whom also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ.” The soil also includes the circumcision of Christ, which denotes cutting and killing. In the soil there is, therefore, a killing element. Verse 12, which says that we were buried together with Christ in baptism, indicates that the soil also contains the element of burial. In Christ as the soil there is a substance which causes us to be buried. After burial, we are raised up. In verse 12 Paul speaks of God who raised Christ from among the dead. This expression indicates that in Christ as the soil there is an element which causes us to be raised up. According to verse 13, we also are made alive. There is an element in the soil which gives us life, enlivens us. In 1 Corinthians 15:45 Paul speaks of the life-giving Spirit. In Colossians 2:13 he uses the same Greek term for life-giving, only in the past tense. As the soil, Christ has made us alive; He has given us life.
In verses 14 and 15 Paul continues, “Wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us, which was contrary to us; and He has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross. Stripping off the rulers and the authorities, He made a display of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Here we have more elements that are found in Christ as the soil. The wiping out of the handwriting in ordinances is an element in the soil. The same is true of the stripping off of the rulers and the authorities, the making of a display of them openly, and the triumphing over them in the cross. As the soil, Christ includes all these marvelous elements. Praise Him that He is such a rich soil! We have been rooted in this soil. Day by day, our roots need to sink deeper into Christ as the unique soil.
Life-study of Colossians (Message 54)
In Christ and According to Christ
Rom. 8:4 That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit.
The commandment to walk according to spirit is all-inclusive. It includes what the Bible says about husbands loving their wives, about wives submitting to their husbands, about children honoring their parents, and about parents caring for their children. All the necessary virtues, such as humility, kindness, honesty, faithfulness, and love, are included in the walk according to the spirit. God does not want us to endeavor to be virtuous, loving or submissive. He only wants us to walk according to the spirit. Oh, it is crucial for us to see this!
The book of Colossians reveals that Christ is all-inclusive and extensive. In Him we have everything, for in Him we are made full, perfect, and complete, and we are supplied and satisfied. Now we must go on to see that, for our practical experience, this all-inclusive and extensive Christ is the Spirit. Those who do not care for the experience of Christ will deny that Christ is the Spirit. But we who care for the experience of Christ must see that the New Testament reveals clearly that the Lord is now the Spirit. As the Spirit, the Lord is in our spirit. Thus, we know what the Lord is—the Spirit—and we know where He is—in our spirit. The Lord wants us to be able to locate Him. Knowing that He is the Spirit in our spirit, it is easy for us to contact Him. Should someone ask you where is the Christ about whom you talk so much, you should answer that He dwells in your spirit.
We need to apply the matter of walking according to spirit in every aspect of our daily living. For example, the brothers who live together need to apply this to their conversation with one another. One brother may be accustomed to speaking according to his mind, whereas another brother may talk according to his emotion. Both brothers must learn to talk according to the spirit. When they rise up early in the morning, they should exercise to talk not from the mind or from the emotion, but from the spirit. The brothers should pray, “Lord, grant me the grace to speak from my spirit.” However, instead of doing this, the brothers may live according to the tradition of men and the elements of the world. Although they may not quarrel with each other, they may live according to their humanity which has been refined by the church life and not live according to Christ.
A very important area in which to walk according to our spirit is our married life. It is difficult for husbands to remain in the spirit with their wives. It is easy for them to be either in the mind, the emotion, or the will. One of the most difficult things for a brother to do is to turn to his spirit in the presence of his wife. But we brothers need to learn to walk according to spirit in relating to our wives. If a brother’s wife treats him well, he may be happy. But if she is not pleasant to him, he may be offended. Instead of turning to the spirit, he may choose to stay in his emotion. But whether our wives are kind or unkind, we need to stay in our spirit. If your wife rebukes you, stay in the spirit. If she speaks well of you, stay in the spirit. If you stay in the spirit, you will walk according to Christ in your married life.
Wives also need to learn to be in the spirit when they are with their husbands. This is even more difficult than for a husband to be in spirit with his wife. Many sisters can be in the spirit with almost anyone except their husbands. When they are with their husbands, they are usually in the emotion, not in the spirit. We need the Lord’s mercy and grace to be in the spirit with our husband or wife. We must confess that, to a large degree, our married life is not according to Christ. Let us look to the Lord that He would grant us the mercy and grace to have our married life according to the spirit. This is basic and crucial for the church life. The married life is the foundation of the family life, the family life is the basis of our daily life, and our daily life is the basis of the church life. This shows the crucial importance of our married life. If we can live according to our spirit in our married life, a great many difficulties will disappear.
It is vital that we learn to behave according to our spirit at home. A brother may be careful to be in spirit with the saints, but not with his children. Actually, we should be more exercised to be in spirit with our children than with the brothers and sisters. If in our daily life at home we are exercised to live, walk, and have our being according to the spirit, our living will be according to Christ, not according to the tradition of men or the elements of the world. If our daily walk is according to the spirit, we shall spontaneously know what to say and what to do. There will be no need for regulations or a code of behavior. The Spirit in our spirit will be our unique, living regulation. When we walk according to the divine Spirit mingled with our human spirit, we shall have our being according to Christ. Then not only shall we be in Christ, but we shall also be according to Christ. May the Lord grant us the grace to go on from simply being in Christ to living according to Christ. Praise the Lord that we are in Him. Now He is waiting for us to satisfy the desire of His heart by walking according to Him.