Weekly Ministry (Sept 13 – Sept 19, 2021)

HWMR – Crystallization-study of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (Week 3)

Crossing the Jordan River and Being Prepared for Battle

Key Point – God put the priests in the place of death so that the Israelites would have a way to the land of life

2 Cor. 4:12 So then death operates in us, but life in you.

God put the priests in the place of death so that the Israelites would have a way to the land of life. The priests were the first ones to go into the water and the last ones to come up out of the water. They were the overcomers of God. Today God is seeking for a group of people who, like the priests of old, step into the water, that is, walk into death first. They are willing to be dealt with by the cross first, to stand in the place of death in order that the church will find the way of life. God must first put us in the place of death before others can receive life. The overcomers of God are the pioneers of God. (CWWN, vol. 11, p. 764)

Before they could come out, they waited at the bottom of the river for all of God’s people to cross over. We cannot come out of death before the kingdom comes. Eventually,…our triumphant Joshua will tell us to come up out of the water [cf. Josh. 4:17]. This will happen at the beginning of the kingdom. Many people are not disobedient; they are merely not obedient enough….Without going through the cross, one cannot reach Gethsemane. Without dealing with the cross, one cannot say, “Your will be done.” Many people like the calling of Abraham, yet they do not like the consecration on Mount Moriah. God has put us at the river bottom in order that we would be His overcomers. He put us in chains in order that others can receive the gospel. Death works in me but life in others. This is the only channel of life….The Lord’s death first fills us with life, and then this life flows to others (2 Cor. 4:10-12). The work of God’s overcomer is to stand upon Christ’s death so that others can gain life….His overcomers first see a truth and confirm such truth before He gains some others to obey this truth. (CWWN, vol. 11, pp. 764-766)

Life-study of Colossians (Message 39)

To Live Christ

Col 3:3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

If we would experience Christ and live Him, we need to remain in an atmosphere of prayer. Many of us can testify that by prayer we are brought into the spirit, where we are one with the Lord and take Him as our life. This experience is so precious that when we are enjoying it, we do not want it to end. We like to remain in spirit to be one with the Lord. However, as soon as our time of prayer is over, most of the time we revert to our natural way of living. We are no longer in an atmosphere of prayer. Automatically we begin to try once again to be holy, spiritual, and victorious. Whenever we fail, we repent, confess to the Lord, and resolve to try again. This is not the way to live the Christian life. On the contrary, our daily living should be the same as our experience in genuine prayer. When we pray ourselves into the spirit, we are one with the Lord, we enjoy His presence, and we spontaneously live Him. Without exerting any effort, we are holy, spiritual, and victorious. We have no problems and no anxieties. I believe we all have had experiences like this in prayer.

These experiences of genuine prayer should be the model for our daily experience with the Lord. This means that our experience in our daily life should be the same as that in prayer. However, most of the time we live according to the natural life, not according to Christ. To live Christ it is necessary to persevere in prayer, to pray without ceasing. We need to stay in the atmosphere of prayer. Here we are one spirit with the Lord. He is our life, we live Him, and we are spontaneously holy, spiritual, and victorious. We have no thought of balancing ourselves. Instead of standards, principles, and regulations, we have Christ experientially and in a practical way. Whenever we are in such an atmosphere of prayer, we are one with Christ, and He is our life. This is what it means to live Christ.

My burden in this message is that our eyes would be opened to see that what God wants is Christ lived out from within us. His concern is not that we be balanced, but that we be one with Christ and live Christ. God wants us to live Christ. You may be a young person, but you should live Christ, not the life of a typical young person. To be balanced, subdued, or refined is not the way to live Christ. The way to live Christ is in prayer to contact Christ as the life-giving Spirit within us. As we pray ourselves into an atmosphere of genuine prayer, we shall live Christ spontaneously. I can testify that this is real and that we all can experience it.

The way to experience the indwelling Christ is to pray in a genuine way. We do not need to pray for a better job or home. That kind of prayer hinders us from experiencing Christ. We need the kind of prayer which brings us into contact with the Lord, prayer that causes us to be one with Him in our spirit. If we pray in this way, we shall enjoy Christ, experience Him as our life, and live Him.

Life-study of Colossians (Message 40)

Objective Revelation, Subjective Ministry, and Practical Experience

Col 2:8 Beware that no one carries you off as spoil through his philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ;

In 2:8, 18, and 20, Paul mentions a number of matters: philosophy, tradition, elements of the world, humility, angel worship, and ordinances. Actually, all these items can be summed up in one word—culture. Philosophy is one of the highest products of man’s culture. Tradition also is related to culture. In fact, tradition comes from culture, and culture is embodied in tradition. If there is no culture, there is no tradition; and if there is no tradition, there can be no culture. Furthermore, the elements of the world, which are rudimentary principles of basic teachings, are also aspects of culture. Humility is a virtue found among the most cultured of people. The more refined and cultured a person is, the more humble he is. But the more uncultured and barbarous a person is, the less humble he is. Thus, humility is intimately related to cultural refinement. Furthermore, the worship of angels is found among people of high culture. Those with a rather low culture may worship beasts, but those who are more highly cultured may worship angels. The worship of angels is actually a refined form of idolatry, a practice still to be found in today’s Catholicism. Some people may even justify the worship of angels by arguing that it is better than the worship of animals. Finally, man’s ordinances are related to his culture. Ordinances are rules related to our way of living. For example, table manners are ordinances. The more cultured people are, the more ordinances they have. The more cultured a person is, the more he will say, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch.”

Although the word culture is not found in Colossians, actually this book was written to deal with culture, a real enemy to our experience and enjoyment of Christ. All people appreciate their culture and value it. For this reason, it is a hindrance to the experience of Christ.

In the section of Colossians dealing with the practical experience of Christ, Paul lists many things that frustrate this experience. The items mentioned in Colossians are very different from those listed in 1 Corinthians, where Paul deals with division, jealousy, fornication, and lawsuits. In Galatians Paul deals with the law as a frustration to the experience of Christ. But in Colossians he comes to the deeply hidden and subtle matter of culture. Christians condemn fornication and divisiveness and for the most part realize that the law is over. But who repudiates culture as a hindrance to the enjoyment of Christ? Even among us there are very few who condemn culture for this reason.

The church in Colosse had been invaded by a mixture of Jewish and Greek culture. Elements of Gnosticism and asceticism had made inroads into the church life. Both Gnosticism and asceticism are products of highly-developed cultures. Those who practice asceticism, the severe treatment of the body, are usually refined, cultured people.

We need to keep in mind that the book of Colossians was written not to deal with sin or the law, but to deal with culture. The Christ revealed in Colossians cannot be experienced unless the cultural hindrances have been exposed and dealt with. We may hold on to our culture and experience the Christ revealed in other New Testament books. But the experience of the all-inclusive Christ unfolded in Colossians requires that we repudiate the frustration presented by our culture.

In Colossians Paul first presents the objective revelation and then the subjective ministry. Coming to the practical experience of Christ in chapter two, he points out that the most subtle hindrance to the enjoyment of Christ is our culture. Concerning the objective revelation of Christ, the book of Colossians gives us the highest revelation. In the same principle, concerning the practical experience of Christ, this book points out the most subtle frustration. May we all be impressed with the fact that if we would have the practical experience of the all-inclusive Christ, we must deal with our culture.

Some of those who see the importance of laying aside culture may claim that they have already done so. The American saints may claim to have dropped their American culture, and the Chinese believers may claim to have dropped their Chinese culture. Nevertheless, they may not have dropped their self-made culture, the culture they themselves have developed. Actually, by dropping our culture we may simply devise another culture—a culture-dropping culture. In such a case, we replace our culture, not with Christ, but with a non-culture culture. The crucial point is not that we drop our culture—it is that we live Christ. The issue is not culture versus no culture; it is culture versus Christ. We need to care for Christ and live by Him. Therefore, the important thing is not that we attempt to drop our culture negatively; it is that we live Christ positively.

Weekly Ministry (Sept 6 – Sept 12, 2021)

HWMR – Crystallization-study of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (Week 2)

Possessing the Land of Canaan by Defeating the Satanic Forces

Key Point – If we would possess the good land for the fulfillment of God’s purpose, we must engage in spiritual warfare to defeat the satanic forces

Eph. 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the stratagems of the devil,

We must also remember that there are evil powers in the heavenlies. We must fight the battle with the enemy. We are enjoying a portion of the all-inclusive Christ, yet the enemy and his evil forces in the heavenlies are still usurping and occupying the land. You and I have to fight the battle to take possession of the entire land. Brothers and sisters, as soon as we enjoy Christ in such a way, we realize in our spirit the reality of the evil forces in the heavenlies. These evil forces are veiling the all-inclusiveness of Christ from the Lord’s children. Very few of the Lord’s people can realize the all-inclusiveness of Christ simply because of the accusations of the evil powers in the heavenlies. To this very day the evil forces are still veiling the all-inclusiveness of Christ. Therefore, we must fight the battle. There is an exceedingly real spiritual warfare in which we must engage. By enjoying something of the all-inclusive Christ, we will be burdened for this fighting; we will be burdened for this battle. That is why we have been formed as an army. The conflict is before us. (CWWL, 1961-1962, vol. 4, “The All-inclusive Christ,” p. 336)

Life-study of Colossians (Message 37)

Christ in You

Col. 1:27 To whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,

It is crucial for us to see that God wants nothing but Christ. If we see this vision, we shall set aside our standard and aspire to be one with the Lord in our spirit moment by moment. The all-inclusive Christ is now in our spirit. First Corinthians 6:17 tells us that he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit. In 2 Timothy 4:22 Paul says, “The Lord be with thy spirit” (Gk.). Our standard should not be the culture we have inherited or the culture we ourselves have made. Our standard should be the oneness with the Lord in our spirit. Do not try to be a good wife or husband. Instead, simply be one spirit with the Lord. Then you will live Christ because Christ will actually be living in you.

God has placed us into Christ. If we see that our culture frustrates us from experiencing the indwelling Christ, we shall realize that as the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit, the Lord indwells our spirit and that we are one spirit with Him. We need to live by this mingled spirit as the standard. If we allow Christ to live in us day by day, we shall spontaneously live by Him. In this way, Christ will replace our culture.

The problem with the saints at Colosse was that most of them had been deluded and carried off from Christ to philosophy and religious observances. They set up this philosophy and these observances as their standard and lived by it. This standard kept them from the enjoyment of Christ and the experience of Christ. This was the reason Paul charged them to let no one purposely defraud them of their prize (2:18).

The principle is the same today. The enemy within us is subtle. We have certain standards, either the standards we have inherited or those we have made for ourselves. Because these standards are good, we do not condemn them. Nevertheless, these good standards are not Christ Himself. God does not want something good produced by us; He wants Christ and Christ alone. In the eyes of God, only Christ counts for anything. God’s intention is to work Christ into us so that we may have the full enjoyment of Him. When Christ has the free course within us to become our enjoyment and experience, our culture will be dealt with.

The time has come for all of us in the churches to hear this message, to see this vision, and to condemn our cultural standards. Then we shall realize that what God wants is Christ and that Christ today is the life-giving Spirit mingled with our spirit. Instead of living according to a certain standard, we should simply live by the Christ who dwells in our spirit. As we live in the spirit, we should let Christ have a free course throughout our whole being. Then we shall enjoy Him, experience Him, and be delivered from our culture.

Life-study of Colossians (Message 38)

Christ Lives in Me

Col. 3:4 When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory.

We need to see the heavenly vision that in His economy, God wants nothing except Christ. Christ is wonderful. As the One who is God and man, He has passed through incarnation, human living, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement. All that Christ is and all that He has obtained and attained have been compounded into the all-inclusive Spirit. Now as the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit, He lives in us. How foolish not to give all the ground in our living to Him! Although we may love Him, we may still limit and restrict Him by our efforts to be good Christian husbands or wives. In ourselves, we still try to be humble, patient, kind, and loving. As long as we do this, there is no way for Christ to live in us.

In John 14, the Lord Jesus spoke of His death and resurrection. Speaking of the disciples’ experience after His resurrection, He says in verse 19, “Because I live, you shall live also.” It was after His resurrection that the Lord could live in His disciples and they could live by Him, according to Galatians 2:20.

Christ wants to live in us. When He lives in us, we live by Him. But where are the Christians today who give Christ the free course to live in them? Very few Christians do this. Even we in the Lord’s recovery do not give Christ the sufficient ground to live in us. Instead, we try to be humble and loving. We try to be a good husband or wife, a good brother or sister. Thus, the ground within us is occupied by ourselves and by our self-effort. Although we may fail in our efforts, we repent, pray, ask for the Lord’s cleansing, and then try once again. We may even welcome the opportunity for a new beginning afforded by a new day, week, month, or year so that we may try once again to be a proper Christian. We may comfort ourselves at the end of the day with the thought that in the morning we shall have a fresh opportunity to try again. We may do the same thing at the end of a week, month, or year. Especially at the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year, we may promise ourselves to have a new beginning. We may thoroughly clear the past, regret our shortcomings, repent for our mistakes, ask the Lord’s forgiveness for our wrongdoings, and then try to have a new beginning. We may say, “Let the past be the past. With the new year I can have a new beginning.” Nevertheless, before long we find that our best efforts still result in failure.

Because we all have this tendency, I am burdened that we would see that God does not want us to try to be proper Christians—He only wants us to live Christ. We should forget about trying to be a good husband or wife and care only to live Christ. Let us love Him, contact Him, and be one with Him. How near and available He is! He is within us and is one spirit with us, waiting to be given the opportunity to live in us. If we would give Christ the ground to live in us, we should cease from all our efforts. Instead of asking the Lord to help us in our efforts, we should pray, “Lord Jesus, I can do nothing apart from You. How foolish I have been in trying so hard! Now, Lord, I see the vision that I cannot do anything without You. Lord, I thank You that You dwell in me. I ask You, Lord, to work within me. Lord, I praise You that You are my life and that You are waiting for the opportunity to live in me. Lord, I thank You that I am in You. Now I am willing to give You all the ground to do everything and to be everything in me.” This is what it means for Christ to live in us.

After praying to the Lord in this way, we should turn to Satan and tell him to no longer tempt us to try to do anything apart from Christ. Say to him, “Satan, don’t tempt me in this way anymore. I assure you that I cannot do anything apart from Christ. Don’t try to get me to do anything.”

Weekly Ministry (Aug 30 – Sept 5, 2021)

HWMR – Crystallization-study of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (Week 12)

Taking the Way of Life in the Lord’s Recovery

Key Point – The way of the Lord’s recovery is the way of life that leads to a living reward in life in the manifestation of the kingdom of the heavens in the coming age

Psa. 16:11 You will make known to me the path of life; / In Your presence is fullness of joy; / At Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Who can enter through the narrow gate spoken of in Matthew 7:13? Only the kingdom people with the nature described in the nine blessings in chapter 5. Those who enter the narrow gate must be poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, making peace with all men, willing to be persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and willing to be reproached for Christ. Only those with such a nature can enter through the narrow gate. Furthermore, those who enter through this narrow gate must be under the higher laws of the kingdom, the complemented and changed laws, and they should not have any anxiety concerning their living. Rather, they must have the confidence that their heavenly Father is taking care of them. Moreover, they should not be lazy or idle, but diligent and industrious. These are the people who enter through the narrow gate and walk on the constricted way. (Life-study of Matthew, pp. 297-298)

All young people desire to be free,…to put off all restriction. When [they] graduate from high school, they are like caged birds wanting to be free. However, many are so free that they have no constriction, no restriction. We in the Lord’s recovery, on the contrary, are taking a constricted way….We in the Lord’s recovery must walk in our spirit. Living in spirit and walking in spirit restrict us. Even when we are loving, rejoicing, and happy, we must be under restriction. We must not be like those who throw off all restraint in their excitement. Rather, we must be excited within the limit of the spirit. This must even be true in the meetings. Although we may fully release our spirit, we should be restricted as far as physical activity is concerned. In everything, we need to take the constricted way, not the broad way. We must take the constricted way in our fellowship with the brothers. Do you intend to praise a brother? You must praise him in a constricted way. Are you about to rebuke a brother? You must rebuke him in a constricted way. Are you having fellowship with some brothers? This is excellent, but you must fellowship with them in a constricted way. Sometimes when you are having fellowship, you forget all limitation. You go on hour after hour without taking care of the need for food or rest. Furthermore, in your fellowship you talk…about everyone without any restriction. Praise the Lord that we are truly free. Nevertheless, we still have the limitations, restrictions, and constrictions. Life in Matthew 7:14 refers to the ever-blessed condition of the kingdom, which is filled with the eternal life of God. This life is in the reality of the kingdom today and will be in the manifestation of the kingdom in the coming age (19:29; Luke 18:30). In the Lord’s recovery today we are taking the constricted way which leads to life. (Life-study of Matthew, pp. 298-299, 301)

Life-study of Colossians (Message 35)

The All-inclusive Christ (2)

Col. 2:16 Let no one therefore judge you in eating and in drinking or in respect of a feast or of a new moon or of the Sabbath,

Col. 2:17 Which are a shadow of the things to come, but the body is of Christ.

Paul’s desire concerning the Colossians was that they would not teach others according to the tradition of men, but only according to Christ. It is crucial for us to learn to estimate all things and to evaluate them, not according to our cultural mentality, but according to Christ. For example, our viewpoint with respect to marriage should be not according to our culture; it should be according to Christ. I very much appreciate the expression “according to Christ.” We should not allow anything to be a substitute for Christ or to replace Him. Christ and Christ alone is the standard and basis of measurement. This means that we should not evaluate things according to culture, according to tradition or the elements of the world. In the church Christ is the only measurement, standard, and basis. This is a basic principle in the practice of the church life.

In Colosse culture had pervaded the church, replaced Christ, and carried off the saints as a prey. The saints were distracted from Christ, not by sin or worldliness, but by some of the most developed aspects of culture. The principle is the same today. Although we in the church life hate sin, not many of us hate culture. On the contrary, subconsciously and unconsciously we all treasure our culture. We place a high value on our particular cultural background. In the church life Christ is replaced more by culture than by anything else. We live according to culture much more than we live according to Christ.

Furthermore, this One who is the mystery and embodiment of God is the reality of all positive things. Referring to the items listed in 2:16, Paul says in verse 17 that these “are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.” Eating, drinking, feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths are all shadows of which Christ is the body, the reality, the substance. Christ is the real food and the real drink. He is also the real feast, the real new moon, and the real Sabbath. As the embodiment of God, Christ is the reality of every positive thing. Hence, there is no room for Jewish religion or Greek philosophy. There is room only for the all-inclusive Christ. Although Paul was once very strong in Judaism, when he received the revelation concerning Christ, he realized that both Greek philosophy and Jewish tradition were nothing. In God’s economy only Christ counts for anything.

In 2:6 Paul says, “As therefore you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him.” The first thing we do concerning Christ is receive Him. Then we need to walk in Him. Christ is not only our life; He is our territory, our realm, our sphere, in which we walk. In their experience many believers have received Christ as Redeemer, Savior, and life. But we also need to receive Him as the mystery of God, God’s embodiment, and as the reality of all positive things.

We need to apply the matter of experiencing Christ as the reality of every positive thing to every part of our daily life. As we eat our meals, we should take Christ as the real food. Instead of saying a word of grace in a traditional way, we should speak something higher according to the revelation in Colossians: “Lord Jesus, I do not simply thank You for this food and take it into me. Lord, I take You as the reality of this food.” We who believe in Christ should consider all things and evaluate all things according to Christ, who is everything to us in a practical way. If we consider all things according to Christ, our daily living will be changed.

Life-study of Colossians (Message 36)

The All-inclusive Christ Versus Culture

Col. 2:9For 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.

Many things hinder the accomplishment of God’s full salvation. Two of the more obvious hindrances are sin and worldliness. The most subtle hindrance, however, is culture. Culture frustrates God’s chosen people from experiencing Christ and enjoying Him. The all-inclusive Christ is versus culture. However, we are not saying that we should drop our culture and act like barbarians. We are by no means encouraging anyone to act as if we are free of culture. Those who do not have Christ certainly need culture. As children are growing up, they need not only culture, but also the law. But after we have received Christ, we should not allow our culture to limit Christ or to frustrate us from experiencing Him. Prior to receiving Christ, all people need culture. But after receiving Christ, we should live according to Christ, not according to culture. Do not think that culture is unnecessary. Culture preserves, regulates, and improves people. But after Christ has come into us, in our experience we should begin to live by Christ. The problem is that Christ is limited by our culture.

We have seen that God’s intention is to work Christ into His chosen people. God uses culture to preserve people until they receive Christ. Before children receive Christ, they must be trained according to culture and under the law. Never tell little children that they have no need for culture. On the contrary, teach them to honor their parents, to love others, and to share their possessions with others. Eventually, when they attain to a certain maturity, they will decide to receive Christ into them. Then we need to help them grow into Christ and with Christ. Gradually we can help them turn from culture to Christ. Eventually, instead of living according to culture, they will live according to Christ. Young people, do not proclaim that you have dropped your culture. Instead, testify to others that you have received Christ and that now you are living Christ, growing Christ, and producing Christ.

Let us consider as an illustration the case of Peter. Although Peter was a fisherman, he was familiar with Jewish theology. One day, Peter received the inspiration to say that the Lord Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. The Lord replied that Peter received this revelation from the Father in heaven. Then He went on to speak about the building up of the church and about the cross (Matt. 16:18, 24). In the book of Acts we see that Peter was used by the Lord to establish the first local church, the church in Jerusalem. Although Peter was used by the Lord in this way, he was still limited by his Jewish culture. This is proved by Peter’s experience in Acts 10. As Peter was praying, his experience of the Spirit was limited by his cultural concepts concerning Gentiles. Peter thought that the enjoyment of Christ was limited to Jews. As a typical Jew, he thought of the Gentiles, the heathen, as swine. His attitude toward them was a product of Jewish culture. Although Peter was one with the Lord, his experience of Christ was confined by culture. Then in Acts 10 Peter saw a vision of a great sheet “wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air” (v. 12). When a voice said to him, “Rise, Peter; kill, and eat,” Peter answered, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean” (vv. 13-14). This vision came to Peter three times. As Peter was considering what this vision might mean, some Gentiles arrived at the place where he was staying and asked about him. God’s intention was to expand the enjoyment of Christ to include the Gentiles. For this enlargement of the experience of Christ, there was the need for Peter to lay aside his cultural background.

However, we should not endeavor to drop our culture without such a vision of Christ. But as soon as the vision comes, we must set aside our cultural background and not allow it to replace Christ or to restrict Him. When Christ comes in, our culture must go. But we should not try to drop culture without Christ. Actually our concern is not with culture—it is for the experience of Christ. The point we are making is that since we have received Christ, we should not allow culture to become a substitute for Him. In Christ we have the liberty to set aside our culture in order to enlarge our capacity to enjoy the Lord. All the room within us must be given over to Christ. If our entire inward capacity is made available to Him, spontaneously the culture within us will be replaced by Christ. However, it is terrible to drop culture apart from Christ. But when Christ comes, we should tell the Lord that we want Him to possess and occupy all the ground within us.

Weekly Ministry (Aug 23 – Aug 29, 2021)

HWMR – Crystallization-study of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (Week 1)

God’s Charge, Promise, and Encouragement to Joshua

Key Point – If we are going to fully possess Christ as the good land, we must ask that the Lord to save us from having an evil heart of unbelief.

Heb. 12:2 Looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down on the right hand of the throne of God.

The overcoming saints in the Old Testament are only witnesses of faith, whereas Jesus is the Author of faith. He is the Originator, the Inaugurator, the source, and the cause of faith. In our natural man we have no believing ability….When we look away unto Jesus [Heb. 12:2], He as the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) transfuses us with Himself, with His believing element. Then, spontaneously, a kind of believing arises in our being, and we have the faith to believe in Him. This faith is not of ourselves but of Him who imparts Himself as the believing element into us that He may believe for us. Hence, He Himself is our faith. We live by Him as our faith; that is, we live by His faith (Gal. 2:20), not by our own. (Heb. 12:2, footnote 3) As indicated by the evil report of the ten spies (Num. 13:31-33) and the murmuring of the people against Moses and Aaron (14:1-4), the children of Israel did not care for God but cared only for themselves….Because of this, they did not believe in God, and they offended God to such an extent that they became abhorrent to Him. Their situation brought in God’s judgment and punishment. God alone is the source of faith. If we would have faith, we must learn to care for God’s interests and not for our benefit. (Num. 14:11, footnote 1)

To what is God faithful? He is faithful to what He says. He is faithful to His Word, and His Word is the testament, the covenant. The covenant is simply God’s Word. Our Christian life and church life are absolutely a covenant life….In verse after verse of the New Testament, we find God’s promises. I want to give you one of them:…“No temptation has taken you except that which is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow that you be tempted beyond what you are able, but will, with the temptation, also make the way out, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). There is a verse for every circumstance that you face…as a living promise for you to rely upon and live by….We should not be threatened or frightened by the clouds of our convictions, feelings, and environments. We are under God’s covenant, fully under His blessing. There is no more condemnation, no more judgment, no more curse. Death has been abolished. In the church, we continually enjoy life….Do not be frightened about losing your job or your health. Do not be threatened by any dark or negative thing. We are the covenanted people, and we have a verse of promise to meet every situation. (Life-study of Genesis, p. 437)

Life-study of Colossians (Message 33)

Christ Versus Culture for 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.

According to 3:11, in the new man there is no possibility for the various cultural distinctions to continue to exist. Here there is no longer the distinction between the cultured and the uncultured, for in the new man Christ is all and in all. After speaking of this, Paul goes on to charge us, who come from many different backgrounds, to let the peace of Christ arbitrate in our hearts. This peace is the issue, the result, of the death of Christ that terminated the cultural differences. Therefore, whenever the peace of Christ presides in us, this peace will subdue cultural opinions, religious observances, and philosophical concepts.

Often when we pray, we do not enter into genuine prayer. Through experience we can differentiate or discern prayer that is genuine from prayer that is not genuine. Do you know why it is so difficult to pray in a genuine way? The main hindrance is not sin or worldliness; it is cultural opinion. Unconsciously and subconsciously, we are still controlled by our cultural opinions. However, if we persevere in prayer, we shall eventually pray in a genuine way. This means that in our prayer we are released from cultural opinions and enter into the spirit. Whenever we experience genuine prayer, we are outside of our culture; in particular, we are outside of our cultural opinion. During times of genuine prayer, we are in our spirit, and we are one spirit with the Lord. It is at these times that we live Christ.

Furthermore, at such times of genuine prayer the death of Christ works within us in a prevailing way to terminate all the negative things in our being. Spontaneously, Christ’s resurrection power also prevails in us. As a result, we are actually one with Christ and identified with Him. This experience during times of genuine prayer gives us a taste of the normal Christian life.

The more genuine prayer we have, the more we shall have the experience of being outside our cultural opinions, of being one spirit with the Lord, and of living Christ. The sad thing is that when we stop praying, we automatically revert to our culture. Then we strive to live according to our own asceticism. When we enter into genuine prayer, we are far away from asceticism and all other isms, for we are one with the living Lord. Furthermore, when we pray in this way with others, we are truly one in the praying spirit. Then we touch the reality of the one new man, where there is no Greek or Jew, barbarian or Scythian, circumcision or uncircumcision. We realize that the new man is constituted of Christ alone and that in this realm there are no differences of culture. However, when we stop praying, we come back to our natural life with its opinions and striving. Instead of living Christ by being one spirit with Him, we restrict ourselves according to our self-imposed asceticism. In our natural life we make up our minds to do good, and we endeavor to accomplish what we have determined to do. This is the suppression of the self; it is not the living out of Christ.

To pray perseveringly means that we should never depart from the praying spirit. We should remain in a praying condition. To be in this condition is to be out of our opinion and to be one spirit with the Lord, living Him and taking Him as our life and as our person. Spontaneously we are away from everything other than Christ, and we are living by this living Person. Our problem is that we do not remain in such a condition of prayer. This was the reason Paul charges us to persevere in prayer. We must pray perseveringly in order to be preserved in such a praying condition. In other words, our daily living should be the same as our experience in times of genuine prayer. Our experience in prayer should become a model of our daily Christian life.

Life-study of Colossians (Message 34)

The All-inclusive 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;

Col. 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation,

We all have a concept of the physical things in creation. Even such a concept may frustrate us from enjoying Christ and growing in Him. It is crucial for us to realize that we can see Christ in all the items of creation. We need to drop our concept of the heavens, the earth, and the physical things; we need to see that Christ is the firstborn of the old creation and the firstborn of the new creation. Hence, Christ is everything; He is all-inclusive. Seeing that Christ is everything, we need to have the realization that this Christ is in us to be our hope of glory. What we need today is to grow in Him unto maturity.

All the saints hold on to different concepts of the universe and material things. If those from different cultural backgrounds would discuss these concepts frankly and thoroughly, they would no doubt end up arguing with one another. Most of the time we are polite and conform so as not to offend others. But if we would talk about our different concepts of the world, we would find out that we are still living according to our philosophy. The Americans live according to American philosophy, and the Chinese, according to Chinese philosophy. Although we are in the church life in the Lord’s recovery, we remain in our back ground. Doctrinally we may declare that Christ is in us as our hope of glory. Actually what occupies us inwardly is not Christ, but our philosophy.

If we would have the proper attitude toward physical things, we need to see that the various aspects of God’s creation are the expression of God by Christ. The believers with a Jewish background may marvel at the loveliness of God’s creation. Using the words of Psalm 8, they may proclaim that the Lord’s name is excellent in all the earth. But at the same time believers with this cultural background are appreciating the creation, those under the influence of a different philosophy may despise it. They may consider the material universe as intrinsically evil. In their attempts to convince one another and subdue one another, those with different philosophies may forget Christ. Although they are in the church, they do not hold onto Christ in a practical way concerning the universe. Instead, they hold on to their concepts and ideas.

At this juncture, Paul’s word in chapter one is crucial. Paul says that the portion of the saints is Christ, who is the image of the invisible God. This image is the firstborn of all creation. Neither the Greeks nor the Jews are right. The truth is that the heavens, the earth, and all material things are the expression of God by Christ. Furthermore, the church, God’s new creation, is also God’s expression. In the church we are in Christ, through Christ, and unto Christ, and we subsist in Christ to be God’s expression in Christ.

I can testify that this is not a mere doctrine which has no practical relationship to our daily Christian life. Having seen this vision, my concept of the heavens, the earth, and all physical things, even food and clothing, has changed. I definitely do not preach pantheism. According to the Bible, however, I teach that all physical things were created in Christ, through Christ, and unto Christ. This is true all the more of the church as God’s new creation. The church was created in Christ, through Christ, and unto Christ, and the church subsists in Christ who is the very image of God. In the church life in the Lord’s recovery, we should live neither according to philosophical thought nor religious teaching, but according to Christ. Christ is in us as our hope of glory, and we are now growing in Him. We shall continue to grow in Him until we reach maturity, at which time our whole being, especially our inner being, will be permeated with Christ.

As we consider the heavens and the earth, our concept of them must be related to Christ. Even when we look at a desk, a house, food, or clothing, we should think of Christ. We see Christ everywhere and in everything. Therefore, we would live Christ, not anything else. The Christ by whom we live is all-inclusive. The first aspect of His all-inclusiveness is that He is the image, the fullness, the expression, of God in the old creation and in the new creation. Thus, our concept of the universe is altogether related to Christ. We would only know Christ and live according to Christ.

Weekly Ministry (Aug 16 – Aug 22, 2021)

HWMR – Vital Factors for the Recovery of the Church Life (Week 8)

The Factor of Living an Overcoming Life in the Recovered Church to Consummate the Divine Economy and Become the New Jerusalem

Key Point – The Lord makes us pillars by transforming us, that is, by carrying away our natural element and replacing it with His divine essence

Rev. 3:12 He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall by no means go out anymore, and I will write upon him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which descends out of heaven from My God, and My new name.

[In Revelation 3:12] the overcomer will be made a pillar built into the temple of God. Because he is built into God’s building, “he shall by no means go out anymore.” This promise will be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom as a prize to the overcomer. To overcome in the church in Philadelphia is not to get anything or to overcome other things; it is to keep what we have received in the Lord’s recovery to the end. If you do this, the Lord will make you a pillar in God’s temple. This reminds us of Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28. After Jacob had that dream, he set up the stone which he had used for a pillow to be a pillar. That pillar was for God’s building….The principle is exactly the same today. The Lord has set up a good number of stones to be pillars in His recovery….Once a stone has been set as a pillar into the building, it can never be removed, for it has been built in….If you have been built into the temple as a pillar, you could not leave even if you wanted to. (Life-study of Revelation, pp. 193-194)

The Lord makes us pillars by transforming us, that is, by carrying away our natural element and by replacing it with His divine essence. Therefore, the meaning of make in Revelation 3:12 is to constitute us into something, to construct us in a creative way. In the church life today the Lord is making us, constituting us, into pillars in the temple of God. The Lord’s work in the church is to work Himself into us as the divine flow to carry away our natural being and replace it with His substance that we may be gradually processed by His transforming element. As the result of this transforming work, we become pillars in the temple of God.

Even in today’s church life, the overcoming saints are pillars in the Triune God. Furthermore, these saints sometimes have the consciousness that the church is actually nothing other than the Triune God. This fact is indicated by the golden lampstands as a symbol of the church (Rev. 1:12, 20). Furthermore, the lampstand is the embodiment and expression of the Triune God. The gold of the lampstand signifies the nature of the Father; the form signifies Christ as the embodiment and image of God; and the seven lamps signify the Spirit as the expression. Therefore, the lampstand is the embodiment of the Triune God and also a symbol of the church. Hence, it is not too much to say that, in actuality, the church is the Triune God, because the lampstand is the church and also the embodiment of the Triune God. Now we can see that the pillars in the church today are pillars in the Triune God. In the coming age these overcoming believers will be pillars in the temple of God, which is God Himself. From this we see that being made a pillar involves the Triune God being mingled with and constituted into the faithful overcomers. (The Conclusion of the New Testament, pp. 1215-1216)

Life-study of Colossians (Message 31)

Conclusion

Col. 4:1`5 Greet the brothers in Laodicea, as well as Nymphas and the church, which is in his house.

Col. 4:16 And when this letter is read among you, cause that it be read in the church of the Laodiceans also, and that you also read the one from Laodicea.

This Epistle was sent from Rome to Colosse. In ancient times this was a long journey. In the geographical region between Rome and Colosse were many different kinds of people. However, in this region near the Mediterranean, the new man had come into being and was living in a practical way. Although travel was not convenient, there was considerable traffic among the churches. There is a lesson for us here. Although we enjoy all the modern conveniences and means of transportation, there may not be as much traffic among the churches today as there was at the time of Paul. Furthermore, I have to admit that I have never composed a letter containing as many personal greetings as there are in the book of Colossians. Think of how many names are mentioned in 4:7-17: Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Barnabas, Justus, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, Nymphas, and Archippus. Paul also refers to the brothers in Laodicea, the church in the house of Nymphas, and the church of the Laodiceans. (The church in the house of Nymphas was the local church in Laodicea; it met in his house.) All these names indicate that with Paul there was a sense, a consciousness, of the new man.

This new man who was living on earth in a practical way was constituted of those who according to culture and social status were Greeks, Jews, circumcision, uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slaves, and freemen. However, as we have pointed out, the actual constituent of the new man is Christ and Christ alone. Because Christ is the unique constituent of the new man, there should be no differences among the believers who are part of this new man.

Furthermore, there should be no differences among the churches, for example, no difference between the church in Laodicea and the church in Colosse. This is proved by Paul’s word regarding the reading of letters: “And when this letter is read among you, cause that it may be read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you also read the one from Laodicea” (4:16). What Paul wrote to the Colossians was also for the Laodiceans, and what he wrote to the Laodiceans was for the Colossians. What fellowship, oneness, harmony, and intimate contact this implies!

In 4:7 Paul says, “All that concerns me, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow-slave in the Lord, shall make known to you.” Paul had charged Tychicus to make known to the Colossians all that concerned him. If Paul did not have the consciousness of the new man, he would not have regarded it necessary to give Tychicus such a charge. Rather, he may have thought to himself, “Why should I tell those in Colosse the things that concern me? They are in Asia Minor, and I am here in Rome, far away from them.” Paul, however, had the sense of the new man.

Those in Colosse also had the consciousness of the new man. If they were not conscious of the new man expressed at that time in the Mediterranean area, they would have considered Paul’s affairs his own personal business and would not have been interested in hearing of them. But both the saints in Colosse, and Paul and those with him, were members of the one new man in actuality.

Life-study of Colossians (Message 32)

Living Christ as the Constituent of the New Man

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.

Co 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.

If we would live Christ as the constituent of the new man, we need to be ruled by the peace of Christ (3:12-15) and inhabited by the word of Christ (3:16-17). The peace of Christ must arbitrate within our being, and the word of Christ must dwell in us richly. As Christians, we have different backgrounds and different concepts. These differences lead to disagreements among us; therefore, there is the need for an arbitrator. This arbitrator is the peace of Christ. It is crucial that the peace of Christ be allowed to preside in our hearts and to speak the final word regarding any controversy among us.

If we remember the background of the book of Colossians, we shall realize that among the believers in Colosse there were various parties. One party was in favor of Jewish observances, whereas another favored Gnosticism. These different preferences gave rise to conflicting opinions. For this reason, Paul told them to let the peace of Christ arbitrate in their hearts. The arbitrator should not be their opinions, concepts, choices, or preferences; it should be the peace of Christ, to which we are called in one Body.

We have pointed out that the peace of Christ is the very peace to which Paul refers in Ephesians 2:15, where we are told that Christ “abolished in His flesh the law of the commandments in ordinances, that He might create the two in Himself into one new man, making peace.” This peace is the oneness of the new man, the Body. By abolishing the ordinances, Christ has created the different peoples into one new man. Now within us as members of the new man there is something which Paul terms the peace of Christ. Hence, the peace of Christ is the very oneness of the new man composed of different peoples. Apart from the work of Christ on the cross, there can be no oneness among the different peoples. But through His death Christ has made peace; that is, He has produced oneness. This oneness of the new man is now within us. This oneness, the peace of Christ, must now be permitted to arbitrate in our hearts. It should function as a referee to settle the disputes among various parties. We need to set aside our opinion, our concept, and listen to the word of the indwelling referee. There is no need for us to quarrel or to express our opinion. We should simply let the peace of Christ make the final decision.

Suppose several young brothers are living together in a brothers’ house. Whenever they have problems living together, they should not argue. Instead, they should allow the peace of Christ to arbitrate in their hearts. They should let this peace be the referee who makes the final decisions. In this way, they will live Christ as the constituent of the new man.

We also need to allow the word of Christ to inhabit us, to dwell in us, to make home in us. We must be willing to set aside our concepts, our opinions, and give place to the word of Christ. If we want the word of Christ to inhabit us, we need to empty our entire inner being. All of our inward parts—our mind, emotion, will, heart, and spirit—must be empty, available to be filled with the word of Christ. This word should not only dwell in us; it should also inhabit us, making its home in every part of our inner being. Oh, may every room and corner of our being be inhabited by the word of Christ!

If we would live Christ as the constituent of the new man, the peace of Christ must be the arbitrator in our heart, and the word of Christ must be the content of our inner being. We pray that all the saints in the Lord’s recovery will give place to the arbitrating peace of Christ and to the inhabiting word of Christ.

Weekly Ministry (Aug 9 – Aug 15, 2021)

HWMR – Vital Factors for the Recovery of the Church Life (Week 7)

The Factor of Blending for the Reality of the Body of Christ

Key Point – The Lord’s recovery is to build up Zion – the overcomers as the reality of the Body of Christ consummating in the New Jerusalem

Rev. 14:1 And I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him a hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.

According to the Bible, when God wants to do something, He first chooses a small number of people as a base and then works the same thing into the majority of the people. Jerusalem typifies the church. Within Jerusalem, there was Mount Zion. One typifies the whole body of the church, while the other typifies the

overcomers of the church. Jerusalem is large, while Zion is small. The stronghold of Jerusalem is Zion. Whenever there is something that has to do with God’s heart desire, Zion is mentioned. Whenever there is something that has to do with the failures and sins of the Jews, Jerusalem is mentioned. God always allowed Jerusalem to be trodden down, but He always protected Zion. There is a New Jerusalem, but there never will be a new Zion, because Zion can never become old. Every time the Old Testament speaks of the relationship between Zion and Jerusalem, it shows us that the characteristics, the life, the blessing, and the establishment of Jerusalem come from Zion. Today God is looking for the one hundred and forty-four thousand amidst the defeated church, who will stand on Mount Zion (Rev. 14). God always uses a small number of believers to pass on the flow of life to the church and to revive the church. As the Lord has done once before, so these overcomers have to pour out their blood before life can flow out to others. On behalf of the church, the overcomers take the stand of victory and also suffer tribulation and despising. Thus, the overcomers of God…have to pay the price and allow the cross to cut off all the old creation and deal with the gates of Hades (Matt. 16:18). Are you willing to endure heartache to gain the heart of God? Are you willing to let yourself be defeated so that the Lord can be the Victor? (CWWN, vol. 11, pp. 761-763)

Life-study of Colossians (Message 29)

The Living of the Saints in Union with Christ: Ruled by the Peace of Christ and Inhabited by the Word of Christ

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.

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.

The word of Christ includes the entire New Testament. We need to be filled with this word. This means that we should allow the word of Christ to dwell in us, to inhabit us, to make home in us. The Greek word rendered dwell means to be in a house, to inhabit. The word of the Lord must have adequate room within us so that it may operate and minister the riches of Christ into our inner being. Furthermore, the word of Christ must dwell in us richly. The riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8) are in His word. When such a rich word inhabits us, it must inhabit us richly. The word of Christ should have free course within us. We should not simply receive it and then confine it to a small area of our being. On the contrary, it should be given a free course to operate within us. In this way the word will inhabit us and make home in us.

I appreciate Paul’s skill as a writer. He emphasizes, on the one hand, the peace of Christ and, on the other hand, the word of Christ. Some of us may think that as long as our spirit is living, everything is all right. Perhaps you have not realized the need for the peace of Christ to arbitrate within you and for the word of Christ to make home in your heart. If we let the peace of Christ work in us and the word of Christ dwell in us, we shall be proper Christians. Instead of our preference, we shall have Christ’s arbitration. Instead of our opinion, concept, thought, and estimation, we shall have Christ’s word.

Certain saints love the Bible and read it daily. But in their living it is their concept, opinion, and philosophy that move within them, not the word of Christ. They may study the Bible, but they do not allow the word of Christ to dwell in them. Neither do they permit it to move, act, and have its being in them. As a result, what prevails in their being is their philosophy, not the word of Christ. Although they read the Bible, God’s word remains outside of them. It is crucial for us to let the word of Christ enter into us, dwell in us, and replace our concepts, opinions, and philosophies. We need to pray, “Lord Jesus, I am willing to let go of my concepts. I want Your word to have ground in me. I am willing to forget my opinion and philosophy. I want Your word to be prevailing in me. I do not want my concepts to prevail any longer.”

We cannot separate the word of Christ from His arbitration. The arbitrator settles a dispute by speaking a word. We need to bring our case to the arbitrator and listen to his word. This means that we need to allow the peace of Christ to arbitrate in our hearts and the word of Christ to dwell in us. Then we shall be filled with singing and giving of thanks.

Life-study of Colossians (Message 30)

The Living of the Saints in Union with Christ: Expressing Christ in the Human Life, Praying with Perseverance, and Walking in Wisdom

Col. 4:2 Persevere in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving,

Col. 4:3 Praying at the same time for us also, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ (because of which also I am bound),

In Colossians 4:2-4 Paul turns to the matter of prayer. In verse 2 he says, “Persevere in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving.” To persevere is to continue persistently, steadfastly, and earnestly. In prayer we need to be watchful and alert, not negligent. Such watchfulness should be accompanied by thanksgiving.

The most important matter in the maintenance of our physical life is breathing. Breathing is even more important than eating and drinking. We can go for days without eating or drinking, but only a few minutes without breathing. Prayer is spiritual breathing. To pray is to breathe.

When some saints hear a word about prayer, they immediately ask how to pray. We should forget about how and simply pray. For example, a child learns to walk by walking. Few parents teach their children to walk. In the same principle, we learn to pray by praying.

In 4:2 Paul charges us to persevere in prayer. This means that we should not merely continue in prayer, but we should strive to continue. Almost everything in our environment is contrary to prayer. In order to pray, we must go against the tide, the current, of our environment. If we fail to pray, we shall be swept downstream. Only prayer can enable us to go against the current. Therefore, we need to persevere in prayer, to pray persistently.

Day by day we need to exercise ourselves to pray. We should even set aside certain times each day for prayer. Do not excuse yourself by saying that you do not have the burden to pray. Pray even when you seem to have no burden, or when apparently you have nothing to say to the Lord. You have much to say to others. Why not go to the Lord and tell Him the very things you tell them? If you do not know what to say to the Lord, pray like this: “Lord, I come to You, but I don’t know what to say, and I don’t know how to pray. Lord, teach me to pray and tell me what to say. Lord, in this matter have mercy on me.” If you do this, you will find that often when you pray in this way, some genuine prayer will come forth. When you feel that you are burdened to pray, your prayer may not be genuine. But when you go to the Lord in prayer even without a burden, telling Him that you have nothing to say, you will find yourself refreshed in the Lord and able to pray genuinely. When we open to the Lord and admit that we do not know what to say to Him, we breathe in fresh spiritual air, and we are preserved in the Lord’s grace.

Weekly Ministry (Aug 2 – Aug 8, 2021)

HWMR – Vital Factors for the Recovery of the Church Life (Week 6)

The Factor of Dealing with Our Natural Disposition for Our Growth in Life and Our Usefulness in Service

Key Point – If the outer man is not broken, the inner man will not be released; the earthen vessel has to be broken before the treasure can be released.

2 Cor. 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.

Watchman Nee saw that what we are by nature means nothing; only what the Spirit constitutes within our being counts. Whatever we are by birth, whether good or bad, whether useful or not, is natural and altogether a hindrance to the Holy Spirit in constituting the divine life into our being. For this reason our natural strength, natural wisdom, natural cleverness, natural disposition, natural shortcomings, natural virtues, and natural attributes, plus our character and habits, must all be torn down in order that the Holy Spirit may form in us a new disposition, new character, new habits, new virtues, and new attributes. In order to accomplish this work of reconstitution, the Holy Spirit of God moves within us to enlighten, inspire, lead, and saturate us with the divine life. He also works in our environment to arrange every detail, person, matter, and thing in our situation to tear down what we are naturally. He may arrange to place a certain person in our home in order to tear down our natural quickness or slowness. He may arrange certain matters to abolish our natural cleverness or dullness. He may arrange another situation to tear down our natural wisdom or folly. He uses all kinds of persons, matters, and things to tear down all aspects of our natural being in order that He may conform us to the image of Christ. (Watchman Nee – a Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age, pp. 115-116)

The Lord often chastises us, but we turn our attention to men and take the wrong track. Our attitude before the Lord should be as the psalmist said, “I did not open my mouth; for You have done this” (Psa. 39:9). We have to remember that it is not our brother, sister, friends and relatives, or any other person who is dealing with us. It is God who is dealing with us. We have to see this. We have to realize that the Lord has been disciplining us and dealing with us all these years. Because of our ignorance we have put the blame on others or even on fate. This is total ignorance of God’s hand. It is wrong. We have to remember that everything has been measured to us by our God. The amount, the length, and the intensity of what befalls us are all measured by Him. He orders everything around us, the only purpose of which is to break our conspicuous, obtuse, and hard spots. May the Lord be gracious to us and show us the meaning of His work in us. May He grant us much light to expose us and to humble us. (CWWN, vol. 54, “The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit,” p. 244)

Life-study of Colossians (Message 27)

Christ – Our Life

Col. 3:3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Col. 3:4 When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory.

If we would apply the cross to our situation, we need to contact the all-inclusive Spirit. The effectiveness of the death of Christ is in this Spirit, just as the effectiveness of certain medicines is included in a certain prescribed dose. When a person takes the prescribed dose, he experiences the effectiveness of that medicine. Today the all-inclusive Spirit is an all-inclusive dose. This dose includes the effectiveness of Christ’s death and the power of His resurrection. Furthermore, Christ’s resurrected and uplifted humanity is also in the all-inclusive Spirit.

According to the New Testament, the all-inclusive Spirit is the Spirit. In John 7:39 we are told that the Spirit was not yet because Jesus was not yet glorified. This means the Spirit of God had not yet been compounded to become the Spirit, the all-inclusive Spirit. But when Jesus was glorified, the process of compounding was accomplished, and the Spirit came into being. Today it is the Spirit who descends upon us and enters into us to indwell our spirit. In this Spirit we have the effectiveness of the death of Christ.

If we would apply the cross of Christ, we need to open ourselves to the Spirit, contact the Spirit, and allow the Spirit to have a free way within us. Then the Spirit will spontaneously apply the effectiveness of the death of Christ to us. This is what it means to apply the death of Christ. Furthermore, when we open to the Spirit and allow Him to apply the death of Christ to our situation, this experience of Christ’s death will bring Christ to us in resurrection. Hence, through the experience of Christ’s death, we also experience His resurrection. The more we experience this, the more we can say with Paul, “To me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).

Due to the influence of tradition, we often use the right terms in the wrong way. The terms are correct, but our understanding of them is mistaken. One of these terms is the cross. When we speak of applying the cross to our situation, we need to have the proper understanding. We need to realize that the effectiveness of the death of Christ is in the all-inclusive Spirit. The reality of the cross of Christ is in the Spirit. Thus, if we open to the Spirit and allow the Spirit to move freely within us, He will flow within us. This inward flowing will bring to us the effectiveness of the death of Christ. Moreover, this application of Christ’s death will bring Christ Himself in resurrection. Then, as those who have died with Christ, we shall live with Him in resurrection. It is here that Christ becomes our life in a practical way. We have died with Christ on the cross, and we have been raised up together with Christ. Now, in resurrection, we have Christ as our life. If we spend more time considering the diagram, we shall be helped to realize in what way we have Christ as our life.

Life-study of Colossians (Message 28)

Christ – the Constituent of 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 Colossians Paul uses the phrase “full knowledge” three times (1:10; 2:2; 3:10). The problem with the Colossians was that they had the wrong kind of knowledge. They had taken in philosophies that were not according to Christ. In 2:8 Paul speaks of philosophies that are according to the tradition of men and according to the elements of the world, but not according to Christ. Now in 3:10 he speaks of full knowledge according to the image, the expression, the fullness, of God. Concerning the new man, our mind needs to be renewed unto such a full knowledge according to the Christ who is the expression of the invisible God. Our mind needs to be renewed to such an extent that we have a clear view of Christ as the image of God. Few Christians have a proper understanding of the Christ unveiled in the book of Colossians. Their minds have not been renewed unto such a full knowledge of Him. As a result, many Christians today have been misled, deluded, and defrauded, just as the Colossians were. The Colossians could be deluded because in their minds they did not have the full knowledge according to God’s expression. The same is true of Christians today. Some have been carried away because in their minds they were not renewed unto full knowledge according to the all-inclusive Christ as the image of God.

Love is a matter of the emotion, and the emotion is related to the understanding we have in the mind. If we have little understanding of a certain thing, we shall not have much appreciation of it. This will make it impossible for us to love that thing. But when our mind concerning that thing is renewed, our emotion with its love will be renewed also. When the mind is renewed, the emotion is spontaneously renewed as well. Our experience confirms this. Both in spiritual experience and in human experience, the mind affects the emotion, and the emotion affects the will.

We need to be renewed in our mind in order to have a proper love for the Lord in our emotion. Many saints are cold toward the Lord because in their minds they do not have much knowledge of Him. The more we have the knowledge of the all-inclusive Christ, the more we shall appreciate Him and love Him. Although we still need a great deal more renewing, we nevertheless have a certain amount of knowledge of the Lord Jesus. This knowledge of Him causes us to love Him. Out of our love and appreciation for the Lord, we exercise our will to decide to be for Him, to follow Him, and to live Him, grow Him, and produce Him. We decide to live for Him and for His testimony. This decision comes out of the emotion, and the emotion is in turn influenced by the proper knowledge of Christ.

When I was a young man, I was captured by the dear Lord Jesus. The more my mind is renewed unto the proper knowledge of Him, the more I love Him. I can testify that, even though I am an elderly person, my love for Him is fresh. In fact, I love Him more today than ever before. As I speak of Him, a fire is burning within me. The renewing that has taken place in my mind unto full knowledge according to the image of God has created appreciation within me for the Lord. This causes me to love Him. When we have such a love for the Lord, we shall say, “Lord Jesus, I want to follow You at any cost. I am willing to pay any price, even the price of my life, to be one with You and be for You. Lord, I want to take You as my life and as my person. I want to live You, grow You, and produce You. Lord Jesus, I am here for You and for You alone.”

Weekly Ministry (July 26 – Aug 1, 2021)

HWMR – Vital Factors for the Recovery of the Church Life (Week 5)

The Factor of the Genuine One Accord

Key Point – The one accord refers to the harmony in our inner being, in our mind and will.

Acts 1:14 These all continued steadfastly with one accord in prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

In Matthew 18:19 the Greek word sumphoneo is used to signify the one accord. It means “to be in harmony, or accord” and refers to the harmonious sound of musical instruments or voices….The one accord, or the harmony of inward feeling among the believers, becomes like a melody, like music….When we have the one accord, in the eyes of God we become a melody to Him. We become a poem not merely in writing but in sound, in voice, in melody….Such a one accord is the nucleus of the oneness. In other words, oneness is like a nut, and the one accord is like the kernel of that nut. In Acts 1:14 another Greek word, homothumadon, is used to signify the one accord. This word is from homo, “same,” and thumos, “mind, will, purpose (soul, heart).” The word denotes a harmony of inward feeling in one’s entire being of inward feeling in one’s entire being. (CWWL, 1991-1992, vol. 3, “Fellowship concerning the Urgent Need of the Vital Groups,” p. 430)

In the book of Acts the one hundred twenty prayed together in one mind, in the same mind, in the same will with the same purpose around and within the soul and the heart. Whenever we pray, we surely should exercise our spirit, but we also should be in the same mind and the same will with the same purpose around and within our soul and heart. This means that our entire being is involved. After the Lord’s ascension the one hundred twenty became the kind of persons who were in one mind, in one will, with one purpose around their soul and heart. For them to be in one accord meant that their entire beings were one. No other book of the Bible uses the word for one accord as much as Acts. The one accord is the key and the life pulse of prayer, the Spirit, and the Word. You may pray much, seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and acquire a lot of knowledge from the Word, yet if you are short of the one accord, you cannot see the blessing. (CWWL, 1986, vol. 1, “Elders’ Training, Book 7: One Accord for the Lord’s Move,” pp. 75-78)

Life-study of Colossians (Message 25)

Christ Versus Mysticism

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,

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.

Speaking of those described in 2:18, Paul goes on to say in verse 19, “And not holding the Head, out from whom all the Body, by means of the joints and bands being supplied and knit together, grows with the growth of God.” The heresy of angel worship distracted the saints from holding Christ as the Head. God’s economy is to head up all things in Christ through His Body, the church, thereby to make Christ the center of all things. The device of the subtle one is to carry the saints away and to cause the Body to collapse. The heresy at Colosse caused the saints to be severed from the Head. This damaged the Body. Paul’s revelation was to uplift Christ and to safeguard and build up the Body. We need to be preserved in Christ for the church life. Then we shall be protected from curious visions and from anything abnormal.

If we are not preserved in Christ, the religious element in our being may give rise to many strange things. Our fallen nature with our reprobate mind is one with the evil one. The evil spirits can still have contact with our reprobate mind. The fallen mind is continually committing fornication with the evil spirits. This causes various kinds of evil things to be transmitted into us, things that may cause us to act in an abnormal manner, even to pray, sing, or praise in strange ways. For this reason, as the Bible says, we need a sober mind, a mind renewed according to the image of the One who created us (3:10). If we have such a renewed mind, we shall be preserved in Christ and enjoy Him in the church life. The main reason Paul wrote the book of Colossians was to rescue the saints from fraud and to preserve them in Christ for the proper church life.

To be preserved in Christ for the church life is to hold Him as the Head, out from whom the Body grows with the growth of God. To grow is a matter of life, which is God Himself. As the Body of Christ, the church should not be deprived of Christ, who is the embodiment of God as the source of life. By holding Christ, the church grows with the growth of God, with the increase of God as life.

This growth takes place “by means of the joints and bands being supplied and knit together.” Joints are for the supply of the Body, whereas bands are for knitting together the members of the Body. In the church some members are joints and others are bands. By means of the joints and bands, the Body grows. This indicates that we cannot grow with the growth of God individualistically. We need to be in the church. Thus, Paul’s aim in this book is to preserve us in Christ for the church life.

Life-study of Colossians (Message 26)

The Experience of Christ’s Death Versus Ascetism

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:

Col. 2:23 Such things indeed have a reputation of wisdom in self-imposed worship and lowliness and severe treatment of the body, but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.

As those who have the one Person and the one way, we do not need regulations about where to place our shoes. When we go to bed at night, however, we should pass through the cross. This means that no matter what we have done during the day or what has happened to us, the cross takes care of everything. Suppose in the afternoon you are made unhappy in some way by your wife or husband. At bedtime you need to apply the cross to your feeling of unhappiness. If you do this, the feeling of unhappiness will disappear. This indicates that our way is the cross, not asceticism or any severe treatment of the self. Realizing that we have already died in Christ, we should go to bed at night with a consciousness of the cross. If we practice going to bed through the cross, lying down with the realization that we have died in Christ, the next morning we shall wake up in resurrection as a new person. We not only have Christ, the unique Person who is versus all things; we also have the cross, the unique way, which is versus all other ways.

Because we have Christ and the cross, there is no place for self-imposed humility. There is no need for us to train ourselves to be humble. I have observed, both in the Orient and in the West, that the most proud people are those who have learned to practice a form of humility. We need not learn such practices. Rather, we should simply take the unique way of the cross.

Driving down the street can be a reminder of the way of the cross. As we drive, we come to many intersections. Have you realized that every intersection is a cross? Some of these crosses may be large and others may be small, but they are all crosses. Only by passing through many crosses can we get to our destination. Speaking of spiritual experience, we also must pass through many crosses before we can reach the New Jerusalem. Just as we cannot travel very far geographically without crossing an intersection, so we cannot progress spiritually without passing through the cross. Only when we arrive at the New Jerusalem shall we cease to pass through the cross, for by that time all the negative things will have been eliminated. Until we come to the New Jerusalem, we need to pass through the cross day by day in our walk with the Lord.

I can testify that it is a healthy spiritual practice to pass through the cross every night when we go to bed. By applying the cross at the end of each day, I rest very well during the night. At bedtime we need to apply the cross to every problem and to every negative, natural, or sinful thing. We may pray, “Lord, I want all these things to pass through the cross. I do not want to go to sleep with any natural, sinful, negative, or worldly element that has not been dealt with. When I go to bed, Lord, I want to be a person who has been crossed out.” We need to be those who pass through one cross after another. I encourage you to daily pass through the intersection of the cross.

Because we have Christ as the unique Person and the cross as the unique way, we do not need asceticism. Furthermore, we do not even need to make up our minds with respect to certain things. Such a practice does not work. What we need to do is simply lie down through the cross at night, have a restful sleep, and then rise up in the morning in resurrection. Praise the Lord that the experience of Christ’s death is versus asceticism!

Weekly Ministry (July 19 – July 25, 2021)

HWMR – Vital Factors for the Recovery of the Church Life (Week 4)

The Factor of Authority in the Body of Christ and in the Local Churches

Key Point – Christ is both the Head corporately of the Body, the church, and individually of all the believers; He is the Head indirectly of every one of us, and we all are under His authority

Col. 1:18 And He is the Head of the Body, the church; He is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, that He Himself might have the first place in all things;

The church is constituted absolutely not according to the human mentality or worldly organizational methods but with Christ as life and with Christ as the unique Head. In the church, the Body of Christ, there is no other head. Regardless of his or her location or function, every member is related directly to the Head; every member has the same standing. There are no intermediary members, contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church that the so-called holy mother mediates between the believers and Jesus. We all know that this teaching of the Catholic Church is wrong, but in our actual practice we may consider that certain persons are intermediaries between us and the Lord. On the one hand, we must never be an intermediary between God’s people and the Lord Himself. We need to allow the Lord’s people to receive orders directly from the Lord. By the Lord’s mercy, in all the times that saints have come to me for fellowship throughout the years, I have never given them a decision, an order, or a commandment. Instead, I always tell them, “You need to go to the Lord. Pray to seek the Lord’s leading directly.” On the other hand, we must never take someone else as an intermediary between us and the Lord. Because most believers are weak, they prefer to depend upon others rather than going directly to the Lord….This is terrible.

By the Lord’s mercy, since the beginning of the Lord’s recovery among us over fifty years ago, the Lord has shown us the truth that every member is related directly to the Head. Brother Watchman Nee was the first to practice being careful not to come between any member and the Head….I was with him for many years and saw many cases. He never told anyone what to do or what not to do….He made it clear that he was not the head or the leader but only a brother with a burden to minister God’s word to His people….How shameful it is that some among us today claim to be the leader or the future leader! The fact that many saints accepted such claims indicates that we do not know or practice the truth. (CWWL, 1978, vol. 2, “Crucial Principles for the Christian Life and the Church Life,” pp. 605-606)

Life-study of Colossians (Message 23)

The Economy of God’s Salvation

Col. 2:13 And you, though dead in your offenses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our offenses;

Col. 2:15 Stripping off the rulers and the authorities, He made a display of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

We have pointed out that at the time of Christ’s crucifixion God stripped off, put off, the rulers and authorities. When Christ was crucified, the leading evil angels attempted to surround God when Christ was on the cross. But God used the cross to strip off these angels. This is Paul’s concept in these verses.

In a very real sense, the cross of Christ is the center of the universe. After God created the heavens, the earth, and the billions of items in the universe, an archangel rebelled, and many angels followed him. This archangel became Satan, and his followers became the evil rulers, powers, and authorities in the heavenlies. Eventually, the man created by God fell and became sinful. The rebellion of the angels and the fall of man put God into a difficult situation. God’s way to deal with this difficulty is the cross. Firstly, God became a man, thereby putting humanity on Himself. Then Christ, God incarnate, went to the cross and was crucified. During the thirty-three and a half years of His earthly life, Christ walked from the manger to the cross. When He was crucified, many things took place. On the cross God judged sin and the sinful old man. Through the cross, our sinful nature was terminated. At the very time God was judging sin and sinful man, He also nailed the law to the cross. When God was nailing the law to the cross, the evil angels also were present and very active. But, according to verse 15, God stripped them off through the cross.

We have pointed out that, according to 2:15, God stripped off the rulers and authorities. From what or from where did He strip them off? If we would answer this question, we must see that while Christ was on the cross, God was working. At that time, the cross was the center of the universe. The Savior, sin, Satan, we, and God all were there. God was there judging sin and nailing the law to the cross. As He was doing this, the rulers and authorities gathered around God and Christ. We have pointed out that, according to grammar, the subject of verses 13 through 15 is God. Thus, the He in verse 15 denotes God. God made us alive together with Christ, nailed the ordinances to the cross, stripped off the rulers and authorities, made a display of them openly, and triumphed over them. No doubt, the rulers and authorities had swarmed around Christ as He was being crucified. Both God and Christ were working. Christ’s work was His crucifixion, whereas God’s work was to judge sin and all the negative things and to nail the law with its ordinances to the cross. The rulers and authorities who had gathered around God and Christ were also working. If they had not pressed in closely, how could God have stripped them off? The words “stripping off” indicate that they were very close, as close as our garments are to our body. By stripping off the rulers and authorities, God made a display of them openly. He openly put them to shame and triumphed over them. What a great matter this is!

Life-study of Colossians (Message 24)

Christ – The Body of All the Shadows

Col. 2:16-17 Let no one therefore judge you in eating and in drinking or in respect of a feast or of a new moon or of the Sabbath, which are a shadow of the things to come, but the body is of Christ.

Many things in our environment of daily living are also shadows of Christ. For example, the food we eat is a shadow, not the real food. The real food is Christ. Christ is also the real drink. The clothing we wear to cover us, to beautify us, and to keep us warm is also a shadow of Christ. Christ is the One who truly covers our nakedness, who keeps us warm, and who imparts beauty to us. Christ is also our true dwelling place and real rest. The houses in which we live are a shadow of Christ as our dwelling place. The rest we enjoy at night is also a figure of Christ as our rest. Even the satisfaction we enjoy after a good meal is not the real satisfaction but a shadow of Christ as the reality of satisfaction.

In verse 16 Paul covers matters related to daily life, weekly life, monthly life, and yearly life. As we have pointed out, eating and drinking are daily, the Sabbaths weekly, the new moons monthly, and the feasts yearly. All the aspects of our living are shadows of Christ. Eating and drinking signify daily satisfaction and strengthening, and the Sabbath signifies weekly completion and rest. Without completion, we cannot enjoy rest. Rest always comes from completion and satisfaction. When you have finished a certain matter and are satisfied with it, you are then able to be at rest. After God completed His work of creation on the sixth day, He enjoyed rest on the seventh day. I can testify that I can enjoy rest only when my work has been completed and I am satisfied with it. Hence, the Sabbath signifies completion and rest on a weekly basis.

A new moon signifies a monthly new beginning with light in darkness. Just as the new moon marked a new beginning in Old Testament times, so Christ affords us a new beginning with light in darkness today. Recently I heard the testimony of a Jewish brother who was saved a few months ago. Before he came to the Lord, he was in darkness, like all unbelieving Jews today. But now Christ is his new moon with light in darkness.

The feasts signify yearly enjoyment and joy. Three times a year, God’s chosen people came together for the annual feasts, which were times of enjoyment, of rejoicing together before the Lord. Although the feasts were enjoyable, they were simply shadows of Christ. He is the real food, drink, completion, rest, new moon, and feast. Daily we eat and drink Him, weekly we have completion and rest in Him, monthly we experience a new beginning in Him, and throughout the year He is our joy and enjoyment. Daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly Christ is to us the reality of every positive thing.

In chapter one Paul shows us that Christ is the portion of the saints, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, the Head of the Body, the firstborn from among the dead, the One in whom all the fullness is pleased to dwell, and our indwelling hope of glory. In chapter two he goes on to say that Christ is the mystery of God and the One in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. After all this, Paul comes to our practical living, which involves daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly matters.

Weekly Ministry (July 12 – July 18, 2021)

HWMR – Vital Factors for the Recovery of the Church Life (Week 3)

The Factor of the Church Being in the Triune God, the Local Churches Being Expressions of the Body of Christ, and the Believers Practicing the Church Life in the Consciousness of the Body

Key Point – In order to have the Body life, we must be full of feeling for the Body, taking the feeling of the Head as our own feeling

1 Cor. 12:25-26 That there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same care for one another. And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member is glorified, all the members rejoice with it.

Since we are the members of the Body of Christ, we should have a feeling for the Body. First, we must take the feeling of the Head as our own feeling. In Philippians 1:8 Paul says, “I long after you all in the inward parts of Christ Jesus.” This means that Paul took the inward parts of Christ Jesus as his own inward parts in caring for the church. This also means that he took care of the Body of Christ by taking Christ’s feeling as his own feeling. Christ’s feeling became his feeling for the Body. We all should be like Paul, taking the feeling of the Head as our own feeling. This is most necessary for our living the Body life. Furthermore, we should not only take the feeling of the Head as our feeling but also do so in the principle of caring for the Body. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:25b-26 that “the members would have the same care for one another. And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member is glorified, all the members rejoice with it.” In order for us to have the Body life, we must care for our fellow members and must be full of feeling for the Body. (CWWL, 1990, vol. 2, “The Oneness and the One Accord according to the Lord’s Aspiration and the Body Life and Service according to His Pleasure,” p. 94)

We are here for the Body. Without the backing of the Body, without the backing of the recovery, we have no way to practice the local churches. If we practice the local church life and neglect the view of the Body, our local church becomes a local sect. The recovery is for the Body, not for any individual or merely for any individual local church. If we are going to do something, we have to consider how the Body, the recovery, will react….We all need to come back to the truth, and to practice the truth is to take care of the Body. Sometimes the Body is strong, and sometimes the Body is weak, but it is still the Body. If we come back to the truth and take care of the proper order in the Body, the Body will immediately become stronger. All the problems are due to one thing: not seeing, not knowing, and not caring for the Body. We have to honor the Body. We must resolve to deny ourselves and be the overcomers for the Lord, for the recovery, and for the Body….We should pray, “Lord, I know You need the overcomers. Without the overcomers, You have no way to go on. Lord, I want to be one of these overcomers.” The overcomers see the Body, know the Body, and care for the Body. (CWWL, 1993, vol. 2, “The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life,” pp. 99-100, 107-108)

Life-study of Colossians (Message 21)

Not to be Deluded and Carried off from Christ

Col. 2:4 This I say that no one may delude you with persuasive speech.

Col. 2:8 Beware that no one carries you off as spoil through his philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ;

According to typology, the children of Israel enjoyed Christ in three stages: in Egypt, in the wilderness, and in the good land. The Passover enjoyed in Egypt was not only for their redemption; it also strengthened them to make their exodus from Egypt. In the wilderness God’s people were sustained by manna, which enabled them to build God’s tabernacle and to carry it as a testimony. After the children of Israel entered into the good land, they began to enjoy the rich produce of the land. This produce made it possible for them to build the temple for a more solid testimony, Speaking according to the type, the temple in the good land is the focus of God’s purpose on earth. God desires to have a dwelling place among His chosen people for His expression. God’s purpose is fulfilled neither by the enjoyment of Christ as the Passover lamb in Egypt nor by the enjoyment of Christ as manna in the wilderness. His purpose is fulfilled only when His people enjoy Christ as their good land.

Although the Colossians were in Christ as the good land, they had been deluded, deceived. This was the reason that Paul said in 2:4, “This I say that no one may delude you with persuasive speech.”

In order for believers to be deluded, something close to the truth must be used to deceive them. For example, counterfeit money or forged checks are deceptive because their appearance is close to that of the real things. People would never be deceived by money or by checks that are obviously false. In like manner, the Colossians were deceived by observances and practices that were close to the experience of Christ. Furthermore, certain aspects of Gnosticism were similar to the teachings of the Bible. For this reason, the Colossians could be deceived.

If we take Christ as life, hold Him as the Head of the Body, know Him as the mystery of God, experience Him as the hope of glory, and walk in Him as the all-inclusive Spirit, then we shall not be deceived by anything or by anyone. Those who do not experience Christ in these aspects can easily be deceived. If you analyze the situation of those who have been deluded and carried off as spoil, you will realize that they did not experience Christ in these five ways. They did not realize that Christ alone is everything in God’s economy, and they did not take Christ as their life or as their Head. Furthermore, they did not experience the indwelling Christ as their hope of glory, nor did they live, move, and have their being in Christ. As a result, they were defenseless, and eventually were deluded and carried off into captivity. Our defense against deception is the Christ who is our life, our Head, the mystery of God, the hope of glory, and the good land in which we walk.

Life-study of Colossians (Message 22)

Made Full and Circumcised in Christ

Col. 2:10-11 And you have been made full in Him, who is the Head of all rule and authority. In Him 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,

In verse 11 Paul 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.” Here Paul speaks of a circumcision not made with hands. This certainly is different from that practiced by the Jews, which was carried out with a knife. In addition to that physical circumcision, there is another kind of circumcision, the circumcision in Christ, which is not made with hands. This is spiritual circumcision and refers to the proper baptism, which puts off the body of the flesh by the effectual virtue of the death of Christ. As we shall see, this is versus asceticism.

The circumcision in Christ involves the death of Christ and the power of the Spirit. When Christ was crucified on the cross, His crucifixion was the genuine, practical, and universal circumcision. His crucifixion cut off all the negative things. These negative things include our flesh, our natural man, and the self. However, along with the death of Christ we need the Spirit as the power. If we have Christ’s crucifixion without the Spirit as the power, we shall have no means to apply Christ’s crucifixion to us and to execute its effect upon us. The crucifixion of Christ becomes practical and effective by means of the Spirit. By the Spirit as the power, Christ’s crucifixion is applied to us. Then under the power of the Spirit, we are circumcised in an actual and practical way. This is the circumcision in Christ, a circumcision not made with hands. It is a circumcision not made with hands because it was accomplished by the death of Christ, and it is applied, executed, and carried out by the powerful Spirit. This is the circumcision we have all received.

In Christ, on the one hand, we have been made full, and, on the other hand, we have been circumcised. Because we have been made full in Him, we are short of nothing. Because we have been circumcised in Him, all the negative things have been removed. Regarding the positive things, we are complete. Regarding the negative things, everything has been cleared up, and we have no problems. Therefore, regarding the positive things, we are not short of anything, and regarding the negative things, we are no longer troubled by anything.

However, we need to exercise faith and not look at ourselves. We must turn our eyes away from our feelings and from our apparent situation. According to our apparent situation, we are short of everything positive and are troubled by everything negative. But according to the facts, we are not in ourselves—we are in Christ. Because we are in Him, we have been made full positively, and we have been circumcised to clear away the negative things.