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.