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.