HWMR – MEETING GOD’S NEED AND PRESENT NEEDS IN THE LORD’S RECOVERY (Week 6)
Entering into Christ’s Wonderful Shepherding in His Heavenly Ministry to Shepherd the Church of God as a Slave of God for the Fulfillment of the Dream of God
1 Cor. 13:4-5 Love suffers long. Love is kind; it is not jealous. Love does not brag and is not puffed up; it does not behave unbecomingly and does not seek its own things; it is not provoked and does not take account of evil.
Love is not jealous, is not provoked, does not take account of evil, covers all things, endures all things, never falls away, and is the greatest (1 Cor. 13:4-8, 13). Jealousy is in our nature.
Also, love is not provoked. People are easily provoked because of the shortage of love. Regardless of how much we are rebuked, we will not be provoked if we are filled with the divine love. Love does not take account of evil. We have to confess that we have taken account of other people’s evil. Some wives have a record, an account, of their husband’s failures and defects. This record may not be written, but it is in their mind. The elders need to realize that in their shepherding, they have to cover others’ sins, to not take account of others’ evils. Love covers all things, not only the good things but also the bad things. Whoever uncovers the defects, shortcomings, and sins of the members of the church is disqualified from the eldership. (CWWL, 1994-1997, vol. 5, “The Vital Groups,” pp. 123-124)
Both 2 Peter and Jude speak of the matter of reviling. Reviling is done through our speaking….Those who take in reviling words bear the same responsibility as those who speak reviling words….In order for the church to maintain the oneness, the brothers and sisters have to withstand reviling words.
We need to be a person who has been taught by God and who is under control. Only those who do not speak carelessly or express their opinions carelessly can hope to be used by God. Only these ones can represent the Head. Only such people can lead the brothers and sisters on in the way ahead of them. God will never entrust authority to those who by nature like to criticize….If you are a person with your head removed, you immediately sense when others’ heads have asserted themselves….You know it because you have been judged in this matter already….If a brother has been dealt with in these two things, that is, in the matter of speaking and in learning not to assume headship, there is no difficulty in the exercise of authority. Those who cause problems in these two matters do not know what the Body is. (Messages Given during the Resumption of Watchman Nee’s Ministry, 1st ed., vol. 2, pp. 505-507, 509-510)
Life-study of Galatians (Message 9)
Dead to Law but Living to God
Gal. 2:19 For I through law have died to law that I might live to God.
How can we die to law in order to live to God? Galatians 2:19 indicates that we have already died to law. According to your experience, have you actually died to law, or is this simply a matter of doctrine to you? Furthermore, how can we live to God? If we would answer these questions, we must know the truth, the reality, of the gospel. If we are not actually organically united with Christ but are in ourselves, then we are neither dead to law nor are we living to God. Apart from the organic union with Christ, we cannot live to God. On the contrary, we shall be alive to many things other than God.
The concept of organic union is implied in Romans 7. In this chapter Paul uses the illustration of married life. Marriage is a union of life. In this union the wife is one with the husband, and the husband is one with the wife. In Romans 7:4 Paul speaks of our being married to Christ: “So that, my brothers, you also have been made dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you might marry another, even Him Who has been raised from among the dead.” According to this verse, we have been married to the resurrected Christ. Between Him as the Bridegroom and us as the Bride, there is a wonderful union. We are one with Him in person, name, life, and existence. This shows that our Christian life is a life of organic oneness with Christ.
In Romans 11 Paul goes on to use another illustration— the grafting of a branch from one tree into another tree. In Romans 11:17-24 Paul uses the illustration of branches from a wild olive tree being grafted into a cultivated olive tree. As a result of grafting, the branches from the wild olive tree and the cultivated olive tree grow together organically. We, branches of the wild olive tree, have been grafted into Christ, the cultivated olive tree.
Some may say that the cultivated olive tree in Romans 11 refers to Israel. Although this is correct, it is also true that in the Bible the real Israel is always identified with Christ, and Christ with the real Israel. In the eyes of God, there are not two trees on earth. There is just one tree, the olive tree which includes Christ and God’s chosen people. Once we were wild olive branches, but now we have been grafted into Christ. This illustration indicates that the Christian life is not an exchanged life, the exchange of a lower life for a higher one, but a grafted life, the grafting of the human life into the life of Christ. After a branch has been grafted into another tree, it no longer lives by itself. On the contrary, it lives by the tree into which it has been grafted.
In the matter of grafting, there are two main aspects: cutting and joining or uniting. Without the cutting, there cannot be any grafting. If the branch from one tree is to be grafted into another tree, the branch must firstly be cut. After the cutting occurs, the joining or union takes place. This union is organic. Therefore, in grafting we have the cutting, the joining, and the organic union. The cutting corresponds to the death of Christ, and the uniting, to the resurrection of Christ. In the death of Christ our old life was cut off, and in Christ’s resurrection we were united to Him for further growth. The experience of the death of Christ causes us to die to the law, whereas resurrection enables us to live to God. Hence, to be dead to the law and alive to God implies the death and resurrection of Christ. Only by being grafted into Christ can we be one with Him in His death and resurrection.
In ourselves it is not possible for us to die to law or live to God. However, when the preciousness of the Lord Jesus was infused into us and we began to appreciate Him, we were grafted into Him. On the one hand, we were cut; on the other hand, we were joined to Christ in His resurrection life. After this union took place, we were organically united with Christ. Now we should simply live in this organic union. On the negative side, we have been cut in Christ’s death; on the positive side, we have been united to Christ in His resurrection. In this cutting we died not only to the law, but to everything other than God. According to Galatians 6, we are dead to the world, particularly to the religious world, through the crucifixion of Christ (vv. 13-14). By the all-inclusive cutting of Christ’s all-inclusive death on the cross, we are dead to everything other than God. Because we have been grafted into Christ, His experience has become our history. When He died on the cross, we died in Him. When He was crucified, we were cut off from the wild olive tree. This means that we were cut off from the self, the flesh, the world, religion, and the law with its ordinances. Furthermore, because we have been grafted into Christ, His resurrection has also become our history. Therefore, we can strongly declare that with Christ we have been crucified, buried, and resurrected. What a wonderful history we have!
Life-study of Galatians (message 10)
No Longer I, But Christ Living in Me
Gal. 2:20 I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Paul says that the life we now live in the flesh we live in faith, the faith of the Son of God. We live the divine life, not by sight or by feeling in the way we live the physical and soulish life. The divine life, which is the spiritual life in our spirit, is lived by the exercise of faith stimulated by the presence of the life-giving Spirit.
In speaking of faith, Paul refers to “the faith of the Son of God.” What is the meaning of the little word “of” here? This word implies that the faith mentioned in this verse is the Son of God’s faith, the faith which He Himself possesses. However, in interpreting this verse, we and many others have said that this phrase actually means faith in the Son of God. Nevertheless, the Greek does not use the preposition “in” here. I have spent a good deal of time trying to understand this matter. After consulting the writings of a number of leading authorities, I have become fully convinced that here Paul is not speaking of the Son’s faith, but of faith in the Son. However, we still need to explain why in this verse, as well as in 2:16 and 3:22, Paul does not use the preposition “in.” We cannot gain a proper understanding of this simply by studying the Scripture in black and white letters. We also need to consider our experience.
Paul wrote the book of Galatians both according to truth and according to his experience. According to our Christian experience, the genuine living faith which operates in us is not only in Christ, but also of Christ. Hence, Paul’s meaning here actually is “the faith of and in Christ.” Paul’s thought is that the faith is both of Christ and in Christ.
We have pointed out that faith is our appreciation of what the Lord is and of what He has done for us. We have also pointed out that genuine faith is Christ Himself infused into us to become our ability to believe in Him. After the Lord has been infused into us, He spontaneously becomes our faith. On the one hand, this faith is of Christ; on the other hand, it is in Christ. However, it is too simple merely to say that this faith is Christ. We need to say that it is Christ revealed to us and infused into us. Faith is related not only to the Christ who has been infused into us, but also to the Christ who is infusing Himself into us. As Christ operates in us, He becomes our faith. This faith is of Him and also in Him.
Proof that the faith in 2:20 is both the faith of Christ and the faith in Christ is found in Paul’s words at the end of the verse. He concludes the verse by referring to the Son of God as the One “Who loved me and gave Himself for me.” In writing these words, Paul was filled with appreciation of the Lord Jesus. Otherwise, at the end of such a long verse there would have been no need for him to speak of Christ loving him and having given Himself for him. He could have concluded with the expression, “the faith of the Son of God.” But as he was speaking of the way he now lived, his heart was filled with gratitude and appreciation. Faith comes from such an appreciation of the Lord Jesus. The faith in Christ and the faith of Christ issues from the appreciation of Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 5:14 and 15 Paul says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” As we consider these verses, we can see that Paul’s faith came from an appreciation for the constraining love of Christ. The more we appreciate Christ’s constraining love, the more faith we shall have. This faith is not produced by our own ability or activity. Rather, it is produced by the working in us of the very Christ whom we appreciate. In our appreciation for the Lord Jesus, we shall say, “Lord Jesus, I love You and I treasure You.” As we speak such words to the Lord, He operates within us and becomes our faith. This faith brings about an organic union in which we and Christ are truly one.
I would like to tell you a true story which confirms the point that the faith which operates in us comes from our appreciation of the Lord Jesus. During the Boxer Rebellion in China, hundreds of Christians were martyred. One day in Peking, the old capital of China, the Boxers were parading down the street. Sitting in the back of a wagon was a young Christian woman who was being led away to be executed. She was surrounded by executioners with swords in their hands. The atmosphere was terrifying, filled with the shoutings of the Boxers. Nevertheless, her face was glowing as she was singing praises to the Lord. The stores were closed because of the rioting. However, a young man was observing this scene through a crack at the front of a store. Deeply impressed with the young woman’s glowing face, happiness, and songs of praise, he decided at that moment that he would find out the truth about the Christian faith. Later, he did learn the truth and became a believer in Christ. Eventually, he gave up his business and became a preacher. One day, when he was visiting my home town, he told me this story of how he had become a Christian.
The point here is that this young woman could be filled with praises in the midst of such a terrifying situation because faith was working within her. She was filled with appreciation of the Lord Jesus. Because she loved Him so much, He spontaneously became the faith within her. This faith produced an organic union in which she was joined to the Lord. This organic union is a basic and crucial aspect of God’s New Testament economy.