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.