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.