Weekly Ministry (Mar 27 – Apr 2, 2022)


Living with the Divine Trinity (2) – God Operating in Us

Phil. 1:19 For I know that for me this will turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

We need to see what the bountiful supply of the Spirit includes. First, the bountiful supply includes the divine person with the divine life and nature. Thus, the bountiful supply includes divinity. Divinity includes the divine life, nature, being, and person; in other words, it is God Himself.

The bountiful supply also includes an uplifted humanity, a humanity with a proper life, living, nature, and person. The Lord Jesus is both God and man. Within Him there are both divinity and humanity. Thus, when He was on earth, He lived as God and also as man. All that the Lord passed through in thirty-three and a half years of life on earth is now in the all-inclusive Spirit. Therefore, divinity and humanity, including the human living of the Lord Jesus, are in the bountiful supply of the all-inclusive Spirit.

On the cross the Lord Jesus died a wonderful death. The all-inclusive death of Christ dealt with every negative thing in the universe. By His death all sinful things were terminated. This wonderful death is also included in the bountiful supply of the Spirit. Christ’s resurrection and ascension are included as well.

The bountiful supply of the Spirit also includes the divine attributes and the human virtues. God is love and light, and He is holy and righteous. These are some of His attributes. Furthermore, as a man Christ has all the human virtues. Both the divine attributes and the human virtues are in the all-inclusive Spirit of Jesus Christ.

The submission and love that we need day by day are also found in the bountiful supply of the Spirit. Although the Bible commands a wife to submit to her husband and a husband to love his wife (Eph. 5:24-25), in ourselves we actually do not have either genuine submission or love. Instead of submission, we have rebellion. Instead of a proper love, we have an unbalanced, twisted love.

As we enjoy the bountiful supply of the Spirit, we partake of the ingredients of this supply without being aware of it. For example, we may love others without being conscious of the fact that we are loving. In like manner, we may be submissive without realizing that we are submissive….True love and true submission are always spontaneous and not something of which we are conscious. (The Conclusion of the New Testament, pp. 4106-4107)

Life-study of Galatians (Message 23)

The Need for Christ to be Formed in the Heirs of Promise

Gal. 4:19 My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you,

Verse 19 says, “My children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ is formed in you.” Here Paul considers himself the begetting father, and the Galatian believers his children begotten of him in Christ (see 1 Cor. 4:15; Philem. 10). This also was an appeal to their affection.

Paul told the Galatian believers that he was again travailing on their behalf. Travail refers to painful labor in childbirth. In this metaphor Paul likens himself to a mother who gives birth to a child. He labored in this way for the regeneration of the Galatians when he first preached the gospel to them. Because they had deviated from the gospel he preached to them, he labors again in travail until Christ is formed in them. In this verse Paul likens himself both to a begetting father and a travailing mother. Was he, then, a father or a mother? He was both, depending on the situation. On one occasion he was a begetting father; on another, a travailing mother.

Paul was in travail that Christ might be formed in the Galatians. Christ, a living Person, is the focus of Paul’s gospel. His preaching is to bring forth Christ, the Son of the living God, in the believers. This differs greatly from the teaching of the law in letters. Hence, the book of Galatians is emphatically Christ-centered. Christ was crucified (3:1) to redeem us out of the curse of the law (3:13) and rescue us out of the evil religious course of the world (1:4); and He was resurrected from among the dead (1:1) that He might live in us (2:20). We were baptized into Him, identified with Him, and have put on Him, have clothed ourselves with Him (3:27). Thus, we are in Him (3:28) and have become His (3:29; 5:24). On the other hand, He has been revealed in us (1:16), He is now living in us (2:20), and He will be formed in us (4:19). It is to Him the law has conducted us (3:24), and in Him we are all sons of God (3:26). It is in Him that we inherit God’s promised blessing and enjoy the all-inclusive Spirit (3:14). It is also in Him that we are all one (3:28). We should not be deprived of all profit from Him and so be severed from Him (5:4). We need Him to supply us with His grace in our spirit (6:18) that we may live Him.

Christ was born into the Galatian believers, but not formed in them, when they were regenerated through Paul’s preaching the gospel to them the first time. Now the apostle travails again that Christ might be formed in them. To have Christ formed in us is to have Christ grown in us in full. First Christ was born into us at our conversion, then He lives in us in our Christian life (2:20), and He will be formed in us at our maturity. This is needed that we may be sons of full age, heirs to inherit God’s promised blessing, and mature in the divine sonship.

As we have indicated, verse 19 points out that Paul’s burden was not to carry on a Christian work, but was to have Christ formed in the believers. Through Paul’s preaching, Christ had entered into the Galatians. But because they had been deceived, Christ had not yet grown in them and had not been formed in them. Therefore, Paul labored again, like a mother laboring in giving birth, that Christ would be formed in the believers. Paul wrote out of the burden to minister Christ into the saints. He was burdened that Christ would be established, built up, in them. Galatians tells us that Christ is revealed in us and that He lives in us. Now we see that Christ must also be formed in us.

Ministering Christ to others is not accomplished easily. It often requires suffering and struggle. Ministering Christ is much more difficult than carrying on an ordinary Christian work. If you would bear the burden, with a sincere heart, to minister Christ to others, you will discover what labor and suffering it requires. You will need to labor like a mother giving birth to a child.

The goal of our service in the church or in the ministry must be to minister Christ into others. It is not adequate simply to say that we preach the gospel, for it is possible to preach the gospel without ministering Christ to others. Our burden must be the ministering of Christ. Once again I say that this requires labor and suffering. It demands prayer, patience, and love. According to our experience, such a ministry is a battle, a wrestling. The subtle one, the enemy of God, is active to bring in frustration or distraction. We do not know from what direction he will attack next. Hence, we must learn from Paul to be burdened to minister Christ and also to appeal to the saints’ affection that their hearts may be touched.

Life-study of Galatians (message 24)

Two Covenants and Two Kinds of Children

Gal. 4:23 However the one of the maidservant was born according to the flesh, but the one of the free woman was born through promise.

The promise given to Abraham was the unveiling of God’s desire. When God made the promise to Abraham, He opened His heart and unveiled the desire of His heart. Although man had fallen and was under the curse, God’s desire was to bless all nations. His desire was to give Himself as a blessing to the nations. God had told Abraham that in Him all nations would be blessed (Gen. 12:3). This promise was given over against a certain background. At the time the promise was given, all the nations were under the curse. No doubt, Abraham realized this. Then, suddenly, the God of glory appeared to him and promised that in him all the nations would be blessed. What a tremendous word this was! When the God of glory appeared to Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees, Abraham was attracted. He was charmed. Because he was attracted by God, Abraham could follow Him out of Chaldea. Then, when Abraham was sojourning in the land of Canaan, God promised to give the land to Abraham’s seed. Therefore, with God’s promise to Abraham there are two main aspects: the aspect of the nations being blessed and the aspect of the good land. On the one hand, the nations would be blessed through Christ’s redemption. On the other hand, Christ, typified by the good land, is the embodiment of the Triune God as the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit as our enjoyment and bountiful supply. God’s promise to Abraham with these two aspects was the unveiling of the desire of God’s heart.

God’s promise to Abraham involves much more than justification by faith. Yes, we are told that Abraham believed God and that it was reckoned to him as righteousness (3:6). However, we need to see that God’s dealing with Abraham involved much more. The gospel preached to Abraham was actually the unveiling of God’s heart.

Two thousand years after the desire of God’s heart was unveiled to Abraham, Christ came. When Christ came, grace came. Grace is the Triune God processed to become our enjoyment. Such a grace is the fulfillment of God’s promise, the fulfillment of God’s desire.

Before the coming of Christ, we are not told in the Scriptures that God was happy or pleased. But when Christ was baptized, the Father declared, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I delight” (Matt. 3:17). When the Lord was with three of the disciples on the mount of transfiguration, the Father spoke the same words (Matt. 17:5). God was happy to see the fulfillment of His desire by grace, which is actually a living Person, Christ, the Son of God, the embodiment of the Triune God. This living Person is the fulfillment of the desire of God’s heart. It is correct to say that the fulfillment of God’s promise is both by grace and by the living Person of Christ, for this living Person is Himself the grace.

Today we are enjoying this grace, this living Person, who is now the life-giving Spirit within us. If Christ were not the life-giving Spirit dwelling in us, we could not be one with Him, and it would not be possible for Him to work all the riches of the Godhead into our being. How could Christ live in us and be formed in us if He were only an objective One sitting in the heavens at the right hand of the Father, as One separate from the Father and the Spirit? It would be impossible! Such a Christ could not be revealed into us, live in us, or be formed in us. In order for all this to become our experience, Christ must be the life-giving Spirit. Praise the Lord that the grace we enjoy is Christ, and Christ is the life-giving Spirit!

Because we have grace, Christ, and the life-giving Spirit, we are children according to Spirit. How blessed we are to have the hearing of faith and by it to receive grace! We have seen that the desire of God’s heart, the promise given to Abraham, is fulfilled by grace and that grace is Christ as the life-giving Spirit. This Spirit is now in our spirit and makes us children according to Spirit. This is the revelation in Galatians 3 and 4.

As those who are children according to Spirit, we should lay aside the law, the flesh, slavery, and the children according to flesh. We need to bid farewell to these things and refuse from now on to be entangled by them. Instead, we should remain in the fulfillment of God’s desire, enjoying grace, Christ, and the all-inclusive Spirit as the blessing of the gospel.