HWMR – Crystallization-study of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (Week 3)
Crossing the Jordan River and Being Prepared for Battle
Key Point – God put the priests in the place of death so that the Israelites would have a way to the land of life
2 Cor. 4:12 So then death operates in us, but life in you.
God put the priests in the place of death so that the Israelites would have a way to the land of life. The priests were the first ones to go into the water and the last ones to come up out of the water. They were the overcomers of God. Today God is seeking for a group of people who, like the priests of old, step into the water, that is, walk into death first. They are willing to be dealt with by the cross first, to stand in the place of death in order that the church will find the way of life. God must first put us in the place of death before others can receive life. The overcomers of God are the pioneers of God. (CWWN, vol. 11, p. 764)
Before they could come out, they waited at the bottom of the river for all of God’s people to cross over. We cannot come out of death before the kingdom comes. Eventually,…our triumphant Joshua will tell us to come up out of the water [cf. Josh. 4:17]. This will happen at the beginning of the kingdom. Many people are not disobedient; they are merely not obedient enough….Without going through the cross, one cannot reach Gethsemane. Without dealing with the cross, one cannot say, “Your will be done.” Many people like the calling of Abraham, yet they do not like the consecration on Mount Moriah. God has put us at the river bottom in order that we would be His overcomers. He put us in chains in order that others can receive the gospel. Death works in me but life in others. This is the only channel of life….The Lord’s death first fills us with life, and then this life flows to others (2 Cor. 4:10-12). The work of God’s overcomer is to stand upon Christ’s death so that others can gain life….His overcomers first see a truth and confirm such truth before He gains some others to obey this truth. (CWWN, vol. 11, pp. 764-766)
Life-study of Colossians (Message 39)
To Live Christ
Col 3:3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
If we would experience Christ and live Him, we need to remain in an atmosphere of prayer. Many of us can testify that by prayer we are brought into the spirit, where we are one with the Lord and take Him as our life. This experience is so precious that when we are enjoying it, we do not want it to end. We like to remain in spirit to be one with the Lord. However, as soon as our time of prayer is over, most of the time we revert to our natural way of living. We are no longer in an atmosphere of prayer. Automatically we begin to try once again to be holy, spiritual, and victorious. Whenever we fail, we repent, confess to the Lord, and resolve to try again. This is not the way to live the Christian life. On the contrary, our daily living should be the same as our experience in genuine prayer. When we pray ourselves into the spirit, we are one with the Lord, we enjoy His presence, and we spontaneously live Him. Without exerting any effort, we are holy, spiritual, and victorious. We have no problems and no anxieties. I believe we all have had experiences like this in prayer.
These experiences of genuine prayer should be the model for our daily experience with the Lord. This means that our experience in our daily life should be the same as that in prayer. However, most of the time we live according to the natural life, not according to Christ. To live Christ it is necessary to persevere in prayer, to pray without ceasing. We need to stay in the atmosphere of prayer. Here we are one spirit with the Lord. He is our life, we live Him, and we are spontaneously holy, spiritual, and victorious. We have no thought of balancing ourselves. Instead of standards, principles, and regulations, we have Christ experientially and in a practical way. Whenever we are in such an atmosphere of prayer, we are one with Christ, and He is our life. This is what it means to live Christ.
My burden in this message is that our eyes would be opened to see that what God wants is Christ lived out from within us. His concern is not that we be balanced, but that we be one with Christ and live Christ. God wants us to live Christ. You may be a young person, but you should live Christ, not the life of a typical young person. To be balanced, subdued, or refined is not the way to live Christ. The way to live Christ is in prayer to contact Christ as the life-giving Spirit within us. As we pray ourselves into an atmosphere of genuine prayer, we shall live Christ spontaneously. I can testify that this is real and that we all can experience it.
The way to experience the indwelling Christ is to pray in a genuine way. We do not need to pray for a better job or home. That kind of prayer hinders us from experiencing Christ. We need the kind of prayer which brings us into contact with the Lord, prayer that causes us to be one with Him in our spirit. If we pray in this way, we shall enjoy Christ, experience Him as our life, and live Him.
Life-study of Colossians (Message 40)
Objective Revelation, Subjective Ministry, and Practical Experience
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;
In 2:8, 18, and 20, Paul mentions a number of matters: philosophy, tradition, elements of the world, humility, angel worship, and ordinances. Actually, all these items can be summed up in one word—culture. Philosophy is one of the highest products of man’s culture. Tradition also is related to culture. In fact, tradition comes from culture, and culture is embodied in tradition. If there is no culture, there is no tradition; and if there is no tradition, there can be no culture. Furthermore, the elements of the world, which are rudimentary principles of basic teachings, are also aspects of culture. Humility is a virtue found among the most cultured of people. The more refined and cultured a person is, the more humble he is. But the more uncultured and barbarous a person is, the less humble he is. Thus, humility is intimately related to cultural refinement. Furthermore, the worship of angels is found among people of high culture. Those with a rather low culture may worship beasts, but those who are more highly cultured may worship angels. The worship of angels is actually a refined form of idolatry, a practice still to be found in today’s Catholicism. Some people may even justify the worship of angels by arguing that it is better than the worship of animals. Finally, man’s ordinances are related to his culture. Ordinances are rules related to our way of living. For example, table manners are ordinances. The more cultured people are, the more ordinances they have. The more cultured a person is, the more he will say, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch.”
Although the word culture is not found in Colossians, actually this book was written to deal with culture, a real enemy to our experience and enjoyment of Christ. All people appreciate their culture and value it. For this reason, it is a hindrance to the experience of Christ.
In the section of Colossians dealing with the practical experience of Christ, Paul lists many things that frustrate this experience. The items mentioned in Colossians are very different from those listed in 1 Corinthians, where Paul deals with division, jealousy, fornication, and lawsuits. In Galatians Paul deals with the law as a frustration to the experience of Christ. But in Colossians he comes to the deeply hidden and subtle matter of culture. Christians condemn fornication and divisiveness and for the most part realize that the law is over. But who repudiates culture as a hindrance to the enjoyment of Christ? Even among us there are very few who condemn culture for this reason.
The church in Colosse had been invaded by a mixture of Jewish and Greek culture. Elements of Gnosticism and asceticism had made inroads into the church life. Both Gnosticism and asceticism are products of highly-developed cultures. Those who practice asceticism, the severe treatment of the body, are usually refined, cultured people.
We need to keep in mind that the book of Colossians was written not to deal with sin or the law, but to deal with culture. The Christ revealed in Colossians cannot be experienced unless the cultural hindrances have been exposed and dealt with. We may hold on to our culture and experience the Christ revealed in other New Testament books. But the experience of the all-inclusive Christ unfolded in Colossians requires that we repudiate the frustration presented by our culture.
In Colossians Paul first presents the objective revelation and then the subjective ministry. Coming to the practical experience of Christ in chapter two, he points out that the most subtle hindrance to the enjoyment of Christ is our culture. Concerning the objective revelation of Christ, the book of Colossians gives us the highest revelation. In the same principle, concerning the practical experience of Christ, this book points out the most subtle frustration. May we all be impressed with the fact that if we would have the practical experience of the all-inclusive Christ, we must deal with our culture.
Some of those who see the importance of laying aside culture may claim that they have already done so. The American saints may claim to have dropped their American culture, and the Chinese believers may claim to have dropped their Chinese culture. Nevertheless, they may not have dropped their self-made culture, the culture they themselves have developed. Actually, by dropping our culture we may simply devise another culture—a culture-dropping culture. In such a case, we replace our culture, not with Christ, but with a non-culture culture. The crucial point is not that we drop our culture—it is that we live Christ. The issue is not culture versus no culture; it is culture versus Christ. We need to care for Christ and live by Him. Therefore, the important thing is not that we attempt to drop our culture negatively; it is that we live Christ positively.