HWMR – Crystallization-study of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (Week 4)
The Need for God’s People to Seek the Lord’s Direction and have the Lord’s Presence to Display His Victory for the Building Up of His Body and the Spreading of His Kingdom
Key Point – The presence of the Lord, the smile of the Lord, is the governing principle; His precious presence is the power for us to possess the all-inclusive Christ as the reality of the good land flowing with milk and honey.
Psa. 27:8 When You say, Seek My face, to You my heart says, Your face, O Jehovah, will I seek.
If we would go on to possess the land, we must do so by the presence of the Lord. If the presence of the Lord goes with us, we can enter and enjoy the land. You remember how the Lord promised Moses, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exo. 33:14). This means that He would bring the people into the possession of the land by His presence. So Moses said to the Lord, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (v. 15). Moses demanded that the Lord’s presence must go with them; otherwise, he would not go.
One time, four or five of us who were serving the Lord together were going to a certain place….One brother at that time, however, was not happy with us, yet he had no choice but to go. We all traveled on the same train: all but this one brother sat in car number one, and he sat by himself in car number two….He left with us, he traveled with us, and he arrived with us, but his presence was not with us.
Although it may be with tears in our eyes, we must say day by day, “Lord, nothing but Your smiling presence will satisfy me. I do not want anything but the smile of Your glorious face. As long as I have this, I care not whether the heaven comes down or the earth falls apart. The whole world may rise against me, but as long as I have Your smile upon me, I can praise You, and everything is well.” The Lord said, “My presence shall go with you.” What a treasure! The presence, the smile, of the Lord is the governing principle. We must be fearful of receiving anything from the Lord yet losing His presence….The Lord Himself may very well give you something, and yet that very thing will rob you of His presence….We must learn to be kept, to be ruled, to be governed, to be guided simply by the presence of the Lord….We do not want His presence secondhand….Try to be governed by the direct, firsthand presence of the Lord.
This is not only a requirement and a qualification but also a power for you to go on to possess the land. The firsthand presence of the Lord will strengthen you with might to obtain the fullness, the all-inclusiveness of Christ. What a strength, what a power, is in the direct presence of the Lord! (CWWL, 1961-1962, vol. 4, “The All-inclusive Christ,” pp. 294-296)
Life-study of Colossians (Message 41)
Self-made and Self-imposed Culture as a Substitute for Christ
Col. 3:11 Where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all and in all.
By the Lord’s mercy and grace, we in the Lord’s recovery do not care for our culture. Some may think that they are free from culture. But without exception every one of us has his personal and individual culture, a self-made and self-imposed culture. Furthermore, those who have been in the church life for a number of years may have a local church culture. After they came into the recovery and began to meet with the saints in the church, some spontaneously began to conform to the church life. Some refrained from using makeup or going to movies, not because they were living Christ, but because they were conforming to the church life. Some may cut their hair in a certain way for the same reason. Others may testify that they do certain things because they love Christ and the church. However, it is one thing to love Christ and another thing to live Christ. It is possible to cut your hair because you love Christ without living Christ in this matter. Probably very few saints in the Lord’s recovery attend movies. Why is it that they do not go to movies? Is it because they love Christ and the church, or is it because they live Christ? We should be able to say, “The reason I do not go to movies is that I live Christ. Because Christ does not do this, I do not do it either. Christ is my life within and my living without. I live by Christ, not by conforming to the church life.” We all should be able to declare that we do not have any regulation or conformity—we only have Christ. We should contact Him unceasingly and live in oneness with Him. He lives in us, and we live in Him. In this way we and Christ are one. We do certain things or refrain from doing certain things not merely because we love the Lord, but because we are living Him.
Even those who love the Lord very much and seek Him live much more by culture than by Christ. If you analyze your daily living, you will probably discover that most of the time you live not by Christ, but by culture. Some may not pray at all for a period of weeks. However, because they love Christ and the church, they still come to the meetings. Is this a kind of living that is the living by Christ? Surely not. Such a living is according to culture, perhaps even local church culture, but not according to Christ.
It is quite possible that the most cultured and refined people are those in the local churches. Many have become very refined through their years in the church life. The church life is the best cultural refinery. I have no doubt that the best husbands and wives are to be found in the local churches. Many can testify that their married life has been greatly helped by their years in the church life. However, even our good married life may be due much more to the church life than to living Christ.
The matter of losing our temper may be used to illustrate how the church life may refine us. Perhaps you are a person with a quick temper. But after you have been in the church for a number of years, you may find it much more difficult to lose your temper. The reason is that the atmosphere of the church does not encourage anyone to lose his temper. Thus, you are kept from losing your temper by the atmosphere of the church life, not by your living Christ.
The Lord Jesus now wants to confront the hidden frustration caused by our culture. We must admit that we do not live Christ very much. We are frustrated from living Christ not mainly by sin or the world, but by our virtues and our refined human living. The very refinement of our human life hinders us from living Christ. Day by day we live much more by our refinement than by Christ. The Apostle Paul could say, “To me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). We, however, cannot say this as long as we live mainly by our culture, including the culture of the church life, and not by Christ. The church life culture has pervaded the local churches.
Life-study of Colossians (Message 42)
The Experience of Christ
Col. 1:27 To whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,
On the one hand, Christ is in us; on the other hand, we are in Christ. Consider the air in the atmosphere as an illustration. We are in the air, and the air is in us. Both are necessary if we are to remain alive. Today the processed Triune God as the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit is our air. This air is in us, and we are in this air and even walk in this air. Moreover, we can be people according to this air who grow in this air with the growth of God. The all-inclusive Christ is, therefore, the experiential Christ. He is a Christ who can be in us, and a Christ in whom we can walk. We can live, walk, move, and have our being in Him.
In all that we do, we should be according to Christ. We should not be according to philosophy, ethics, culture, or religion. We should not in any way be according to the old man. Rather, we are here to be according to the processed, all-inclusive life-giving Triune God. This, however, should not be a mere doctrine. For example, a brother should not deal with his wife according to culture; he should deal with her according to Christ, according to the processed Triune God.
If we would live, behave, and have our being according to the all-inclusive, life-giving, processed Triune God, we would all be like Paul the apostle. Paul became a person who was not according to his forefathers, the law, tradition, Judaism, or the teaching of Gamaliel. He became a person who was absolutely according to the processed Triune God. His Epistles were written not according to anything other than the all-inclusive, life-giving, processed Triune God. How different are Paul’s writings from today’s Christian writings!
Our daily walk should be according to the processed Triune God. For example, when a brother gets a haircut, he should do so not according to any particular standard, but according to the processed Triune God.
Do you know where the all-inclusive, life-giving, processed Triune God is today? He is in our spirit. In our spirit He is the all-inclusive One, the life-giving One. In our spirit He is the processed Triune God. If we live according to the processed Triune God in our spirit, every type of culture will be gone. Only the all-inclusive life-giving Triune God will remain. The Christian life and the church life are without culture, but according to the processed Triune God. If we live according to the processed Triune God, there will be no need for us to try to drop our culture. Culture will be gone automatically.
With the all-inclusive life-giving Triune God we have the experience of dying with Christ and of being made alive together with Him. Here we experience being members of the Body, living in oneness with Him and holding Him as the One out from whom we receive the supply to grow with the growth of God. This is the Christian life and the church life. This is the life that overcomes sin and that brings us the reality of holiness, spirituality, and victory. Here we have all we need: patience, humility, righteousness, love, kindness, holiness, life, light, power, strength, might, and every other positive thing. All the divine attributes and all the human virtues are in this life. Christ as the all-inclusive, life-giving, processed Triune God is everything to us. When we have Him and live according to Him, we do not need regulations. We have the extensive Christ who, in our experience, is everything to us.