The church is not a physical building or location, neither is the church merely a group of people who gather together around the Bible to be edified. The church is the Body of Christ, and the church is of Christ – He calls it, “My church” (Matt. 16:18). The Lord Jesus promised that He will build His church, and He is still building His church today.
We need to see a revelation of the Christ, the Son of the living God, and we need to realize that He is everything to God and everything to us for the fulfillment of God’s economy.
God wants to work this Christ into every part of our being, starting from our spirit and spreading into our mind, emotion, and will, until He eventually saturates even our body with His life, so that He may gain a building – the Body of Christ, the building of God.
For the building up of the church as the house of God we are commissioned to go, preach the gospel of the kingdom, and disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19).
We as believers in Christ were baptized in one Spirit in one Body, and now we are commissioned to go and bring others to the Lord and immerse them into the Triune God, transferring them from the authority of Satan into God so that they may become citizens of the kingdom of God for the building up of the church.
All those who are transferred into Christ by being baptized into His death, into the Body, in the Triune God, and in Christ Himself, are part of the increase of Christ, the Body of Christ.
We can cooperate with the Lord today for gaining an increase for the building up of the Body by preaching the gospel, nourishing the new believers, being perfected and perfecting others, and functioning in our measure to prophesy for the building up of the Body of Christ in the church meetings.
Hallelujah, when we all are nourished and perfected, we all can function as members of the Body of Christ, and the Body will build itself up in love!
God Desires that Christ would Increase in us for the Building up of the Church
The church is simply the increase of Christ, the Body of Christ, Christ in all His believers growing and developing to become a corporate expression of Christ. The growth of the church is not determined by the increase in number, the increase in its strengths or merits, or any criterion but by the increase of Christ.
God doesn’t measure the growth of the church by the growth in numbers of believers but by the increase of Christ in all the members of the Body of Christ.
God’s desire, therefore, is for Christ to increase and grow in the church so that He may become the content and element of the church and thus the church would arrive at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13).
We need to clearly see and have a deep realization that a mere increase in numbers doesn’t mean that the church has grown; Christ needs to grow in all of us so that the measure of His stature would grow, and this is the growth of the church.
Only the growth of Christ is the growth of the church (Col. 2:19; 1:18); the more Christ increases in us and we decrease, the more the church grows unto the building up of the Body of Christ (John 3:30).
In Acts 5:14, as a result of the disciples cooperating with the Lord to preach the gospel and meet in homes, many were saved and were added to the Lord; the measure of the growth of Christ is not determined by an increase in numbers but by the increase of Christ.
Yes, we do need to have an outward multitude of believers, but we shouldn’t think that merely the growth in number equals the growth of the church.
“I would ask the saints in all the localities to consider whether they have had an increase of the element of Christ in the past two years. Has there been an increase of the measure of the stature of Christ? I am not asking whether we have had an increase in love, whether our zeal has been intensified, or whether we have had an increase in numbers. My question is, “Has the element of Christ increased among us? Has the measure of the stature of Christ increased?” This is what God is after. This is His focus. God’s work has been to cause the measure of the stature of Christ to increase in the church. God is expecting the church to grow to the full measure of the stature of Christ, because God’s desire is for the church to be the Body of Christ, His fullness. Only the element of Christ can be the element of the church, and only the growth of Christ is the growth of the church. Only Christ is the reality of the church. Everything related to the church should be Christ.” (Quote from, Witness Lee, Christ and the Cross, p. 56)
From God’s point of view, the growth of the church is Christ increasing in all the members of the Body of Christ. Amen, He must increase, and we must decrease for the building up of the church (John 3:29-30)!
We need to ask ourselves whether the Lord has increased in us recently; we may have improved in our behavior and we may have more zeal for the Lord, we may love Him more, and we feel more connected to the saints – but did the element of Christ increase in us? Did Christ grow in us recently, and did we decrease?
Lord Jesus, cause us to realize that the growth of the church is not merely the growth in numbers or in zeal but the growth of Christ in all the saints. Amen, Lord, grow in us more today for the building up of the church, the Body of Christ! We open to You to be filled and saturated with You so that the measure of the stature of Christ would increase among us until we all arrive at a full-grown man, at the fullness of Christ! Lord, cause us to grow in life more today for the building up of the church.
The Building up of the Church as the Organism of the Triune God is the Growth of Christ in us
The Lord Jesus likened Himself to a vine tree, saying that we, His believers, are the many branches which need to abide in the vine to bear much fruit (John 15:1-5). The church is not an organisation but an organism; the church is the organism of the Triune God, the Body of Christ, the corporate expression of God.
The vine tree is not “an organization” but an organism, something organic in life, and nothing inorganic can be added to it.
We are human beings created in God’s image and according to His likeness (Gen. 1:26); we are not in man’s kind but in God’s kind, and therefore we can be grafted into Christ, who has also become our kind (see Rom. 11:24; 6:4-5).
By being grafted into Christ, we are brought into an organic union with God (1 Cor. 6:17) to be one spirit with Him; the organism of the Triune God is in this organic union. Whenever we remain in our spirit and do everything in the mingled spirit, we are in organic union with the Lord to be a living and functioning member of His Body on earth.
The church is the organism of the Triune God, and all the members of the Body are organically joined to the Lord, the Head, the vine tree.
How does a vine tree grow? It is by the growth in all the branches. How does the Body of Christ grow? It is by the growth of Christ in all the members of the Body. The growth of Christ in each believer is the growth of the Body of Christ, and our growth in life is with the growth of God for the building up of the church.
We need to let Christ flow in us, having a constant circulation of the divine life in our being, so that we may have our old elements remove and have the divine elements added to our being.
God’s desire is for Christ to increase and grow in the church and for Christ to become the content and element of the church so that the church would arrive at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13).
God is expecting the church to grow until the full measure of the stature of Christ, because God’s desire is for the church to be the Body of Christ, His fulness (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:16). We need to be one with God in His desire to have Christ growing in us.
We may have our own good and natural human desires as human beings such as getting a job, getting married, having a child, etc, but how much more does God desire to have a building, the Body of Christ!
We need to pray before the Lord, Lord, cause the desire of Your heart to become the desire of my heart! – and He will gradually answer this question by touching what is in us to remove what is occupying us until His heart’s desire becomes our heart’s desire.
As we keep opening to the Lord and praying, eventually the fire burning in the heart of God will burn in our heart, and we will do everything for Christ to grow in His saints for the building up of the church. Oh, may Christ grow in us for the building up of the church!
Lord Jesus, thank You for grafting us into You as the vine; now we are joined to You as one spirit, and we can receive all the riches of the divine life flowing into our being for our growth in life! Amen, Lord, flow in us and grow in us until You become our content and element for the building up of the church so that the church would arrive at a full-grown man! Cause the desire of Your heart – to build up the church by the growth of Christ in all the believers – become the desire of our heart! Lord Jesus, grow in us and in all Your saints for the building up of the church!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Ron Kangas for this week, and portions from Christ and the Cross, ch. 4 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Increase of Christ for the Building up of the Church (2016 Memorial day Weekend Conference), week 6 / msg. 6, The Increase of Christ for God’s Building.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Lord, grant me a heavenly, corporate view; / That all of my growth and prayers to You, / Little by little, day by day, / Would cause building up into You. / We would be corporately, growing up steadily / Till we reach the stature of Your fullness; / Transforming and conforming us, Your / Manifested people. (Song on growing in life for the Body)
# Truth we must be holding, which is Christ Himself, / That we be delivered from the sects of self, / That in all things growing into Christ the Head, / Built will be the Body and to fulness led. (Hymns #832)
# Churches, churches, in the local churches / We all find the flow: / Deeper, higher, Christ as all our living, / For the church we grow. / The churches are today / Just Christ in every way. / For this, from self we cease, / For Thy Body, Thine increase. (Hymns #1240)