Since the church life is Christ lived out through us in a corporate way, we all need to take Christ as our life and person for the church life, and we need to put ourselves and everything on the cross so that He may live in us.
The church life is something that is on God’s heart, and today He is recovering the proper church life. Many people know what the church is, but what is the church life? First of all, the church life is not an organization or a social club for Christians; the church life is Christ lived out through us in a corporate way.
As we all experience Christ and enjoy Him, the result is that we have the church life; the issue and requirement of the divine life that we experience is the church life.
To be in the church life means that we are under Christ as the Head, and living the church life means we’re being headed up under the unique headship of Christ. For us to realize the church life practically, we need to fellowship, for fellowship is the reality of the church life.
When we were saved and baptized, we were cut off from the old man with its old way of living, old culture, old society, old community, and old family life, and we were put into the new man with its new life, new society, new community, new living, and new family; this new family is the church life.
All believers in Christ are part of the church, and all believers in Christ need to daily live the church life to be the corporate expression of Christ. We need to have a particular kind of living in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the manifestation of God in the flesh.
No matter how much Satan did and is doing to damage the church, the Lord Jesus will return, and His church will be waiting for Him. Today the Lord is building up His church – the church is His, He is intimately connected to each and every member of His Body, and no matter how weak or imperfect we may be, He is still going on among us.
The Lord is spreading the church life in city after city and country after country, until all the major cities have a shining lampstand, the testimony of Jesus.
May we be one with the Lord today for the recovery of the church life, and may we take Christ as our life and person for the church life, putting ourselves and everything on the cross to live the church life today.
We all need to Take Christ as our Life and Person to Live the Church Life Today
What is the church life? The church life is not merely believers meeting and fellowshipping together about the Bible; the church life is Christ lived out through us in a corporate way. The church life is the corporate living out of Christ; it is a corporate God-man living, a corporate living in the reality of the Body of Christ.
Paul testified that for him to live was Christ, and that Christ lived in him (see Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21; 3:9-10) – this is not in an individualistic way, but he did this while living in the reality of the Body of Christ. Though Paul was physically alone, he lived in the reality of the Body.
Our personal experience of the corporate living we should have is that for us to live is Christ, and Christ should live in us.
The church life therefore is a life in which we all take Christ as our life and person (see Col. 3:4; 1 John 5:11-12; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:16-17). The church life is not something you “join” because you agree with its ethics, and then “unjoin” when you don’t like it or want to go try something else; the requirement for being in the church life is that Christ needs to be your life and person.
The church life is actually a person – it is the one new man, where Christ lives and is expressed in and through all the members. What we have in the church life is not outward correction, rules, and regulations; rather, the church life is a life in which we all take Christ as our life and person.
The more mature saints are helping the less mature saints to realize their need to take the Lord Jesus as their person; the more the saints do this, the more they experience the speaking of Christ as the life-giving Spirit, and this speaking will cleanse and purity them, discharging their oldness and reconstituting them with Christ.
The more we turn to the Lord, take Christ as our life and person, and let Him speak to us and in us, the more we will have the spreading of the element of Christ in our being to be inwardly reconstituted with Christ, and our outward living will just be Christ.
The Christian life is not a religious life, a life according to some rules that are in the Bible, but the living of Christ from within us. The Christian life is Christ Himself being lived out through us. For us to live Christ for the church life, we need to take Christ as our life and person.
We need to love the Lord, open to Him, and take Him as our life and person, being willing to be regulated, governed, and ruled by Him; then, we will be walking in Christ, the living One, and we will be in the reality of the Christian life.
The corporate living of Christ in all the believers is the church life. When I live Christ and you live Christ and all saints live Christ, this Christ unites us in oneness, builds us up, and together we have the corporate life of Christ expressed.
What is the life for us to practice the church, and what’s the proper way for us to practice the church life? The church life is not a set of practices and rules; it is Christ living in us in a corporate way. Therefore, for us to live the church life, we need to take Christ as our life and person for the church life.
The divine life within us is victorious, overcoming, sanctifying, spiritual, divine, and eternal; this life is not only to make us spiritual and victorious, but for us to live the church life and thus be part of God’s corporate expression.
Lord Jesus, we take You as our life and our person for the church life, for You to live in us today. We don’t want to live a religious life or a life according to some rules and principles – we want to live by taking Christ as our life and person, and letting Christ live in us. Lord, may You gain the corporate expression of Yourself in the church life as the saints take Christ as their life and person! May we be part of the new man in reality by taking Christ as life and person and letting Him live in us for the church life!
Practicing the Church Life by Putting ourselves on the Cross and Taking Christ as Life
We believers in Christ are very wonderful yet mysterious persons, for Christ as the Spirit lives in us, moves in us, acts in us, works in us, shines on us, regulates us, and anoints us.
Our Christian life is not a religious life but the living of Christ in us, and our daily living is a following of the wonderful Spirit within us and cooperating with Him, going along with Him, and taking Him as our everything.
Christ Himself is our life, and He is the Spirit within us; the church life is Christ Himself realized as life and as the life-giving Spirit dwelling in us – see Col. 3:4; 1 John 5:11-12; 1 Cor. 15:45b; 2 Cor. 3:17.
When we live Christ, He joins us together in oneness, and Christ will be lived out through us in a corporate way (Rom. 12:4-5). Therefore, the way for us to practice the church life is to put ourselves and everything on the cross, and take Christ as life; then, He will permeate and saturate us, and He will live in us the church life (see Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:4).
Our practice in the church life is unique: we don’t practice anything outwardly per say, but we practice inwardly to put ourselves and everything on the cross, and take Christ as our life and person; then, He lives in us, and the Spirit applies the cross to our being.
The Spirit applies the cross to us day by day, again and again, until it is no longer us who live but Christ who lives in us for the church life. There are at least eight ways in which the Spirit operates in us through the cross in a subjective way for the church life:
- The indwelling Spirit operates in us to apply the cross and crucify the flesh (Gal. 5:24). As we take Christ as our life and person and allow the Spirit to apply the cross to our being, we will crucify our flesh by the Spirit.
- By the Spirit we put to death the practices of the body (Rom. 8:13). The Spirit leads us to put to death the practices of our eyes, our mouth, our ears, and all the members of our body, so that Christ may live in us.
- The Spirit operates in us through the cross for us to crucify the old man and deny the self. We testify that this is our desire when we get baptized: we put to death the old man with his old manner of living, under the operation of the Spirit. The Spirit lives in us and continually leads us to deny the self.
- The Spirit operates in us through the cross to annul our opinion. In Matt. 16 Peter uttered his “good opinion” concerning the Lord and His going to the cross, but this opinion was a satanic thought uttered through Peter. Our opinions are a hindrance to God and His purpose.
- The Spirit operates in us through the cross to destroy the wisdom and prudence of man (1 Cor. 1:18-19). Man’s wisdom is versus God’s wisdom; our wisdom, cleverness, and ideas are put to death by the cross, so that Christ – the wisdom of God and the reality of every positive thing in God’s economy – may be expressed.
- The Spirit operates in us through the cross to abolish our ordinances. We all have a lot of ordinances, based on our upbringing, background, culture, etc; we have habits, customs, and ways of doing things, serving, living, worshipping; these all together with our culture and our old life are our ordinances. The indwelling Spirit applies the cross to our ordinances; we need to cooperate with Him to subjectively apply the cross as we meet, so that our ordinances would be put to death.
- The Spirit operates in us through the cross to destroy Satan in a subjective way (Heb. 2:14). The serpent’s head needs to be bruised in us; there are many forms of the serpent in our being, including the flesh, our old man, the self, opinions, the wisdom and prudence of man, ordinances, etc – all these works of Satan needs to be destroyed!
- The Spirit operates in us through the cross for us to set aside the world (Gal. 6:14). We are dead to the world and the world is dead to us.
The way we live the church life is by putting everything we are and have on the cross, letting the Spirit operate in us to apply the cross, and taking Christ as our life and person, for Him to live in us the church life.
The church life is not practiced by agreeing with others or negotiating terms and conditions; rather, the way to practice the church life is simply to put everyone and everything on the cross, and having everyone take Christ as their life and person, so that Christ would saturate and permeate them to live in them.
Lord Jesus, we want to practice the church life by putting ourselves with all that we are and have on the cross, and by letting the Spirit operate in us to apply the cross to our being so that it is no longer us who live but Christ living in us. Thank You Lord for living, moving, acting, working, shining, regulating, and anointing within us as the Spirit. We want to learn the lesson of renouncing ourselves and taking Christ as our life and person for the church life, the corporate expression of Christ.
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Mark Raabe for this week, and portions from, The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life, chs. 7-9 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Recovery of the Church (2017 fall ITERO), week 5, The Recovery of the Church Life.
- Hymns on this topic:
# More and more our Person He must be; / That our natural personality / Be eliminated thoroughly / Till Christ is all. / Only Christ, our Person, must remain; / From our aims, our goals we must refrain, / Till the church be only Christ Himself / Built up as the one new man (Hymns #1180)
# Oh, Christ became the Spirit to speak inside of me, / And as the speaking Spirit He speaks unceasingly. / His speaking is the water that washes me within, / Discharging all my oldness, imparting Him. (Hymns #1177)
# May the Cross put me to death / That on Christ I may rely; / May His Holy Spirit fill, / That Himself I may apply. / May His death so work in me / Daily deeper than before, / That my self may be destroyed / And His life thru me may pour. (Hymns #412)