However, some may say that it is impossible to have the recovery of the church life today, and it is close to impossible to gain the reality of the Body of Christ: just look at the many denominations, free groups, Christian gatherings, and divisions in the Body.
If the recovery of the church life is impossible, then the Lord has no way to come back: He can come back only when He has the church built up as the Body of Christ to be His Bride, ready and prepared for His return! Only the church built up according to the Lord’s desire can be the stepping-stone into the age of the kingdom.
The Lord Himself promised in Matt. 16:18 that He will build His church, and today we as believers in Christ are full of hope, expectation, and faith that the Lord is building His church for Him to return! Hallelujah, today the Lord is recovering the proper church life, and we have His promise and His word of assurance.
What we today are doing in the Lord’s recovery is not according to our plan or someone’s instructions, but it is according to the Lord’s covenant and His word of assurance. We are learning to cooperate with the Lord for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ.
Whether we meet in large gatherings or we preach the gospel to our neighbours, whether we have home meetings or we visit the saints to shepherd them, whether we have neighborhood children meetings or we have an outing with the young people, our main purpose and goal is not merely to be encouraged in the Lord but to minister life to one another for the building up of the church.
Our personal experiences of Christ such as dealing with the self, the world, the flesh, and sin, are all for the building up of the Body of Christ. Our being regenerated, renewed, transformed, and conformed to the Lord’s image is for the building up of the church, the dwelling place of God.
Baptizing Repentant Sinners into the Triune God for the Building up of the Church
For the building up of the church as the house of God and the Body of Christ, we need to obey the Lord’s commission in Matt. 28:19 to disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and to teach them to observe all that the Lord has commanded.
The Lord has received from the Father all authority in heaven and on earth, and we as His disciples are under His authority; now He commissions us to go with His authority and disciple rebellious people, sinners, strong and stubborn fallen people, by immersing them into the Triune God.
In order for us to build up the church as the Body of Christ we first need to preach the gospel of the kingdom and immerse repentant sinners into the Triune God! The church is a corporate composition of those who have been immersed into the Triune God.
The disciples baptized the new converts (Acts 2:38), not only visibly into water, but also invisibly into the death of Christ (Rom. 6:3-4), into Christ Himself (Gal. 3:27), into the Triune God (Matt. 28:19), and into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). The water, signifying the death of Christ with His burial, may be considered as a tomb to terminate the old history of the baptized ones. Since the death of Christ is included in Christ, since Christ is the very embodiment of the Triune God, and since the Triune God is one with the Body of Christ, so to baptize new believers into the death of Christ, into Christ Himself, into the Triune God, and into the Body of Christ is to do just one thing: on the negative side to terminate their old life, and on the positive side to germinate them with a new life, the eternal life of the Triune God, for the Body of Christ. Hence, the baptism ordained by the Lord here is to baptize people out of their life into the Body life for the kingdom of the heavens. (Witness Lee, Life-study of Matthew, pp. 828-829)
We all have been immersed into God through baptism, and now we should daily enjoy the Triune God by participating in the love of God the Father, in the grace of God the Son, and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14).
The baptism ordained by the Lord baptizes people into the Body life for the kingdom of the heavens; we were all given to drink from one Spirit and we were all baptized into one Spirit for the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; Matt. 5:3; 6:33).
We have such an amazing commission from the Lord to go and represent Him with His authority to bring repenting sinners under God’s authority to make them citizens of the kingdom of God for the building up of the church, teaching them to observe all that the Lord has spoken.
How do we disciple the nations? It is by baptizing them into the Triune God. Baptism is a transfer: through our preaching the gospel and baptizing people we transfer them out of Adam into Christ, out of the old creation into the new creation, out of the kingdom of Satan into the Triune God, for them to be added to Christ and become His increase for the building up of the church (Acts 5:14).
Lord Jesus, thank You for sending us out with Your authority to disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! Hallelujah, we have been commissioned to preach the gospel of the kingdom and bring repentant sinners into God to immerse them into all that the Triune God is for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ! Amen, Lord, keep us enjoying the Triune God daily so that we may bring others into God to become the increase of Christ for the building up of the church!
Practicing the God-ordained Way for the Increase of Christ for God’s Building
In order for us to have the increase of Christ for God’s building, we must take four steps in our practice:
- We must preach the gospel of the kingdom to gain an increase. Just as we heard the preaching of the gospel and believed, we need to cooperate with the Lord to “beget” others in Him by preaching the gospel to them, so that they may become the increase of Christ for the building up of the church. Through the preaching of the gospel we gain materials for the building up of the church – the new believers in Christ as the members of the Body of Christ.
- We must have home meetings to keep the increase of Christ. It is in the homes of the saints that the feeding and nourishing takes place; as we get together, enjoy the Lord, eat together, sing, and exercise our spirit, we are fed with Christ so that we may grow in life. After producing a new believer we need to bring him to a home meeting where he can eat Christ and grow in life in a normal way for the building up of the church.
- We must have group meetings to teach and perfect the new ones. In the group meetings we don’t have a “central coordinator” or leader but we all learn and are being perfected to function for the building up of the church. In the groups everyone is a teacher, and every teacher is a student; in the group meetings we mutually learn and teach so that we may be perfected unto the work of the ministry unto the building up of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:12).
- We need to have church meetings (district meetings) in which all the saints function by prophesying for the building up of the Body of Christ (see 1 Cor. 14:3-4). If a local church doesn’t have a prophesying meeting, a meeting in which all saints are given the opportunity to share and function according to their portion of Christ, we follow the degraded way of Christianity. In the prophesying meeting, when the district or the whole church gets together, we all can speak for the Lord for the building up of the church.
According to the revelation in the Bible, the God-ordained way to meet and serve is by begetting new believers, nourishing them, perfecting them, and prophesying for the building up of the Body of Christ.
Every step of the God-ordained way is for the gaining of the increase of Christ for the building up of the church.
We need to preach the gospel and gain new believers for the building up of the church. We need to have home meetings to enjoy the Lord and be nourished by Him for the building up of the church.
We need to have group meetings to be perfected in mutuality so that we may function in our measure as members of the Body of Christ for the building up of the church. We need to have church meetings in which we all can prophesy, we all can speak one by one to function and minister Christ to one another for the building up of the church.
Lord Jesus, we want to take the God-ordained way to meet and to serve for the building up of the church. Strengthen us into our inner man and keep us enjoying You so that we may preach the gospel and gain new believers as materials for God’s building. Keep us in the homes, enjoying and feasting on You with the saints so that we may be nourished with Christ for God’s building. Keep us open to Your perfecting through all the members in the group meetings for God’s building. May we prophesy every week to function in our measure 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 Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1978, vol. 2, “Crucial Principles for the Christian Life and the Church Life,” ch. 4, 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:
# To be baptized in the Spirit / Is to get into the Spirit / And to be lost in Him. / To drink of the Spirit / Is to take the Spirit in / And have our being saturated with Him. / By these two procedures / We are mingled with the Spirit. / To be baptized in the Spirit / Is the initiation of the mingling / And is once for all. / To drink the Spirit / Is the accomplishment of the mingling / And is perpetual forever. (Song on Note 5 on 1 Cor. 12:13)
# We’re baptized unto Thy dear name, / No more our own are we; / Thy steps we’d follow, for Thee live, / And e’er be one with Thee. (Hymns #937)
# We must ever preach the gospel / By perfecting in the homes / Through the word and prayer and singing, / Never laboring alone. / We must ever preach the gospel, / Learning how to prophesy / For the building of the Body, / Thus the Lord to glorify. (Song on the God-ordained way)
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