It is truly wonderful to realize that the building up of the church as the Body of Christ is the increase of Christ in us, His believers, and this increase is actually our growth in life; the way Christ enlarges His Body is through the process of resurrection.
Christ Himself is building up His church, and He does it by His resurrection life, as we go through death and resurrection so that the church as His Body may be built up to be His bride, His enlargement.
Everything God does is for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ; He created the heavens for the earth, He made the earth for man, and He made man in His image so that man may be filled and saturated with God to be part of His building, the church as the Body of Christ.
Everything that we do today has to have the focus of building up the church as the Body of Christ. If we merely preach the gospel to gain an increase yet without the view of building up the Body of Christ, we may deviate and not build up the church as the Lord desires.
If we serve the children, take care of the young people, or shepherd the students yet without the vision of the Body of Christ, we may do a good Christian work but we may not participate in God’s unique work, His building.
May the Lord cause us to realize that God desires only one thing today: His building, the increase of Christ for the corporate expression of the Triune God, and may we do everything in oneness with the Lord for Him to gain an increase for the building up of the church!
If we are those who cooperate with the Lord for Him to gain a built up church, we will be the overcomers the Lord needs today, those who are stepping-stones for the Lord to use for His return.
The Lord doesn’t need “super-spiritual believers” or “super-human zealous Christians” who have an extraordinary power and burning zeal for Him – He simply wants to gain some who are so one with Him that His heart’s desire to gain a building is their heart’s desire, and they grow in life in a normal way every day by letting Christ increase in them for God’s building!
The Building up of the Church is the Increase of Christ in us and our Growth in Life
Since the church is the Body of Christ, the building up of the Body is not something outward or inorganic but it is the organic growth in life of all the members of the Body of Christ, and at the same time it is the increase of Christ in all the members.
A child is built up by growth in life, and his growth in life is actually the increase of the human life in him. Similarly, the Body of Christ is built up by the growth in life of all the believers in Christ, and the building up of the church is Christ increasing in us.
The growth in life, the increase of Christ, and the building up of the Body of Christ are one and the same thing; they are different terms referring to the same thing. As believers in Christ, we are on the one hand members of His Body, and on the other hand we are builders of His Body (Eph. 4:16).
As members of the Body of Christ, we are builders of the Body, and we build the Body by allowing Christ to increase in us so that we may grow in the divine life. When all the members of the Body of Christ allow Christ to increase and spread in them, the Body of Christ grows with the growth of God and is being built up.
But if certain members of the Body do not grow in life in a normal way, the building up of the Body is hindered. The church as the Body of Christ is an organism – it is the organism of the Triune God; the building up of the church as such an organism is its organic growth (Col. 2:19).
There cannot be the growth of the church, which is the increase of Christ in the church, if there is no increase of Christ in the believers personally. However, we don’t merely need to seek growth in life personally as a thing in itself; we need to seek the Lord to grow in life for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ.
The more we cooperate with the Lord by allowing Him to remove anything old and negative in us so that His element increases in us, the more He can have a way to build up His church by the increase of Christ in us.
Lord Jesus, grow in us for the building up of the church. We seek to gain You more for the building up of Your Body. Lord, transform us for the church. Increase in us for the church. Make us building and buildable members of Your Body. Lord, cause the saints to cooperate with You to grow in life by allowing You to increase in them for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ! Oh, may all the members of the Body of Christ grow in life, allow Christ to increase in them, and build up the Body of Christ!
Christ is Enlarging His Body by Working on us through the Process of Resurrection
When Satan managed to put Christ on the cross, he thought that it was all finished; but actually that’s when Christ started to triumph over him. The Lord prophesied in John 2:19-22 that the temple of His body will be put to death, but in three days He raised it up in an enlarged and greater way.
Satan through men put Christ’s body to death; His physical body was small and weak, but in resurrection Christ’s Body is vast and powerful, constituted with His resurrection life.
The body that Satan destroyed by crucifixion was merely the body of the man Jesus, but the Body the Lord raised in His resurrection was not only His own body, but everyone who is joined to Him by faith (see 1 Pet. 1:3; Eph. 2:6).
Since the day of His physical resurrection, the Lord Jesus has been enlarging His Body in resurrection life. What an immense Body Christ has today in His resurrection! Can you measure the size of the Body of Christ? Although it once was possible to measure the size of the physical body of Jesus, it is impossible to measure the immensity of the Body of Christ. The Lord continues to build His Body in resurrection, and Satan keeps on helping this. The house of God is still increasing in resurrection with the Body of Christ (1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 2:5; 1 Cor. 3:9; Eph. 2:21-22). Today, we are still within “the three days,” because the Lord is still working for the building of His Body under the process of resurrection. A great part of the Lord’s Body has already been raised, but there are still some members of His Body who are not yet raised. Therefore, the Lord’s Body is still in the process of resurrection. Even with yourself, only a part has been transformed, which means that only a part has been resurrected. The Lord continues to work on you through the process of transformation. You are still in the process of resurrection. The church today is still in the three days’ process of resurrection. (Witness Lee, Life-study of John, p. 87)
How does Christ enlarge His Body today? It is not merely by His disciples preaching the gospel and gaining people for the Lord but by the process of resurrection. Yes, resurrection will be a future event, resurrection is a Person – Christ Himself, but resurrection is also a process.
It is by the process of resurrection that Christ is enlarged from Himself being the temple to eventually the New Jerusalem. The God-ordained way according to which He can be enlarged in humanity is through death and resurrection.
The process of resurrection begins as soon as death strikes; as soon as the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, resurrection life works in it to cause it to bear fruit abundantly. We need to be assured that, even though we may be in the midst of a daunting death experience, right now in the deepest part of our being even amidst the suffering of death, the process of resurrection is already working, and it will break through and conquer this death!
The Lord Jesus was being put to death in the flesh, and at the same time He was being made alive in the Spirit of His divinity (1 Pet. 3:13). While His physical body was dying, the Spirit of His divinity was working to enliven Him. The Lord is faithful to bring about circumstances, situations, people, and things that cause us to be put to death; while we fall into the ground as a seed to die, the process of resurrection operates.
Our soul may be filled with sorrow, torment, and pressure, but we inwardly experience the resurrection life operating in our being. The outcome is that Christ expands His building, and even His enemy is used by Him for His building.
If we want to serve the Lord, we must follow Him down into the ground and participate in the life-releasing aspect of His death (John 12:24, 26).
We see this in the book of Acts in at least two instances: after Stephen was martyred (which was a great shock and sorrow to the church), the word spread much more, and the Lord gained Saul to be the apostle He would use to release the divine revelation. This young man, Stephen, finished his course so soon, dying as an overcomer, and many were produced and brought into the Body of Christ.
Later in Acts 12 James was killed and Peter was put in prison, and great persecution came on the church in Jerusalem; in ch. 13, however, the Lord had a full way through the church in Antioch to send out some to increase and spread His move all the way to Europe. Death operates in some saints or parts of the Body, while life operates in many others.
In His resurrection the Lord is building the temple, the Father’s house, in a larger way, making it a corporate temple – the mystical Body of Christ.
Since the day of His resurrection, the Lord Jesus has been enlarging His Body in His resurrection life; He is still working for the building of His Body under the process of resurrection, and He’s working on us through the process of resurrection.
Lord Jesus, have a free and full way to enlarge Your Body through the process of resurrection. We want to follow You into the ground as a grain of wheat, participating in the life-releasing aspect of Your death, so that life may increase, grow, and be released in Your Body! Lord, we don’t ask for more death experiences – we simply want to be one with You for the building up and enlarging of Your Body! Keep us in the process of resurrection so that Your Body may be increased and enlarged on earth today to be the building of God!
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 The Advance of the Lord’s Recovery Today, chs. 3-4 (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, You’re building / Your expression; / Lord, by mingling / All that You are in me. / I’m responding, / Cooperating, / Consecrating / Myself to You totally. (Song on God’s building)
# Bring me to be with others, Lord, / That we express Your Person corporately. / A living stone for building now, / Make us to be Your Body, one with Thee. / Lord, keep growing, / Your building would complete, / One in Christ for all the world to see. (Song on Christ growing in us)
# Living out His resurrection, / Dying to the flesh and soul-life. / Living by the mingled spirit, / Natural man we will deny. / Now we’re living in the Body, / Every day we’re overcoming, / Striving for the peak of Zion, / Watching for our Lord’s appearing. (Song on living by the resurrection life)
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