Today we are in the continuation of the book of Acts: the word of God is still growing and being multiplied for the increase of Christ, the continuation of Christ, and there is a corporate living of the perfected God-men to be the reality of the Body of Christ.
The same divine stream that flowed from eternity into time, from the Head to the Body on the day of Pentecost and then throughout the world, is now in us; we have received the divine flowing life, and we are the continuation of Christ, the increase of Christ, His spread on earth today.
And we are being built up into a corporate, shining vessel, a vessel of testimony – the church as the Body of Christ; we are learning to live the Body life so that we may be useful in His hand for the fulfillment of His goal.
As believers in Christ and disciples of Jesus, we need to follow His pattern and the pattern of the Lord’s early disciples as recorded in Acts to deny ourselves and depend on Him for our living, doing, walking, working, and everything. We simply need to take Christ as our life and live by Him; we must reject ourselves continually to live by this living One and not by any regulation or teaching.
Because many believers today have failed the Lord – and the church in general is degraded, the Lord wants to gain us as His overcomers, those who see God’s purpose, are joined to Him in spirit, and maintain the testimony of the church on behalf of the church, so that the whole church would get the benefit and God’s purpose may be fulfilled.
God is not after individual Christians who overcome – He wants the overcomers to live in the reality of the Body of Christ, standing on the ground of the church, to bring the whole church to perfection, and even their victories are corporate victories on behalf of and for the church. May the Lord gain His overcomers, those who fully cooperate with Him today.
May we be those who live in the reality of the Body of Christ by denying ourselves and by taking Christ as our life, living, and everything, so that God would gain a corporate testimony on the earth today.
The Word of God is still Growing and being Multiplied for the Increase of Christ
And the word of God grew, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem multiplied greatly… (Acts 6:7) But the word of God grew and multiplied. (12:24) Thus, the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. (19:20) And believers were all the more being added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. (5:14)
What does it mean that the word grows and multiplies? The word is Christ Himself (John 1:1, 14), and when the word grows in us, Christ grows in us; when Christ grows in us, He is being multiplied, that is, many are being added by the Lord to the church because of our speaking the word with the Spirit.
When people receive the word of God, they believe into the Lord, and the word becomes prevailing in that it grows and is multiplied.
I want to impress you that the divine Word is what we really need and we should be one with the Word, full of the Word, saturated with the Word, and constituted with the Word. Then when we minister, we minister the Word by the Spirit. We do not minister the Spirit by the Word, but we minister the Word by the Spirit. In chapter 4 of Acts, while the disciples and the apostles were praying, they were filled with the Spirit and began to speak the word with boldness (Acts 4:31). They did not teach or preach the Spirit; the Spirit was only the power for them to preach the word. (Witness Lee, Elders’ Training, Book 5: Fellowship concerning the Lord’s Up-to-date Move, p. 38)
Amen, what we need is more growth in life by allowing the word of God to dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16); the word of God is a matter of life that grows as a seed sown into our heart for the increase of Christ, the growth of God, within us (Mark. 4:14; Col. 2:19).
When we have the growth of the word of God, that is, the growth of Christ within us, then we will have the increase in numbers that is proper and pure. We simply need to be saturated and filled with the living word of God so that Christ would grow in us, and then new believers will be added to the Lord to become the parts of Christ, the members of Christ (Acts 5:14; 11:24; Rom. 15:16).
We preach the gospel not merely to populate the earth with regenerated human beings, but to add people to the Lord, that is, to add a considerable number of people on earth to the Lord to become parts of Christ, members of the Body of Christ.
As new believers are added to the Lord, we need to encourage one another to remain with the Lord with purpose of heart; this is to be persistently faithful to the Lord, cleave to Him, and live in close fellowship with Him (see Acts 11:23).
In God’s plan we all have become “portions of Christ”, and together we are “the Christ”, the corporate Christ, the Head with the Body. Hallelujah, we are now the increase of Christ in humanity, and the word of God is growing and being multiplied in us and among us!
Praise the Lord, the word of God is still growing and being multiplied for the increase of Christ! Amen! Lord, we want to be saturated with the Word, full of the Word, and constituted with the Word so that we may minister the Word by the Spirit. May the word grow in us by the increase of Christ, and may the word of God be multiplied among us so that a considerable number of people may be added to the Lord to be parts of Christ, members of the Body of Christ! Lord, we pray for Your increase in humanity to continue until You obtain the reality of the Body of Christ!
We are the Continuation of Acts, the Continuation of Christ as the members of His Body
What does it mean that we are in the continuation of the book of Acts? The continuation of the book of Acts is the continuation of Christ with the corporate living of the perfected God-men as the reality of the Body of Christ.
What Acts speaks of is not what the disciples did and worked but how they witnessed and lived Christ wherever they went. The apostle paul, as a pattern to all the believers, the members of the Body of Christ, lived Christ for His magnification as His continuation (see Phil. 1:19-21a; Acts 9:4-5, 15; 26:19; 1 Tim. 1:16).
What the Lord is looking for to gain in these last days is the reality of the Body of Christ, which is the corporate living of the perfected God-men; such a pattern could be seen in the apostle Paul, and needs to be duplicated in us today in the continuation of the book of Acts.
If we look at Paul’s life and service we see quite a few characteristics of how he lived the life of a God-man who is being perfected and built into the Body of Christ.
Paul was a disciple of Christ—seeing Christ, hearing Christ, and learning Christ as the reality is in Jesus (Acts 9:1-19, 25-27; 22:14-15; Eph. 4:20-21). Today we need to learn Christ as the reality is in Jesus, that is, be molded into the pattern of Christ, in His image as seen in the four Gospels; we need to learn Christ according to this reality, and this reality will be duplicated and reproduced in us to become our living and reality.
When Christ living in us and working in us according to the reality in the four Gospels is enlarged, it becomes the reality of the Body of Christ.
Paul was a chosen vessel of Christ to contain Him, be filled with Him, and overflow with Him for His fullness (Acts 9:15; 2 Cor. 4:7; Eph. 1:22-23; 3:19). Amen, we are all chosen vessels to contain Christ, be filled with Him, and overflow with Him for His fulness!
We have this treasure – the face of Jesus Christ, His shining glorious presence – in our earthen vessel, and the power of the excellency is not from us but from Him. We need to seek to be filled with Christ in all our vessel so that we may overflow Him for the increase of Christ.
Paul was a man of prayer (Acts 9:11; 13:1-3; 14:23; 16:13, 25; 20:36; 21:5; 22:17; 28:8; Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2). He started off his salvation by praying and asking the Lord, and again and again as he spent time with the Lord he received His fresh leading on where to go for the gospel.
Even though the Lord lead him to Philippi and he was put in prison, he still prayed at midnight and sang songs of praise to the Lord. We need to such a person of prayer, a person who thanks the Lord at all time and watches unto prayer with thanksgiving. We need to exercise our spirit in prayer daily.
Paul depended on the Body, doing everything in the Body, through the Body, and for the Body (Acts 9:11, 17-18, 25-27; 1 Cor. 1:1; 12:14-27). Christ preached the gospel directly to Paul, but he was saved and brought into the Body through a little member called Ananias. Later as he was persecuted, the disciples helped him escape in a basket through a hole in the wall.
He was always paired with another brother when he went on a gospel trip, and even in the epistles he wrote he mentioned, “Paul and Sostenes the brother” (1 Cor. 1:1). Paul enjoyed the bountiful supply of the Spirit in the Body, and he lived in the Body and for the Body.
Paul practiced calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 9:14, 21; 22:16; 2 Tim. 2:22; Rom. 10:12-13; Phil. 2:9-11). He was saved by calling on the name of the Lord, and he practiced calling on the Lord all the time. We as believers in Christ need to call on the name of the Lord not only initially to be saved and regenerated, but we should also call daily to be saved much more and enjoy all the riches of our Lord.
We should flee youthful lusts and pursue the Lord with those who call on Him out of a pure heart. Calling on the name of the Lord is the best way to enjoy Him and live Him.
Paul lived by the all-inclusive Spirit of Jesus (the Spirit of a man with abundant strength for suffering) for his preaching ministry, a ministry of suffering carried out among human beings and for human beings in the human life for the building up of the Body of Christ (John 7:37-39; Acts 9:16; 16:7, 22-34; Phil. 3:10; Col. 1:24; 2 Cor. 6:4; 11:23; Heb. 6:19-20; 13:13).
Today the Spirit with the glorified humanity of Jesus is in our spirit, and we can drink this Spirit to be our abundant strength for suffering, enjoy His humanity, be strengthened in our ministry, and build up the church as the Body of Christ.
Paul lived in his mingled spirit (the divine Spirit mingled with his human spirit as one spirit) (Acts 17:16; 19:21; Rom. 8:4, 6, 16; 1 Cor. 6:17). His spirit was provoked when in Athens he saw all those idols. He purposed in his spirit to go through Europe to Jerusalem.
He realized that we have a human spirit indwelt by the divine Spirit, and as sons of God we should live according to the spirit. We need to see that we are one spirit with the Lord, and we should live one spirit with Him all the time, doing everything in the mingled spirit.
Paul was filled with the Spirit of joy, essentially for his existence, and with the Spirit of power, economically for his function (Acts 13:9, 52; Eph. 5:18). When he preached the gospel, he was full of joy; when he was persecuted, beaten, and even imprisoned, he was still full of joy.
We need to be filled with the Spirit of joy for our existence and living, and with the Spirit of power economically for our function and work for God.
Paul exercised himself to always have a good and pure conscience (Acts 23:1; 24:16; 1 Tim. 1:19; 3:9). He always exercised himself to have a pure conscience, a conscience void of offense, a good conscience, before God and man. We need to hold faith and a good conscience, concerning which some, thrusting these away, have become shipwrecked regarding the faith.
We need to hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience, and we need to always exercise to have a good and pure conscience.
Paul lived a life of always rejoicing in the Lord and thanking Him (Acts 16:25; 27:35; Phil. 4:4; Col. 3:16; 1 Thes. 5:16-18). Even though he was persecuted, imprisoned, hated, stoned to death, and he had to run for his life many times, Paul lived a life of always rejoicing in the Lord and thanking Him.
To live in the continuation of the book of Acts today we need to always rejoice, unceasingly pray, and in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us.
Lord Jesus, we want to live in the continuation of the book of Acts today to be the continuation of Christ, those who have a corporate living of the perfected God-men, the reality of the Body of Christ. We treasure You as the excellent treasure in our earthen vessel, and we want to be filled with You to overflow You for Your fulness. May we be men of prayer, men who depend on the Body and do everything for the Body, men who call on the name of the Lord and live by the all-inclusive Spirit of Jesus Christ, men who live in the mingled spirit and who are always rejoicing and praising! Lord, amen, we love You!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Ed Marks for this week, and portions from Elders’ Training, Book 5: Fellowship concerning the Lord’s Up-to-date Move, ch. 3 (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 1 / msg. 1, The Increase of Christ in the Continuation of the Book of Acts.
- All Bible verses are taken from, Holy Bible Recovery Version.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Treasure hid in vessels of earth Manifests Your power and transcendence; / In Your face’s light e’er abiding, If nearer Thee, naught more would I desire. / Pressure, persecutions, and wounds Just bring resurrection life into bloom; / Though we suffer light trans’ient pain, The eternal weight of glory’s gained! (Song on the treasure in us)
# Let us fellowship with God in spir’t through prayer; / There is nothing else that can compare. / Lord, we realize there’s nothing we can do, / But all things are possible through You. (Song on being men of prayer)
# Always rejoice, ceaselessly pray, / In all give thanks, ’tis the all-excelling way. / Christ’s the living fountain, / My supply abundant, / All to His hand I entrust, and / He’ll preserve and keep me to the end. (Song on unceasingly praying)
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