The church as the increase of Christ is a matter of life, and everything in the church must be in the nature of life, with the content of life, and in the imparting of life. The church is not a building; the church is the increase of Christ, the multiplication and reproduction of Christ in humanity.
We as believers in Christ are members of the Body of Christ, which is the organism of the Triune God; on the one hand this organism is mystical and spiritual, but on the other hand it is quite visible: we can see the saints, meet together, serve together, eat together, and express Christ corporately.
Because the church is a matter of life as an entity fully in life, everything we do in the church should be for the ministry of life. In order for us to minister life to others, we must do at least four things:
- We need to have an adequate contact with the Lord by spending time with Him and listening to Him in His dealings with us, so that we may speak a timely word to sustain the weary ones (Isa. 50:4-5). Because we love the Lord (our Master), the church (our wife), and the saints (our children), we want to spend much time with the Lord to listen to Him, having our ear bored through so that everything we say is what He speaks to us.
- We need to learn to be in the Lord’s presence to be dealt with Him by His light, and we will become tender, new, fresh branches in the vine bearing fruit for the Father’s glory (John 15:2). We shouldn’t be afraid of the divine light but rather come to the Lord, allow Him to shine on us and remove any hindrance and obstacle, and let Him refresh us, vitalize us, and make us living and fruit-bearing. Then, we will simply minister life to others.
- We need to pick up a burden to care for people; we don’t need for the elders to assign us to care for others but deal with the Lord and pick up some people (unbelievers, young believers, new believers, and weaker believers) to care for them as nursing mothers and exhorting fathers (1 Thes. 2:7, 11). When we care for others, we will be cared for, and when we water others, we ourselves will be watered. The way for us to receive more life is to give more life, and the way to receive what we desire is to focus our prayers not on ourselves but on others.
- We need to learn to be interested in people; every day the Lord’s people must be our “food” – just as the Lord considered the Samaritan woman to be His “food”, so the people we care for are our “food” (John 4). In the church life we need to offer our shoulder to others for bearing them and our breast to embrace them in love. We need much prayer that the Lord would give us a genuine care and interest in people; He is the One who is interested in man, and He can duplicate Himself in us.
Everything in the Church Life must be in the Nature of Life for the Imparting of Life
The church as the Body of Christ is a matter of life; all the members of the Body of Christ are believers in Christ who have been regenerated with the divine life and are learning to live by the divine life and minister the divine life to others.
As those who have been born again, we have the divine life. However, we may not exercise the divine life much in the church service. We may simply do things and talk, gossip, ask questions, and exercise our mind and emotions in the name of “fellowship,” yet without the exercise of the divine life in us. To come together to have a friendly talk without the ministry of life is not fellowship; it is merely something social. Genuine fellowship is the flow and the mutual imparting of life. I minister life to you, and you return life to me, and in this life current there is the real fellowship….Everything in the church must be in the nature of life, with the content of life, and in the imparting of life. The “currency” in the church “exchange” is not dollars but the divine life; the divine life is our only kind of “merchandise.” The church is altogether a matter of life. Our work, speaking, fellowship, service, ministry, message, Bible study, and prayer must be in the flow and imparting of life. (Witness Lee, The Normal Way of Fruit-bearing and Shepherding for the Building Up of the Church, pp. 35-37)
The nature of the church as the organism of the Triune God is life; the content of the church as the increase of Christ is life, and the way we do things and the things we do in the church life should be for the imparting of the divine life (John 10:10b; 14:6a; 1 Cor. 15:45b; Rom. 8:2, 10, 6, 11).
Christ came for us to have life and live by Him; He is the life, He became the life-giving Spirit, through regeneration we have received the divine life in our spirit, and now this life is spreading in our soul to saturate us and reach even our body.
Everything in the church life should be in the nature of life, should have the content of life, and should be for the imparting of life. Not only our gospel preaching or shepherding, but even our arranging the chairs, playing the guitar, preparing the food, setting up the table, cleaning the meeting hall, and many other “Levitical services” need to be for the imparting of life.
This life is the Zoe life, the divine eternal life of God, which we have received through regeneration and which is spreading in our being all the time.
When we come together to serve the main thing we need to do is minister life to one another; we should at least pray, exercise our spirit, and speak to one another as we serve together, so that our service, whether “spiritual” or “Levitical” / practical would be for the imparting of life.
In Acts 6 there was a need for some to oversee the distribution of food among the saints, and the unique qualification they had to have was to be filled with the Spirit (and not their skills to manage a stressful activity or catering).
We don’t need the church service to be done “professionally” or impeccably; we could hire some professionals to do these outward things for us, but we don’t, because in the church life we need to be filled with the Spirit and impart life to one another as we serve.
The currency in the church exchange is the divine life, and this divine life is our only merchandise.
Lord Jesus, cause us to realize that everything in the church life must be in the nature of life, with the content of life, and in the imparting of life. We want to live and exercise the divine life in us day by day, whether at home, at work, or in the church life. May there be a flow of life for the imparting of life in all our church service. May our work, speaking, fellowship, service, ministry, message, Bible reading, and prayer be in the flow of life for the imparting of the divine life!
As Branches in the Vine, we Bear Fruit as the Overflow of the Inner Life Supply
Our view of the church and our appreciation of the saints and the Body of Christ need to be uplifted; the church is not merely a gathering of redeemed and regenerated people, neither is the church something outward.
The church is altogether a matter of life: it is the organism of the Triune God as the Body of Christ and as the vine with the branches. In John 15:1-5 we see that we are branches in Christ the vine; when the branches of the vine receive a sufficient life supply, they bear fruit, and if they don’t, they get pruned by the husbandman / the farmer.
When we as the branches in Christ the vine receive a sufficient supply of the life-giving Spirit as the “life-juice of Christ”, we bear fruit as the overflow of the inner life supply. Wow!
All we have to do is abide in the vine, that is, abide in Christ, receive the constant dispensing of His life supply through the life-giving Spirit with our spirit. We need to exercise our spirit, deal with anything that the Lord exposes in His light, and allow the divine life to freely flow in us, in our whole being, and through us.
Whatever we do in our work, whatever we say or fellowship, all our service and ministry, our Bible study, and all our prayer must be in this flow of the divine life for the imparting of life. We need to spend adequate time with the Lord to be sufficiently supplied with the life-giving Spirit so that He may flow in us and through us, and we will bear fruit as the overflow of the inner life supply.
It is not a small matter to abide in Christ and let His life flow in us and through us; if we don’t abide in Christ and do not bear fruit, we are in danger of being cut off from the rich supply, but if we bear fruit, the Father will prune us to cause us to bear more fruit.
If we are sufficiently supplied with the divine life, we will bear fruit; when we bear even one fruit, the life supply will flood in! Bearing the first fruit is a breakthrough, and once we have such a breakthrough, life will flow in for the bearing of more fruit.
We need to go to the Lord and have such a breakthrough; we need to have a thorough dealing with the Lord and abide in Him, allowing His life to flow in us unhindered so that we may bear fruit as we abide in Him and are sufficiently supplied with His life.
Lord Jesus, cause us to realize that we are branches in the vine so that we may abide in You and be supplied with life. Lord, we choose to abide in You and receive a sufficient supply of the life-giving Spirit as the life-juice of Christ so that we may bear fruit as the overflow of the inner life supply. Amen, Lord, keep us abiding in the vine so that all the riches of Christ may be dispensed into us for the bearing of fruit, the increase of Christ!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Mark R. for this week, and portions from The Normal Way of Fruit-bearing and Shepherding for the Building Up of the Church, ch. 5-6 (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 3 / msg. 3, The Increase of Christ Being for the Increase of the Church by Ministering Life to Others according to the Law of Increase.
- All Bible verses are taken from, Holy Bible Recovery Version.
- Hymns on this topic:
# O how glorious! O how precious! / Now the Spirit dwells in me. / Life imparting, truth revealing, / Shining, leading constantly. / Fill me now! Fill me now! / Fill me with Thy Spirit now! (Song on being filled with life)
# To the lost world minister Christ, / The very Christ you enjoy, / Imparting Christ to all your friends / As all their boast and their joy. (Hymns #922)
# He’s the vine and we’re the branches, / We should e’er abide in Him, / And let Him abide within us / As the flow of life within. / In the vine, in the vine, / In the vine, in the vine, / We would know Thee, Lord, / more deeply, / E’er abiding in the vine. (Hymns #1163)
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