Spiritual progress and the growth in life is the increase of Christ within us; when Christ increases while we decrease, we grow with the growth of God for the building up of the church. But if there’s no increase of Christ in us day after day, we stagnate in our growth in life, and the Lord cannot have an increase in us.
As believers in Christ we need to realize that Christ is the meaning of the universe and the meaning of our human life; this Christ has come into us at the time of our regeneration, and now He needs to increase, spread, and grow in all our inner being until He fully saturates and permeates us with His element and makes us the same as He is.
As God’s chosen and redeemed ones, we need to cooperate with the Lord for the growth of Christ in us; we need to daily cultivate a hunger for the Lord, seeking Him and pursuing Him with a pure heart, so that we may be filled with Him and His element would spread in all our being.
There are still many things in us that take the place of God; we still spend so much time doing things, playing games, watching things, or being involved in activities and things that are other than Christ Himself; Christ wants to slowly fill all our inner being until He makes His home in all our heart.
On the positive side, spiritual progress is the increase of the element of Christ within us; on the negative side, in order for Christ’s element to increase in us, our element and all things other than Christ have to be removed and stripped off.
Christ wants to grow in us until we reach the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, until we all arrive at this; therefore, we need to cooperate with the Lord so that Christ would be revealed in us, grow in us, make home in us, and be formed in us.
When Christ increases in us, we grow in Him, and this growth is the growth of God in us (Col. 2:19). May we be those who, like John the Baptist, have this prayer in us, May He increase and may I decrease!
The Growth in Life is Christ Increasing within us and We Decreasing all the Time
How come some believer grow in the divine life so fast, while others don’t grow at all but rather stagnate or even regress? All believers in Christ have the same divine life in them: there’s no problem with God’s life in us, but there’s a problem with our cooperation with the growth of this life in us.
Life has its own pace, its own speed, but in some it is manifestly growing while in others it is so slow. It all depends on our dealings with the Lord – or the lack thereof, our opening to Him – or lack thereof, the time we spend with the Lord in private to give Him the ground in our being and allow Him to shine, expose, examine, and convict.
We need to have many times during the day in which we have a dialog and conversation with the Lord through His enlightenment and touch, saying Amen! to Him, letting things go, being exposed in His light, and giving Him more room in our mind, emotion, and will.
The growth in life is not mere outward change in behavior but Christ increasing within us and we decreasing all the time (John 3:30). We need to grow in life day by day until we arrive at a new man where there’s no natural person: no American, Chinese, Canadian, Japanese, Mexican, Romanian, German, Polish, or any other race or nationality, but Christ is all and in all (Col. 3:10-11).
For Christ to increase in us and for us to decrease we need to have a change of mind in our concept, a submissive will, and a tempered emotion, with a blood-sprinkled conscience pure before God and man.
The more our mind is changed and renewed by the washing of the water in the word of God and the more our will is subdued by surrendering to the Lord in our dealings with Him, the more Christ will be increased in us and the more we will decrease.
Even though we spend most of our life trying to build up ourselves, be independent, think for ourselves, do things in ourselves, have our own personality, and create our own path and career, in our Christian life we need to take Christ as our life and let Him be our everything, giving Him the power of decision, taking His mind as our mind, and loving what He loves.
If we don’t have regular times with the Lord to just be under His shining and enlightenment, resulting in a repenting, confessing, and emptying before Him, it is hard for us to grow in life. We need to decrease, and He needs to increase; our growth in life is Christ increasing within us and we decreasing all the time.
Lord Jesus, grow in us. May the element of Christ increase in our being and may our element decrease all the time. Save us from stagnating or regressing in our spiritual life. Lord, give us today’s portion of grace so that we may grow in life with the growth of God. We want to spend time with You and allow You to shine on us, expose us, and enlighten us. Lord, we surrender to You; we give You more room in our mind, will, and emotion. May Christ increase within us and may we decrease all the time!
Growth in Life is not mere Change in Behavior but the Increase of Christ Within us
What is growth in life, and how is growth in life manifested? Many Christians think that the increase of spiritual power, giving messages, preaching the gospel, having a good behavior, and being good and kind in our Christian life are the growth in life.
The growth in life is simply the increase of Christ within us. Christ is our life (Col. 3:4), and the more we love and pursue Christ, the more the measure of the stature of Christ will increase in us; this is the real growth in life.
We grow in life by giving the Lord more room to grow in our heart; He is in our spirit, but how much has He spread into our heart? How much ground does the Lord have in the way we think, feel, and choose? Christ came into our spirit as life, and now we need to open ourselves and let Him spread within us to fill, saturate, and permeate us.
This is not something for us to merely understand and agree with but something we practice.
We need to realize that every day we need to spend some amount of time to open to the Lord and have intimate, direct, and private time with Him, letting Him speak to us, touch us, and shine on us, while we stop ourselves and not speak or be active.
As the Lord touches us and enlightens us, we will confess our shortcomings and sins, we will empty ourselves, and He will have more ground to grow in us. The growth of life is the increase and expansion of Christ in our being (Gal. 4:19).
We need to a revelation to see that genuine growth in the divine life is NOT a mere change in behavior or the improvement of ourselves but the increase of Christ within us (see Eph. 1:17; 3:17).
We need to see that the growth in life is for the church and that the growth in life is nothing other than the increase of Christ within us. We need a revelation to see that the growth in life is not the improvement of ourselves but the increase of Christ. The work of religion is to improve the self, whereas the Lord’s desire is that we would open ourselves to Him so that He may increase in us. We all need to bring this matter to the Lord so that He can enlighten us and turn us from self-improvement to the growth in life for the building up of the church. (Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1970, vol. 1, “The Way to Grow in Life,” pp. 379-381)
Many think that the way we behave and our conduct is an indicator of our growth in life; however, some saints still have a behavior that is not so pleasing or fitting for the church life, but inwardly there’s a spiritual progress because Christ increases in them.
We should trust not the change in behavior but the growth in life. We need to be turned from having a mere change in our behavior to having Christ increase in us.
To shepherd people is not to help them change their behavior and improve themselves but to help them have Christ grow and increase in them; this is the work of life. The work of religion is to improve the self, but the Lord’s desire is that we open ourselves to Him so that He may increase in us.
Many believers today lack the increase of Christ as life within them; they may practice religion and appreciate change in behavior, but they have no growth in life. May we not be cheated or deceived by the enemy to pay attention more to outward behavior than to the increase of Christ within us!
Some people are born humble and patient, while others are impatient and proud; real growth in life doesn’t manifest in the impatient becoming patient and the proud becoming humble but it is the increase of Christ within us.
We all need to bring this to the Lord and ask for His shining so that we may turn from any self-improvement to the growth in life for the building up of the church.
Lord Jesus, grant us to see that the growth in life is NOT the improvement of ourselves or having a better behavior but the increase of Christ within us. Save us from trying to improve the self. We want to open ourselves to You so that You may grow in us. Lord Jesus, grow in us a little more today. May we grow in Christ with the growth of God for the building up of the church. We want to be before You and let You shine on us and touch what You want to touch, expose what You want to be removed, and strip off what You consider should not be there. Oh Lord Jesus, grow in us!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Minoru C. for this week, and portions from The Way to Grow in Life, chs. 2-4 (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 5 / msg. 5, The Increase of Christ in the Believers Being Their Spiritual Progress and Growth in Life.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Lord, deeper make Thy home in me / ’Til ev’ry room belong to Thee, / That Thou might fully make me Thee / And so full rest Thou have in me. (Song on growing in life)
# Lord Jesus, soften us; / You know the source from which we came. / By calling on Your name, / Lord, let no earth unturned nor rocks remain— / Lord Jesus, grow in us. (Hymns #1132)
# Grow in me; grow in me; / For the Body grow in me, / Through the rich dispensing of Your life supply; / For the Body grow in me. (Song on Christ growing in us)
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