What the Lord is after today is not individual Christians who are spiritual and can express God – He desires to gain the Body of Christ, and the unique work Christ is doing is the building up of the Body for God to have a corporate expression in man.
Christ Himself is the unique Head of the Body, and out of Him all the Body, being joined together and knit together through every joint of the rich supply and through the operation in the measure of each one part, causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love (Eph. 4:16).
The growth of the Body is the building up of the Body, and this building is God’s corporate expression.
All throughout the Bible we see that God wanted to gain a corporate expression in man; when the tabernacle was erected and God’s glory descended on it, that was God’s corporate expression in His people, and the same it was with the temple.
What about us today, in the New Testament age – are we in and for the building up of the Body of Christ to be God’s corporate expression? Do we know what is the building up of the Body? Do we pray for the building up of the Body?
Or do we merely understand what the Body is, agree with the Lord building up the church, and are able to speak about it – but we don’t cooperate with the Lord for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ?
What does it mean to build up the Body of Christ?
How is our human body built, from a cell to a baby in our mother’s womb, to a child, a teenager, and then a mature body? The building up of our human body is by its growth; the building up of the Body of Christ is by the growth of Christ in us.
But who prays for the building up of the Body in love? The ascended Christ in His heavenly ministry prays for this and ministers with this in view all the time, but do we cooperate with Him to pray and give ourselves to Him for the building up of the Body of Christ?
Do we realize that it is all the Body that causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of the Body in love? Do we pray for this? It is good to open to the Lord and tell Him,
Lord, it has been two thousand years and Your enemy has hindered the growth of the Body for too long! Deal with any hindrances in our being so that the Body would build itself up in love! Lord, we pray for the growth of the Body of Christ over all the earth, in every church, and in every believer! Lord, cause the growth of the Body, which growth is the building up of the Body in love! We want to cooperate with You in prayer and in our experience to build up the Body of Christ by allowing You to grow in us day by day!
The Growth of the Body of Christ is the Increase of Christ in the Church, in Us
The Body of Christ is Christ Himself as the Head together with the Christ who is being wrought into and living in all the believers in Christ. The church is an organism composed of the divine life in our spirit, which is Christ Himself.
Only the Christ that is wrought into our being is the church; when we live in the mingled spirit, we are the church, but when we live in our natural man, we are not the church.
When we realize this, when we really see that it is only when we live in the mingled spirit one with Christ that we are the church, we will see that we have a problem: too many times we live in our natural man, and we are not the church.
It is only when we cooperate with Christ to live Him and express Him by living in the mingled spirit that we are the church, the Body of Christ. The key to the building up of the Body of Christ is to live Christ; when we live our natural life, the Body is not built up, but when we live in the mingled spirit, the Body is built up.
This is why we need to reject our natural life and put the natural life aside, so that Christ may have the proper place within us and increase in us day by day. The more we exercise our spirit and practice living in spirit, the more Christ grows in us.
The growth of the Body of Christ is the increase of Christ in the church, the growth of Christ in all the members of the Body – in each one of us.
How can we build up the Body? It is by allowing Christ to grow in us. How does Christ grow in us? Growth takes time; our human body grows slowly, almost imperceptibly, until it becomes mature.
Similarly, the Body of Christ grows steadily yet not speedily, and this takes place as we spend time with the Lord to enjoy Him and absorb Him. Just as we daily take in food and assimilate it, with the result of growing in the human life, so spiritually we need to take in Christ by spending much time with Him, so that Christ may grow in us.
We should not rush our contact with the Lord, and we should not hurry in our time with Him; rather, we need to allow adequate time for prayer, and we will absorb more of the riches of our God.
Our God is real, rich, and substantial, and we need to absorb Him so that He may increase His element in us, that is, so that He may grow in us for the building up of the Body.
We shouldn’t spend so much time in our mind, emotion, and will, but spend more time in our spirit to adore the Lord, praise Him, give Him thanks, and speak to Him freely.
When we open to the Lord in such a way and talk to Him, we will absorb His riches, and He will add more of Himself to our being; the result is that the element of Christ increases in us, and the Body of Christ is built up.
The growth of the Body of Christ is the increase of Christ in the church, which results in the building up of the Body by the Body itself (Eph. 3:17).
When Christ enters into us and lives within us, the Christ within us becomes the church (Col. 3:10-11); the Body of Christ grows by the growth of Christ within us, and it is built up in this way (Col. 1:18; 2:19; Eph. 4:15-16).
Lord Jesus, grow in us for the building up of the Body! We want to spend more time with You to absorb You and have Your element constituted into our being, so that we may grow in life with the growth of God for the building up of the Body. May we gain more of God every day, and may every day the element of God increase in us more! Keep us in Your presence, Lord, learning to absorb You and taking time to assimilate Your riches. Lord, increase our experience of absorbing God into our being for the building up of the Body!
The Body of Christ builds Itself up in Love, in the Inner Substance of God!
Paul didn’t just say that the Body of Christ builds itself up – but he added, “in love” (Eph. 4:16).
Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, and this love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who indwells us (Eph. 5:25). What is this love? Love is the element of God, the inner substance of God – God is love, and love is of God (1 John 4:8, 16).
The Body of Christ doesn’t only build itself up in life, by the increase of Christ in the church, but also in love, in the inner substance of God. God wants to bring us into the inner substance of Himself to enjoy the presence of the Lord in the sweetness of the divine love, and to love one another in this love.
Our human love runs out and even worse, it is easily spoiled (we love preferentially, we love only those we like); God’s love endures forever, and He loves indiscriminately.
In the light of 2 Pet. 1, where Peter traces the growth in the divine life from faith all the way to brotherly love and love (agape), we realize that love is the sign of maturity in life.
As we grow in life and Christ increases in us, we are growing in love, we love God, and we love the brothers and sisters with the love which is God Himself; we are becoming the same as God in His love.
This is what God desires: to make us the same as He is in life and nature, and He pours out His love in our heart, He works Himself as love into us, and He saturates us with love until we love others with the love that is God Himself.
It is here in this love, which is God Himself wrought into us to become our love, our loving ability, that the Body builds itself up; this is the focal point, the goal, and this is what the Lord is praying for right now.
When the Body builds itself up in love sufficiently in the local churches, the Lord will be able to say, I am not only the Head and the Savior of the Body, but I can also be the Bridegroom – I am coming for the bride, and I will take My bride to Myself at last! Amen!
The love in which the Body of Christ builds itself up is not our own love but the love of God in Christ, which becomes the love of Christ in us; it is by this love that we love Christ and the fellow members of His Body (1 John 4:7-8, 11, 16, 19).
When we touch the Lord, enjoy Him, open to Him, and touch the inner substance of God, which is love, we enjoy God as love and enjoy His presence in the sweetness of the divine love; the result will be that we love others as Christ did (Eph. 5:25).
We need to be brought into love as the inner substance of God for the building up of the Body of Christ.
Oh Lord Jesus, we join You in praying for the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love! We place ourselves into Your wise hands: give us the experiences that we need to be in resurrection, to know You as the Head, to be in the reality of the Body, to grow up into Christ in all things, and to grow in life and love for the building up of the Body of Christ. Lord, may Your heart’s desire be fulfilled. May we be the generation that fulfill Your heart’s desire to be raptured as Your bride. Work what You desire in us, Your people, for the building up of the Body and the preparation of the bride!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Ron Kangas for this week, and portions from, Life-study of Colossians, msg. 52 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Knowing Life and the Church, msg. 6 (week 6), Living in the Resurrection Life of Christ under the Unique Headship of Christ and Growing Up into the Head, Christ, in All Things for the Reality and Building Up of the Body of Christ.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Lord, grant me today’s supply of grace; / May Your divine life grow apace; / Little by little, day by day, to grow / More and more, into You. / Lord, grant me a heavenly, corporate view; / That all of my growth and prayers to You, / Little by little, day by day, / Would cause building up into the New Jerusalem. (Song on growing for the Body)
# By Thy Spirit daily strengthened / In the inner man with might, / I would know Thy love surpassing, / Know Thy breadth and length and height; / Ever of Thy riches taking, / Unto all Thy fulness filled, / Ever growing into manhood, / That Thy Body Thou may build. (Hymns #840)
# In the Body we’ll be fitly framed / As the many members Christ supply; / Working in the measure of each part, / All by growth in love the Body edify. (Hymns #1232)
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