The Lord Jesus is the first One who mentioned the word “church” and He said, I will build My church (Matt. 16:18). The question is, how does Jesus build His church? Since He was the son of a carpenter, does this mean that He right now uses a hammer with nails and all kinds of materials to build the church?
Furthermore, in John 14 He said that He’s going to prepare a place for us all, His disciples, in His Father’s house – does this mean that He’s been working on these “abodes” for the past 2000 years to build a lot of “heavenly mansions” for His believers?
There’s nowhere in the Bible that we can see such a concept that the Lord is building anything physical, but what we can see from what the Lord tells us either directly in the Gospels or through the apostles in the Epistles is that Christ is building the church by building Himself into our being and by building us into His being.
The church today as the house of God and the temple of God is “under construction” – Christ is building Himself into His believers, builds His believers into Himself, and builds the believers up together into the Triune God for the producing of a corporate entity which the Bible calls, the Body of Christ.
The Body of Christ is not merely something spiritual which we can’t see or touch; the Body of Christ is the organism of the Triune composed of God Himself and His believers, those into whom God has been wrought, built, and constituted so that they with God become the corporate expression of God in the universe.
The principle of building up the church is not by us doing something but, just as God told David in 2 Sam. 7, by us letting God work Himself into us and build Himself into us so that from us something will come out for the building up of the church.
Letting Christ Build Himself into us and Build us into God by Abiding in the Lord
God will have a temple, a dwelling place, but this is not by our natural zeal, our hotness for the Lord, or by any natural human methods and techniques; God will gain a built up temple by His building and not by our working (Matt. 16:18). Many Christian works for the “building up of the church” rather mar the temple of God than build up the Body of Christ.
The only way we can build up the church as the temple of God is by allowing God to build Himself into us so that we may be reconstituted with Christ; when Christ takes over, possesses us, and fills us, something will come out of us for the building up of the church, and this builds up the church. If we have such a view, anything that is not Christ will be judged, killed, and slayed.
Christ builds the church as the temple of God by coming first into our spirit, and then from our spirit He spreads into our mind, emotion, and will to make His home in all the parts of our inner being (Eph. 2:21-22; 3:16-17). He doesn’t suddenly and miraculously work Himself into us but He slowly, day by day, room by room, area by area, character trait by character trait, is working Himself into us by building Himself into our being.
The problem is not with His spreading in us but with our allowing Him to spread; we lack the cooperation with Christ growing in us, and we resist the work of His making His home in our being. If we want to have a solid “temple church life” we need to LET the Lord go everywhere He wants in our being and spread into every part of our heart.
Through regeneration we have received the divine life; we are now God-men, “baby gods” who have God’s life and nature in us, and God in Christ is within us to build Himself into our being and build us into His being. What God desires to do is build His divinity into our humanity and our humanity into His divinity so that He may mingle and blend our humanity and His divinity into one entity (just as the fine flour was mingled with oil for the meal offering, for the satisfaction of both God and man).
The way Christ builds the temple of God is by God in Christ building Himself into our being and building us into His being. This is a mutual building: as He is building Himself into us by spreading in us and making His home in us, we also spread into Him, we grow into Him, and we enter into more parts of Him as the good land.
This mutual building resulting into a mutual abode brings in a coinherence: we dwell in God and God dwells in us. The Christ who is built into us is both God’s house and our house; this house is a mutual abode where God and we, we and God, become a mutual dwelling place (see John 14:2, 23; 15:4). The many abodes in the Father’s house are the many believers as the members of the Body of Christ.
By believing into Christ and being baptised into Him we have been grafted into Christ; we are now in Christ. However, as branches in Christ, the vine, we need to continue to abide in Him, and the more we abide in Him, the more He abides in us (John 15:4). When we abide in Him, He makes His home in our heart and we make our home in Him. The extent to which we remain in the Lord and He remains in us is the extent to which we are cooperating with the Lord for the building of His church.
The entire creation eagerly awaits the expression of the Triune God mingled with the tripartite man through His building which is by Himself, with Himself, and for Himself (Rom. 8). We just need to abide in the Lord and let Christ build Himself into us and build us into Him for the temple of God!
Lord Jesus, we want to stop our doing and natural zeal for You and simply let You build Yourself into us and build us into You for the temple of God, the church. Amen, Lord, we give You the permission to spread more from our spirit into our mind, emotion, and will to take over and possess every part of our inner being. We choose to abide in You so that You may abide in us and may build Your habitation in us and among us. Lord, keep us abiding in You as You abide in us so that You may gain Your mutual dwelling place!
Christ builds the Church as the Temple of God by Mingling Divinity with Humanity
The way Christ builds His church is completely different from any concept we would have in our natural mind; we may think that God wants us to “build more churches” and “preach the gospel more” and do this or that more so that, through our doing, God’s kingdom would increase and thus we build up the church. But the way Christ builds the church as the temple of God, as revealed in the New Testament, is by mingling divinity with humanity.
In the work of creation, as great as it was, there was NO mingling of God with man, but when Christ came, this Man was a God-man, a man who was fully mingled with God (Matt. 12:23, 42). For the first time in history there was a man who is God, a God-man, a man mingled with God; Jesus Christ was the living and walking mingling of God with man on earth, a living and walking temple of God on earth. In Him men saw God yet man; they saw God’s greatness, His divinity, wisdom, and power, but manifested in a man whose human virtues were saturated with the divine attributes.
However, God wants a corporate man, so this individual temple, Christ, was destroyed, and in three days He was raised up in resurrection, and He was enlarged and expanded to include all the believers in Christ as the many God-men (John 2:19-21)! Now we, the believers in Christ, are the many God-men, the living-and-walking mingling of God with man, and the church is a hybrid of God and man, a mingling of God with man.
The mingling of God with man has a definite purpose. This purpose is that God might be expressed through a group of people who are coordinated and built up together as a corporate Body. God’s eternal purpose is to mingle Himself with us so that we will be conformed to the image of Christ to be the full expression of God Himself. The purpose of God’s mingling with us is to make us the real, genuine, full, perfect, and complete expression of Himself. (Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1963, vol. 4, “The Relationship of God with Man in God’s New Creation,” pp. 356-357)
The true meaning of building is that God is building Himself into man and He is building man into Himself; this is the mingling of God with man. Christ is working Himself into us by making His home in our heart, and thus He is mingled with us and we are mingled with Him.
This process of being mingled with God is marvelous and mysterious: we’re more than being joined, adhered to, or combined – we are blended with God intermixed with God, fused with God – we are mingled with God in life, nature, and content; we are one life with Him, one nature with Him, and one content with Him to be His corporate expression on earth (see John 14:20; 15:4-5; Eph. 3:16-21; 4:4-6, 16).
The mingling of God and man is an intrinsic union of the elements of divinity and humanity to form one organic entity – the Body of Christ as the temple of God; in this mingling the elements remain distinct, and there’s no “third nature” or “third being” produced. It is amazing to realize that God the Creator is now mingling Himself with us the creature so that we together may become the temple of God for God’s corporate expression.
We are now in the process of being mingled with God, and the consummation of this process is the New Jerusalem where God and man are fully mingled together to the extent that God shines through man, man expresses God, and God’s glory is clearly seen through humanity in the universe.
Lord Jesus, mingle Yourself with us so that we may be conformed to the image of Christ to be the full expression of God Himself. We want to stay in the process of being mingled with God until You become our life, nature, and content, and we become Your corporate expression. Lord, mingle Your divinity with our humanity for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ, the temple of God. Amen, Lord, gain the real, genuine, full, perfect, and complete expression of Yourself in us as the church!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, bro. Minoru Chen’s sharing in the message for this week, and The Building Work of God, chs. 2-4 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Church as the Temple of God – The Goal of God’s Eternal Economy (2015 Thanksgiving Conference), week 5 / msg. 5, The Way Christ Builds the Church as the Temple of God.
- All Bible verses are taken from, Holy Bible Recovery Version.
- Hymns on this topic:
# God’s economy and goal / According to His heart’s desire / Are to build Himself into our being / And to build us into His being / In order to mingle His divinity with our humanity / Into one entity (one entity)— / The Body of Christ, / Which consummates the New Jerusalem. (Song on God’s desire)
# It is God’s intent and pleasure / That His Christ make home in me; / Not just outwardly to serve Him, / But Christ dwelling inwardly. (Hymns #538)
# In our daily life and all we are and do and think and say, / How we need a deeper mingling just to gain the Lord each day; / Lord, we give ourselves completely just to take the mingled way. / Yes, mingling is the way. (Hymns #1199)
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