This week we want to see what is the nature of the church; in God’s eyes and according to the Bible, the church is divine, Christly (of Christ and in Christ), resurrectionly (of resurrection and in resurrection), and heavenly.
The first thing we want to know about the church is the nature of the church, which is different from the condition of the church.
The condition of the church can be positive or negative, but the nature of the church is always positive. The condition of the church changes from day-to-day and from year to year, but the nature of the church never changes.
In 1 Cor. 1:2 we see five previous things related to the nature of the church: the church is the church of God, it is a genuine church in a locality, it is a church of Christ, it is composed of saints who are sanctified and called, and it is a church that is in fellowship with all the saints who call on the name of the Lord in every place. These are five very significant things related to the nature of the church.
If you read the book of 1 Corinthians, however, you will see that there are a lot of problems in this church; the nature of the church is divine, Christly, resurrectionly, and heavenly, but the condition of the church may fluctuate.
The nature of the church doesn’t refer to how spiritual the church is, how good the church is, or what is the manifestations and expression of the church; a genuine church may have weaknesses and imperfections, yet it has a nature which is heavenly, divine, resurectionly, and Christly.
In the church in Corinth, for example, there were some fleshly believers, some committed gross sins (such as those not even mentioned among the Gentiles), some brothers would sue other brothers in court, there were arguments and fighting, and some believers were divisive, claiming they are of Paul, others were of Apollos, while others were of Christ. All these are the conditions of the church.
Would you dare to say that such a church is a church of God? God does. Can you say that this is a genuine church in Corinth? Christ does. Would you dare to say that it is a church in Christ, with Christ as its element and sphere? The Spirit does.
Would you dare to say that this church who has all these problems is a church composed of sanctified and called people? Paul does. Would you say that this church is a church in the fellowship of the Body? The Bible does. God says it, Christ says it, the Spirit says it, Paul says it, and the Bible says it.
We need to look away from the condition of the church to the nature of the church. It takes human wisdom and discernment to know the condition of the church, but it takes divine revelation and spiritual exercise to see and bless the nature of the church.
After seeing the nature of the church, all we can say is blessing – bless the church! It is easy to critique, but it is divine to bless. We need to be careful to bless and not curse the church. We need to look beyond the condition of the church and see the nature of the church.
Lord Jesus, cause us to focus more on the nature of the church than on the condition of the church. Uplift our view of what the nature of the church is. May we realize that the church is of God, it is a genuine church, it is of Christ, it is composed of the saints who are sanctified and called, and it is a church in fellowship with all the saints in the Body. Oh Lord, may we have spiritual discernment to see the divine view of the church, so that we may bless the church and build up the church!
The Nature of the Church is Divine – the Church is Christly, Resurrectionly, and Heavenly
What is the nature of the church? In a nutshell, the church is divine, the church is “Christly” (of Christ and in Christ), the church is “resurrectionly” (of resurrection and in resurrection), and the church is heavenly.
First of all, the church is of God (see 1 Cor. 1:2; 10:32; 11:16); this doesn’t just mean that the church belongs to God, but that the church has the nature of God. For example, the “table of wood” means that the element of the table is wood, the nature of the table is wood.
The church is of God – the element of the church is God. A local church must be a church of God, possessing the divine nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4). All believers in Christ, as components of the church, have the divine life and nature of God.
The expression “the church of God” indicates not only that the church belongs to God but also that the church must have the nature of God.
The church is “Christly”, that is, the church is of Christ and in Christ (1 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 1:22-23). The nature of the church is Christ.
Just as the nature of Eve is Adam, so the nature of the church is Christ. God put Adam to sleep and took a rib out of his side, and He built a woman which He brought back to him; Eve’s nature was the same of Adam – she was Adam, his enlargement, his reproduction.
The word for woman in Hebrew is ishshah, while the word for man is ish. The Lord Jesus is called Christ, and our name as believers is Christians; we are His increase, His enlargement, the same as He is in nature.
The church came out of Christ in His resurrection; we all were regenerated by God in the resurrection of Christ to be the church (1 Pet. 1:3). Just as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body who are many are one body, so also is the Christ (1 Cor. 12:12).
The church is the Body of Christ, the church is “the Christ” – the church is Christly, a pure product out of Christ. Adam and Eve are at type of Christ and the church (Eph. 5:30-32; Gen. 2:22-24); just as Eve came out of Adam having Adam as her unique element, so the church came out of Christ having Christ as its unique element.
In the church life today we need to pay attention to and enjoy the pure and unique element of Christ; we need to reject anything that is not Christ and enjoy Christ, experience Christ, live Christ, and express Christ. Nothing other than Christ should be in the church, and no foreign element is part of the church.
After Christ terminated the entire old creation through His all-inclusive death, the church was produced in His resurrection (1 Pet. 1:3; Eph. 2:6). The church is an entity absolutely in resurrection; it is not natural, nor is it of the old creation. The church is a new creation created in Christ’s resurrection and by the resurrected Christ. We must see this vision. In addition to seeing that the church was produced in Christ’s resurrection, we must also see where the church is. The church today is in Christ in ascension. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that the church has been resurrected with Christ, and now the church is seated in the heavenlies with Christ. Therefore, the church is absolutely and purely of the element of Christ, absolutely in resurrection, and absolutely remaining in the heavenlies with Christ. Witness Lee, Elders’ Training, Book 2: The Vision of the Lord’s Recovery, pp. 115-116
The church is “resurrectionly”, that is, of resurrection and in resurrection. Through His death on the cross, Christ terminated the entire old creation, and in His resurrection He produced the church (1 Pet. 1:3; Eph. 2:6).
The church is not something natural – the church is an entity absolutely in resurrection, it is resurrectionly. We were raised together with Christ, and God seated us with Him in the heavenlies; now we are in resurrection and in ascension.
The church is both resurrectionly and heavenly. Our real position and nature is resurrection and heavenly. The church is absolutely and purely of the element of Christ, absolutely in resurrection, and absolutely remaining in the heavenlies with Christ.
The nature of the church according to the New Testament is so glorious that new terms in English need to be invented to describe it!
The church is Divine! Amen! The church is of God! Amen! The church is of Christ – the church is Christly! Amen! The church is in resurrection and of resurrection – the church is resurrectionly! Amen! The church is in the heavens – the church is heavenly! Amen, Hallelujah!
When we see such a vision of the church, we will be governed by it to the uttermost, and anything that is of Christ, of resurrection, of God, and of the heavens will be ruled out.
We may still have the flesh, the old man, the self, and the world both in us and around us, but seeing a vision of the church being divine, Christly, resurrectionly, and heavenly will rule out anything that is not Christly, resurrectionly, or heavenly.
Apart from the element of God, of Christ, and of resurrection, there should be no other element in the church; the church is a new creation, a new man in Christ (Col. 3:10-11). The church was produced by Christ in resurrection and exists by His resurrection life; thus, the church is a being that can endure death.
Hallelujah, the church is in Christ in His ascension – the church has been resurrected with Christ, and the church is now seated in the heavenlies with Christ.
May we see such a vision of the nature of the church. May we realize that the church in God’s eyes is nothing else but Christ, in resurrection, and in the heavens; the church is Christly, resurrectionly, and heavenly.
Thank You Lord for the church, an entity that is fully of Christ and in Christ, fully in resurrection, and in the heavens seated with Christ! Hallelujah for the church of God, of Christ, with all the saints! We now possess the nature of God, and we are product completely and purely out of Christ. The church is fully in the resurrection life of Christ, and anything of death or natural is rejected and eliminated. Amen, Lord, may we see the nature of the church as You see it. May we pay attention to the nature of the church. Lord, we love You and we love the church!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Andrew Yu for this week, and portions from, Elders’ Training, Book 2: The Vision of the Lord’s Recovery, ch. 3 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Knowing Life and the Church, msg. 4 (week 4), The Nature of the Church.
- Hymns on this topic:
# As the body is the fulness / To express our life, / So to Christ the Church, His Body, / Doth express His life. / E’en as Eve is part of Adam / Taken out of him, / So the Church is Christ’s own increase / With Himself within. (Hymns #819)
# The blest reality / Of resurrection power, / Thy Church’s dower, / Life more abundantly, / Lord, give to me. (Hymns #365)
# Christ’s riches are Himself within, / His fulness is the Church without, / As His expression, full of Him; / The Church with Christ is built throughout. (Hymns #820)
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