The matter of the increase of Christ for the building up of the church is something very particular, touching on God’s heart’s desire to dispense Himself into man so that He may obtain a corporate expression. The increase of Christ is in us, the church, and the increase and spread of the church is the increase and spread of Christ Himself.
God’s goal in His eternal economy is to gain the bride of Christ for the increase of Christ. God created Adam as a full grown man; this man needed a counterpart, an increase, and God built a woman for him out of an element that came out of him – Eve was his increase, his duplication.
How can a Person like God who is immeasurable, filling all and in all, have an increase? In Himself God cannot increase, but He can increase in us; when the life element of God gets into us, it develops in us to make us the multiplication and increase of Christ, so that He may have the Body of Christ as His fulness and increase.
When we propagate Christ we don’t propagate a teaching or an organization but a person; as this Person is spreading, His increase and expression is spreading. Having such an understanding will revolutionize our view of the gospel and of shepherding: preaching the gospel is ministering Christ as life to the unbelievers, and shepherding is ministering Christ as life to the believers.
If we preach the gospel as a teaching, we may produce some converts, disciples, or church goers, but we will not produce the increase of Christ. To produce the increase of Christ, our gospel preaching has to be the ministry of Christ as life.
Everything in the church must be in the nature of life, with the content of life, and in the imparting of life! 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! Amen!
This week we will focus mainly on the increase of Christ being for the increase of the church by ministering life to others according to the law of increase. If we fulfill the necessary conditions for the law of increase to operate, that is, if we minister Christ to people, this ministering of Christ will produce the increase of Christ.
Being One with the Lord to Minister Life to others by our Life-giving Petition
In 1 John 5:16 we see that we as believers in Christ can give life to our fellow believers, “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask and he will give life to him.” This “he” refers to us, the believers in Christ.
On the one hand it is Christ as the life-giving Spirit that gives life, but on the other hand we can be one with the Lord to minister life to others through our life-giving petition. Why do we sin? It is mainly because we are short of the divine life.
If we see a brother sin and we condemn him or gossip about him, it doesn’t help him nor does it minister life to him. But if we pray and ask the Lord to impart more life into him, we will minister life to him, and this life will swallow the death.
We have the capacity to give life to others: this is astounding! We may not be the source of life, but we CAN give life to others! Our human parents are not the source of life, but simply by having the human life they could pass on this human life to us.
We are not the source of the divine life, but simply by having the divine life we have the capacity in us to impart this life into others through our life-giving petition.
There are many ways for us to impart life, such as the one revealed in 2 Cor. 3:6, that is, through our speaking one with the Lord. When we are one spirit with the Lord, the Spirit who gives life is mingled with our spirit and can flow through us into others for the ministry of life.
Hallelujah, we have been regenerated by God – we have been begotten of God to be the children of God (John 1:12-13), and now we can impart the divine life into others through a life-giving petition! We have not merely been “adopted by God” but we have been begotten by God!
Paul said of the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 4:15 that he begot them through the gospel; because he was one with the Lord to minister life to the Corinthians, they were begotten not only by God with His divine life but also of Paul, who was one with God!
This life is the zoe life, the spiritual, eternal, divine life (see footnote 1 on John 10:10, footnote 1 on Acts 11:18, and footnote 4 on Romans 5:17 in the Recovery Version Bible). When we abide in the Lord and are one with Him, we who are asking are one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17) to become the means by which God’s life-giving Spirit can give life to the ones for whom we are asking. Wow!
Did you ever realize that our prayer has such a power to minister life to the ones we’re praying for? If we really believe this, we will do a lot less and we will pray a lot more! It is our prayer that can actually minister the divine life into those for whom we pray!
We have the privilege of giving life to the weaker saints in order to swallow up their death; when life is imparted into them, any death is swallowed! All we have to do is remain in the fellowship of the divine life, that is, enjoy the flow of the divine life within, and this life will flow from us into others through our prayer, our life-giving petition.
In order for us to be ones who give life to others, we need to abide in the divine life and walk, live, and have our being in the divine life, thus being one spirit with the Lord to minister life to others through our life-giving petition.
Lord Jesus, we want to be one with You to minister life to others by our life-giving petition for them. Thank You Lord for giving us the capacity to minister life to others. Keep us in the fellowship of the divine life, allowing this life to flow into every part of our inner being, so that we may minister life to the weaker saints through our prayer. Lord, may we be those who minister life to others so that life may swallow up any death! We want to abide in the divine life and walk, live, and have our being in the divine life so that life may be ministered to the saints!
Our Christian Life and our Service in the Church are for us to Minister Life to Others
The church is an organism, and what an organism needs is life. Therefore, our church service is mainly for ministering life to others. Even the arranging of chairs and the cleaning of restrooms are not for themselves; they are for ministering life. In ushering, clerical work, and any aspect of the church service, we must do everything to minister life to others. Of course, it is good for us to do things in a proper way. Not doing things well can be a frustration, but this does not mean that merely doing a good job is to have the proper service. In worldly religious organizations it is sufficient to do the jobs well, but in the church the main thing we need is the ministry of life. Even if we cannot do things very well, but by His mercy we minister life to others, the service is still successful. The main matter is to minister life to others. (Witness Lee, The Normal Way of Fruit-bearing and Shepherding for the Building Up of the Church, pp. 12-13)
We are not the source of life: God is the source of life, Christ is the springing up and manifestation of life, and the Spirit is the life-giver, the flowing out of life from God into man constantly. But we can be one spirit with the Lord to minister life to others!
Through regeneration with the divine life we have entered into a new realm, the realm of the divine life. In the church life our only focus should be now to just minister life. The church is the organism of the Triune God, and the primary matter in the church should be the ministry of life.
Our Christian life and our service in the church are for us to minister life to others. When some saints have failures or fall in sin, the first thing we should do is allow the divine life to flow out of us into them through our life-giving petition, as we live one spirit with the Lord.
The most common problem in the church is that weaker saints spread death; they are short of the divine life and they speak and spread death (without they even knowing this).
What the church needs is many saints who exercise their spirit, live in the fellowship of the divine life, and minister life so that any death will be swallowed and life would grow in the saints for the building up of the church.
The main function of the leading saints is to minister life, and real authority in the church is manifested when life is ministered. We need to rise up and stop the spread of death in the church by living in the fellowship of the divine life and exercise our God-given capacity to minister life!
Even the young people can minister life: you don’t have to be an elderly mature believer to give life; as long as you have the divine life and learn to live in the fellowship of life, you can minister life! Whether we are at home, at work, in the meeting, or on the street, our Christian life and church service should be to minister life to others.
Lord Jesus, may our Christian life and our service in the church be for the ministry of life to the saints. We want to rise up and stand against the spread of death in the church by living in the fellowship of life and ministering life to others through our life-giving petition. Lord, may all the churches be under the care of the proper ministry of life as all the saints learn to minister life in their daily life and church service. May life spread, increase, grow, develop, and multiply in the church life so that the church may be built up as the organism of the Triune God!
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. 1 (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:
# In Christ as Spirit You dispense all to me, / Making me a steward in Your economy. / Ever faithful to the measure I have received / To impart You to others, life conceived. (Song on Imparting Life)
# To the lost world minister Christ, / Who is your life and your all, / Imparting Christ to all you meet, / All fallen ones, great or small. (Hymns #922)
# I’ve got a river of life flowing within me; / It started gushing up when God set me free. / That I keep the flow is my only plea. / I’ve got a river of life springing within me. (Song on flowing out life)
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