What we see in the book of Acts is not only a record of what the apostles and disciples did after the Lord left but the continuation of Christ, Jesus living again in the many members of His Body for His corporate expression.
Today we are in “Acts chapter 29”, in one of the many chapters that are still being written and added to the book of Acts; we are now the continuation of Christ, learning to have a corporate living as the God-men who are perfected to be the reality of the Body of Christ.
Today God is after the same thing that He’s been after since the beginning: He wants a group of people who would live Christ, express Christ, and magnify Christ in a corporate way for God’s expression.
He has gained such an expression in the first century after the Lord left, and He is constantly gaining such a corporate expression – the continuation of Christ, Jesus living again on earth – throughout the ages. What does “Jesus living again” in man look like? In Acts we see a pattern – the pattern of the apostle Paul, who lived Christ for His magnification as His continuation.
In Acts and in the Epistles we see that:
- Paul was a disciple of Christ—seeing Christ, hearing Christ, and learning Christ as the reality is in Jesus.
- Paul was a chosen vessel of Christ to contain Him, be filled with Him, and overflow with Him for His fullness.
- Paul was a man of prayer.
- Paul depended on the Body, doing everything in the Body, through the Body, and for the Body.
- Paul practiced calling on the name of the Lord.
- Paul lived by the all-inclusive Spirit of Jesus for his preaching ministry, a ministry of suffering carried out among human beings and for human beings in the human life for the building up of the Body of Christ.
- Paul lived in his mingled spirit (the divine Spirit mingled with his human spirit as one spirit).
- Paul was filled with the Spirit of joy, essentially for his existence, and with the Spirit of power, economically for his function.
- Paul exercised himself to always have a good and pure conscience.
- Paul lived a life of always rejoicing in the Lord and thanking Him.
Today we want to see more characteristics of a life that expresses Christ, that is, a life that is Jesus living again, as seen in the Apostle Paul.
He is good pattern to us, and like him, we also need to be the disciples of Christ who hear christ, see Christ, and learn Christ, be filled with Christ to overflow Christ, be a man of prayer, depend on the Body and do everything in, through, and for the Body, practice calling on the name of the Lord, live by the Spirit, live in the mingled spirit, be filled with the Spirit, and live a life of always rejoicing in the Lord and thanking Him.
Seeing the Pattern of the Apostle Paul as one who Lived Christ for His Magnification
Paul was allied with God and assisted by God to speak the gospel boldly in the name of Jesus unto the uttermost part of the earth (see Acts 9:20, 27; 26:22-29; 28:31; 1:8; 1 Thes. 2:2; cf. Rom. 15:24, 28). He didn’t just go and preach the gospel by himself; he obtained help from God, that is, he was allied with God and assisted by God to preach the gospel and bring in God’s kingdom.
Paul cherished the saints in the humanity of Jesus and nourished them in the divinity of Christ with all the truths of God’s eternal economy, displaying in his living the word of the Lord Jesus that, “it is better to give than to receive”.
If you read Acts 20:18-38 and 1 Thes 2:1-12 you will see a pattern of one who shepherded the saints, serving them with tears, not withholding anything of the counsel of God from the, and teaching them publicly and in the homes of the saints, even admonishing them with tears.
In the church life today we need to prophesy in the meeting (“teach publicly”), speak in the home meetings and vital group meetings (“teach in houses”), and have intimate contact with one another to fellowship together (“admonish one another with tears”).
Paul didn’t seek glory from men but was gentle among the saints as a nursing mother would cherish her own children and as a loving father would exhort his own children, exhorting and consoling and testifying. We need to be like nursing mothers and exhorting fathers in the church life, taking intimate care of the saints by cherishing them and nourishing them.
Lord Jesus, make us those who cherish the saints in the humanity of Jesus and nourish them in the divinity of Christ with all the truths of God’s economy! Lord, may our living display the reality of “it is better to give than to receive”, so that we may live out what You have spoken. May we be toward the saints as nursing mothers who cherish her own children and as exhorting fathers who take care and admonish the children.
In his fourth ministry journey as recorded in Acts 27-28, Paul shows in a particular way his life of living Christ, magnifying Christ, doing all things in Christ, and pursuing Christ in order to be found in Christ, as he aspired and wrote in Phil. 1:19-21, 3:8-9, 14, 4:13.
He was a prisoner taken to Rome to be judged by the Roman Emperor, and all during the apostle’s long and unfortunate imprisonment-voyage, the Lord kept him in His ascendancy and enabled him to live a life far beyond the realm of anxiety and fear; Paul’s life was fully dignified, with the highest standard of human virtues expressing the most excellent divine attributes.
“This was Jesus living again on the earth in His divinely enriched humanity! This was the wonderful, excellent, and mysterious God-man, who lived in the Gospels, continuing to live in the Acts through one of His many members! This was a living witness of the incarnated, crucified, resurrected, and God-exalted Christ! Paul in his voyage lived and magnified Christ (Phil. 1:20-21).” (Acts 28:9, footnote 1, Recovery Version Bible)
We need to pray that our living would be Jesus living again in His divinely enriched humanity. When Paul was on the sea in the storm, the Lord made him not only the owner of his fellow voyagers (Acts 27:24) but also their life-guarantor and comforter (27:22-25).
When they arrived on the land in peace, the Lord made him furthermore not only a magical attraction in the eyes of the superstitious people (28:1-6, when the viper latched onto his hand, and he shook it off with no harm being done) but also a healer and a joy to them (vv. 7-10, when he healed the ruler of that island and was welcomed and honored by them).
Paul was an ambassador sent by God, and he was treated by men with the greatest respect and held to the highest regard, even though he was a prisoner in chain. We need to be the Lord’s ambassadors today, those who allow the Lord to live again in them so that others would treat us with the greatest respect and the highest regard.
When Paul arrived in Rome, he was warmly welcome and received by the brothers in Rome and was lovingly cared for by those in Puteoli (Acts 28:13-15); this shows the beautiful Body life that existed in the early days among the churches and apostles.
Apparently, what we see is a prisoner in bonds who has entered the region of the dark capital of the Satan-usurped empire; actually, as the ambassador of Christ with His authority (Eph. 6:20; Matt. 28:18-19), Paul had come into another part of the participation in the Body life of Christ’s church in the kingdom of God on earth.
We may suffer the persecution of religion in the empire of Satan (which is the satanic chaos in the old creation), but at the same time we need to be enjoying the church life in the kingdom of God (the divine economy for the new creation).
Paul was encouraged to see the brothers in Acts 28:15; he was quite human: although he was encouraged by the Lord directly and was very courageous all the way in his voyage, he still took courage at the brothers’ warm welcome.
We may be strengthened and encouraged by the Lord to face any opposition and difficulty, but at the same time we are human, and when we meet the saints we are very much encouraged and comforted.
The ultimate issue of the church will be the New Jerusalem in eternity future as God’s full and eternal expression; this should be the reality and goal of all our gospel preaching today as we follow the patter of the apostle Paul.
The book of Acts ends with Paul “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, unhindered” (Acts 28:31).
As we follow the pattern of the apostle Paul, we need to be those who proclaim the kingdom of God and teach the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ for the producing of the materials to build up the church to consummate the New Jerusalem.
Lord Jesus, may our living be Jesus living again in His divinely enriched humanity. We want to live Christ, magnify Christ, do all things in Christ, and pursue Christ in order to be found in Christ and express Christ. Oh Lord, no matter the circumstances and the people around us, may You be expressed through us as we abide in You and are one with You. Make us the living witnesses of the incarnated, crucified, resurrected, and God-exalted Christ! Continue to live in us, Lord, as the members of Your Body!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Ed Marks for this week, and portions from Life-study of Acts, msgs. 70-72 (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 1 / msg. 1, The Increase of Christ in the Continuation of the Book of Acts.
- All Bible verses are taken from, Holy Bible Recovery Version.
- Hymns on this topic:
# We must ever preach the gospel, / Cherishing and nourishing; / Loving them as our dear children, / As our priestly offering. (Song on, Cherishing and Nourishing)
# Pursue Him and know Him; be found in Him. / Count all things loss for Him. / Just gain Him, obtain Him; lay hold of Him. / It’s Christ the central vision. (Song on Pursuing Christ)
# The Christian life is a life, / A life of living Christ / For the constitution and building up / Of the Body of Christ; / The Christian life is a life of living Christ. (Song on Living Christ)
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