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 the vine abide in Christ and 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.
God desires to gain an increase in humanity; in Himself God cannot increase, but in man He can grow, increase, develop, and obtain a corporate expression.
How does God increase in man? It is by first becoming a man – He came as the Lord Jesus so that we, His sheep, may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Then, Jesus Christ lived a perfect human life on earth – the pattern of a God-man life – and died an all-inclusive, all-terminating, life-releasing, Satan-destroying death on the cross.
Three days after He died, He was resurrected to become a life-giving Spirit; now as such a life-giving Spirit He comes into the spirit of all those who call on His name to regenerate them with the divine life and make them members of the corporate Christ, the Body of Christ.
All the genuine believers in Christ are the increase of Christ, the increase of God in Christ in humanity. The church today is an entity completely of life and in life, and in the church life our main focus should be not to merely take care of outward things or even just to care for people, but to minister life.
First we need to receive and enjoy the divine life, and then we need to learn to cooperate with the Lord by allowing Him to deal with us in His light, so that we may minister life to others. If we minister life to one another in the church life, we are flowing out Christ as life, and He has an increase among us; the increase of Christ is for the increase of the church by ministering life to others according to the law of increase.
Ministering Life to Others and Seeking to Recover the Dormant Saints among us
Among us in the church life there are some saints that are “dormant”, that is, we haven’t seen them for a while. In order for us to cooperate with the Lord to recover the dormant saints among us, we must have the loving and forgiving heart of our Father God and the shepherding and seeking spirit of our Savior Christ.
In Luke 15 we see the saving love of the Triune God toward the sinners; here we as sinners are likened to a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost prodigal son. The Triune God – the Father, the Son, and the Spirit – does a lot of things to minister life to this lost one and to recover him back to the enjoyment of His riches.
First, the Son is seeking: the Shepherd sought the lost sheep; even though He had the 99, he went to visit this one. The Lord’s heart toward each one of the saints is seeking, especially seeking to visit and find and bring back the lost ones.
After the Lord finds the lost one, He lights the lamp and sweeps the house: through the speaking of the word of God, the Holy Spirit enlightens the dormant and backslidden one inwardly.
Finally, the Father all He does is loving and forgiving: He didn’t even let the prodigal son finish his apology: he said, let us eat and be merry, for my son is back!
When we visit the saints who are dormant or whom we didn’t see for a while in the meeting we must take the Lord’s heart as our heart and treasure these lost ones (Luke 15:4-6). Also, we must rely on the Holy Spirit; we speak to them the word of God as we have enjoyed and experienced it, and we rely on the Spirit to work in them.
We must love people with the Father’s love and go to them with a cheerful countenance (Luke 15:18-24; Psa. 42:5, 11). First of all, we need to pray for them and make a life-giving petition, and then we need to go visit the backslidden ones. In our visitation we need to avoid any kind of inappropriate speaking like, “I haven’t seen you in the meeting for a long time: where have you been?”
Also, we shouldn’t express our concern for them too much: they already feel bad, they know they haven’t been meeting for a while….We simply need to be one with the Triune God, the loving and forgiving Father, the seeking and shepherding Son, and the sweeping and enlightening Spirit; we need much exercise to be one with the Lord and speak with much wisdom.
We shouldn’t pressure the saints, inviting them right away to the meeting, but just go one with the Lord, having the Father’s loving and forgiving heart and the Lord’s shepherding and seeking spirit, just to minister Christ to them. When people receive the ministry of life, they will respond.
It is a gift from the Lord to learn to show mercy to the ones in a poor condition; we shouldn’t pressure or condemn them but just be happy to see them, and learn to minister life to them.
Lord Jesus, make us those who seek to minister life to others and who recover the dormant saints among us by having the Father’s loving and forgiving heart and the Lord’s shepherding and seeking spirit. Lord, we want to take Your heart as our heart and treasure all the lost sheep. We want to be one with You in spirit and pray for the lost sheep and then go and visit them by loving them with the Father’s love and having a cheerful countenance. Lord Jesus, release such visitation of the backslidden and lost saints in the churches!
The Increase of the Church is According to the Law of Increase: Abide in the Lord!
The increase of the church is not dependent on the believers activity, zeal, propagation, or doing; the increase of the church is the increase of Christ, and it is according to the law of life. As life grows, there’s an automatic increase.
But the law of life operates only when the conditions are met; when the branches abide in the vine, the spontaneously and automatically bear fruit without any effort. The branches in the vine don’t “strive” with much zeal to bear fruit; rather, they just abide in the vine, receive the supply, and there is an overflow of life.
In order for us to have an increase in the church, we need to cooperate with the Lord so that the law of life would operate and the increase of Christ would be there. In John 15 we see several ways to cooperate with the Lord.
Bearing fruit comes out of the law of life, not out of miracles. The law of life, which is the law of fruit-bearing, involves four points: First, we should abide in the Lord, just as the branches abide in the vine, to absorb the life supply of the Lord. Second, we should abide in the Lord to absorb the supply of God the Father as our source of nutrients and the supply of the Holy Spirit as our source of watering and refreshing. Third, we should abide in the Lord to absorb the supply of God as our light and the Spirit as our air. We must receive a supply from God as our nutrients, water, light, and air so that the life within us can grow and bear fruit according to its law. Finally, we need to abide in the Lord and live in the church…just as a vine has to remain in the garden, in order to receive protection and care….Under these conditions, we will bear new fruit according to the law of life. (Crucial Words of Leading in the Lord’s Recovery, Book 4: The Increase and Spread of the Church, p. 65)
Our main cooperation is to abide in the Lord; when we abide in Him, He has a way to flow His life into us, through us, and into others. Also, we need to ask: we need to pray that the divine life would overflow and fruit would be borne (John 15:7).
We need to go and bear fruit; we can’t just stay home and “be filled with life”, hoping that some fruit will come…we need to go forth, contact people, and let the divine life flow in us and through us (John 15:16). Finally, we need to love one another; when we love one another in the church life, we cooperate with the law of life and there will be an increase.
As believers in Christ, we are the branches in Christ as the universal vine, the organism of the Triune God; we need to remain in this organic union with the Triune God. Since we are branches in Christ, we need to abide in Christ as the Son and be one spirit with the Lord, thereby participating in His position and authority (1 Cor. 6:17; Eph. 2:5-6; Matt. 28:18-19).
We have been baptized into Christ, we are joined to Him organically in one spirit, and when we go forth to minister Him as life to others, we are going forth with His position and authority. By abiding in the Lord, we receive the Father’s nurturing; the Father is the husbandman, the farmer, the cultivator of the vine (John 15:1).
By abiding in Christ, we receive and enjoy all the riches of the Father’s divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), that is, we enjoy all the riches of God (Col. 2:9-10). Hallelujah, all we have to do is abide in the Lord: by abiding in Him we experience the Spirit of life as the realization of the Son in us, and this Spirit of life becomes our life essence (John 14:17, 19; 15:26).
The key is to abide in the Lord; when we abide in the Lord, we absorb His life supply, we absorb the Father as the source of nutrients and the Spirit as our water, and we absorb God as our light and the Spirit as our air. Just as the vine needs the riches in the soil, water, air, and the farmer’s trimming, so we need to abide in the Lord to receive all His riches.
Lastly, our abiding in the Lord is not something individual, and our fruit bearing is not something outside of the Body; we are in a garden, the church life, where Christ is growing, the Spirit is flowing, we abide in the Lord, and the increase is here!
Lord Jesus, we want to abide in You just as the branches abide in the vine so that we may absorb Your life supply, the supply of God the Father as our source of nutrients, and the supply of the Holy Spirit as our watering and refreshing! Lord, we want to abide in You to absorb the supply of God as our light and the Spirit as our air. Keep us abiding in You today, and keep us living in the church life, the sweet church life garden where Christ is growing, the Spirit is flowing, and the increase of Christ is here according to the law of the increase!
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 Crucial Words of Leading in the Lord’s Recovery, Book 4: The Increase and Spread of the Church, chs. 3-4, 11 (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:
# Shepherd, receive man, / Come near and eat with them, / Publicans and sinners. / Go out to carry them home / On Your shoulders, rejoicing. / Lord, carry them home. (Song on the Lord’s heart for man)
# Abide in Me, and I in you, / As the branch cannot bear fruit / Of itself unless / It abides in the vine, / So neither can you / Unless you abide in Me. (Scripture song)
# Oh, there’s a place for you, my friend / Where the earthly sorrows end, / And the joy is flowing like a river, free; / Where everyone is satisfied, / As we mutually abide / In the One who gave His life for you and me. / Oh, Jesus is blending us together; / He is the reason why we’re here. / We will be one in Him forever, / And we will build according to this vision clear. (Song on the church life)
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