A Genuine Church, by Witness Lee


Verse 4 says, “I give thanks to God always concerning you based upon the grace of God which was given to you in Christ Jesus.” This indicates that the church which is genuine has the grace of God given to it in Christ, not the condition in itself, as its base. The grace of God is not given to the church based upon the spirituality or condition of the church. The grace of God alone is the base for the church. Paul’s thanks to God in verse 4 was based upon the gift of grace which was given to the church in Christ Jesus. In the New Testament, the phrase “in Christ” is mainly used related to the Triune God (2 Cor. 5:19) and the believers corporately (1 Cor. 1:30). Therefore, the grace of God given to the believers is the Triune God Himself.

The church is standing on the base of grace in order that it may receive further grace. We have received grace as our base, and today we are standing upon grace, not upon our attributes, virtues, or excellencies. Therefore, we are qualified to receive more grace, even grace upon grace. John 1:16 says, “For of His fullness we all received, and grace upon grace.” We are qualified by grace to receive grace upon grace. We have to thank the Lord that the more storms there are in the church, the more “waves” of grace there are. Every storm brings another “wave” of grace. Moreover, this grace issues in peace. In His Divine Trinity, God is not only grace but peace to us. After receiving grace, we are at peace, and we can say, “Hallelujah, Amen!” We are in the peace because we have enjoyed grace, and we have grace because we have received grace upon grace.


Verses 5-7a say, “That in everything you were enriched in Him, in all expression and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift.” The church which is genuine is enriched in everything in Christ, so that it is not lacking in any gift. The gift referred to here is the inward initial gift issuing from grace, such as the eternal life and the Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:23; Acts 2:38; Heb. 6:4), not the outward miraculous gifts. The Triune God as grace to us issues in and becomes the gift. We have received grace, and we have the gift which is out of grace, so that we are not lacking in any gift.


Verse 7b says, “Awaiting the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This indicates that the church which is genuine should have a normal sign, that is, the awaiting of the unveiling, the appearing, of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not waiting to get a good car or a high appointment. Rather, since we have received grace upon grace, we are awaiting the unveiling, the appearing, the second coming, of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven.


In verse 8 Paul says, “Who will also confirm you till the end, unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This indicates that a genuine church needs to grow in life, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:6, after its initial receiving of grace, that it will be unreprovable in the day of Christ’s coming. After receiving grace as our base, we have to grow in grace so that we will be unreprovable in the day of Christ’s coming. “Who” in verse 8 refers not to Christ but to God in verse 4. God has given us grace, and this very God will also confirm us to the end. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the giver of grace at the beginning and the completer of our growth in life at the end. He will confirm us until the end, unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(A Genuine Church, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)