BEING TURNED FROM TEACHINGS AND GIFTS TO CHRIST AS FOOD
The Lord has burdened us with the revelation that teachings can never build up the church. Neither do gifts work. Only Christ as life can build the church. Teachings help us to realize that we need Christ as life, and good, proper teachings minister Christ to us as life. But teachings alone do not work. We all need Christ, not Christ in doctrine, but the living Christ as the life-giving Spirit. The Christ who is the Spirit really works. Likewise, gifts are good, but gifts are a means, a utensil, to help people to have a realization of Christ. Gifts are not Christ. Gifts help us to take Christ, but if we substitute the gifts for Christ, we are wrong. We have to eat Christ. However, the tragedy today is that people pay attention to the gifts much more than to Christ. We all have to be turned from teachings to Christ, and we all have to be turned from gifts to Christ. Christ¾and Christ alone¾is the substance, the element, and all the ingredients of the spiritual food, so we have to take Christ.
Christ is the tree of life. The more we take Christ in, the more we have the flow within. If we say, “O Lord Jesus,” ten times, there will be the flow of the living water within us. Then we should pick up the Bible, open to any page, and pray-read a few verses. We should not merely exercise our mind to understand the Bible; we must exercise our spirit to pray the Bible. By praying we take the Word, we eat the Word. I assure you that if you call on the Lord and pray-read like this in the morning, something will be flowing within you and watering you, and along with this flowing there will be the nourishing, enlightening, strengthening, comforting, regulating, and saturating. This will cause you to be transformed. The church is built up by this transformation.
We are men of clay. Regardless of whether we are low class, middle class, or high class, whether we have a Ph.D. or have no education, we all are pieces of clay, not good for the building up of the church. We are “muddy.” Regardless of whether we are barbarian or Scythian, circumcision or uncircumcision, bond or free, great or small, whether we are hippies on the street or we wear a tie, we are still pieces of clay. If we build a building with clay and a storm comes, the building will become a marsh. There are too many marshes in the United States today. A marsh is neither dry land or a flowing river. However, the more flow we have, the more the clay will be discharged, and we will be transformed day by day.
THE INWARD TRANSFORMATION IN LIFE
We were made a tripartite being. First Thessalonians 5:23 tells us that we are persons of three parts—spirit, soul, and body. One day when we opened up ourselves and called on the name of the Lord, He came in. By calling, “O Lord Jesus,” we gave Him an invitation. He took the invitation, He came into us, and we were regenerated. Our sins were washed away by His blood, and He came in not only as the Savior, the Redeemer, and the Lord, but also as the life-giving Spirit. First Corinthians 15:45b says, “The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.” He is the Spirit in our spirit, so we are one spirit with Him, as 1 Corinthians 6:17 says, “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” We are here as one spirit with the Lord.
However, we must also consider our soul. Our soul is composed mainly of the mind. We should not love our mind. Our mind is a real troublemaker. Whenever we exercise our mind, we have trouble. There is no need to try to be in the mind. As soon as we wake up, we may have a critical thought about our spouse. Right away we have to say, “O Lord Jesus!” and get ourselves out of our mind and misery. Do not stay in the mind, but turn from the mind to the spirit. The mind, emotion, and will are awful things. It is so easy to be irritated in our emotions. If a brother is told he is nice, he will feel happy, but if he is corrected, his countenance will fall. Just by one sentence we can be made to laugh or be angry. The emotions are so fragile. Likewise, the will is so stubborn. It is wonderful that Jesus is in our spirit, but He may not be in our mind, emotion, and will.
Mere outward change, outward correction, means nothing. Many Christians like to talk about sanctification. To be sanctified is not merely to be sinless. The Brethren taught that to be sanctified is to be separated from what is common. In a sense this is right, but this is a positional change. We must realize that a positional change alone does not mean much. Regardless of the position of our troublesome mind, terrible emotion, and stubborn will, they are still a problem. We need a dispositional change. We need transformation. Transformation is a “chemical” change, a change in nature and element. Our awful mind needs a wonderful element to get into it. For a chemical change to take place, one element must be put into another. Without Christ getting into our mind, our mind can never have a “chemical” change. We can have a change in our thinking, a change in our concept, but our mind will still remain the same in nature. We need a “chemical” change in our mind. This means that Christ as the heavenly element must get into our mind. When Christ gets into our mind, the mind is renewed; it is transformed. This is the clay being transformed into gold, pearl, and precious stone. This is not outward correction or outward adjustment, but the inward transformation in life by another element. This is why we have to be filled in our spirit (Eph. 5:18) and say, “O Lord!” Whenever we say, “O Lord,” the Lord gets into us, and we are filled in our spirit unto the fullness of God. We are filled with all that God is in Christ.
(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)