BUILDING BY IMPARTING AND MINISTERING CHRIST
To build up the church and the believers is simply to impart, to minister, Christ to them. It is not merely to teach them to love others or to be humble. If this were all there is to Christianity, the Chinese people would not need it. The teachings of Confucius were better than this. Confucius taught two thousand five hundred years ago to love others and be humble. We do not need a Christianity that is a religion of teaching, teaching people to be good. The reality of Christianity is Christ Himself ministered to people and imparting Himself to people. The true Christian teaching is not to teach people to do this or not to do that; it is to minister Christ to people.
The Epistles of the New Testament are books that are full of the ministry of Christ; they minister Christ to people. When Christ is ministered to us, He is our love, humility, and patience toward others; He is our everything. It is not merely a matter of love; it is Christ as love. Likewise, it is not merely a matter of patience; it is Christ experienced by us becoming our patience. It is not a matter of good. Good is not of the tree of life; it is of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, the proper way to build up the believers and build up the church is not by teachings or by anything else, but by the Triune God. Do our teachings minister Christ to others? Do our gifts minister Christ to others? This is a big problem.
The apostle Paul spoke much about the building of God with the Triune God as the building materials. The apostle Peter did the same thing. He told us that the Lord is the living stone and that we also are living stones being built up together in the Lord to be a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:4-5). Similarly, the apostle John spoke about abiding in the Lord and the Lord abiding in us. The real meaning of abiding is the mingling, the building.
When we go to help a brother or sister, in what way will we help them? We must realize that to help the saints is to build, and in order to build there is the need of materials. The materials for the divine building are nothing other than the Triune God. Therefore, we must first experience the Triune God ourselves. We must experience God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. In this way we will have the materials in our own experience. Then when we go to visit and fellowship with the saints, we will know what to minister and with what we should minister. We will realize that the only way to minister to others is by the Triune God and with the Triune God. To build is to minister Christ as the Spirit to others so that they can be built with Christ. We must be very clear about this.
For nearly two thousand years there have been many teachings in Christianity. By the mercy and sovereignty of God, I have encountered many different kinds of Christianity. I was born in Christianity, raised in Christianity, and was taught in Christianity, and I became disgusted with Christianity. I saw one kind of Christianity that was a religion of heresy. I was in another kind of Christianity that was a religion of sound teaching. However, after so many years I was never built because nothing of God was wrought into me. Rather, I was just given teachings, such as the seventy weeks in Daniel 9, that are composed of seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and the last week, which is divided into two parts of forty-two months. We calculated the number of years, months, and days. This was the way I was taught. I also learned much about the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which had a golden head, silver breast and arms, bronze abdomen and thighs, iron legs, feet of clay and iron, and ten toes. I learned that this represents Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and the Roman Empire, and that the ten toes are ten kingdoms. I grew sick of all these teachings. There was nothing of God and Christ ministered to us.
The proper way to build up the Body of Christ, which was taken by the apostles, is to build the Body with Christ, by Christ, and in Christ, having Christ as everything. The way to build is to minister Christ into people. Then these people decrease, and the Lord Christ increases. He is enlarged to become everything, and we become nothing. This is to grow with the growth of God. I love the term the growth of God. How much has God grown within us; how much growth of God is there among us as the church? It is not a matter of teachings or gifts; it is a matter of God Himself.
I appreciate Hymns, #513, written by A. B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Stanza 1 says, “Once His gift I wanted,/Now, the Giver own;/Once I sought for healing,/Now Himself alone.” The Healer is different from the healing. We may have healing, but we may not have the Healer. As long as we have the Healer, we have everything. Likewise, to have the gift is superficial, but to have the Giver is something deep and solid. As long as we have the Giver, we do not need to worry about the gift, just as when Rebecca came to Isaac, she inherited everything that he inherited. We need to realize that we build up the believers and the church not by anything other than the Triune God Himself.
(The Building of God, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)