BUILDING UP THE CHURCH BY PROPHESYING WITH A LIVING SPIRIT
Acts 9:14 says that Paul received authority from the chief priests to go to Damascus to cast into prison all who called on the name of the Lord. The ancient believers were the calling ones. We also have to call on the Lord day by day. The more we call, the more we gain, enjoy, and experience Christ, and the more Christ we have. Then when we come to the meeting, we come with Christ. We come in a bubbling way, and we are full of Christ. We may come, saying, “Oh, Christ is so good! Christ is so sweet. Christ is so dear! Christ is so precious! Christ is powerful, mighty, and living, and He is everything to me.” Not only so, but we also come to the meeting with a strong spirit, with a spirit that is living, active, and aggressive, and we want to say something. We are not able to keep silent. We open up our mouth and release our spirit, and Christ comes out. We say something for Christ and minister Him to others.
To speak in this way is to prophesy, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14. In 1 Corinthians prophesy does not mainly mean to predict. To prophesy is to speak something for Christ, to speak something about Christ, and to minister Christ to others. This is why Paul says, “For you can all prophesy” (v. 31).
PARTICIPATING IN CHRIST AND COMING TO THE MEETINGS WITH CHRIST
A dumb Christian is one who never calls on the Lord. Rather, he always exercises his mind, perhaps to consider some verses of the Bible and afterward to consider the elders and the other brothers. Such a one always exercises his mind day by day and does not enjoy Christ. He has much deadness and many negative things within him. Then when he comes to the meeting, he comes empty, with no Christ. His spirit is down, but his eyes are open. When he examines the brothers, not one is good to him, and when he looks at the sisters, he considers that every one is worldly. With some, their hair is too long, and with others, their skirts are too short. He looks at the whole situation with much criticism and condemnation. Such a one is deadened and is deadening to the whole situation, and he kills the meeting. If anyone speaks, he does not agree with him. He may say, “This one is not eloquent, that one has an accent, and none of them is good.” He may think that he is the best one, but in actuality he is deadened. This is the situation in Christianity today. There is very little life and ministry of Christ. For this reason, people feel they must hire a pastor, train a choir, and bring in a soloist to sing. May the Lord be merciful to us, and may we come out of this situation!
The right way for us to meet is first to have the experience of the first eleven chapters of 1 Corinthians, to have a proper life by participating in Christ. We all have to have such a calling life. All day we call upon the Lord, we enjoy Him, and we live by Him. “He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me” (John 6:57). We eat the Lord Jesus, we drink Him, and we live by Him, for Him, and with Him. We are filled with Him, full of Christ, and our spirit is strong, living, and aggressive. When we come to the meeting, we do not see anything negative. We are only filled with Christ, and we are bubbling! If everyone would be like this, what kind of meeting we will have! The meeting will ascend to the third heaven. To have the full release of the spirit is the right way to meet, but this needs the proper Christian life in our daily walk.
LIVING BY CHRIST AND FUNCTIONING WITH CHRIST
Then when we come into the meeting, we do not wait; we do not depend on any speaker. Rather, we all function. One has a psalm, one has a revelation, another has a word for Jesus, and another has a testimony. Everyone functions; all prophesy. What a rich meeting this is!
Paul said, “If therefore the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak in tongues, and some unlearned in tongues or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are insane? But if all prophesy and some unbeliever or unlearned person enters, he is convicted by all, he is examined by all” (1 Cor. 14:23-24). In verse 31 he said, “For you can all prophesy.” This means we can all speak something for Christ, and by so doing, the church will be built up and all the “germs” will be killed. There will be no criticism, no gossip, and no murmuring. Rather, all will be praising, shouting, and saying, “Hallelujah!” We will be full of Christ, and the church will be built up. This is not a matter of the gifts, nor a matter of the teachings, but a matter of eating Jesus, living by Jesus, and then meeting with Jesus. We all come together with Christ. Christ is our life in our daily walk, and Christ is our function, our ministry, in our meetings. In this way the church is built up.
The words church and churches are used nine times in chapter fourteen, and build, built, and building are used seven times. God’s intention is to build up the church, and the way to build the church is by our meeting together. The more we meet, the more the church is built up. However, we need something to meet with; we need Christ in our daily walk. Day by day we live by Christ, we enjoy Christ, we experience Christ, we gain Christ, we are filled with Christ, and we are full of Christ. Then we have Christ to meet with.
COMING TO THE MEETING FULL OF CHRIST IN DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPIRIT
Christ is our life in our daily walk, and this life is mainly expressed in love (ch. 13). Love is the expression of life. Love is the outward expression, and life is the inward reality. We all have Christ within as our life, and this life is expressed in love. Therefore, we all love one another, not in a fleshly way but in the spirit. We love, and this love is the expression of the inner life, and this inner life is simply Christ. Therefore, we have Christ and we are full of Christ. Then we come to the meeting with Christ. We meet with Christ. We have something of Christ to meet with, and we have a strong spirit. Whenever we say something, we say it in the spirit. Whenever we sing, we sing in the spirit. We have the demonstration of our spirit with all the riches of Christ. It is by this way that the church is built up. This is not merely a doctrine, a theory, or a theology. This is a fact, a reality, and a practicality. We have seen this clearly in the church in Los Angeles, and now we are seeing it in many local churches.
THE EXTRACT OF 1 CORINTHIANS
What we have spoken here is the extract of 1 Corinthians. We all have to realize that today our Christ is the life-giving Spirit (15:45b; 2 Cor. 3:17a), and we are one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17). He is the life-giving Spirit, we have a regenerated spirit, and these two spirits are mingled together. We are one spirit with the Lord. Now we need to learn to walk in the spirit. We must never walk in the soul, never be soulish but be spiritual (2:14-15). We walk in the spirit day by day, enjoying Christ. Then when we come to the meetings, we come with a strong spirit with all the riches of Christ. We take the initiative to say something, and our spirit goes along with us. Our spirit is subject to us (14:32). This is marvelous. First Corinthians is a book of Christ as our life in our daily walk and Christ as our function, our ministry, in our meetings for the building up of the church. The church is built in this way.
(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)