The Experience of Christ as Life for the Building Up of the Church, by Witness Lee


First Corinthians is a precious book which follows the book of Romans in God’s sovereign arrangement of the books of the Bible. Romans starts with the condemnation of sins and then goes on to justification, identification with Christ, the walk and life in the Spirit, and the Body life. But how can we have the Body life? For the answer, we need 1 Corinthians. If you want to have the Body life, you have to realize that Christ is everything to you. This is what 1 Corinthians reveals to us.

Chapter one tells us that we have been called into the fellowship, the participation, the enjoyment, of this wonderful One (v. 9). God has put us into Him (v. 30), and He is the power and wisdom of God (v. 24). Now we are in Christ, enjoying Him as everything. Chapter two tells us that if we are going to enjoy Christ, we have to give up our soul-life. Otherwise, we will be a soulish person, who always considers the things of Christ to be foolishness (v. 14). We have to be a person in the spirit so that we can enjoy this wonderful One. For our past Christ is our righteousness; for our present He is our sanctification; and for our future destiny He is our redemption (1:30). He is everything to us.

But if we are going to realize such a Christ, we have to be in the spirit. We may use electricity as an illustration of this. The electricity installed in a building can be applied only by turning on the switch. In the same way, Christ can be applied to us only by the exercise of our spirit. We have to be in the spirit. Then we will become spiritual persons (2:15; 3:1). A spiritual person is a person living, moving, acting, and having his being in the spirit.


First Corinthians goes on to tell us that something of Christ has been planted into us. The real ministry of life is like the ministry of Apollos, who watered the seed. God goes along with this watering and gives the growth. Christ has been sown into us, and Christ is going to grow out of us. When Christ grows out of us, this growth transforms us to produce the gold, silver, and precious stones (v. 12). According to our natural being, we are wood, grass, and stubble, but we are being transformed into precious material for God’s building.

The Lord will not use anything of our natural being for His building. Some of the saints may be good in a natural way without any transformation in their nature or disposition. Our natural goodness has nothing to do with God’s building. We were born as wood, grass, and stubble—worthless material for God’s building. But we were reborn with gold, and we are being transformed into silver and precious stones by being watered and by our growth in life. We need the watering for the growth in life that we may be transformed. Thus, 1 Corinthians 3 shows us the planting, watering, growing, transforming, and the producing of precious material for God’s building.

(The Experience of Christ as Life for the Building Up of the Church, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)