III. CHRIST’S ASCENSION TO POUR OUT THE SPIRIT ON HIS PEOPLE TO FORM THE CHURCH
[After appearing to His disciples for a period of forty days, the Lord Jesus ascended to the heavens. Ten days later, on the day of Pentecost, He, having again received the consummated Spirit, poured out this Spirit upon all His disciples.
At this point we need to consider the difference between the essential Spirit and the economical Spirit. The essential Spirit is for the believers’ spiritual life, living, existence, and being, and the economical Spirit is for God’s economy, work, and move. On the day of His resurrection the Lord Jesus breathed the Spirit into the disciples essentially as life for their spiritual existence. Then fifty days later, on the day of Pentecost, Christ, in His ascension, poured out the consummated Spirit upon His disciples economically as power for their work.
In the Lord’s resurrection, the Spirit of resurrection life is likened to breath, breathed into the disciples for their spiritual being and living essentially. In the Lord’s ascension, the Spirit of ascension power, poured out upon the disciples, is symbolized by wind for the disciples’ ministry and move economically (Acts 2:2). The essential Spirit of resurrection life is for the believers to live Christ; the economical Spirit of ascension power is for them to carry out His commission.
We need to see clearly the difference between the breathing in John 20 and the blowing in Acts 2. The breathing in John 20 is for the imparting of the life-giving Spirit into the believers essentially for their spiritual being and for their spiritual living. But the blowing in Acts 2 is for the pouring out of the economical Spirit of power upon the believers, who have already received the essential Spirit into them. The pouring out of the Spirit of power is not for the believers’ spiritual being or living; rather, the outpouring of the Spirit of power is for the believers’ ministry and move. Therefore, the essential aspect of the Spirit is for living, and the economical aspect is for ministry.
The Lord Jesus Himself is the pattern for the believers’ receiving the Spirit both essentially and economically. First, the Spirit came as the divine essence for the conceiving and birth of the Lord Jesus (Luke 1:35; Matt. 1:18, 20). This was the coming of the Spirit essentially for Christ’s existence and being as the God-man.
The Holy Spirit also came to Jesus Christ as the divine power for the anointing of Christ (Matt. 3:16). This was economical and was for Christ’s ministry and work, whereas the coming of the Spirit, (at His birth,) as the divine essence was essential and was for the Lord’s being and living. When He came forth at the age of thirty to minister and work for God, He needed the Spirit as His power economically, even though He had already been born of the Spirit and had the Spirit within Him.
The believers also received the Spirit both essentially and economically. On the day of the Lord’s resurrection, the essential Spirit for the disciples’ spiritual existence and being was breathed into them. This is proved strongly by the record of Acts 1. According to this record, even before the day of Pentecost, Peter was changed. In the four Gospels Peter often behaved in a foolish, nonsensical manner. But in chapter one of Acts Peter is a very different person, able rightly to expound the Psalms.
Another indication that the disciples had received the Spirit essentially before the day of Pentecost was the fact, also recorded in Acts 1, that they were able to pray in one accord for ten days. Before the Lord’s crucifixion, the disciples were striving with one another. But in Acts 1 there is praying instead of striving. What made it possible to pray in one accord for ten days? This was made possible by the indwelling Spirit.
Although the disciples had received the Spirit essentially and had this Spirit within them, they still needed the economical Spirit to descend upon them. Concerning this, the Lord Jesus said to them, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the remotest part of the earth’’ (Acts 1:8). Then ten days after His ascension, the Lord Jesus poured out Himself as the consummated Spirit upon His disciples.
Now we can see that the church was formed by two steps. The first step was the Lord’s breathing the Spirit into the believers for their spiritual existence and being. The second step was the Lord’s pouring out Himself as the consummated Spirit upon the believers, baptizing them into one Body. By these two steps the believers were filled inwardly with the Spirit and were clothed outwardly with the Spirit. Inwardly they had the Spirit of essence, the essential Spirit, and outwardly they had the Spirit of economy, the economical Spirit. As a result, they were altogether wrapped up with the Spirit, and by being wrapped up with the Spirit they were formed into the Body of Christ. This was the formation of the church.
On the day of Pentecost Christ baptized the Jewish believers in the economical Spirit. Not too long afterward, in the house of Cornelius He baptized the Gentile believers in the economical Spirit. On the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, the economical Spirit descended upon the Jewish believers, and in the house of Cornelius in Caesarea, the same economical Spirit descended upon the Gentile believers. By these two instances of the believers being baptized in the economical Spirit, Christ, as the Head in the heavens, baptized His entire Body—both the Jewish side and the Gentile side—in one Spirit into one Body, as fully revealed in 1 Corinthians 12:13. Therefore, the church was formed through Christ’s baptizing all the believers, both Jews and Gentiles, in one Spirit into one Body.
(Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)