CHRIST’S HEAVENLY MINISTRY
Christ’s heavenly ministry began with His ascension. How much greater and far-reaching is this than His earthly ministry! The scene in Revelation 4 and 5 presents Christ in ascension. When Christ ascended, the heavens became busy. Here Christ is not sitting but standing. John saw “a Lamb standing” who had just recently been slain (Rev. 5:6). This Christ had seven eyes to observe. He was active and aggressive.
In the opening chapters of Revelation Christ is seen walking in the midst of the churches (1:20; 2:1). There are many churches on this earth, all needing His care. How could He be sitting with nothing to do? Just recently there was a volcanic eruption here in the northwest. Some of you who are here live quite near that site. The Lord has been busy these few days, taking care of you! I am grateful to the Lord that, in spite of much loss and suffering by many, you saints here have been spared. He is the Ruler of kings. He administrates the whole universe, including the eruption of that volcano. That disaster will cause many to turn and call on Him. The news reports quoted some who said that, though they were not in the habit of praying, this event turned them to pray and to decide to go to church. Even our meeting together is under His operation. The Lord has kept me in good health so that we could be together for these messages. We are all under His operation.
THE CORRESPONDING MINISTRIES OF PAUL AND JOHN
Christ’s heavenly ministry to build up the church is carried out by two other ministries, Paul’s and John’s. As Colossians 1:25 says, Paul’s ministry was to complete the word of God. Surely Paul’s fourteen Epistles are a completion of the divine revelation. What a big hole there would be in the New Testament without them! Paul’s ministry was to complete God’s economy, or, in other words, to carry out Christ’s heavenly ministry. What Paul did on earth was a response to what Christ was doing in the heavens. Paul’s ministry echoed Christ’s. The two ministries were actually two ends of one ministry. The two corresponded for the producing and completing of the church.
Paul’s ministry did complete God’s economy, yet within a quarter century after his departure, the church fell into heresy. Paul’s last book, 2 Timothy, was written about A.D. 66. During the next twenty-five years or so heresies sprang up, claiming that Christ was not God or that Christ had not come in the flesh. Thus, about A.D. 90 John’s writings appeared. The Gospel of John was written to testify to the fact that Christ was indeed God (John 1:1; 20:28). His first Epistle was written to confirm that Christ had truly come in the flesh (1 John 4:2-3).
John’s ministry, then, was to mend the damage which had been done to Paul’s ministry. If the sleeve of my jacket gets ripped, it must be mended according to the original pattern. To make it tighter or longer while mending it would just be to further damage it. All it needs is to be made stronger where it was ripped; then it is properly mended. The Lord’s recovery today is in the time of the mending ministry. We must therefore be brought back to the original, but in a strengthened way. Some who claim to be in the line of the recovery are turning out a jacket with a sleeve that is tighter or longer than the original; to mend the sleeve in such a way is only to further damage it.
How can we say that John’s ministry is stronger than Paul’s? In other messages we have said that Paul’s ministry is stronger than John’s! Now we are speaking from another standpoint. Paul did tell us that the church is the Body of Christ, the fullness of the One who fills all in all, the household of God, the house of God, the kingdom of God, the bride, and the warrior. But Paul did not tell us that the church is a lampstand. Nor did he tell us that the church will consummate in the New Jerusalem. Is a city not greater than a house? John’s ministry is stronger, deeper, and higher than Paul’s!
(The Mending Ministry of John, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)