ENJOYING THE RICHES OF CHRIST BY PRAY-READING THE WORD AND PRAYING INTO THE SPIRIT
Christ is the life-giving Spirit. Where is He today? On the one hand, He is the Lord and Christ on the throne in heaven, while on the other hand, He is the life-giving Spirit who has entered into us to be our life. No matter how rich the food and water we need are, if they do not get into our stomach, they still have nothing to do with us. Today Christ is not only the Lord of all on the throne in heaven, but also the real and living life-giving Spirit indwelling our spirit to be our life. How good and how wonderful this is!
Unfortunately, Christians today have been separated from Christ by many things. It is needless to speak of sin and the world, for even reading the Bible may separate you from Christ. This is because in reading the Bible, you may only use your mind to study and not use your spirit to pray over the words of life. For example, you may read Matthew 1:1, which says, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” When you come to the name of Abraham, you may be puzzled; you may not understand what the meaning of Abraham is. When I was young, I encountered this problem. I tried my best to search through the dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias, concordances, and the like. I was fully disappointed even when I found the explanation. I found an entry that said that Abraham was the father of Isaac. Who then is Isaac? I still did not understand. Therefore, I often wasted my time. I studied the Bible for an hour and a half in the morning, and the result was that my head was spinning. I would have been better off not reading the Bible. If I would have instead prayed a few sentences, I could at least have touched the Spirit to some degree. Because of the way I studied the Bible, I was farther away from God than when I first started. I tried to study Matthew 1, but the record of the genealogy, which goes all the way to verse 17 and contains many strange names, befuddled me. In addition, verse 17 mentions three ages of fourteen generations each. All the generations from Abraham until David were fourteen generations, from David until the deportation to Babylon were fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon until the Christ were fourteen generations. I began to count the three ages of fourteen generations. However, no matter how I counted, I could not get it right. In the end, I was completely confused. Thereafter, I said, “Forget about it! There is no way to study the first seventeen verses in Matthew 1.” That was why in the first few years, every time I read Matthew, I always started from verse 18.
Sometimes reading the Bible with the mind can also be satisfying. As a young person you may be saved and stirred up to love the Lord, and your heart may fully desire to honor your parents, to be diligent, and to do things single-heartedly. The Bible contains many such words, and when you read them, you feel very comfortable and satisfied. When sisters first read the Bible and come to the verse in Ephesians 5 which says that the husbands should love their wives, everyone who is a wife smiles and nods her head. To her, this Bible is very good and is the best book. This is because there is no wife who does not expect her husband to love her. The words in the Bible simply match what your heart loves. Conversely, the brothers enjoy reading the verse in Ephesians 5 which says that the wives should be subject to their husbands. This is truly good, because what the husbands daily hope for is that their wives would be subject to them.
Of the two kinds of sensations in reading the Bible, as illustrated above, one is very dry and puzzling, and the other is very interesting and satisfying. These two seem to be entirely different, but both separate you from the enjoyment of Christ. We need to see that the Bible was not written for this purpose. The Bible is God’s words, and God’s words are spirit. The Lord Jesus said, “The words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63b). Every sentence in the Bible is spirit and life. No matter whether you are old or young, learned or unlearned, I would suggest that you do not skip Matthew 1:1-17 but rather read every verse. When you read “Abraham begot Isaac, and Isaac begot Jacob,” even though you do not understand it, do not try to understand it. One day you will understand, and that will be the real understanding. You should simply pray-read, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.” Do not care whether or not you understand; simply pray-read, and you will inwardly touch the Spirit. Facts speak louder than words. Try and pray-read, and see which of these two ways of reading the Bible supplies you more. I do not have to pray-read for half an hour; I can be enlivened by pray-reading for only five minutes.
Our Lord is rich today. He was the eternal God, the Creator, and the One who rules over the whole universe, upholding and bearing all things by the word of His power. One day, He came to be incarnated. He entered into the womb of a virgin and was willing to be born as a man. He passed through human living for over thirty-three years, experiencing all kinds of hardships and tasting all sorts of joys and sorrows. Then He entered into death, and He did great things in His death, accomplishing one thing after another. Sins were removed, sin was dealt with, all things were ended, and the divine life was released. Then He entered into resurrection, and He regenerated us in His resurrection. He also became the life-giving Spirit to enter into us today. Not only so, He ascended to the throne. The indwelling Christ in us today is also the Christ sitting on the throne. All these are His riches.
The most central point is that He is the Spirit, even the life-giving Spirit. This Spirit is in God’s word and in your spirit. Whenever you open your mouth to pray, you can touch this Spirit. Therefore, all of us need to pray. You must pray, and you must also pray-read the Bible. Daily you need to contact this Spirit, be filled with this Spirit, and let this Spirit operate within you to saturate you. Dear brothers and sisters, if you experience this, you will enjoy the unsearchable riches of Christ.
We all have our husbands, wives, children, families, and careers; we all have burdens and hardships. All these are ordained by God, for this is our human life. How do we handle all these matters? It is extremely difficult to handle them by ourselves, so we must depend on the Lord. Paul told us in Philippians 1:19 that the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ enables us to enjoy salvation in our living. To obtain the supply of this Spirit, we must pray, because this Spirit can be contacted only by our spirit. Whenever we contact this Spirit, He will supply, saturate, permeate, and water us. This Spirit is Jesus Christ, the Triune God, the One who is both God and man, and the all-inclusive Spirit. If you enjoy Him daily in such a way, you will enjoy His riches.
BECOMING THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST AFTER HAVING ENJOYED HIS RICHES
When we thus enjoy the riches of Christ, we will be filled by Christ. You are full of Christ, I am full of Christ, and we all are full of Christ. As a result, when we come together, we are His Body, which is the fullness of the One who fills all in all. This fullness is His expression. A glass may contain water, but if the glass is not full, the water will not overflow. If you add more and more water until the glass is so full that the water overflows, this is fullness. The overflowing of the water is the fullness of the water. This fullness expresses the water for people to see.
Today Christ wants to fill us. He is the Spirit, and as such, He wants to fill us until He overflows from within us. This overflowing is the fullness, and this fullness is His expression, which is the church. The church is the expression of Christ. Furthermore, since Christ is God, the church is also the fullness, the expression, of God. I hope that you can see that in the riches of Christ there is His all-inclusiveness, and in the fullness of Christ there is His unlimitedness. The all-inclusiveness and the unlimitedness of Christ are manifested in His riches and in His fullness. The manifestation of His riches and His fullness hinges on our enjoyment of Him. The more we enjoy Him, and the more we experience Him together with the saints in the church, the more we express His all-inclusiveness. We thank and praise the Lord that today He wants to recover this. You cannot be a superficial Christian “skating on the ice” according to the pattern of today’s Christianity. You must not be like this. You must be a deep Christian. You need to pray, read the Bible, and enter into the Bible. Break the ice and get into the depths of the water to probe the riches in it. When we experience Christ, we enjoy His riches, and as a result, we become His fullness. Thank and praise Him for this!
(The All-Inclusiveness and Unlimitedness of Christ, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)