ENTERING BY THE GATE OF CONSECRATION AND WALKING ON THE WAY OF CONSECRATION
It is entirely right that for any kind of experience we need to consecrate ourselves. Consecration is like the entrance to a building; if we do not pass through the entrance, it is impossible to go anywhere in the building. In order to share in any part of a building, we must pass through the gate. Immediately in front of the first entrance to the tabernacle was the altar. There were many things to experience in the tabernacle. Outside was the laver, and inside were the table of the bread of the Presence, the lampstand, the incense altar, and the ark with its items, but in order to share in those things one had to pass the altar and deal with it. There was no possibility of touching anything within the tabernacle without passing through the altar. With the altar there is the aspect of redemption, but there is also the aspect of consecration. Everything placed on the altar was an offering; this signifies consecration.
The tabernacle is a type both of Christ and of the church. In order to experience the riches of Christ typified by the things in the tabernacle, we need to pass through the crisis of consecration. In addition, in order to experience the church life as God’s building and dwelling place, we must pass the altar, that is, the crisis of consecration. In order to have the real Christian life and the real church life, we all must learn day by day to live a life of consecration.
The life of consecration begins with a crisis. Then after the crisis we have the way. The Scriptures speak differently from our common understanding. We often say that we take the way and go through the gate. According to the Scriptures, however, we first go through the gate, and then we have the way. The gate, not the way, comes first, as in Matthew 7:13 and 14. In spiritual matters, if we do not enter the gate, there is no way for us to go on. The gate of the spiritual things related to life is regeneration; for the life within we need the gate of regeneration. After we are regenerated, however, after we receive the life within, we need to have a living, and for our living and daily life the gate is consecration. Many have been regenerated; that is, they have entered the gate of life. However, they do not have the proper living because they have never consecrated themselves to the Lord. They have passed through regeneration, but they have not passed through consecration. Although they are regenerated persons, they do not live as regenerated persons; that is, they have the life but not the living.
The gate for our spiritual living is consecration. Then after we enter the gate of consecration, we go on the way of consecration. Consecration has two aspects: a crisis to pass through and a way to walk on. The crisis is once for all, but the way is not once for all. Many cannot go the way of consecration because they have not entered the gate of consecration. Have you passed through the gate? As I mentioned before, Brother Watchman Nee held a training in Shanghai in 1939 and 1940 mostly for co-workers. For one year’s time he stressed almost nothing but consecration. Every week when we came together, he would first ask a person to give his testimony about consecration. Brother Nee would ask us to consider the testimony, and then he himself would critique it. Almost no one passed this examination. We were all subdued by him. He would point out something in each testimony that proved that the consecration was not genuine, absolute, complete, or without reservation.
CHECKING OUR CONSECRATION AND BEING FAITHFUL TO IT
The way to check whether or not we are faithful and honest in our consecration to the Lord is by our daily life. If we check ourselves, we will see, as Brother Nee pointed out, that in many matters there is a struggle between us and the Lord, and we often win the victory. Whenever there is a struggle, the defeated one is the Lord. It is good to have a struggle with the Lord. If we have no struggle with Him, we are through with the Lord. Especially in this age on this earth there is always the struggle. To not have a struggle means that we are fallen and backslidden. In our struggle, however, who wins the victory, we or the Lord? The way to check whether or not our consecration is complete, genuine, and without reservation is by who wins the struggle. That the Lord is defeated is due to the unfaithfulness of our consecration. We have consecrated ourselves, but we may not be faithful and honest to our consecration. If we Christians would keep our consecration, the Lord will always have the victory.
All our problems today are due to our unfaithfulness in consecration. We may not have a morning watch, for example, because of a problem with our consecration. Many of us have passed the crisis, but we have not continued on the way. Therefore, in order for a church to be built up, the first foundation we must lay is the matter of consecration. We need to check with ourselves and deal with our consecration, and then we need to help others. We need to pray, fellowship, and encourage the brothers and help them one by one to come into the real experience of consecration.
We may say that we do not have much faith. The reason we do not have faith is that we are not faithful to our consecration. When we are faithful to our consecration, we have a living faith. We may say that we do not have power. The reason again is that we are not faithful to our consecration. When we are faithful to our consecration, we have the ground to claim the power, and it is ours. We need to go to the Lord once again to deal with and clear up our consecration. If we do this, we will see the blessings. Then we will have a burden to help others.
(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)