EVERYTHING NOT OF GOD’S LIFE BEING BURNED
Genesis 2 is a picture. There we see the river of life. In chapter three we see the river of fire. The flame signifies God’s holiness, and the sword signifies God’s righteousness. As far as God’s holiness and righteousness are concerned, we should die. All those who will not allow the river of life to flow through them will have the river of fire flowing through them. Everything that will not give way to the flow of the river of life will eventually pass through the burning of the river of fire. A Christian’s life, work, family, and business must all be put under the river of life. In the Bible, many places mention fire. Some people have told us that when the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, Japan, even the iron and steel were melted. Today, God’s river of fire of judgment will melt away anything that is not of Himself. Only by allowing the river of life to flow through us will there be the gold, the pearl, and the precious stones. Otherwise, everything else is wood, grass, stubble, and dung. Not only will our work pass away; even God’s own heaven and earth will be burned one day. Of course, our own work, those things that do not belong to God, will be burned away also. Only God’s life will remain forever. Everything that is not of life will be burned. Although these things may be created by God, they do not have the life of God. As such, they will be burned away also.
A carpenter takes a piece of wood and makes a beautiful table out of it. The table is placed in the sitting room, and the remaining chaff and odd pieces are taken to the stove in the kitchen. The stove represents the lake of fire. At the end of Revelation, on the one hand, there is the city of water. On the other hand, there is the lake of fire. The city of water signifies God’s life and His holiness. The lake of fire signifies God’s righteousness. God’s glory speaks of God Himself, whereas God’s holiness tells us that everything not of God and not according to His nature will be thrown into the lake of fire. This is our basic problem. We may do the right things and may manage the church well. But these things are not the gold, the pearl, and the precious stones, because God’s life has not passed through these things. The fire does not remove defilements; it only removes that which is not holy, and that which does not belong to God.
God’s fire not only burns away everything bad; it also burns away everything that is not according to God’s nature. In man’s mind, there is only good and bad. When a house is burned, no matter how beautiful the wood outside looks, it will all be burned away. The only thing that will be left will be the steel and the concrete. The fire separates and tests things out. Everything that is not of God, no matter how good it is, will be burned away. Wood is very good, but it will be burned away. I do not know if you can take my words. If you can take them, your whole being will be turned, and you will not dare to walk according to your own will any longer.
Suppose I am about to visit a person. I should not ask if this is God’s will and if I should do it. Rather, I should ask if God is going with me. What we are afraid of is not doing the wrong thing, but doing things apart from God. If we have God with us, not only will we do the right thing, but God will pass through us. Formerly, our only fear was that we would do the wrong thing. Today, our fear is that we would do things by ourselves. Even if what we do is right outwardly, as long as there is the self-element, we will not please God. The real work is one in which God works alongside of us. Everything that comes out of the mind and the will are rejected by God. God only wants something that comes out of Himself.
Today, between the river of water and the river of fire, there is still a river of blood. What should have been consumed by the river of fire is merged into the river of water by passing through the river of blood. We have the river of blood to take care of everything that is of ourselves. On the one hand, we need to examine ourselves. On the other hand, after we have examined ourselves, we need to trust in the blood of the Lord. In this way, we will be saved from the river of fire into the river of water.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 26, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)