FROM REBEL TO APOSTLE
I believe we all know how Christ made such a rebel as Saul of Tarsus into an apostle. He persecuted Stephen, and he persecuted others in Jerusalem, but he was not satisfied. Therefore, he went to the high priests and obtained authority to go to Damascus and bind all those who called on the name of the Lord. While he was journeying, a light shone from heaven, and he fell to the earth. The Lord asked him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” When Saul asked who He was, the Lord replied that He was Jesus, the One whom he was persecuting. From that moment, something of the ascended Jesus entered into that rebel. He was so clever, able to see everything, but after Jesus came into him, he became blind. He could see nothing. Many of us need to be blind. When Jesus really gets into us, we cannot see anymore. Formerly, Saul was leading others; now others led him (Acts 9).
The constituting of Saul into an apostle proceeded from that day to the time of Acts 13. That rebel was constituted an apostle by Jesus, and he became one of the greatest apostles. But do not think that he became an apostle overnight. Such a constitution required a long time, a long process, for all the elements of the ascended Jesus to be added into Him. Jesus made him an apostle; Jesus constituted him with all His own elements as an apostle. Jesus has received all the saved persons from the Father, and all of these, including Saul, eventually become the gifts. Christ received these gifts in His humanity, and then He gave all of these saved ones to His Body for the perfecting of His Body.
For the making and constituting of a gifted person, the humanity of Jesus is required. Jesus did not do this in His divinity, but in His humanity. He received the gifts in man. Darby’s New Translation uses this phrase “in man.” The Lord received the gifts as a man, on a man’s standing, and in a man’s position. After His ascension, He did not receive the gifts in the position of the Son of God, but in the position of man. For Him to receive the gifts means that He constituted the gifts.
When we were saved, Christ received us from the Father. We were called and chosen by God in eternity, so we belonged to the Father. Then the Father passed us on to Jesus. The Father gave, and the Son received. After the Son received us, He sent us, for example, to the church in Los Angeles where we became gifts for the building up of the church. We were chosen, predestinated, and called by the Father, and then given to His Son Jesus. Finally, Jesus gave us to the church in Los Angeles as gifts. But whether these chosen, predestinated, called, and given ones will be proper gifts or not depends upon the constitution of the humanity of Jesus within them. The determining factor is how much of the humanity of Jesus has been wrought into us. The Lord did not receive us in His divinity, but in His humanity. This is very meaningful.
In the past, much has been said concerning the need of the divine life and nature to be wrought into us. But if we spend more time in pray-reading the Word, we will see that God intends to work into us the divine life with a human nature. God wants to work Christ into us, and Christ is not only the Son of God, but also the Son of Man. God intends to work a Person into us who has the life of God and the nature of man.
I remember some of the Western missionaries I met years ago in the Far East. Some had doctor’s degrees and were excellent preachers, but they were not so useful. Some however, were not learned and had no degree, yet they were very much used by the Lord. At that time I did not understand, but now I know the reason. Those who were more useful in the hands of the Lord were those who were enjoying the humanity of Jesus. It may be that they did not know this term, yet they did in fact participate in the Lord’s humanity. Some of the missionaries could not preach and were not able to teach well, but they brought a good number to the Lord by experiencing the humanity of Jesus.
I have seen all kinds of Christians: formal Christians, fundamental Christians, Pentecostal Christians, and inner-life Christians. I have not only seen these different kinds of Christians, but under God’s sovereignty I was also among many of them. Yet I must say that all of them do not experience much of the humanity of Jesus. The Pentecostals are supposed to be powerful, and the fundamentalists are supposed to know the Bible well, but eventually they may not be so useful in the hands of God because they are simply short of the humanity of Jesus. They are gifts to the Body, but they have a shortage of the humanity of Jesus.
(Christ as the Reality, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)