XXXIII. FULFILLING IN POWER
OUR EVERY GOOD INTENTION FOR GOODNESS
AND OUR WORK OF FAITH
In 2 Thessalonians 1:11 the apostle Paul prayed for the believers, saying "that our God may count you worthy of your calling and may fulfill in power your every good intention for goodness and your work of faith." We, the believers in Christ, have been made a new creation by God for good works, that is, for doing the will of God. These good works not only were preplanned and foreordained by God for us to walk in (Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:15), but they are our good intention, our delight—we are happy to do them. Furthermore, by the infusion of what God is, our faith in God grows and issues in a proper Christian walk and work. However, although we have the good intention, the delight, for goodness and the walk and work of faith, without the power of God, we do not have the ability to accomplish what we are glad to do. When we live in the love of God and enjoy the divine dispensing, God will fulfill in His power our every good intention and our work. The operating power of God not only works in us and strengthens us but also creates the outward environment needed for the fulfillment of our every good intention for goodness and our work of faith.
XXXIV. PERFECTING, ESTABLISHING,
STRENGTHENING, AND GROUNDING US
First Peter 5:10 says, "But the God of all grace, He who has called you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground you." All grace in this verse refers to the riches of the bountiful supply of the divine life in many aspects ministered to us in many steps of the divine operation on and in us in God’s economy. The initial step is to call us, and the consummate step is to glorify us. Between these two steps are God’s loving care while He is disciplining us, and His perfecting, establishing, strengthening, and grounding work in us. In all these divine acts, the bountiful supply of the divine life is ministered to us as grace in varied experiences. Through such dispensing God enables us to attain His glorious goal.
Here we see that there is a progression in the four divine acts of God’s grace. Perfecting leads to establishing, establishing to strengthening, and strengthening to grounding in the God of all grace. First, God perfects us, perhaps through the suffering of persecution or through different kinds of environments, that we may be restored, put in order again, equipped, and edified. Then God establishes us that we may be set fast, confirmed, and that we may no longer wander and may no longer be changeable. After this, God strengthens us, empowers us, and eventually He grounds us solidly in Himself. Thus, He as the God of all grace and as the solid foundation enables us to gradually attain the consummate goal of His eternal glory, into which we have been called. What a miracle that fallen sinners could be brought into God’s eternal glory! And how excellent is His perfecting, establishing, strengthening, and grounding work in us!
XXXV. RAISING US AND
MAKING US STAND BEFORE HIM
Through the divine dispensing God also raises the believers and makes them stand before Him. In 2 Corinthians 4:14 Paul says, "Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will make us stand before Him with you." This indicates that the apostles considered themselves dead persons (1:9), for they were always being delivered unto death for the Lord’s purpose (4:11). Their only hope was in God, who raised the Lord Jesus and who would raise them also. It was by such faith that they lived.
In 2 Corinthians 1:9 Paul confirmed the apostles’ experience of resurrection by God: "Indeed we ourselves had the response of death in ourselves, that we should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." When the apostles were under the pressure of affliction, despairing even of life, they might have asked themselves what the issue of their suffering would be. The answer or response was "death." This led them to the vital decision not to base their confidence on themselves but on God, who raises the dead. This shows us that the experience of death always ushers us into the experience of resurrection. When we are in all kinds of afflictions, passing through sufferings, pressures, and the killing work of the cross, our self is terminated that we may experience and enjoy God in resurrection.
(Truth Lessons, Level 2, Vol. 3, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)