FURTHER CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CHURCH IN THE TRIUNE GOD
In 2 Thessalonians 1:3 Paul says, “We ought to thank God always concerning you, brothers, even as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all to one another is increasing.” In this verse Paul speaks of two matters: faith growing and love increasing. The growth of faith and the increase of love are also conditions, requirements, of being the church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul continues, “But we ought to thank God always concerning you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” The matter of salvation in sanctification of the Spirit is profound. God has chosen us from the beginning unto this salvation in sanctification. This is related to a life in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is also a qualification of being a church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 14 says, “To which also He called you through our gospel unto the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here we see that God has called us unto the obtaining of His glory. Once again, this is an aspect of the life of the church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Second Thessalonians 2:16 says, “Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, Who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope in grace.” How profound! God has given us eternal encouragement and good hope in grace. Although we may not understand these matters adequately, we have nonetheless received them. We have an encouragement that is eternal and a hope that is good. God has given us both this encouragement and this hope in grace. This is marvelous! It is an incentive to have the church life in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are not without incentive, and we are not lacking in hope. Never say that you are hopeless. Instead, you should declare, “I am full of hope. I have a good hope, the hope God has given me in grace. Furthermore, with this good hope there is eternal encouragement.”
THE NEW MAN
In Colossians 3:10 and 11 Paul speaks of the church as the new man: “And having put on the new man, which is being renewed unto full knowledge according to the image of Him Who created him; where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all and in all.” The word image in verse 10 refers to Christ, God’s Beloved, as the very expression of God (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). The relative pronoun “who” in this verse refers to God the Creator, the One who created the new man in Christ (Eph. 2:15). As the embodiment of the Triune God, the church eventually will bear the image of God.
THE GOLDEN LAMPSTAND
In the Bible there are many different symbols of the church: the house of God, the kingdom of God, the habitation of God, the fullness of God, the warrior, the bride. In the book of Revelation the church is symbolized by a golden lampstand. In Revelation 1:12 the Apostle John says, “And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me; and having turned I saw seven golden lampstands.” Verse 20 of Revelation 1 says clearly, “The seven lampstands are seven churches.”
In Exodus 25 there is a description of a golden lampstand. That lampstand is a type of Christ. Christ is the embodiment of God, and the lampstand is a type of Christ as this embodiment. Elsewhere we have pointed out that the lampstand signifies the Triune God. The lampstand is gold in substance, in element. In typology gold signifies the divine nature, the nature of God the Father. Second, the gold of the lampstand is in a definite form. This form signifies God the Son. God the Father is the element, and God the Son is the form. Finally, the seven lamps of the lampstand signify the seven Spirits of God as God’s expression. As we consider the lampstand, therefore, we see the element signifying God the Father, we see the form signifying God the Son, and we see the seven lamps signifying the Spirit of God as the expression. Hence, the lampstand portrays the Triune God embodied in a single entity.
In Exodus 25 the lampstand is a type of Christ, but in Revelation 1 the lampstand signifies the church. Every church is a golden lampstand. This means that the church is the embodiment of the Triune God, for the church is an entity in the Triune God. Do you realize what the Lord is doing today? He is seeking to mold us, transform us, and conform us, the entire church, into the image of the Triune God. In this way all the churches become golden lampstands as the embodiment of the Triune God.
How blessed we are to see that the church is the embodiment of the Triune God! Our ears are blessed to hear this word. Many believers in the past never heard or saw anything concerning this. Hallelujah, we are in the church which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Now we are being transformed into the image of the Triune God and conformed to this image to be in reality and practicality the embodiment of the Triune God, having the Father as our element, the Son as our form, and the Spirit as our expression, shining the glory of the Triune God to the universe. This is the church filled with the Triune God.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)