THE ECONOMY OF GOD
AND THE MARK OF GOD’S ECONOMY
Scripture Reading: 2 Cor. 4:3-7; Gen. 1:26-27; Isa. 9:6; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 3:17; John 1:1, 14; 20:22
Second Corinthians 4:3 and 4 say, “Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in those who are perishing, in whom the god of this age has blinded the thoughts of the unbelievers that the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine on them.” According to verse 4, the gospel of the glory of Christ shines. The enemy is afraid of this shining, so he has blinded the minds of the unbelievers in order that the shining of the gospel of the glory of Christ will not get through. Verses 5 and 6 continue, “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The gospel of the glory of Christ in verse 4 corresponds with the knowledge of the glory of God in verse 6. Verse 7 says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.” The treasure in the weak earthen vessels is the very God in Christ shined into us.
THE ECONOMY OF GOD
BEING TO WORK HIMSELF INTO US
If we read the entire Scriptures carefully, we will realize that they reveal only one main item: the economy of God and the mark of God’s economy. The main item of the economy of God is that God’s intention is to work Himself in His triune person into all the parts of our being. I have the burden to tell the Lord’s children a thousand times, if need be, that in the whole universe God’s intention is nothing else but to work Himself into human beings. For what purpose did God create man? It was for the unique purpose of making man His container. A container is a vessel, like a bottle or a cup. Romans 9:21-23 and 2 Corinthians 4:7 tell us clearly that God created us with the intention that we may be vessels, containers, to contain God Himself. We are nothing but empty containers, and God is the unique content.
A drink such as Coca-Cola needs a bottle as a container. Soda bottles are very definite and specific containers, because they are made with a definite and specific purpose. We human beings are also made in a very definite and specific way. If a bottle made purposely for Coca-Cola does not contain Coca-Cola, it is meaningless, good for nothing. We human beings were made purposely to contain God. If we do not contain God, if we do not have God as our content, we are meaningless persons. Regardless of how much education we have, what kind of position we have obtained, or how much wealth we have in our hands, without God we are still meaningless, because we were made purposely as containers to contain God. God is the very content, so we have to receive God into us.
This word may seem very simple, but it is the precise way to speak the central point, the main item, of the entire Scriptures. The whole Scriptures simply tell us one thing: God is the very content, and we are the container to contain this content; therefore, we must receive God to be filled with God. This is the basic teaching of the Scriptures. There are many things mentioned in the Scriptures, but all those items are not the basic item of the Scriptures. The basic item of the Scriptures is that God’s intention is to put Himself into us as our content.
GOD BEING TRIUNE FOR HIS ECONOMY
TO WORK HIMSELF INTO US
In order to do this, God is triune. This is mysterious to us. We can never understand the mystery of God’s person. We can never give an adequate explanation of the verses that speak concerning the Triune God. It is very clear that there is only one God. Portions in Exodus and Isaiah tell us clearly and definitely that God is one, and in the New Testament 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “There is one God.” However, in the first chapter of Genesis God spoke of Himself using not the singular pronoun I but the plural pronouns Us and Our.
In the grammatical composition of Genesis 1:1, the Hebrew word for God, Elohim, is plural in number, while the predicate created is singular. Therefore, is God one or three? Genesis 1:26 and 27 say, “God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of heaven and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. And God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Verse 26 speaks of “Our image,” and verse 27 speaks of “His own image.” Is God singular or plural? Who can explain this? God Himself used a plural pronoun to refer to Himself: “Let Us make man in Our image.” Is God one or more than one? To say that God is more than one is heresy, because the Bible tells us that God is only one. In the whole universe we have only one God; we do not have more than one God, yet the one God needs a plural pronoun to refer to Himself.
Isaiah 9:6 says, “A child is born to us, / A Son is given to us; / And the government / Is upon His shoulder; / And His name will be called / Wonderful Counselor, / Mighty God, / Eternal Father, / Prince of Peace.” The little child born to us is called Mighty God. The child mentioned in this prophecy is the very child born in the manger at Bethlehem, but this little child is called Mighty God. Not only so, but the Son given to us is called Eternal Father. This is very strange. How can a Son be called the Father? A child is called Mighty God. Is He a child or God? A Son is called Eternal Father. Is He a Son or the Father? We cannot figure this out, but if we believe the authority of the Scriptures, we have to take the fact that a Son is called the Father. This means that the Son is the Father. If the Son were not the Father, how then could He be called the Father? We have only one God. Who then is this little child whose name is called Mighty God? The little child is Jesus. This means that Jesus is God. If He were not God, how could He be called Mighty God, and how could the Son be called Eternal Father?
Second Corinthians 3:17 says, “The Lord is the Spirit.” The Lord here is Jesus Christ, and the Spirit is the Holy Spirit, yet this verse says that the Lord is the Spirit. The Son is called the Father, the Son is the very Lord, and the Lord is the Spirit. This means that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one. We do not have the time to go into detail concerning the Triune God. Rather, we will simply stress that in carrying out His economy to work Himself into us, God is in three persons. Without being three—the person of the Father, the person of the Son, and the person of the Spirit—God could never work Himself into us. In order to work Himself into us, God must be in three persons.
Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This verse does not speak of being baptized “into Christ,” as in Romans 6:3, or of being baptized into the name of Christ. Rather, it says, “baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Moreover, the Lord did not say “into the names” but “into the name” in the singular number.
We cannot fully illustrate the Father, Son, and Spirit in our human language because this is something divine and mysterious, but we may use the illustration of a large watermelon. We may have the intention of eating a watermelon, or we may say, of working a watermelon into ourselves and into our family. Yet how can we work this melon into our stomach? We must first cut the melon into slices. Then after the slices of melon get into our stomach, they become juice. First we have the whole watermelon, then the slices, and then the juice. Otherwise, how can we get the melon into us? It is bigger than our mouth, throat, and stomach. The melon has to become slices. Then it can contact our mouth, and it is so easy to take in. However, as soon as we take in the slices, they are no more slices but juice. Are the melon, slices, and juice three things or one? Is the juice not the melon? It is foolish to say that the juice is not the melon. After being cut, the watermelon is not only a melon; now it is the slices, and within us it is juice. Originally, the melon was on the table, but after we eat it, the melon seems to be gone. Where is the melon? It is now in us and in the members of our family. In this sense, to speak of the melon, slices, and juice is the best “teaching” of the theology of the Trinity. God is now not only the Father; He is also the Son and even the more, He is the Spirit.
I would ask you to read and study the Gospel of John again and again. In the Gospel of John there is the Father, and there is the Son. Eventually, when we come to chapter 20, there is the Spirit as the breath (v. 22). In this one Gospel we have the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as the breath breathed into us. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then verse 14 says, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” The Word who was with God and who was God Himself became flesh, that is, became a man to dwell not within us but only among us. He lived on this earth for thirty-three and a half years and eventually went into death and was resurrected. After His resurrection He came in a mysterious, miraculous, and wonderful way. On the evening of His resurrection, the door to the upper room was shut, yet He came to the disciples with a physical body, showing them His hands and His side (20:19-20). We cannot understand this with our natural understanding. Then He breathed into the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (v. 22).
At the beginning of this Gospel there is the Word, who is God Himself incarnated as a man. Then the Gospel shows this man living on the earth for three and a half years. At the end of this Gospel, this wonderful One died and resurrected, and then He came to the disciples and breathed into them. That breath breathed into the disciples was the very Holy Spirit. That was the “juice of the watermelon.” From that time on, where was the Jesus spoken of in the Gospel of John? John does not tell us that Jesus ascended to heaven. There is such a record in the other Gospels, but the Gospel of John has no such record. Rather, just as the watermelon gets into our stomach, this Jesus was now within the disciples.
God has wrought Himself into us in His three persons. I am here not teaching mere theology. Rather, I am pointing out that this is God’s economy. God’s economy is to work Himself into us in His three persons. Without being in three persons, God could never be wrought into us, just as the watermelon could never be wrought into us without being cut into slices and taken as juice.
(Dealing with Our Inward Parts for the Growth in Life, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)