The Experience of Christ as Life for the Building Up of the Church, by Witness Lee


In this building no human hand can avail, because this growth is not in our hand. Paul said that both he who plants and he who waters are nothing (v. 7). Paul and Apollos are nothing. What counts is God Himself who gives the growth. We cannot do anything with our human hand. We cannot organize a church, but we can plant and water so that God can go along with our ministry to give the growth in life. Then something of Christ will grow up within others to transform them into precious material for God’s building. This is absolutely not something organized by the human hand but something of the growth in life by God’s life-giving power.

Ephesians 2:21 says that all the building is growing into a holy temple in the Lord. If there is no growth, there is no building. The building grows into a temple. We cannot organize something to be the house of God. The house of God is something that grows up. Ephesians 4 says that we need to hold Christ as the reality that we may grow up in all things into Christ as the Head (v. 15). First, we grow into Christ. Then all the Body receives something of Christ to minister to the members. By this kind of ministry, the Body is built up by growing (v. 16). Again we see the growth and the building.


Colossians 2:19 says that the real building of the Body depends on the growth, and this growth comes from the growth of God. God is eternally perfect and complete, but this verse says that God grows. God in Himself needs no growth, but in us He needs the growth. God is complete in Himself, but He is not complete in us. The growth of the Body of Christ has nothing to do with the doctrinal knowledge of the Bible, the way of worship, or any such matter. Rather, the growth of the Body depends on the growth of God, the increase of God’s element, in the Body. We need the growth of God within us.

God has to be added into our being again and again. This is why we are told that we need to be filled unto all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19). We have a little bit of God within us, but we need more of Him added to us. When we are filled with God, we will be "crazy" to speak about Christ. When Paul was defending himself before King Agrippa, the Roman politician Festus exclaimed, "You are insane, Paul. Much learning is driving you insane" (Acts 26:24). Then Paul said, "I am not insane, most excellent Festus, but I am uttering words of truth and soberness" (v. 25). Actually Paul was crazy for Christ because he was filled with God. If you are filled unto the fullness of God, you will speak about Christ all the time. We need to be filled with God for the growth of God. God has to increase within us day by day. We grow not by the increase of gifts, the increase of knowledge, or the increase of moral or ethical attainment. We grow only by the increase of God.

Let us consider two brothers. One brother is always adjusting himself to fit into certain situations. He is always nice and willing to be adjusted. We may mistakenly think that this is a very good brother who is full of life. Another brother is rough and tough. He is not very willing to be adjusted. But at times he is touched by the life-giving Spirit. You can realize that even though he is rough, there is the increase of God within him. This is the growth in life. If you would prefer the brother who is outwardly nice instead of the other brother who is inwardly experiencing the increase of God, this shows that you do not know what life is.

If we were asked to choose between Jacob and Esau, many of us would prefer Esau. Jacob was a supplanter, a heel holder, who was skilled at cheating others. He did not cheat others to their face but at their "heels." Jacob was someone who would cheat you behind your back. It seems that God was not fair to choose Jacob over Esau. God said that He loved Jacob and hated Esau (Rom. 9:13). Because Jacob cheated his brother Esau, he was forced to leave his home and go to his uncle Laban. While he was on his journey, he was forced to sleep in the open air, and he had a wonderful dream. When he awoke from that dream, he declared that the place where he slept was Bethel, the house of God. He set up the stone, upon which he had laid his head, as a pillar and poured oil upon it (Gen. 28:10-22). God’s hand was upon him, not to do some outward correcting or adjusting work but to do an inner transforming work. God eventually told him that he would no longer be called Jacob but Israel (32:28). He would no longer be a supplanter but a prince of God.

What are we doing here in the church? Are we correcting, adjusting, and improving people? If we are doing this, we are in religion. It is the work of Confucius to improve people. Instead, we are here planting and watering that God may follow to give the growth so that people can be transformed into precious material for God’s building. To grow and be transformed is to have God increasing in you all the time.

(The Experience of Christ as Life for the Building Up of the Church, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)