God’s economy is God’s plan and purpose. In order for God to attain His plan and purpose, a process is needed. This process is God’s dispensing. To dispense is to distribute or to give out. This matter of dispensing is revealed in Ephesians 3:2 and Colossians 1:25-27. In these verses, the word stewardship, which is another translation of the Greek word oikonomia, implies dispensing. A stewardship is for distributing and supplying the foodstuff as well as all the daily necessities to the household members.
The first step taken by God to dispense Himself into man was His becoming flesh, His becoming a man (John 1:14a). God’s becoming flesh was for dispensing. John 1:14 says, "And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of an only begotten from a father), full of grace and reality." Grace and reality are for dispensing. First God dispenses, then man receives. John 1:16 continues by saying, "For of His fullness we all received, and grace upon grace." God became flesh so that He could come in His fullness to dispense grace and reality to us that we might receive His dispensing in full.
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone who believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." God’s giving of His Son was His dispensing which causes all those who believe into the Son to have eternal life. We who have believed in the Lord have the Lord Jesus within us. God so loved us that He gave His Son to us that we may have eternal life. The eternal life we have received is God’s Son, whom He has dispensed into us. The Son whom God has dispensed into us spoke the words of God, dispensing the Spirit not by measure (John 3:34). To speak the words of God is to dispense. Christ not only spoke the words of God but also dispensed God into us, dispensing the Spirit of God not by measure. This Spirit which has been dispensed into us not by measure is the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:19). The Spirit of Jesus Christ is the compound, all-inclusive, life-giving Spirit of the Triune God becoming our bountiful supply.
Acts 13:52 says, "And the disciples were made full of joy and of the Holy Spirit." This filling is the inward filling of the Holy Spirit for life, not for power; it is related to God’s dispensing. From God’s side, He gives us the Spirit not by measure; on our side, we receive the dispensing of the Holy Spirit in full that we may be inwardly filled with the Holy Spirit. Through the divine dispensing, we are filled with the Holy Spirit to become the fullness of Christ, the Body of Christ, the church, the fullness of the One who fills all in all (Eph. 1:23; 3:19). The ultimate result of the divine dispensing is the church, which is the ultimate consummation of the aggregate of God’s dispensing. This is the great and unlimited Body of Christ as God’s unlimited enlargement.
GOD’S ECONOMY AND DISPENSING
IN RELATION TO THE PRACTICAL
LIVING OF THE CHURCH
The church is produced out of God’s dispensing. This dispensing of God is according to His economy, plan, arrangement, rule, and ordination. As those who have been redeemed and regenerated, we are in the church life today. The reality of the church life depends upon our daily enjoyment of God’s dispensing. Whenever we enjoy His dispensing in our spirit, we have the rich supply from Him. This supply is the rich dispensing of the Spirit of life. The way to enjoy His dispensing is to eat and drink Him.
Through regeneration we receive God as life. We then need the nourishment of the milk conveyed in God’s word that we may grow in and by this life (1 Pet. 2:2). We also need to eat the solid food (Heb. 5:12-14). The milk is primarily for babes, and solid food is primarily for those who are more mature. Both the milk and the solid food are God’s word, which is actually God Himself. After we are regenerated, we daily need to drink the spiritual milk and eat the spiritual food in order to receive God’s dispensing continually. In this way we enjoy all of God’s riches so that we may live the proper church life. The proper church life is the result of God’s growth within us.
(Messages to the Trainees in Fall 1990, Chapter 19, by Witness Lee)