GOD’S PURPOSE BEING ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH BUILDING
To be used by God to accomplish His eternal purpose, it is not enough for man to be created; man still needs to receive God so that God may be mingled and united with him. Therefore, after Adam was created, he was placed in front of the tree of life so that he could receive its fruit into him. I believe that now we are all clear about what the tree of life signifies. The tree of life not only signifies God, but even more it signifies the God who desires to be mingled with man by being life to man. At that time in the garden of Eden Adam was standing in front of the tree of life and had not received the tree of life into him. God was still outside of man, and man was also outside of God; the two had not yet been mingled together. Therefore, at that time Adam, though not fallen, could not fulfill God’s purpose.
At the end of Revelation, however, the situation is altogether different. There you see that the tree of life has already entered into the holy city, the New Jerusalem. We know that the city signifies all the saved ones throughout the generations, because on the twelve foundations of its wall are the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb and on its twelve gates are written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. This tells us that the city is a composition of all the saved ones in the Old Testament age, represented by the twelve tribes of Israel, and of all the saved ones in the New Testament age, represented by the twelve apostles.
There are two different pictures here. One picture is in the garden of Eden. Here man was facing the tree of life and had not yet taken it into him or been mingled with it. As a result, God’s eternal purpose was not yet accomplished through man. The other picture is at the end of Revelation. Both the saved ones in the Old Testament age and the redeemed ones in the New Testament age are there, and the tree of life has entered into them. Unlike the situation in the garden of Eden, where God was in front of man, now this God has entered into man to be life to man, is enthroned in man with His kingship, and has become man’s center. Therefore, in this picture the eternal purpose of God has been fully accomplished.
We can see from these two pictures that whether or not God’s purpose can be accomplished totally depends on whether or not God can come into man and be mingled and united with man, thereby becoming one with man. This mingling, this union, is the building. In the garden of Eden there was no building of God at all; thus, God and man were separate. But when the New Jerusalem appears, God’s building will be completed; thus, God and man will have been mingled together and will have become inseparable. At that time God Himself will be completely expressed through man, and also the enemy of God will be thoroughly dealt with. Hence, God’s eternal purpose can be accomplished only through God’s building.
GOD’S WORK THROUGHOUT THE GENERATIONS BEING TO BUILD HIMSELF INTO MAN
If we look at the picture of the New Jerusalem and the mingling of God and man revealed in it, we will see that the New Jerusalem is the crystallization of God’s building work throughout the generations. Over all these six thousand years God has been building Himself into man and building man into Himself. Today in the church age the Holy Spirit is also doing this building work in all the saved ones. All the work of the Holy Spirit today is for the building of God into us and the mingling of God with us.
Do we not have the sense that the Holy Spirit is constantly doing this kind of building work in us? A normal Christian surely has the Holy Spirit stirring, constituting, and mingling within him daily. Perhaps a brother or sister will say, “Oh, there has been no mingling of God within me for half a year already.” I admit that it is possible to have such a condition. But I am convinced that even while you are in the most fallen state, while you are so far away from God, within you there is still the stirring of the Holy Spirit. While you are loving the world and lusting after sins, outwardly you may be almost like a worldly person, but inwardly you are still different from them. When they commit sins and do evil things, they are fully at ease, having no feeling within at all. But when you sin, because you are a saved one, there is a stirring within that does not allow you to have peace. You may say, “I have not prayed for more than half a year.” I believe what you say, but I cannot believe that in the past half year you did not have any of God’s stirring. Sometimes you might not want to pray, yet inexplicably there is always an inner stirring that urges you to pray. When you look back at your Christian experience, there has been hardly a day in which you have been able to escape the stirring and moving of the Spirit of God within you. Please remember that this stirring, this moving, is God’s mingling, constituting, and building.
I often feel that to be a Christian is a marvelous thing. If you say that a Christian has peace, it is really true. However, if you say that a Christian has no peace, it is also very true. He has no peace when he loses his temper, and he also has no peace when he says something wrong. If he speaks too much, he has no peace; if he speaks too little, he also has no peace. If he does not pray, he has no peace; if he prays but not according to his inner sense, he also has no peace. He has no peace if he does not attend the meeting; he also has no peace if he attends the meeting but hurries to leave at its dismissal. Oh, a Christian has so many situations in which he has no peace! He experiences such stories from morning till evening. Please remember that all these instances of having no peace are the stirring of God and the moving of the Holy Spirit within. The more the Holy Spirit moves in you, the more God is constituted into you. We may say that the entire living of a Christian is the story of God’s moving and constituting Himself into man. However, some allow God to be constituted more deeply and solidly in them. Regrettably, however, others do not allow God to work that much in them.
(The Building Work of God, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)