GOD’S SPIRIT OF LIFE AS THE WAY TO SERVE IN THE CHURCH LIFE
Being the Essence of the Church, the Body
Now let us come to this message. The first point says that God’s Spirit of life is the essence of the church, the Body. The essence and element of the church is the Spirit; it is not you or I. This is like saying that the element of the podium is wood. Ephesians 4 tells us that there is “one Body and one Spirit.’’ This means that the Spirit is the essence of the Body. Without the Spirit, there is no Body, in the same way that without wood, there is no podium here. The essence of the church is the Spirit. When we come together, regardless of how long we have been saved, if we are not in the Spirit, we are not the church, but are only a human congregation. Among the descendants of Adam, there are the good ones and the bad ones, the right ones and the wrong ones. But whoever they are, they are all human beings. If it is man that is the person and essence, there will be no church. The essence and person of the church is the Spirit. All the problems and storms in the church arise because of failure to remain in the Spirit. If we are in the Spirit, there will not be any of these things. All gossiping, arguments, and rumors come from man’s flesh, the natural life, and the self. For this reason, we all have to turn to the spirit and walk according to the spirit, because we are not the essence of the church; only the Spirit within us is the essence of the church. This is like saying that the essence of light is electricity, and not the light bulb or the light tube. Those are but the means for the light to go through. Without electricity, there will be no light. We are all like the light bulbs or the light tubes. We are not the essence of the church. The essence is the spiritual electricity, which is the Spirit.
Based on 1 Corinthians 12:13, we the believers of all races, nationalities, and social statuses have been baptized in one Spirit into one Body. This is like the electricity in the many electrical appliances. As far as the appliances are concerned, they are separate. But as far as the electricity is concerned, they are one. All of us have been baptized into one Body in this Spirit of God as the essence. This has been done once for all. But today, we are made to drink together of this essential Spirit of God. This is continuous. Just like breathing, we need this everywhere, every day and every hour. This is why the Bible says that we have to pray unceasingly. It means that we have to drink constantly of God’s Spirit of life. From this we can see that for us, there are two sides to the Spirit. On the one hand, He is the economical Spirit. This is on the side of function; it baptizes us into one Body. On the other hand, He is the essential Spirit. This is on the side of life; it enables us to drink of Him as our life supply.
Being the Power in the Church Life
Second, God’s Spirit of life is the power in the church life. Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is...righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’’ This shows that the practical church life is the kingdom life. The church is not a place without administration; it is the sphere of God’s rule. This life is one of righteousness, peace, and joy. Righteousness is towards ourselves; it requires that we be just and strict. Peace is towards others; it requires us to be meek. Joy is to God; we need to sing and praise the Lord. This is the genuine church life, and it is the reality of God’s kingdom. It must be carried out in the Holy Spirit. Only when we are in the Holy Spirit can we be righteous to ourselves, peaceful to others, and joyful to God. For this, we have to exercise our spirit to be filled with God’s Spirit of life to be the power in our church life.
Filling the Believers to Become the Church with the Full-grown Stature as the Fullness, the Expression of God
Third, God’s Spirit of life is filling the believers to become the church with the full-grown stature as the fullness, the expression of God (Eph. 3:16-17, 19). When there is adequate filling of God’s Spirit of life, the stature will be full-grown, and there will be the fullness of God, which is His expression. For this reason, all of us have to be filled with the Spirit. Philippians 2:13-14 shows us that when God operates within us, we will not murmur or reason. In the church life, in order not to have any murmurings or reasonings, there is the need for the growth of the stature, and the growth of the stature depends on the filling of God’s Spirit of life. Hence, Ephesians 3:16 tells us that God will strengthen us into the inner man through His Spirit. Our inner man is our spirit. When we call on the name of the Lord, we will be turned from our human mind and emotion back to our spirit. In this way, Christ will make home in our heart. Our heart, including all the ground in our mind, emotion, will, and conscience, will be given to Him. He will take control and will supply and strengthen all our inward parts. All of this process depends on the working of God’s Spirit of life.
Being the Source of All the Gifts and Functions in the Service of the Church, the Body
Fourth, God’s Spirit of life is the source of all the gifts and functions in the service of the church, the Body (1 Cor. 12:1-11). We have covered our living; here it speaks of our service. The more our living is according to the first three points above, the more our gifts will be manifested, and the more function we will have. The reason our gifts are not manifested and our functions not developed is that our stature is not full-grown and that we have not allowed Christ to make home in our hearts enough. In other words, we have not allowed God’s Spirit of life to fill us up enough. We have to realize that everything related to the living, the service, and the way of the church depends on God’s Spirit of life. When this Spirit has the ground in us, Christ will be able to expand and make home in our hearts. In this way, we will have a way to practice the church life, a way to practice the church service, and a way for the church itself. Hence, God’s Spirit of life as life within us is our way in everything.
(A message given by Brother Witness Lee in Anaheim, California, on January 27, 1990)
(God's Way in Life, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)