GROWTH IN LIFE DEPENDING ON OUR GROWING UP INTO CHRIST IN ALL THINGS
In order to grow in life and be built together we must pay attention to this one thing—growing up into Christ in all things. Concerning the building of the church, Ephesians 4:15 says that we need to grow up into Christ, the Head, in all things. We have been saved, and we are in the Lord, but we have to confess that even up to the present, in many things we have not yet grown up into the Lord. For example, many of us have not yet grown up into the Lord in the matter of speaking although we have been saved many years. Please look at your real situation and consider how loose your speaking is. You may refrain from speaking defiling words and insulting words, but in the matter of speaking your mouth and your tongue have never been restricted and regulated by God. You say things and spread words as you please.
One thing which often makes me sad is that words are spread much too quickly among the brothers and sisters. Many say that they cannot pray and read the Word properly because they are too busy. Someone may be so busy that he comes to the meetings only once a month. But the strange thing is that when the same person engages in idle talk and the spreading of rumors, this one can speak for three hours without end. Such a brother or sister does not know what it means to have a circumcised tongue. In the church much trouble is caused and much death is produced from idle talk. This means that our speech is unrestricted and has not been dealt with, and that we have not grown up into Christ, the Head, in the matter of speaking.
However, if you have learned this lesson and have grown up into Christ in the matter of speaking, when you contact and speak with others, Christ will be your confinement and your restriction, and He will guard your lips. You will sense that the Lord is not only your dwelling place but also your prison. Just as Paul said that he was a prisoner in Christ (3:1; 4:1), so everyone who abides in Christ is a prisoner in Christ, and as such, he cannot act freely or speak loosely.
This one thing is certain: when a person who is restricted in his words testifies for God or offers prayers and praises to the Lord, his mouth is open and his tongue is quick. Whenever he touches the things of God and the testimony of the Lord, his mouth is enlivened. This is because he is a person who is in the Lord and is growing up into Christ, the Head, in the matter of speaking.
This is not only the case in the matter of speaking, but it should be so in every matter of our daily living. Husbands, are you in the Lord in your dealing with your wife? Wives, are you in the Lord and do you grow up into Him in the way you treat your husband at home? Children, does your attitude toward your parents show that you are in the Lord? Is it under His restriction? Masters, are you in the Lord in the way you treat your servants? The book of Ephesians tells us that those who are masters must treat their servants with fairness in the Lord. In this matter, are we in the Lord in our words, in our attitude, in the tone of our voice, and in our intention and thoughts? Those of you who are government employees, how do you deal with your supervisors and colleagues? Are you loyal to your agency and to your job? Do you go to work on time? Do you perform your tasks faithfully? Do you bear your responsibilities seriously? Do you bear the difficulties with endurance? Do you really look like a person who is in Christ? This is the big question. Dear brothers and sisters, in all things we must grow up into Christ, the Head. If in a certain matter we are not growing up into Christ, then in that matter we cannot be joined to the saints. The more we grow up in all things, the more we are being joined to the saints.
THE REAL BUILDING DEPENDING ON THE GROWTH IN LIFE
We have to see, therefore, that the real building of the house of God depends on our growth in life. The more we grow, the more we are built up. Our growth in life is the increase of God in us. In the illustration that we gave earlier, the brother who was in the accident with the car was a saved person and had God as his life. Yet his heart was closed and hardened toward God, so God had no way to increase in him. God was put aside and had no place in him. However, after he was hit by a car and was hurt, while he was in suffering and in pain, he opened his inner being a little to let God in. When he prayed and fellowshipped with the brothers, the element of God in him increased, and he grew a little more.
Of course, this is an unusual illustration. God’s desire is that our heart would be open to Him, soft toward Him, and longing for Him, and that we would draw near to Him, eat Him, drink Him, enjoy Him, and digest Him inwardly, so that daily we would grow with the increase of God. Furthermore, God’s desire is that in all things we would learn to grow up into Christ, the Head, to submit under His authority, and to be under His ruling. If we would be serious about learning the lessons in all these matters, then God would be able to do the building work in us daily.
Let us now go back and meditate on the picture in Genesis 2. In this picture there was the tree of life in front of Adam, and there was also the river flowing. Wherever the river flowed, there was gold, pearl, and precious stones. Is this not also the scenery of the New Jerusalem? In the New Jerusalem we see the same three kinds of materials—the street is pure gold, the wall is built with precious stones, and the gates are pearls. Furthermore, a river of water of life flows in the middle of the street, and on this side and on that side of the river is the tree of life, growing and yielding its fruit each month. These two corresponding pictures show us that God does not use other materials for His building. He uses only gold, pearl, and precious stones. Gold denotes the nature of God, pearl denotes the new creation regenerated in Christ, and the precious stones denote the Holy Spirit’s constituting work. This means that the church must be built in the Triune God with His elements. Not only so, the two pictures also show us that gold, pearl, and precious stones are related to the flow of the river of water of life. They are the issues of the flowing of the river of water of life. The constant flowing of the life of God issues in gold, pearl, and precious stones and in the building up of the eternal building of God.
May the Lord have mercy on us to show us this vision so that we may daily live in God, eat God, drink God, and enjoy God, allowing God to move in us and to become one with us. This is to allow the tree of life and the water of life to continually supply us and flow within us. As a result, the element of God will be constituted into us, and we will be transformed within into gold, pearl, and precious stones. The more the element of God increases in us, the more we will grow and also the more there will be the building. When we are full-grown and fully built up, we will manifest the glory of God and become the expression of the New Jerusalem.
(The Building Work of God, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)