KNOWING LIFE IN OUR EXPERIENCE
After our consecration there are three basic matters of life that we need to know: the fellowship of life, the consciousness of life, and the law of life. To a greater or lesser degree, these matters are neglected in today’s Christianity. I have no intention to condemn others, but I must speak the truth. I have read many books and have listened to messages, and I am sorry for the situation of Christianity today. Here and there in various groups of Christians, people talk about life, but life is often just a term or an “-ology.” A brother once testified that when he came among us, he found that we always talk about life; almost all the messages in our conferences and trainings concentrated on life. He asked himself, “Why do these people always say ‘life.’ Why don’t they say ‘the Spirit?’” Later, however, the Lord opened his eyes to see the meaning of life and the meaning of Spirit.
If we do not know the three basic matters mentioned above, we will not be able to know what life is. In theology, in terminology, and in teaching we may know life, but we will not know life in our experience, and we will not be on the line of life. However, if we do know the fellowship of life, the sense or taste of life, and the law of life, then we know what life is in our experience.
LIFE PRODUCING THE FELLOWSHIP OF LIFE IN TWO DIRECTIONS
The scriptural basis for the fellowship of life is 1 John 1. The Gospel of John is a book on life, showing how to have and receive life, while the First Epistle of John is on the fellowship of life. After we receive the eternal life in Christ, that is, Christ as our life, we need to pay attention to the fellowship of life. That is why the Epistle of John comes after the Gospel of John.
First John 1 is one of the greatest chapters in the entire Scriptures. Because it is one of the few chapters on the fellowship of life, it holds an extraordinary position. Other passages speak of the fellowship of the Spirit, such as 2 Corinthians 13:14, but John speaks of the fellowship of life. The first two verses of 1 John 1 say, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life (and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and report to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us).” While verse 1 speaks of the Word of life, verse 2 simply says life. The life which was with the Father and was manifested to us is the Son of God, Christ Himself.
Verse 3 continues, “That which we have seen and heard we report also to you that you also may have fellowship with us, and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” The apostles ministered life to the believers in a practical and real way. As a result, the believers had fellowship. Since fellowship comes from life, we call it the fellowship of life. Moreover, this fellowship is “with us,” the apostles. The apostles saw life, and they ministered this life that we may have fellowship with them. In addition, our fellowship is with the Father and His Son. Here is a fellowship in two directions, vertical and horizontal. Horizontally we fellowship with one another, and vertically we fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. From life we have fellowship, and this fellowship is with the saints and with the Triune God.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF LIFE BEING UNIQUE
Verse 3 speaks of the fellowship with the apostles. The fellowship in the Body is the fellowship of the apostles. Acts 2:42 says, “And they continued steadfastly in the teaching and the fellowship of the apostles, in the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Four things are mentioned here, but according to the grammatical construction, only two things are of the apostles. The teaching and fellowship are of the apostles, while the breaking of bread and the prayers are not. We can have no other teaching than that of the apostles. Any teaching other than the apostles’ is heresy. Likewise, we cannot have any fellowship other than the apostles’ fellowship. Among the saints there is only one fellowship because there is only one life, one source of life, one Lord of life, Christ Himself. The Lord Christ is the unique source of this unique life, so from this unique life we have the unique fellowship. We cannot say that the saints in the ancient time had one fellowship while we have another. Neither can we say that the brothers in the Far East have one fellowship, but here we have another. In the universe, among all the saints—east and west, ancient and modern—we have only one fellowship, the fellowship that comes from the unique life which is Christ Himself.
(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)