The Economy and Dispensing of God, by Witness Lee

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Here we need to see God’s economy and dispensing. What is the goal of God’s economy? The goal of God’s economy is a corporate expression. For this reason, in the Old Testament God created man according to His image and after His likeness (Gen. 1:26) so that He might put Himself into man and be man’s life, that man might become one with Him and express and represent Him. In Genesis, first God gained one man, Jacob. After being dealt with and transformed by the Lord, Jacob became God’s Israel. By the end of Exodus, God had gained the descendants of Jacob as the nation of Israel, and the tabernacle was erected to be God’s moving habitation on earth for the expression of His glory. At the time of David and Solomon, the temple was built as God’s permanent and expanded habitation on earth to express His glory in a full way. Later, because of the fall of the Israelites, the temple was destroyed. At the end of the Old Testament, the temple was rebuilt and continued to be God’s habitation on earth for the expression of His glory. This lasted until the beginning of the New Testament.

In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus, who is God Himself, came as a man to be God’s tabernacle on earth that God might dwell on earth and express Himself (John 1:14, 18). The Lord Jesus lived a human life for thirty-three and a half years. Then He passed through death and resurrection to become the life-giving Spirit, and He entered into His believers (John 20:22). This tabernacle expanded to become the church, becoming God’s habitation on earth as God’s full expression. Finally, the Lord shows us that the New Jerusalem will be the ultimate consummation of Christ and the church. As such, it will be the tabernacle for God’s dwelling and the temple for the saints’ dwelling in eternity (Rev. 21:3, 22). The New Jerusalem will be the eternal and corporate expression of God.

This is what God is after. God saves us for this. He regenerates us, transforms us, makes us spiritual, and causes us to be seeking, all for this. We are not saved, regenerated, transformed, spiritual, or seeking, for ourselves. Rather, we become such in order that we may be delivered from the natural life and the self so that we can be built up with all the saints into God’s habitation. This is God’s economy and dispensing. It is not a matter of right or wrong, gain or loss.

If it were a matter of right and wrong, then even Paul could be condemned by the Corinthians. They accused Paul of being crafty and taking them by guile, saying that he indemnified himself by sending Titus to receive the collection for the poor Jewish saints (2 Cor. 12:16). But Paul said that he would not examine himself by the standard of right and wrong. He said that though he was conscious of nothing against himself, he was not justified by this. He would not judge anything before the time, but would wait until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then there will be praise to each one from God (1 Cor. 4:3-5). Paul did not care if others judged him as right or wrong; he was a person who was for God’s economy. He suffered his whole life and was even martyred. In Colossians 1:24 he said, "I...fill up that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His Body, which is the church."

When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He too was condemned and criticized. The Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the scribes criticized Him much. No matter what the Lord Jesus did, and no matter where He went, they voiced their objections. It seemed to them that the Lord Jesus was wrong in everything and that only they were right. Hence, today in the church we should not speak of right and wrong. Rather, we should know what God’s economy is and what His dispensing is. Even our taking the new way must be with a goal, which is to arrive at and enter into God’s economy. We should not merely pursue after spirituality. We should pursue spirituality for the sake of God’s economy. When we truly pursue spirituality for the sake of God’s economy, we will truly be delivered from right and wrong and from any personal gain or loss.

(The Economy and Dispensing of God, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)