PAYING A PRICE
The Lord’s visitation marks the beginning of God’s use of man. Without the Lord’s visitation, we have no way to be called. Thus, it is the Lord’s responsibility to visit us. However, the Bible shows us that while the Lord has the responsibility of visiting, we also have a responsibility—the responsibility of paying a price (Matt. 8:19-22; 16:24-27; Luke 9:59-62). Moses and David in the Old Testament and Paul and Peter in the New Testament were those who paid a price through the Lord’s visitation. When the Lord met Paul on the road to Damascus, He did not immediately give him power, revelation, or gifts. Rather, the Lord told him to enter into the city and let a little disciple called Ananias tell him in just a few sentences what he had to do (Acts 9:5b-6, 10-17). Because Paul was willing to pay this price, he was greatly used by the Lord (Phil. 3:7-8). On the one hand, the Lord always visits man, but on the other hand, man must always pay a price. Therefore, our being useful to the Lord begins with His visitation but also depends on our willingness to pay a price.
The price one has to pay after answering the Lord’s call is limitless. No one can say that he has fully paid the price and that there is nothing more to pay. Not even the apostle Paul could say this. Instead, he was always forgetting the things which were behind and stretching forward to the things which were before, pursuing toward the goal, until one day he even gave up his life (vv. 12-14; 2 Tim. 4:6-8). When Paul wrote 2 Timothy chapter four, he had already paid almost all that he could have paid, yet he was still pressing on. All of us have been visited by the Lord, and the visitations we have received were the same. However, due to the differences in the price that each of us has paid, our usefulness in the Lord’s hands may differ from one to another. Because Paul paid a greater price than others, his usefulness was also greater than that of others.
Some might say that the Lord has mercy on whom He wills (Rom. 9:18). However, this word was spoken in regard to Gentiles, such as Pharaoh who had not yet been visited by God (vv. 15-17). We who have been saved by grace have already received the Lord’s visitation (Eph. 2:4-5, 8). Therefore, now the question is not whether we have received the Lord’s visitation but whether we are willing to pay a price. Our usefulness in the Lord’s hands altogether depends on the price we pay. If we pay a big price, our usefulness will be great; if we pay a small price, our usefulness will be limited.
Throughout the years the Lord’s visitation has not been rare, yet the Lord is constantly groaning because the price we are willing to pay is too small. This is why the Lord’s work today can only advance slowly and the Lord still cannot come back. The Bible shows us clearly that the Lord is waiting for man to pay a price and be used by Him by answering His call. In Isaiah 6:8 the Lord said, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for Us?” We may not have a deep enough understanding of this word. This word implies that the Lord has a great heart’s desire in the universe and that He is waiting for man to answer His call. He intends to work in every age, yet there is a shortage of people who are willing to pay the price and answer His call. Whenever there is someone on earth who is willing to pay the price and answer the Lord’s call, the Lord will surely use him. The extent of man’s answer determines the extent of the Lord’s use of man.
THE SCRIPTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF “GOING UP TO A MOUNTAIN”
The first person in the Bible to “go up to a mountain” was Noah. He arrived at the mountains of Ararat by being in the ark and passing through the flood (Gen. 8:1-5). The emphasis of the judgment by the flood was not on judging sin but on judging the God-offending world. Noah’s going up to a mountain symbolizes his being delivered from the judgment and escaping all the situations of rebellion against God. When he reached the mountain, all the situations of rebellion toward God were over. Therefore, in the Bible going up to a mountain to be before God firstly indicates deliverance from rebellion. Although the whole world had fallen into a state of rebellion against God, those who went to the mountain with Noah came out of the rebellion. Secondly, it indicates ascension to the heavens through death and resurrection. Because Noah had been delivered from rebellion and had gone through the flood—a type of the experience of death and resurrection—he entered into a new age to represent God’s authority on earth. The significance of Noah’s going up to a mountain is the same as all those who would go up to a mountain after him. Every time God leads someone up to a mountain, His intention is that this person would be delivered from rebellion and would pass through death and resurrection to enter into a situation of representing God’s authority on earth. This is a summary of the significance of man’s experience of going up to a mountain.
In the Bible there is another aspect of the significance of going up to a mountain—one goes up to a mountain for revelation. In many such instances, from Abraham’s going up to Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:1-2) to John’s being on the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:9; 21:10), the emphasis given to these experiences in the Scriptures is the receiving of revelation. Abraham’s going up to Mount Moriah was originally for consecration, but in the end it was for revelation. By going up to a mountain Abraham came to know God as Jehovah-jireh and to know God’s work on earth, because God’s promise to Abraham was concerning the work He would accomplish on earth. Following Abraham, Moses and Elijah also received revelation when they went up to a mountain (Exo. 19:20; 1 Kings 18:42). In the New Testament the Lord’s bringing His disciples up to a mountain was also for revelation (Matt. 5:1). Finally, John’s being brought up to a mountain when he was on the island of Patmos was especially for receiving revelation. In John’s experience of going up to a mountain we see the ultimate significance of this matter—being delivered from rebellion, passing through death and resurrection, representing God’s authority on earth, and receiving an exceedingly mysterious revelation.
The fact that one must go up to a mountain to receive revelation indicates that the receiving of revelation requires the paying of a price. In other words, to go up to a mountain is to pay a price. The Lord’s teaching on the mountain in Matthew 5—7 came after His teaching in the synagogues (4:23) and was also apart from His teaching in the synagogues. The teaching in the synagogues was common, general, and heard by a great number of people. However, after teaching in the synagogues, the Lord brought His disciples to the mountain. The teaching on the mountain was the teaching concerning the kingdom of the heavens; this teaching was high, specific, and heard only by a few who came to the Lord by following Him up the mountain. To go up to a mountain is to pay a price and come to the Lord by drawing near to Him. Throughout the generations very few have been able to understand the teaching in Matthew 5—7, because very few have been willing to pay a price.
If we want to receive revelation, we must determine to willingly pay a price, and we must also draw near to the Lord within. These are the basic requirements for us to have the experience of going up to a mountain and for us to receive revelation. It was by fulfilling such requirements—paying a price and drawing near to the Lord—that Abraham, Moses, and the Lord’s disciples were able to receive revelation. It was especially so in the case of John on the island of Patmos; he received the revelation while he was paying a price and drawing near to the Lord on the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10). We all should learn this lesson.
(How to Be Useful to the Lord, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)