REALIZING THE SUFFICIENT GRACE OF THE LORD
We must not forget, however, that without water in the pot the fire will burn the food. We need the fire and we need the water. While our dear wife is cooking us, we must call, “O Lord Jesus.” Then the water comes in. This is the way we realize the sufficient grace of the Lord. We should now realize that teaching cannot help us. Teaching can do nothing for us. Paul performed many miracles, but he had a thorn in his flesh (12:7-8). Bible students agree that the thorn must have been a physical disease or ailment. Surely this was not merely a cold or the flu. This must have been something very painful to his physical body. He prayed definitely three times, asking the Lord to take out the thorn, but there was no miracle. It was as if the Lord said, “Do not pray in this way. I will not answer such a prayer. I will allow the thorn to prick you, to put you down, that you may experience My grace and My power.” This is the working of grace and power into us through sufferings, not by teaching or by the gifts, but by the experience of transformation, the spiritual cooking.
The grace of the Lord is the Lord Himself, and the power of the Lord is the Lord Himself. “My grace is sufficient for you” means that the Lord is sufficient for you. We have to take Him, and He has to work Himself into us. The working of the Lord’s grace can never be accomplished by mere teachings or gifts. It must be by the cooking. When some of the experienced saints speak about the Lord’s grace and power, we have the realization that they have something real and weighty. But when some younger ones speak the same thing, using the same words, we do not sense anything real because with them there has not been the sufficient cooking or working of grace.
GROWTH BY LIFE AND TRANSFORMATION
We must not think that the Lord’s recovery is a mere revival. The Lord’s recovery is the Lord’s doing to bring us back to the beginning—to life and the transformation of life. It is by this life with transformation by life that the Lord can have a proper church life for the preparation of His bride. There is no other way. Every revival is something that comes and goes. I have seen many revivals come and go. Some lasted for up to two years, while others lasted less than half a year. In this country it is easy to see various movements, and some reports of them appear in the newspapers and magazines. However, after not too long they are gone. Revivals come and go.
The church life, on the other hand, is an orchard. In an orchard there is planting, fertilizing, watering, caring, and growing. Day by day the trees in an orchard appear the same, but after a few years the trees are grown up, and after another few years they all bear fruit. This is not a revival. This is growth. The church life in the Lord’s recovery is exactly like this. We cannot expect that a church in a locality will be built up overnight. If it is, it must be artificial. Artificial flowers may be mass produced overnight, but genuine flowers do not grow in this way. Growth is always steady but slow. We all have to be encouraged to go on, but we should not expect that the church life will grow quickly. However, we will see results in the long run. All the movements will come and go like the sun rising and setting, but the church will still be here. After a few years, if the Lord delays, we will see the church life grow. This growth is by life and by transformation.
Many people today talk much about 1 Corinthians 12, but they rarely speak of 2 Corinthians. It is as if they do not have 2 Corinthians in their Bible. They may even be afraid of 2 Corinthians. However, for the Lord’s recovery, we need 2 Corinthians more than 1 Corinthians. In this book there are no more gifts and no more mere teachings. Rather, there are suffering, troubling, perplexing, putting to death, and consuming, and there are no miraculous answers to prayer. It is by all these means that the church life is being built.
I look to the Lord that we all could see these matters and where we are in the Lord’s recovery. We need life, we need growth, and we need transformation. Growth comes from life, and transformation comes from growth plus suffering. So we need the water inside, and we need the fire outside. By this we will have the adequate building up of the church.
ALL THINGS WORKING TOGETHER FOR OUR CONFORMATION TO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST
Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers.” If we put these two verses together, we can see that all things work together for good that we might be conformed to the image of Christ. In Romans 8 there is firstly the Spirit, the “water,” and then there are the “all things.” All things in Greek means not only all things but all persons, all entities. All things, persons, and entities work together for good. This is a fact; this is the environment. The Spirit within is the water, and the environment with all things is the fire. Many Christians pay attention to the Spirit in Romans 8, but they do not pay attention to the “all things,” and they do not understand that all things work together for our good that we may be conformed to the image of Christ.
First Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has taken you except that which is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow that you be tempted beyond what you are able, but will, with the temptation, also make the way out, that you may be able to endure it.” This is a consolation. God knows how much we can suffer. Sisters who cook know how high the heat should be. If the heat is too high, the food will burn. God also makes the way out. The way out is up to Him. Do not try to escape by yourself. God allows temptation, and God also makes the way out that we may be able to endure it. In this regard 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” The Lord is sovereign. We are the “Jacobs.” We can supplant and struggle, but the Lord will still give us an “Esau” and a “Laban” (Gen. 27:41; 31:36-41). This is for our transformation and conformation to the image of Christ.
(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)