RECEIVING THE REVELATION
CONCERNING THE WORK OF CHRIST
After receiving the revelation concerning the Person of Christ, we need to receive a revelation concerning His work. The work of Christ is composed of four major items: His ministry on earth, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His ascension. In this chapter we will consider the first two items of Christ’s work, and in the following chapter we will consider the last two items.
HIS MINISTRY ON EARTH
The first item of Christ’s work is His ministry on the earth. As a man the Lord Jesus lived on this earth for thirty-three and a half years, but it was not until the last three and a half years that He came out to minister. In His ministry He did many things for God, and He did many things for man. The New Testament contains four Gospels to tell us what He did in His ministry on the earth. If we do not spend time and pay full attention to find out the different aspects of Christ’s ministry portrayed in each of the four Gospels, we will have only a general knowledge of His ministry on the earth. We might consider that the four Gospels are nearly the same, with only slight differences in presentation; but this is absolutely not the case.
In Matthew—Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom
and Bringing In the Kingdom of the Heavens
In Matthew we see that Christ came out to preach a particular gospel, the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:17). This is different from the gospel of grace and from the gospel of forgiveness. It is the gospel of the kingdom, and it brings people into the kingdom of the heavens. Matthew tells us that this Christ brought in the kingdom of the heavens and that He even gave the keys of the kingdom of the heavens to one of His disciples, Peter (Matt. 16:18-19). Today few Christians have an adequate knowledge concerning the kingdom of the heavens, concerning the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and concerning what it means to bring the kingdom of the heavens to people or to bring people into the kingdom of the heavens.
In Mark—Preaching the Gospel of God
and Sowing the Seed of the Kingdom of God
Following Matthew’s Gospel, Mark tells us that this Christ preached the gospel of God (Mark 1:1, 14). We might consider that the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of God are just one gospel. However, just as we see a different view of one person from different angles, we also see different aspects of this wonderful gospel in each of the four Gospels. Viewing the gospel from one side, we see in Matthew the gospel of the kingdom which brings sinners into a heavenly kingdom. From another side, we see in Mark the gospel of God which brings sinners into God. Mark presents Christ as the One who brings us into God, whereas Matthew presents Christ as the One who brings us into the kingdom of the heavens. Today, this same Christ is still preaching the gospel of God to bring us into God, and He is still preaching the gospel of the kingdom to bring us into the kingdom of the heavens. I hope that we all may have at least some experience and enjoyment of Christ in this way. Then we will say, "Oh Lord, You are the One who brings me into God, and You are the One who brings me into the kingdom of the heavens. I enjoy You not only as my Redeemer and my Savior but as the One who brings me into God and into the kingdom of the heavens."
In Matthew Christ brought in the kingdom of the heavens, and in Mark He sowed Himself as the seed of the kingdom (Mark 4:1-20). We may use the planting of a carnation seed as an illustration. First, we have only the carnation seed. Then we sow the seed of the carnation into a field, and the seed grows, bringing forth the blossom of the carnation. Soon in that field we will see a garden full of carnation blossoms. That is the kingdom of carnation. What is the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God is just God blossoming. Jesus came to sow Himself as the seed of God into man’s heart. Man’s heart is the field, and Jesus as the seed of God is growing in our heart. When this seed in our heart blossoms, it becomes a garden of God. This garden is the kingdom of God, a garden with God blossoming. This garden today is the church. Today in Japan there is such a little garden, a garden of God with God blossoming. The proper church life is the kingdom of God, which is God blossoming from within so many believers.
(The Secret of Experiencing Christ, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)