By going through the whole Bible in this way we can see what is in God’s plan, God’s economy, God’s arrangement, God’s administration. This is the very thing which the enemy of God hates so much. Throughout all the generations, the enemy has done and is still doing his best to frustrate, to damage, to spoil, and even to disrupt this very matter.
What Satan, the enemy of God, has always been doing is of two steps. First, if possible, he would hinder, frustrate, and prevent people from coming to the Lord Jesus to receive Him as their Savior. Next, if he could not do this, he will allow people to believe in Christ, but he will try to frustrate them from being built up together with others as the church.
The old enemy Satan considers the second matter more serious than the first. He knows God’s intention in the whole universe is to have a house, a Body, a corporate container. As long as he can frustrate God from having His house, Satan is satisfied. Regardless of how much material and how many precious things there are, as long as the house is not there, it is all right with Satan. Look into the history of Christianity and the situation today; then you will realize what the enemy’s intention is. The goal, the intention, of Satan is to spoil, to frustrate, and to hinder the building which God desires to accomplish.
I have the full assurance that in these last days the Lord is doing something to recover the church life, the building of His Body, the building of His house. The present age is the age of the church, and God’s aim, God’s goal, is to have a church, to have a bride.
Many read the Gospel of John and realize that it says that Christ came that we may have life (3:16; 10:10b). But they do not know that this life is for the forming of the bride. John 3:29 mentions the bride. John the Baptist recommended the Lord not only as the Lamb of God (1:29) but also as the Bridegroom who has the bride (3:29). Christ came as the Lamb in order that He might obtain a bride.
We often say that Christ loved us and died on the cross for us. Galatians 2:20 does tell us that Christ, the Son of God, "loved me and gave Himself up for me." But do you know that there is also Ephesians 5:25, which says that Christ "loved the church and gave Himself up for her"? Christ gave Himself up not just for you but for the church. Christ loves you for the purpose of the church. His intention is to have the church.
We need to spend more time to learn about the twelve aspects of the church which we have pointed out. Learn to know the church as the universal new man with Christ as the appearance, form, and expression without and with Christ as the life within. Then learn to know the church as the wife, the counterpart of Christ. Learn to know the church as the wonderful house, the wonderful tabernacle, the wonderful temple, the wonderful city, and the army fighting for the kingdom and interest of God. Furthermore, you have to learn to know the church as the Body of Christ, the fullness of Christ, the corporate vessel, and the corporate lampstand. Eventually, you have to know the magnificent city, the New Jerusalem. If you desire to know Christ, you have to know these twelve items. Otherwise, you cannot know Christ in a full way.
THE PEARL OF GREAT VALUE
In this chapter my burden is to share with you about the church in another way. Do you know that the church in the eyes of the Lord is a pearl? As we have pointed out in the beginning of this chapter, the Lord likened the church to a pearl (Matt. 13:46). A pearl is something transformed in the death waters; it is not something created by God. This indicates that the church is not something natural; it was not there in God’s creation. The church is something transformed in the death waters. The transformation of the church is something of life. Most of us know how a pearl is produced. Originally, a pearl was just a little rock or a grain of sand. One day an oyster is wounded by this little rock and it secretes its life-juice around the little rock. This secretion transforms the little rock into a wonderful pearl. This is also the story of how the church is produced. Christ came to the world which was filled with death, and He was wounded by the sinners. He secreted His life-juice around the sinners to make them into a pearl of great value, which is the church.
(The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)