SOME IMPORTANT TRUTHS THAT HAVE BEEN MISUNDERSTOOD
In this message we come to a very important subject, that is, some important truths that have been misunderstood. There are many Bible truths which have been misunderstood. In fact, not many today have learned the Bible in an orderly, orthodox, and step-by-step way. This was why in a previous message I showed you the way to understand the truth. We must understand it literally, and we also need to take care of the context, using the entire Bible to explain any one verse. Furthermore, we need to go beyond the letter to search for the revelation of life. Then we need to remember that the Brethren theology is the best and should be accepted. The things of the inner life school and Calvin’s vision of God’s predestination should also be accepted. But the Arminian doctrine of human responsibility should not be accepted. Furthermore, the truth of the kingdom reward and punishment also should be accepted. If these are kept in mind, our Bible exposition will be more or less up to the standard. After these messages are printed, I hope that everyone will have a copy. These messages should serve as an eternal reminder that the Bible should not be expounded loosely. By following these principles, our expounding of the Bible will not get off the track.
Today, five of the greatest Bible truths are being ignored and misunderstood by people: God’s economy, God’s dispensing, the divine Trinity, the God-Man Jesus, and the mingling of God and man. In this message we will consider the first two truths, and in the next message, the remaining three.
First, God’s economy is God’s household administration, arrangement, and plan. Even though the Chinese word for “economy” is old and perhaps not often used, it is nevertheless a good word. More than sixty years ago I heard people use the Chinese expression “to be full of economy.” The meaning of this phrase is to be full of rules, plans, ideas, and arrangements. When we see the heavens and the earth created by God, we know that He is full of ability and accomplishments.
God has a big family; therefore, He has His household administration, which is His arrangement, or plan. According to the Bible, this is His economy. Ephesians 3:9-11 says, “And to bring to light what is the dispensation [economy] of the mystery, which from the ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that now to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenlies might be made known through the church the multifarious wisdom of God, according to the purpose of the ages which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The purpose of the ages means the eternal purpose. Here we see that there is a mystery hidden in God. His mystery is to gain a church to express His wisdom. Therefore, this mystery of His became His arrangement, and His arrangement is both His economy and His plan. I can only say this much. Please go back and read carefully this portion of the Bible, which is very deep.
Ephesians 1:9-10 says, “Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself unto a dispensation [economy] of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in Him.” Ephesians 3:9-11 says that God’s economy is His mystery with the purpose of gaining a church. Ephesians 1:9-10 says, “Unto a dispensation [economy] of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ.” This heading up is through the church. We will see this condition when the New Jerusalem is manifested. The New Jerusalem is the church. Its center is Christ. Through the New Jerusalem God will head up all things in Christ that the glory of God may be expressed eternally. This is God’s economy.
When young brothers and sisters are just beginning to read the Bible, they may feel that this point does not mean much. They should not say this, because this point will be a great help to them. Because many people do not know this point, their understanding of the Bible is not only superficial but also near-sighted. They do not have a broad or long-range view. Today many Christians only observe the doctrines found in the four Gospels and in part of the Acts. They do not go further. Therefore in their reading they do not see the church or the New Jerusalem, which comes after the church.
First, God’s household administration is His household management. With the household management there is the administration. Paul was one who received the ministry from this household management; he even received the greatest ministry. He was a great steward in God’s household management. He knew that the mystery of Christ is the church (Eph. 3:2-4), and as a steward he completed the Word of God, that is, the mystery which was hidden from the ages and from the generations. If Paul did not write his fourteen Epistles, the Word of God would not have been completed. The completed Word is a mystery, and this mystery is Christ as the hope of glory in the believers (Col. 1:25-27). Paul first understood that the mystery of Christ is the church; then he wrote down all that he had seen. Thus the divine revelation and the Word of God were completed. Finally, he preached the unsearchable riches of Christ to God’s chosen people (Eph. 3:8). Thus, God’s dispensing was produced.
Now we come to the second point—God’s dispensing. Even though we cannot find the term dispensing in the New Testament, the fact is there. First, God’s dispensing is the goal of God’s economy, and, second, it is to dispense the unsearchable riches of Christ in the rich operation of the Triune God to us, the believers in Christ (Eph. 3:8). Today the riches of the Triune God are always moving and operating in order to dispense the unsearchable riches which have been stored up by Christ, little by little, to His believers. This is God’s dispensing. Second Corinthians 13:14 says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Grace is of Christ, love is of the Father, and fellowship is of the Spirit. Love is the source, grace is the manifestation and the flowing out, and fellowship is the transmission, the delivering. The flowing out of love is grace, the moving of grace is fellowship, and by the coming of the fellowship these things reach us. Hence, we receive love, we receive grace, and we also receive fellowship. This is the operation of the riches of the Triune God to infuse the unsearchable riches that have been stored in Christ into us. This dispensing is for the producing of the church (Eph. 3:10).
I want to say a word of warning here. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:17, “If anyone destroys the temple of God, God shall destroy him.” Today we must be careful concerning our attitude towards the church. Whoever destroys the church of God will suffer loss. This is a serious matter, because God in His mystery has an economy, a plan to obtain a church. For this cause He even dispenses His riches in Christ to His chosen people, the believers in Christ, in order to produce a corporate expression. Therefore, the church is a pearl in the eyes of God. No one can hurt or damage her without suffering loss and even being destroyed by God.
THE RESULT OF GOD’S DISPENSING
Finally, the result of God’s dispensing is the church becoming the fullness of Christ (Eph. 1:23). Remember, the fullness is the expression. This may be illustrated by the water in a cup. If the cup is not full, the water cannot be manifested. But once the water overflows, it is manifested. The church being the fullness of Christ means that the church is the overflowing of Christ, that is, the expression of Christ. The result of being the expression of Christ is to be the fullness of God, that is, the expression of God. Praise the Lord! This is God’s dispensing, which is produced out of the economy of God. These are two of the greatest truths in the Bible.
(The Full Knowledge of the Word of God, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)