I. THE BELIEVERS’ GROWTH IN LIFE
UNVEILED IN THE WRITINGS OF JOHN
Now we want to see the believers’ growth in life unveiled in the writings of John. In the entire New Testament, the writings of John speak about life the most. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the synoptic Gospels. They do not speak about life as much as John does. In Matthew 7 the Lord Jesus said that the gate is narrow and the way is constricted which leads to life, and few are those who find it (v. 14). But in John the Lord said that if we come to Him and drink, rivers of living water will flow out of our innermost being (7:37-38). He also said that if we drink of Him, we will never thirst again (4:14), and that if we eat of Him, we will never be hungry again (6:35).
A. Its Source
The believers’ growth in life has a source, and the source is the eternal Word—God in eternity (John 1:1-2; 1 John 1:1) in whom is life (John 1:4a; 1 John 1:2). Singing to the Lord can help us to grow in life by contacting God as the source of life. If we would sing a hymn such as #1151 in Hymns three times every morning for one week, we would be different persons. Instead of being dead and dying, we would be those who are living and growing in the divine life.
B. Its Base
1. The Redemption of Christ as the Lamb of God
The base of the believers’ growth in life unveiled in the writings of John is first the redemption of Christ as the Lamb of God. John 1:29 says, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
2. The Termination by the Crucifixion of Christ
in the Likeness of the Serpent
The base of our growth in life is also the termination by the crucifixion of Christ in the likeness of the serpent (John 3:14). Christ in typology is a lamb, but have we ever realized that Christ in type is also a brass serpent? Just as Moses lifted up the brass serpent in the wilderness, so Christ as the Son of Man was lifted up on the cross. He died as the Lamb of God because of our sin. He was lifted up on the cross in the form of a serpent because we became serpentine in our old nature. We were bitten by the old serpent, Satan.
In Genesis 3 the old serpent came to poison our first mother and first father, so we also got poisoned. Actually, we were poisoned nearly six thousand years ago when the first couple was poisoned by the old serpent. As a result, we became serpents (Matt. 3:7; 12:34; 23:33). We are serpentine. This is why Christ died in the likeness of the serpent, the likeness of the flesh of sin (Rom. 8:3), to deal with and terminate the old serpent, Satan, the devil, and the serpentine nature within our old fallen man. This is seen in the type of the brass serpent lifted up in the wilderness by Moses in Numbers 21.
(The Constitution and the Building Up of the Body of Christ, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)