II. THE BODY OF CHRIST BEING AN ORGANISM NOT AN ORGANIZATION
The Body of Christ, the church, is not an organization but an organism, an issue of the dispensing of the Triune God into us as life. [Not many of the Christians throughout the generations have entered into this realization. We may think that the church is just a collection, or a gathering, of all the believers as a kind of collective entity which can be considered as an organization. This is absolutely wrong. The concept of the church being an organization has led the Christians throughout the centuries into confusion, misunderstanding, and a deceived condition. Our burden today is to point out, according to the pure, divine revelation in the New Testament and especially in the book of Ephesians, that the issue of the dispensing of the divine Trinity is the church as an organism, the Body of Christ.]
[A wooden stand is organized with pieces of wood, but a living person with a body is something organic. A robot is an organization of lifeless material, but a living person is an organism. The church should be an organism not an organization. The teaching of Ignatius in the second century gave the ground for organization to come into the church.] [Today’s Christianity is under the influence of this concept of hierarchy and has been corrupted by it. The teaching, practice, and concept of hierarchy has led many Christians away from the church as an organism to an organization.]
[Every aspect of the church must be organic because the church is the issue of the living Trinity. The Bible tells us that the embodiment of God, Christ, is life. Christ told us in the Gospel of John that He is the life (John 14:6). Christ is not something organizational. As the embodiment of the Triune God, He is the totality of the divine, eternal life. The totality of life, the living Triune God, issues in one thing—the Body of Christ. Since the Triune God is the totality of life, the Body of Christ is altogether a matter of life. We should put anything that is not of life under our feet. We do not like hierarchy because it is altogether a matter of organization and has nothing to do with the organic Body of Christ.]
Because we are the Body of Christ, we can never be independent of one another. Independence shows a lack of life. [In God’s economy and in the Body of Christ, independence is a devilish word. We Christians should never be independent. We should not be independent of God or of one another. We cannot go on in the Christian life if we isolate ourselves from one another.] All the local churches, all the saints, all the elders, and all the workers should never be independent of one another. The life of God in all of us maintains this oneness. Any independence and division represents a lack of life, is not of life, and is not a part of the organic Body of Christ.
III. THE WAY TO BUILD UP THE BODY OF CHRIST
A. By the Gospel
The first thing we must do to build up the Body of Christ is to preach the gospel. One of the definitions of life is: God the Father in the Son as the Spirit flowing into us, through us, and out of us. Therefore, before the Lord was crucified, He charged His disciples to bear fruit (John 15:16), and after His resurrection, He commissioned His disciples to go and disciple all the nations (Matt. 28:19). As we enjoy life, experience life, and grow in life, there must be the issue of the gospel. The gospel preaching will result in more members of the Body of Christ. There are so many unsaved people living in our city, but how many are in the church? The number in the church is so small compared to all the people around us. How many students are in your school, and how many are in the church? We must preach the gospel to our friends, our relatives, and our neighbors so that they may be brought into the Lord and into His Body. Without the preaching of the gospel, nobody would be saved. Without people getting saved, there would not be many members. Therefore, we must first preach the gospel to bring sinners to repentance, resulting in more members for the Body of Christ.
B. By the Growth of Life
These newly saved members and we must grow in life for the Body of Christ (1 Pet. 2:2). Since the Body is not an organization, mere numbers mean nothing. We must have more members enjoying life, experiencing life, growing in life, filled up with life, and constituted with life. Growth in numbers coupled with growth in life is necessary. Therefore, we must grow by practicing all the points in the foregoing lessons and help the new ones to do the same. The main practices are: 1) call on the Lord and pray to maintain a strong regenerated spirit; 2) pray-read, read, study, and memorize the Word of God to be equipped with the truth; 3) live by the sense of life within our spirit every day; 4) be filled with the Spirit every day all the day by confessing and dealing with all hindrances; 5) preach the gospel; and 6) attend meetings in homes, in small groups, and with the whole church to prophesy and to testify. By these practices, you and your new ones will grow in life to be proper members of the Body of Christ.
(Lesson Book, Level 4: Life—Knowing and Experiencing Life, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)