THE CHURCH AS THE BODY OF CHRIST
BEING THE ISSUE OF THE WONDERFUL,
MARVELOUS, EXCELLENT DIVINE TRINITY
The church as the Body of Christ is like a wonderful gem without any foreign particles, or blemishes. Matters such as autonomy, federation, organization, regulation, and control are foreign particles in the church, the wonderful gem. We should not bring in any foreign particles to the Lord’s recovery. The church as the Body of Christ is a gem as the issue of the wonderful, marvelous, excellent divine Trinity. Who can tell of the excellency of this gem? It is shameful to bring in foreign particles to this gem such as autonomy, federation, organization, regulation, and control. We need to reject these foreign particles. "Lord Jesus, thank You for such a gem, the Body of Christ as the very issue of the wonderful, marvelous, excellent divine Trinity, the fullness of the Godhead embodied in You."
THE BUILDING UP OF THE BODY OF CHRIST
In Ephesians 1 and 2, Paul tells us what the church is. The church is the desire of God’s good pleasure that issues out of Himself as the divine Trinity. The materials of the church were sinners, dead in offenses and sins. But God, through His incarnation, went to the cross to accomplish an all-inclusive death, passed through resurrection, and entered into ascension. Through these processes, these chosen sinners were remade, re-created, regenerated, to be persons who were made alive, resurrected, and ascended with Christ to be seated with Him in the heavenlies in Christ. They were made into God’s masterpiece as the new man. In Ephesians 3 Paul shows us that this masterpiece comes out of God’s plan with God’s stewardship. Now in Ephesians 4, Paul shows us another aspect of the church. He talks about the Body of Christ from another angle, the angle of the building up of the Body of Christ. This organic Body of Christ needs to be built up.
We must understand the Bible in an organic way. The church needs to be built up organically in the same way that a newborn child needs to be built up. The child needs to be perfected, completed, and developed. This babe is built up by growing. Mothers know that they cannot build up their children by organization. A child’s growth does not depend on any outward arrangement or organization. It depends upon life and the growth in life. For a child to grow adequately he needs sunshine, fresh air, and proper food and water. As long as he is regularly fed with the proper food, he will grow. When he grows, he is being built up. A child cannot be built up without growing. In like manner, the basic factor, the basic element, that is needed for the building up of a young church, a baby church, is for it to grow. The church cannot be built up by organization or arrangement. The church can only be built up by being fed, not with doctrines but with the riches of Christ.
Before the Lord’s recovery came to the United States, we had not heard about such things as enjoying Christ, experiencing Christ, or Christ’s becoming a life-giving Spirit in His resurrection. We did not know that Christ as the life-giving Spirit is in our spirit. We did not even know that we had a human spirit. We also did not know about God’s dispensing, the mingling of God with man, or the crucial revelation of life in the Scriptures. The Lord has brought us into the realization and enjoyment of His unsearchable riches, and we are still on the way in the Lord’s ministry to distribute more and more of His riches.
We studied church history and the biographies of many spiritual saints. We spent many years to study the teachings of the church fathers and the top teachings throughout the history of the church. The Lord has granted us a merciful discernment to discern what we should receive that matches the divine revelation in the holy Scriptures. We have picked up the top positive, scriptural, and spiritual things to present to the Lord’s children. Some have gone back to past writings and have picked up G. H. Lang’s teaching of autonomy from his book The Churches of God. We were warned in the past concerning this erroneous teaching of autonomy. Is any part of a living person autonomous? Can we say that his eyes, ears, or nose are independently autonomous from the rest of his body? Of course not. There is no possibility of either autonomy or federation in a person’s body because they are organizational matters. The initial aspect of the church is that it is the called-out congregation, the assembly, the ekklesia. The church is also the kingdom, the family, and the temple, the dwelling place of God. But these aspects of the church are not the peak of the revelation concerning the church. The peak is that the church is the Body of Christ, the fullness of the One who fills all in all, and a masterpiece as the new man. The church is the new man! The parts of a man’s body are not federated together nor are they independently autonomous. Autonomy and federation have nothing to do with the church, the organic Body of Christ and the new man. We need to be warned concerning teachings that distract us away from God’s central purpose to build up the organic Body of Christ.
(The Body of Christ, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)