The Experience of Christ as Life for the Building Up of the Church, by Witness Lee


We also need to see that the church is not an organization but an organism. But what is the difference between an organism and an organization? We can illustrate this by considering a chair and our physical body. A chair is an organization of lifeless material, but our physical body has life. Thus, it is an organism. Life makes our body an organism. The church is the Body of Christ, and as an organism it depends upon life. The church is an entity of life. It is produced by life and formed with life and in life. We have to see that the church is a life entity. It is not something formed by teaching or by organization. We cannot form, organize, or establish a church by our teachings, regardless of how spiritual they are. The church is born of life and formed of life. It is altogether an entity of life.


Now we need to ask, "What is life?" Christ is life. John 1:4 says that in Him is life. In John 11:25 and 14:6, He said that He is the life. Then the apostle Paul told us in Colossians 3:4 that Christ is our life. Christ is the life of the members of His Body. Who is Christ? Christ is God. Where is Christ? Christ is in the Spirit.

But this is still not fully clear. I want to give you a clear picture with a full scope of the matter of life from the entire Scriptures. God’s intention in this universe is to bring forth the church as the Body of Christ. How could God produce such a Body? The first step He took was His creation. He created many things and eventually He created man in His own image (Gen. 1:26). But at the time of creation, God did not put Himself into man as life. He put man in the garden of Eden in front of the tree of life (2:9), and man at that time was an empty vessel.

Romans 9 tells us that we are vessels, containers (vv. 21, 23). Thus, man at the time of creation was in the image of God, but he was empty within. He was made as an empty vessel and put in front of the tree of life. God did this with the intention for man to partake of the tree of life, which signifies God Himself. Psalm 36:9 says that God is the fountain of life. Then John 1:4 says that in Him, the One who is the Word and God Himself, there is life. Life is in Him, so He is the tree of life.

The Lord is life, and we have to receive Him (John 1:12-13). If we have Him, we have life (1 John 5:11-12). The apostle John said, "And the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and report to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us" (1 John 1:2). Christ is the life. When Christ was manifested, the life was manifested for us to receive. If you have the Son of God, you have life. By this life we have been regenerated, reborn, and by regeneration we have been produced as the members of the Body of Christ. Christ is the life of all the members of His Body, and eventually, this Body will be increased into the New Jerusalem.

In the New Jerusalem, we see the tree of life once again (Rev. 22:2). The tree of life in the garden of Eden was not within any human beings. It was standing there outside of man, and man was standing in front of the tree of life. But at the end of the divine revelation, the tree of life is within the New Jerusalem. This city is the composition of all the redeemed ones. This means that the tree of life will be within all the redeemed ones.

Furthermore, the tree of life in the New Jerusalem is growing in the river of life (vv. 1-2). Where the river of life flows, the tree of life grows. If the river of life is flowing in you, the tree of life is growing in you. When we have the flow of the river, we have the growing of the tree. This brief fellowship gives us a brief yet full picture of life in the entire Bible.

(The Experience of Christ as Life for the Building Up of the Church, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)